Monday, September 20, 2010

North to Alaska

Aunt Helen’s son, Don, had Alaska in his head his whole life. It didn’t take him long, after graduating from college and getting married, to head north to live the life he always dreamed of. He and his wife Mary were able to secure jobs in the capital city of Juneau. Mom and Dad flew there for a visit in 1979, but I sure never thought I would make it there.

In the fall of 1982, I was in my third year of college, spinning my wheels, not having a clue of what to do with my life. I also had no clue as to what I wanted for Christmas. I think it was at Thanksgiving that Mom told me what she and Dad were giving me – plane tickets to Juneau.
December 22, Aunt Helen and I arrived in Alaska. I had never flown before. It was a long trip from Central Wisconsin Airport to the Minneapolis Airport to the Seattle Airport to the Juneau Airport. The trip went without incident, thanks to my aunt’s world-traveling experience.

I wish I could remember it all, or that at least I had documented the ten days more thoroughly in my journal. But alas, mostly what I have are snapshots in my head.

The airport built on a small strip of land, which seems only barely long enough for planes to land or take off. The narrow winding streets of downtown Juneau. . Mendenhall Glacier. The ancient Russian village. Thousands of bald eagles in Haines. A dozen bald eagles at the Juneau city dump. A stranger buying us a round of beers while we waited for the ferry in Haines. New Year's Eve party at the high school. Thunder Mountain outside our bedroom window. Chile Rellenos.

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