Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Back Home — But Alaska Is Still On Our Minds

©Bert Gildart: Because access in Canada to the Internet was prohibitively expensive (about $800 each month) our blogs have been made a day or two after the fact. Postings of our travels could only be made from campgrounds offering WiFi, and they weren’t always available.

That worked fairly well, but, generally, connectivity was more like dial up. To compound matters, when we did gain Internet access, often it turned out that it was only temporary. For example, I’d move to a spot, find that access was satisfactory, but, then, a huge rig would move in next to us — dwarfing our Airstream. And that was the end of my reception. The only remedy was to move my computer into the washroom or to some other out building that was close to the campground’s antennae. Sometimes that worked, but there were several times when I was forced to a picnic bench, and then the glare on my screen was such that work was difficult.

Those, at any rate, are my excuses for delayed postings, and simply stated: it’s been a challenge — even in Alaska, where my Verizon card worked most of the time.

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CLICK ON EACH IMAGE TO SEE LARGER VERSION: L to R: Baby Contest which was popular adjunct to World Eskimo Indian Olympics; juvenile bald eagle, which probably slipped from nest; Thien, certainly one of the most enduring of long-haul bikers.

What I want to do with this posting is bring my work closer to real time, report that we are now home — and publish a few images I was unable to publish because of time constraints. Then I’d like to add a few comments about the photographs. There are also a few blogs I want to post these next few weeks that require the assembling of notes and materials that I simply did not have time to consider while scurrying from place to place.

ALASKA GENERATES HIGH ENERGY LEVEL

Those who travel the Alcan know what I’m referring to when I say that the state generates a high energy level, often derived from the fact that everyone seems to be making grand discoveries. Sometimes those discoveries derive from the overwhelming surroundings and, good Lord,  even from the gold you’ve discovered! Other times it’s because of the people you meet.

Case in point was a young man from Toronto who had bicycled over 2,000 miles from home when we meet him. His name was Thien, and we encountered him over and over. He said he generally covered 100 miles a day on his bike, and sometimes that’s all we covered. About the fourth time we met him, we told him to camp by us that we were having a cookout with some native friends from Arctic Village. Next thing we knew he was taking a bush plane to Arctic Village at the request of Kenneth and Caroline, who also took a liking to Thien.  Later, he biked the entire length of the Haul Road to Prudhoe Bay.

OUTDOOR WRITER’S ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA

We also enjoyed immensely our visits with Karen and Willi Lundquist. Janie and I have known Karen for a number of years through the Outdoor Writer’s Association and have become good friends. One weekend Karen and Willi invited Janie and me to join them on an overnight  boat trip to their cabin — way up the Salcha River. At times the river seemed only inches deep, and Willi demonstrated boating skills that rank him in a class all by himself. Sometimes, the water was only inches deep, but we skimmed right over the surface.


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FOR LARGER VERSION, CLICK ON EACH IMAGE: L to R: Totems greet travelers at new native visitor center located at Teslin, British Columbia; Willi Lundquist holds up dorsal fin of arctic grayling — it’s key characteristic; fishing for grayling on the Salcha River, 18 miles from launch point.

During our stay, we fished — catching a number of Arctic Grayling — and one morning found a young bald eagle (top three verticals) that had apparently fallen from its nest in tree along the bank. It couldn’t fly, and sadly we could not envision a happy ending for this young flightless bird. I photographed it using a two strobe set up, and Karen (wearing shorts) bravely suffered the many sticky plants and mosquitoes to assist by holding one of the flash units.

BACK TO CHICKEN

Certainly one of our favorite stops was made in Chicken, Alaska, and when I mention the name, most chuckle until I tell them that gold mining and a teacher named Tisha made the area famous. I’ve covered Tisha in previous postings but plan to explain in the next week or so how the area contributed to the discover of gold and how that legacy still lives on through a man who would have been a candidate for John McPhee’s book, Coming Into the Country, had it been written at a different time.


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Mike Busby has helped to perpetuate the "golden" legacy of Chicken, Alaska, through interpretations of his Pedro Dredge and by offering opportunities to actually mine for gold at his Chicken Gold Camp.


Other photographs shown here are from the various native functions or interpretive centers we visited. At Teslin, British Columbia, we stopped to tour the relatively new visitor center, set off by a series of totems poles. I particularly liked one of the photographs Janie took (above verticles) while I was covering the World Eskimo Indian Olympics. She took the photograph during the baby contest, one of many additional events that took place when the athletes were taking a break from the intense contests.

Alaska never fails to excite us, and it is with much sadness that we see our trip now at a close. However, it lives on for us in our magazine stories (past and yet to come), in our photographs, and in our blogs, which is one of the many reasons we write them.

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THIS TIME TWO YEARS AGO:

*Fall Foliage Along the Natchez Trace Parkway

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One Response to “Back Home — But Alaska Is Still On Our Minds”

  1. Mike Young Says:

    John McPhee’s “Coming Into The Country” is my favorite book of his. Glad you mentioned it. No one does character portraits better, IMHO. He’s a craftsman extraordinaire.

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