Tuesday 15th July 8:00 p.m Seward, Alaska
Caribou burger anyone? Sunday afternoon Casey took me to a barbecue at his friends' house. I was looking forward to the caribou burgers, but I waited until everyone else got one, and subsequently missed out. I did score a beautiful big grilled salmon steak though! There were some cool people there, but it started to occur to me that no-one I've met so far is actually 'from' Alaska. Everyone has come from somewhere else. Casey is from New Hampshire, his girlfriend is from Ohio- and is actually away visiting her family at the moment, and everyone I met at the barbecue was from the 'lower 48'. People seem to come here for all sorts of reasons; to get back to nature, to escape the rat race, or in the case of the people I met at the Homestead bar in Eagle River- to escape the law. Some people came to Alaska for a holiday, and just never got around to leaving.
That's kind of the story with Gary, a guy who gave me a lift yesterday. He's from Phoenix, Arizona and in case you're interested, he tells me it was over 110 degrees there yesterday. That's farenheit. In celcius, it's roughly damn hot. He and his wife came to Alaska about twelve years ago and have been coming back ever since. Recently, they bought a cabin down here on the Kenai Peninsula, right smack on the Kenai River. He rents it out as holiday accommodaion at the moment, but hopes to retire up here in a few years. Gary has flown up here from Arizona five times this year already, doing renovations on the cabin. I guess it helps that his wife works for Alaskan Airlines, and he can probably make the flight for the cost of a cold beer. If you're looking for holiday accommodation in the heart of fishing country; a fully self contained cabin that sleeps four people, I can put you in touch with Gary.
It was a spectacular drive down from Anchorage to Moose Pass, with tall steep mountain ranges on either side of the road. It was interesting to read about the tidal mud flats just out of Anchorage. The tides there are the second highest in North America, with a range of almost forty feet. The mud flats along what they call Turnagain Arm are a deadly quicksand, and three people have drowned after sinking into the ooze, unable to escape the incoming tide. I'll spare you the gruesome details of the poor woman who died there in 1989, despite the desperate efforts of emergency services staff.
It was early evening when I reached the tiny village of Moose Pass. On one side of the road was a lodge with its own bar, and on the other side a grocery store with attatched cafe. A handful of assorted houses and sheds were scattered around and narrow driveways could be seen disappearing into the bush. I phoned my host Apryl, but there was no answer and no option but to leave a message and call back later. Now, to wait at the bar or the cafe? I didn't know how long I'd be waiting so I chose the safest bet and ordered a cup of coffee at the cafe.
Moose Pass seems like the kind of place where everyone knows each other, so I asked the grocery store lady *who mistook me for a New Zealander* if she knew Apryl.
Apryl finished work at ten, and we headed back to her tiny cabin in the bush. She'd warned me months ago when I contacted her about hosting me, that her accommodation was very basic, but that was fine by me. It was beautiful. No running water- which would be a hassle at times- but very comfortable and homely. Apryl spoke of the close knit community here; of how everyone rallied around her some time back when her health was not so good, and how her family in California were concerned that she should be up here 'alone'. Her neighbour Louie *Bill Paxton lookalike! I swear Moose Pass is some kind of freaky lookalike town* came over for a yarn, and I'm not sure what time we went to bed, but I didn't wake up till after 9:00a.m. That's the second night in a row that I've managed over eight hours sleep, so I should be caught up by now. When I checked my emails this morning, I received what I'd been waiting for; confirmation from Alaskan Railroad that I'd been given a free train ride from Seward back to Anchorage. I've always loved train travel, and this particular stretch of line is said to be the most scenic in the State.
Seward is only twenty miles down the road, so Apryl was kind enough to drive me here this morning. It's much cooler here than it has been in Alaska so far- only 15 degrees celcius today, and overcast. With rumbling stomach, I set off in search of a cooked breakfast. The Chinese buffet wasn't quite what I had in mind, but the price was right, and when you're travelling it's rare to have the oppotunity to really fill yourself up. But Mum always taught me not to be greedy, so after four heaped platefuls of cashew beef, mongolian chicken, sweet and sour, and beef and egg rolls, I waddled off to check my emails at the library.
My host in Seward is Jillian, a friend of Casey's. Jillian works behind reception at the Seward Resort, and was to finish work at 7:00p.m. but tonight unfortunately has to stay back till eleven. Anyway, she's taken a few minutes off work to swing by and pick me up in town, and drop me at her home. First priority was a shower, but after failing the intelligence test required to operate the shower, I prefered to take a bath. This seems like a busy but friendly little household- two single beds in each of the two upstairs bedrooms, two girls sleep on the fold out sofa downstairs, and they still make room for a guest. There's a few videos here that I could watch, but I'm going to spend some time playing with my new photo editing software. Am I becoming a computer geek?