So there I was, gobsmacked looking at the last 10,000 or so years stretching as far as the eye could see. Few places on the planet have been so unchanged over the course of time.
“Give me enough dynamite, and snooze, and I’ll build you a railroad to hell.”
Alaska’s White Mountain Pass looked pretty heavenly to me, although according to history it was hell building a railroad to the summit during Alaska’s gold rush years. Most thought it couldn’t be done.
Nothing like an amazing 2-hour ride along miles and miles of rugged mountain terrain and through years and years of history to encourage respect for the renowned “Irish Prince of Alaska.”
The last 3000 years stretched as far as the eye could see.
The massive ‘River of Ice’ was raw and rugged and breathtakingly beautiful.
The best part of travel?
Food certainly ranks somewhere close to the top.
My new favorite food south of the Mason-Dixon line is an old standby with fresh appeal.
You haven’t had grits until you’ve had shrimp and grits.
Think twice before you crinkle your nose and say ‘ew’ at the thought of this southern, low-country breakfast staple being anything more than tasteless hominy with more grit than dirty socks at the end of the day.
Let’s just say, chef Dave Del Rio’s signature dish knocked my socks off, eliminating any doubts I might have had regarding the savory accomplishments of this humble hominy!
So this is what “the most obscene erection of ego edifice on the Pacific Coast” looks like.
Eat your heart out Trump!
Alas, even the late Victor Steinbrueck, former dean of the University of Washington School of Architecture, couldn’t save Seattle from this “flat-out symbol of greed and egoism.”
Would it be gauche of me to report that from the top of Seattle’s ‘obscene’ Columbia Center the views of Puget Sound, Elliott Bay, and Mount Rainier were to die-for?
Okay, so sophistication isn’t my strong suit; but I do have a knack for composition when it comes to photography.
And I do have some obscenely scenic pictures to share!
It used to be my dance card was filled with weddings, baby showers and graduations; wonderful dance partners full of life and love and hope for the future. And then a few decades ago, funerals tapped me on the shoulder, wanting a spin around the dance floor.
Feet, don’t fail me now!
I need a younger group of friends! Not much I can do about family members putting on the years as quickly as the pounds. Guilty as charged.
Needless to say, I’ve done my fair share of wandering cemeteries over the past few years.
In fact, my latest foray into Woodlawn Cemetery was just yesterday. May Jimmy’s cousin, Alice, rest in peace. She was laid to rest surrounded by family, both the living and the dead; plenty of love and history to go around.
Indeed, there’s plenty of history to be had in any cemetery; rich or rogue, young and old, famous and infamous, all offer a spiritual link to the past.
Few had a past with as much 'spirit' as Jefferson Randolph Smith (no relation).
Okay, let’s just put it out there.
There was very little that was charming or quaint about Skagway, Alaska.
Well, there was Violet. I’ll get back to her in a minute.
Vast rugged wilderness and natural beauty is what Alaska is all about, although for a brief period, just before the turn of the 20th century, Alaska was all about GOLD!
Tens of thousands of dreamers and schemers passed through the virtually uninhabited Glacial Valley the native Tlingit called Skgagwei; all contributed to the raw and raucous two-year period from 1898 to 1900 at the core of much of Skagway’s history; at least the bulk of history Violet shared during our one hour tour of Alaska’s first incorporated city.
They come by the thousands year after year, many of the whales traveling 2,800 miles just to feed in the cold, protected waters of Southeast Alaska, the bubble-net capital of the world. More on bubble-net feeding, a uniquely humpback whale dining technique, later in this post.
Almost two million tourists follow in their wake, hoping to catch a glimpse of these gentle giants. Okay, two-million-and-one counting yours truly.
My maritime whale-watching excursion included a guaranteed whale sighting or a refund on the cost of my excursion with Allen Marine; and that’s no fish tale, particularly given whales are mammals, not fish. But you knew that, right?
Suffice it to say, my hundred bucks bought me a whale of a good time; and some unexpected visitors to boot.
Mile after mile after magnificent mile (6,600 miles of coastline) was unimaginably beautiful; and serene; and remote. Only 20% of Alaska can be reached by road; which is why we chose to come by boat. Most visitors do.
I soooooooo need this time away! As a bonified member of the sandwich generation, I've been feeling the squeeze of late, and that ain't no baloney. Hold the mayo; and hold all family crises while this beleagured baby boomer gets some hard-earned R&R.
I may spend all 8 days of my cruise melded to a deck chair soaking up the sun, the sea breezes and the scenery while my neck, shoulders and lower back seek a new norm, one hopefully free of pain.
It's North to Alaska where BIG is the order of the day (superimpose a map of the state of Alaska on top of a map of the lower 48 and Alaska stretches from coast to coast), 18-hour days this time of year when it comes to daylight. BIG days that go hand in hand with bears bigger than bison, national parks the size of nations, glaciers bigger than some US states; 18-hour days that see BIG cruise ships clutter all 910 miles of Alaska's Inside Passage.
Alas, America's Final Frontier awaits, shrouded in a wilderness as vast as it is stunning, as rugged as it is pristine; or so I've heard. Time will tell, as will yours truly first chance I get. Meanwhile, this stunning preview of coming attractions by Toby Harriman will have to suffice.
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