Dateline: May 10, 2012 Dutch Harbor/Ounalashka, AK
I'm wide awake at 4 AM in a hotel in the Aleutians with not much more to do than piddle around on a painfully slow internet connection ...OR write a little about more of my travel experiences.
Just in case I was going to have a bit of extra time while in Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, before I got here I looked up their chamber of commerce website and high on the list of things to do was "experience the weather change several times a day." It didn't further explain that said weather instability would likely ground you from traveling out of the place again.
Of course, I'm neither surprised nor disappointed at this delay. I'm actually more anxious about the possibility of not getting somewhere than not getting back from somewhere, meaning, when I leave Anchorage for one of these visits to village/rural/bush AK. Several of these places get only one visit a year, so far, from our center and the appointments are set before I get here and some people have been waiting for months or longer. I don't know if I've ever explained this before, but I travel with about 100 lbs of equipment just to show people what might be helpful to them in carrying on their daily tasks with as much independence as possible after they begin losing their vision. We have grants and donations that enable me to offer about $100 of equipment and supplies--lighted magnification, sunglasses, household items, talking book services, etc.-- to each person I visit at no cost to them. I have put together a little package of additional simple give-away items they can walk away with from our visit and the more expensive ones we have to order for them.
So, once I've done that part, I have no more anxiety about getting somewhere, because it's not like I have to hurry back to work or to a family waiting at home for me. I am already at work clear out here on the islands and I don't think my roommate's cats miss me a whole lot, (except that I think I give them more treats than I'm supposed to.)
So, here I am. I waited at the airport (yes, we're calling it that) for a couple of hours before they announced the cancellation yesterday. Weather, this time, but a few times before it has been mechanical difficulties. And then there have been extra fuel stops. Sometimes mechanical delays, extra fuel stops AND THEN outright cancellations, as was the case yesterday.
There was more of this kind of baggage than real suitcases: Fifty-pound boxes of fish.
There's only one hotel in town and on Monday evening after I already had a room, a flight was cancelled leaving a lot of people without a place to stay that night and they were scrambling around with roll-aways and shuttles to their other bunk-house "inn," doubling strangers in with each other. Mostly, it was fishermen and dock workers who were used to that kind of thing, but it was hectic around here. So, when my flight cancelled yesterday, I made a bee-line back here to the hotel and got a room and THEN went back to the airport to see about standby on the next flight that may or may not have got through. And all this without my own transportation. (The kindness of strangers and all that.) It was easier and faster than trying to call.
The person I got a ride with first told me that the hotel was having a "king crab all-you-can-eat buffet" that night so if I was indeed going to stay I should look into that. And boy howdee, did they ever. Have a buffet, I mean. Seafood: beautiful food as far as you could see on long tables, sushi, fresh catch fillets poached in things like grapefruit buerre blanc with coconut curry chow chow, seared cod and NY steak skewers, creamy chunky chowders, deep-fried shrimp and calamari, salmon in several incarnations...blackened prime rib at the end. And then a whole table dedicated to just king crab legs. Just fat juicy, slightly sea-salty king crab legs. Even the salad bar was very dressed up--ceviche, chutneys, more salmon (smoked and raw) with creme cheese and capers, tropical fruit salsas, caprese, asparagus in balsamic vinaigrette and some really tasty things I didn't even recognize. Well, sure, of course a dessert bar.
The place was hoppin' , I tell ya. I saw someone sitting on the fireplace hearth with his plate in his lap.
I forgot my binoculars. A trip to the Aleutians and the dope forgets her binoculars. My hotel room has a view out over a little lagoon and there are birds to watch from here, too. Lovely, funny, weird-looking little birds. Harlequin ducks, cormorants, auklets (but not whiskered, more's the pity,) and I think those might be black-headed gulls. One seal.
|The car loaned to me by the clinic.|
|Pretty decent Mexican food within walking distance from the hotel.|
|Local subject by a local "Grandma" artist I met one morning.|
|The Dutch Harbor Mark. This was actually a mild case. On one particularly rainy period, my very messy Dutch Harbor mark went all the way up the back of my legs. It's from pressing your leg against the runner on the vehicle to get in/out of the car.|
So sue me; I can't seem to get my fill of taking pictures of sea-going vessels.
Last night "The Deadliest Catch" was on television and I fell asleep watching the Time Bandit crew haul in their nets, all in an effort to really soak up the experience of being in Dutch Harbor. I may or may not have seen one of the ships' captains at the sea food blow-out last night. Most likely not, but a girl can make stuff up in her head.
|The Bishop's manse.|
Dang. I wish I could ever catch a break in life.