Memories from Alaska

Posted Oct. 9, but written Sept. 14. (better late than never!)

It’s Friday, Sept. 14. I’ve been gone some 17 days now. The past few, however, have found me intolerably impatient. After 12 days in the RV with the girls, I was simply done being around others 24/7. I left them on Monday and had a full day to myself. Tuesday I caught the train to Whittier and waited out my ferry to Bellingham.

Me and Big Bertha at Savage River in Denali NP

I seem to have caught a cold somewhere along the line, and it really hit Wednesday, Thursday and into today. Between being sick, the ferry being delayed, and me having to change my flight for a second time, I became really conscious of how intolerant and impatient I was being. I’m not sure how much it showed outwardly. But I could feel it building like a mini volcano inside of me. Thursday I spent a majority of my day in my state room, sleeping and watching movies on my laptop. Today, although the cold is still hanging on tight, my mood seems a bit better. After the phone call with Alaska Airlines this morning, and my flight finally set to arrive 24 hours after originally planned, I’m finally letting it go. I hate that I let myself get so worked up.  In the grand scheme of things, what seems to set me off is often completely insignificant.

Thankfully, I seem to be over it now. At the height of my impatience, I thought to myself “never would I take this ferry again…”  But today, with a lighter mood, I realize that I probably would. Knowing now what to expect, and allowing that I need to give myself a wider window of time, I think I would enjoy the trip again.  It’s funny how it takes so long to slow yourself down. I chose this route home specifically with the intention of slowing down for a few days. But I just couldn’t do it the first three days on board. My mind kept reeling with this and that, and I felt awful from the cold. And now on the fourth day I’m finally able to settle into the rhythm. I wish I had let myself relax into it earlier in the voyage.

The roll of the waves when they’re simple swells. The jolt when they get bigger and splash over the bow of the ship. Although I’ve never been a lover of the sea, there is something rhythmic, relaxing and nurturing about the rocking motion of the waves.

Sailing through the Inside Passage off British Columbia

Sunshine on the water

I’m back to being obsessed with all things Alaska. While I’m finally letting myself enjoy the experience of the coast of the Great Southeast, it’s really the Interior that gets to me. I absolutely adore the remote Interior of Alaska. One day, I promise myself, I will live there. Even if only for a year. But I will live there. The colors of the fall – coming late in August – are a true tonic for the soul. I could have sat in Denali and let the red absorb into my being for days. I wish I’d had more time there – alone – to soak it in. The red truly ignites something in me. And the yellows take my breath away. It’s hard to think that I’m going home to the tail end of summer – highs still around 80 degrees. For nearly three weeks I’ve been living in fleece and long underwear. A hat and mittens never far from my reach. I’m always ready for the cool time of year – and getting this early taste is really whetting my appetite.

Fall comes early to the Northland

I chose a two-volume set of the journals of Dick Proenneke to accompany me southward, back to civilization. I thought, what better inspiration is there than the words of an icon of remote living. THE icon of wilderness subsistence. After having seen the movies about his life several times, I can almost hear his voice reading the journals to me as I flip page after page. Sometimes I wonder if I could slow my life down enough. If I could release the impatience that sometimes seems to rule my world. I know I could handle the solitude… for better or worse. It’s a lifestyle I’ve been craving for years. And I’m dying to know how I can attain it.

Patrol cabin outside of Savage River in Denali NP

I have the rest of today, and all day tomorrow. We dock in Bellingham on Sunday morning, and I’ll be arriving back in Missoula at 7pm.

The Kennicott

Mt. McKinley, aka: Denali




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