Friday, 16 July 2010

Et Alia

Finally I have a connection. We've stopped in Anchorage for the night, before taking the train to Seward in the morning, and then on to the ship. I'm looking forward to not having to get up at 5 o'clock at some point, but tomorrow morning won't be that morning. I have, however. written something each evening, so I'll paste.

Today, we went whitewater rafting - the 'raft' was a dinghy, and we didn't get to do anything apart from sit in it and get cold and wet in spite of our dry suits. I had a panic attack when I was zipped into mine.
In retrospect, I prefer kayaking, but it was interesting to go down a long stretch of slightly turbulent water.
Afterwards we got the train, the Alaskan Railroad, to where we are now. It's still not properly dark and we have to be out of here by 5.30.

Of course now that we're at the cabin where we're staying on the edge of Denali National Park, there is no wi-fi. There is supposed to be, but there isn't and it's too freaking late to go and bug someone about it.
Here, late is meaningless, it's a pragmatic lateness, it's 22.30 as I write and no darker than late afternoon. In the winter, the opposite, the lack of sunshine, messes with the beavers, they go into a 26-29 hour diurnal cycle.
The road here from Fairbanks was bouncy. Apparently the permafrost messes with the road surface. The landscape was like BC-lite, and with shorter trees, black spruce and Aspen. There are also areas of forest fires, caused by lightning.
Then there is the coal mining. Although the mining companies are making good the blasted land from open cast mining, coal is still used to generate electricity here. Recycling is a theoretical. The Northern Wilderness is far from pristine.

Safari – well, a day on a bus at any rate. We drove 92 miles in 6 hours into the mountains and back country that is Denali National Park. It's bigger than Yellowstone, or was it Jellystone? Either way, we went around the kind of mountain roads you only see in films. We saw Moose, a Lynx, several grizzly bears with cubs, a grey wolf, snowshoe hares. We saw glaciers and braided glacier meltwater.
The light thing is still worrying me. I woke up during the night and it was almost dark.
We had to make our own arrangements for dinner after we got back, so, having been assured that the restaurants – a bunch of log cabins – run shuttles to take punters home, we stopped at the Salmon Bake. This little place reminded me of Squamish, very much so, it was difficult to remember I wasn't in Canada, apart, of course, from the different money and the annoying tendency of everyone to expect to be tipped. I'm sorry, if you do a job, you get paid for it, if you do it well, your employer deals with that, if you do it badly, your employer deals with that. The end.
Having said all of that, the cost of living is high in Alaska, compared with other States. Unless you want to eat Moose and other roadkill, all the food has to be expensively flown in and distributed. Dawn told me that Alaskan residents get an oil cheque once a year, but all that does is allow them to buy a few things they haven't been able to afford throughout the year.
And, Alaska has a short growing season. The plants flower and possibly fruit and the permafrost melts slightly, for 100 days in a year. By mid-August, the snows start and then everything starts to close down. By the 1st of October, the little town we went to today is completely closed, as is the road through the National Park.
To make up for that, there are no reptiles in Alaska, well, except Sarah of course.
Oh, and Dawn has come over from the dark side, she boldly informed the woman in the restaurant that we were not guys. And we're not.

1 comment:

Sleepy said...

The idea of someone other than my partner 'Zipping' me into anything other than a sleeping bag fills me with horror.

'Not properly dark' utterly appeals to the Insomniac Simmi!

Doesn't it seem that people want some sort of medal for living somewhere shit... Alaska, Norfolk, Scotland, Birmingham...
Fucking move you thick twats.
You live in a shithole, don't expect applause.

Annoy people about the WiFi. No matter the time.
Get something 'Free' for it... Booze is my recommendation!

Beavers... Fnarr! (Every time!)