Sunday, August 3, 2008

My Alaska Experiment

Outside Tent & Breakfast, Seldovia, AK

When going to Alaska for my summer vacation I had a lot of ideas in my mind of how the trip would be. I even had a tarot card reader at a Google party tell me months in advance that I would be "naturally enlightened" during the summer, to my delight. But, in my time there I quickly discovered that things don't always go the way you plan them and enlightenment can mean many unpredictable things.

Trail to the Ice Climb with Ascending Path outside of Girdwood, AK

Unpredictability can come in many forms, like, for instance, the weather. Alaska had the coldest summer on record since 1980. This meant that it stayed pretty cool most of the days I was there and almost freezing in the evenings. It was actually nice because it meant there was no excuse to not light a fire and sit there for hours, or to pile on as many blankets as possible, comforted by the weight.

Eric & Brett in Homer, AK

Wildlife is naturally unpredictable as well. Managing expectations is a phrase we commonly use in advertising to make sure clients aren't expecting more than what we're realistically able to offer. One of the things I really wanted to see while in Alaska was a bear. I saw a moose (very rare in summer), elk, reindeer, mountain goats, otters, husky puppies and even some jellyfish. All of these animals were absolutely incredible to see, but yet, I still wish I had seen a bear. Were my expectations unrealistic? Maybe, maybe not, but until next time this live bear cam will have to do.

Food is definitely something I include on a list of things that can be enlightening. However, I didn't really expect to find anything better than what I could get in Seattle. Salmon and halibut are common foods in both locations, and many places do a great job with them. The Mad Fish Restaurant in Seldovia was one of the two places open for dinner on Sunday night, so we showed up as their first guests of the evening. Both me and my friend agreed that they had the best fish we had ever eaten.

Edge of the Glacier we climbed

The most important form of enlightenment I (re)discovered was how important it is to trust the right people. When glacier hiking and ice climbing you place your life in the hands of those skilled enough to protect you, make sure you enjoy your experience and get home safely. Without the proper attitude, gear and knowledge it is likely that mistakes can be made and injury will result. But with a little research, the use your gut feeling and faith in your peers you can do just about anything.

Alaskan Nightlife: Humpy's, Brown Bear Saloon, The Salty Dawg

Destination Reading: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Destination Listening: Into the Wild Soundtrack by Eddie Vedder

My friend Brett's Official Alaska Weather Report

Photography by me