Baby moose! For the record, I was with a (new-found) friend in a convertible BMW (yes, in ANCHORAGE in OCTOBER) with the top down when we happened upon this creature. He did not jump in our car and his mama moose did not show her face. We sat for awhile and admired him (her?). Did you know all moose have light legs and a dark body? Me neither. Also, I’m not sure if that’s true. But that’s what my friend told me.
Girdwood, they said. Take a 45 minute drive to Girdwood. You’ll be impressed. We were. The colors. The water. The nature. The Alaska license plate proudly supporting Obama (in an H3, of course…we can only win so many battles). Apparently there is more to Girdwood than a gas station with a few attached “restaurants.” We missed the “more to Girdwood” when we failed to continue driving beyond the gas station, but J and I thoroughly enjoyed our 1/4 pizza pie each. One slice for $6. What’s the name of said pizzeria? Hell if I know. But I guarantee there is only one pizzeria on the way to Girdwood from Anchorage. That pizza slice made my day (I was at the epitome of hangry—so hungry I might have started to get angry). J and I both looooooved that pizza slice. Maybe for different reasons.
Let me introduce you to Chugach National Forest. I promise you she’s pretty, even if we only saw her breathtaking, raw edges.
Then I went to the furthest point I’ve ever been in western America. Let me introduce you to my new favorite salty SOB (that’s Grandpa speak and it fits perfectly here) villages, King Salmon and Naknek. It’s where some of our nation’s fisheries are situated, where fisherman roam and work hard/play hard (but apparently not in mid-October) and where the sporty types go to hunt their game and reel in their fish. I’m neither a hunter nor a fisher, but I gained invaluable insight into a culture that is new-to-me. I nearly pulled it off with my hunter orange Eddie Bauer flannel and grey fleece purchased 12 hours before my 30-person flight to the edge of the world. But it turns out that my white pashmina scarf gave me away. Out in these parts, white is a color reserved for the snow. People don’t wear white. It’s 100% impractical. Lesson learned. The game/fish guides still hanging around after the season ended, with their scruffy beards and smoky smells and Carharts and non-ironic trucker hats and stories bigger than life, knew I didn’t belong. But they seemed willing enough to chat.
The coast is more barren than I anticipated. Maybe made more so with the fresh snow. It’s flat in Bristol Bay. Hardly any rolling hills, definitely no mountains. There are shrubs and there are rivers. One called Eskimo Creek! There was blue sky, mixed with a healthy dose of grey clouds. There were a lot of collected (read: abandoned) cars, trucks, and buses dotting yards/acres/lots of land surrounding homes/shacks/converted trailers (so it seemed to the potentially undiscerning city folk among us). There were colorful buildings painted every color of the rainbow, which I sort of adored. There was a restaurant on the second floor of the Naknek hotel called the D&D. It was not for the faint of heart with its smoke-filled entryway and menu filled with fried goodness intended to stick to the guts of fisheries folks working long days in shit conditions in their Xtratufs.
Also. There appeared to be dried blood surrounding the D&D door handle. Can you tell the difference between human blood and fish or game blood? Me neither. I left it to my colleague to open the door and hoped for the best for him. He seemed unscathed by the experience.
And then there is this:
The sunsets last forever here in King Salmon, I was told. The sun angles down, making the colors linger in the twilight sky. Likewise, my first trip to Alaska will linger for a long while.