14 July 2005

Alaska #4

Hubbard Glacier. It calved a few times while we watched, sending giant plumes of water into the air. Bergs of blue ice littered the sea around us. Unlike retreating Mendenhall, this glacier is growing like a weed. It groans and explodes with massive, internal movements, sounding like thunder...or shotgun blasts...or like the brittle bones of old, frozen ghosts leaning over the glacier to see what that boat is doing, just sitting there...

We disembarked in Seward and bade farewell to the Statendam and all its surreal luxury. From there, we boarded the Alaskan Railway coach to Anchorage. A very scenic trip. The only way to take a photo in clean space (not through a window) was to lean (foolishly) out of the jointed space between railcars...as I did often.

Anchorage. A seal, sculpted in whalebone by an Alaskan Native artist with the most infectious smile...We arrived just in time to dig the insanely huge downtown "Saturday Market," a weekly fair held in Buttress Park. This event attracts thousands of craft people, musicians, and food vendors (I didn't try the halibut quesadilla, but reindeer sausage was fantastic).

Anchorage. Still at the Saturday Market. A fur vendor and her two companions.

Anchorage. 3rd Ave & E Street. I found that standing polar bear DEEPLY DISTURBING. Then it handed me a coupon, good for 10% off my next purchase of trinkets at Polar Bear Gifts' two convenient locations... An hour later, with souvenir Alaska shotglass and bobble-head puffin in the bag, we boogied back to the room to pack.

A fantastic trip, fueled by the aforementioned Alaskan Summer Ale and the VERY EXCELLENT Raven's Brew coffee. Sitka and Juneau were easy favorites, and we're already planning the return trip--probably involving a rented vehicle and a plunge inland to Denali and north to the arctic coast. But that's later. Now is now. We return to DC and its humid suburbs, to put on our Responsible Skins again. (east-coast time is what, again...?)

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