It seems that this will be my last Alaskan edition of the Weekly Rundown, at least for the time being. The Coronavirus has effectively canceled my working season, and I will be heading back to the Sunshine State.
So, on my last post from Ketchikan for now, I suppose I’ll talk about why I decided to come here.
Last year I took a cruise to Alaska. We started in Anchorage, several days before the cruise started, and took a glass-topped train up to Denali. It was in seeing Denali that I knew I wanted to come back.
“Whenever a bunch of fellows would get together, someone would start talking about going up north…
Things were pretty much settled to the south of us. We didn’t seem to be ready for steady jobs. It was only natural we’d start talking about the North. We’d bought out the Russians. We’d built canneries up there. The fellows who hadn’t been up was hankering to go. The rest of us was hankering to go back.”
– Mont Hawthorne, in The Trail Led North: Mont Hawthorne’s Story, by Martha Ferguson Mckeown
It was mid-June, and at walking around midnight, the sky still had the dusky haze of a setting sun. It was magnificent. And while my body shouted at me that it was tired, my eyes kept insisting it was too early to go to sleep. Hence, most places that far north seem to have blackout curtains.
I’m nowhere near Denali at this moment, Ketchikan being about 1400 km away as the crow flies. But that doesn’t matter, not from the perspective of being here in the Last Frontier.
Mark Adams, in Tip of the Iceberg, writes, “Three basic types of people live in Alaska… There are Native Alaskans, who’ve been there since time immemorial. There are people who have come north running toward something, usually a chance to do something unpleasant to make a lot of money quickly… And there are those who are running away from something.”
Obviously, I don’t belong to that first category. But over the last six weeks, I’ve been wondering which of the latter two types of people I was. A couple of years ago, I would have easily said I was running away from something. But, more recently, it seems that I came north toward something – and that was solely to find myself.
I’ll bid adieu to Alaska again, and I’m pretty certain I’ll be back at some point. Maybe as early as next year…