Alaska trip final thoughts

Alaska journal final thoughts
For the sake of full disclosure, we were planning on hiking across the mountain pass where the gold rush prospectors crossed into the Klondike. We were also going to go salmon fishing in Ketchikan, but when I got sick we decided against it. We talked to some people who went salmon fishing and never got a bite, so I guess that part worked out okay. When I got home, I went to the doctor and found out I had pneumonia. Some strong antibiotics took care of it and I’m fine now.
Alaska was amazing. I was very impressed by the raw beauty of everything, and I am not impressed easily. It seems as if Alaska is a land of two seasons: winter and preparing for winter. The summer seems to be an endless time of getting ready for winter. Moose and bear loose 400 to 700 pounds over the winter. If they don’t put that weight on during the summer months, they won’t make it. So they gorge themselves all summer long. We spoke with an Athabascan woman who lived in the Arctic Circle. She said her son hunted moose in the fall to fill freezers for the winter. He hunted by boat and it took about a hundred gallons of gas for the boat. Gas is eight dollars a gallon in their village. Her son has been stockpiling gas all summer so he can hunt moose in the fall so they will have meat for the winter. Everything is planned out and everything is geared toward the winter. They don’t catch and release in Alaska. They catch and keep because they need the food for the winter.
The people of Alaska seem to take everything in stride. They know it’s going to get cold and snow in the winter, and they except it. You can’t change the weather so you adapt. We had a guide on the train who lived his entire life in Alaska. He said he couldn’t remember getting more than one or two days off for snow in all of the years he went to school.
People often ask me if I want to go back? Definitely. I would recommend it to everyone. It can be as physical or as sedate as you want it to be. The rangers in Denali guide back pack tours where they take you out to camp for a few days in the park. You can even get a permit and go by yourself if you’re a mind too. I saw people in wheelchairs boarding tour buses that went into the park and the same people getting on the train. To my bucket list I’ve added spending a couple weeks in a trapper’s cabin by a salmon stream in the fall in Alaska. Right now I can’t think of anything I would put above it on the list.
Would I want to move to Alaska? No. I’ve never been a pencil-neck geek who has never felt the sunshine on my face. I’ve always loved the outdoors. I’ve sat on a bucket in the middle of a lake with it snowing and blowing so hard that when it was time to leave I had to use a GPS to find the shore. On a bright sunny day when it was ten below zero, I fell through slough ice and got soaked to my neck. I crawled out of the water and trudged over a mile to get to my truck. By the time I reached it my clothes were frozen like a suit of armor. I had to beat my hands on my pants get feeling back into my fingers and to break the ice in my pockets enough to get my keys out. It wasn’t sixty-five below, but I know what cold is. I just don’t think I could take the twenty-one hours of darkness they have during the winter. I’ve worked a lot of night jobs in my life, but the sun has always been my friend. I’d miss it.
So, if you get a chance to go to Alaska go. You won’t regret it. And that is how I spent my summer vacation.
Joel Jurrens author of In The Sticks
http://www.inthesticks.net

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About thewritingdeputy

Joel Jurrens was a deputy sheriff for 26 years until he retired in 2013. He has published three novels: In The Sticks, Graves of His Personal Liking and County Ops: The Vengeance of Gable Fitzgerald. He tries to keep his blog light and humorous and sometimes downright silly.
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