Quinn’s Extraordinary Travel Ramblings:
After being on the road for six weeks we headed back to Alaska! We flew out of Dallas, Texas on an Alaska Airlines flight. Our course took us up through the rain filled city of Seattle, Washington. When we finally landed in Juneau our first stop was to shop at Costco.
Shopping at Costco in Juneau, Alaska is usually an upbeat social event. The quality products offered at reasonable prices make a small, remote town in Alaska the envy of other smaller, remote towns which struggle with the ever escalating cost of living as well. And on each aisle we meet and greet half a dozen or more friends and acquaintances. One thing you don’t want to do in small town Alaska where everybody knows everybody’s business is go to the grocery store if you are in a hurry or happen to be in a particularly unsociable mood. Unless of course you are comfortable placing a paper bag over your head as a disguise or enjoy peering around corners and dodging the gaze of recognition from your friendly and sometimes not so friendly cohabitants. Living in Juneau is kind of like living in a fish bowl. With just forty miles of road from end to end and no way out but to fly or float, if you spend a few seasons you will eventually know and or recognize most every one. Inevitably the current brings you around to see folks again and again.
Early November at Costco held lots of comforting treasures: Thinsulate ski gloves (jet black or powder blue); rag wool socks; jumbo ice scrapers; a huge assortment of holiday chocolates (Belgian are exceptionally good); a brand new walk in refrigeration room stalked with beautiful produce; radiant space heaters; cozy blankets; movie theatre style popcorn machines and a satisfying collection of entertainment gadgets and media to accompany the popcorn……
In good time we drove into downtown Juneau, crossed the bridge to Douglas Island and drove the last seven and a half miles to Nine Mile Creek. Our faithful dog Cedar was the first to greet us. Her hair had grown a lot in the time that we were gone and she looked strangely like a blackened marshmallow (a very joyful one.)
On entering our house we were once again struck with the pure luxury it is to live in a home. There’s nothing like living in a forty foot bus with your family to put life in healthy perspective.
We were only home for a day before we headed out of town again. Our new destination was the Alaska Bald Eagle Festival, which was located in Haines, Alaska. The Alaska Bald Eagle Festival is an annual celebration of the largest congregation of Bald Eagles in the world. Over a thousand come every year to eat of the fish in the Chilkoot river. The reason that they come to eat out of this specific river is that it doesn’t freeze over so there are many fish there. The Bald Eagle Foundation also takes care of injured birds. They care for everything from owls to eagles.
We loaded our pick-up truck on the ferry which would transport us up the inland passage from Juneau to Haines. The ride was jam packed with people. Henceforth we ended up having to sit on the floor for the four hour ride. A group of students from the University of Alaska Southeast were on the ferry with us. One of their teachers gave a talk on sports that pushed the limits of sanity.
In Haines we set up our sound system and prepared for an evening concert at the Bald Eagle Foundation. One of the naturalists was feeding the great horned owl they were taking care of. In a back room we discovered a deep freeze packed full with rodents and chicks to be fed to the resident eagles and owls which were in the care of the foundation.
Approximately 150 folks attended our concert that evening. The concert hall was filled with Alaskan wildlife exhibits. Right over the stage loomed a magnificent moose. Standing up abruptly once during the performance the moose and I collided heads. The Blood family were our hosts for the weekend. So we enjoyed visiting with them a little before retiring for the night.
The next morning we returned to the eagle foundation hall where we were scheduled to give the Southeast Alaskan Odyssey Show. Laura and I killed some time looking at post cards in the gift shop while we waited for the bald eagle presentation to conclude which came before us on the day’s program. Once again the hall was filled to capacity and we kicked into gear with the Odyssey Show. The audience was engaged and seemed to be enjoying themselves. Especially during the Minor Swing when my mom stabbed my dad with her bow hand, narrowly missing his eye. I think I’ll find an eye patch to put in my dad’s Christmas stocking.
In the late afternoon our good friends, the Lidholms, joined us for a drive up the river valley. The eagles were out in force and it was a beautiful day. We stopped at the 26 Mile Roadhouse and consumed some great burgers and shakes. On the way back from dinner we were listening to the radio. The weather man came on and spoke these words, “It looks like we will be having rain for the next couple of days,……actually……, for the rest of the year.”
Sunday morning was utter chaos trying to get to church on time and as usual we managed it but just barely. Port Chilkoot Bible Church had invited us to attend their service and play some music. The Diggins’ family provided a wonderful lunch and good company. The Lidholms joined us once again and Mr. Lidholm brought his Mac with him. Laura and I joined forces as we tried to convince Dad of our desperate need to update our computer. We concluded our stay in Haines with Jaunita’s amazing apple pie.
The ferry ride home had plenty of room to spread out and we secured a state room to nap in as well. We ended up spending most of the time in the theater watching “Did You Hear About the Morgan’s?” and “The Spy Next Door.” The second of the two was a Jackie Chan movie. Mom didn’t know what it was but as soon as she saw that Jackie Chan was in it she vacated the theater. For some reason she doesn’t enjoy his movies, when asked why she will reply, “I just don‘t.”
We hauled up our driveway at 11:30 p.m. which on our internal clocks, not yet adjusted to Alaska time, was 2:30 a.m. So we settled down for a long winter’s nap.