Sunday, June 30, 2013

Red Rover Moves To Washington

I had thought I would either like or need to write more about leaving Alaska than I have so far written.  After all, I spent two wonder-packed years traveling all over the state, encountering people, places, perspectives and situations I would never have been able to foretell.  Some things I managed to write about, more I didn't, but it's probably not over yet.  The telling, I mean.

 When I was younger, I used to think about those people who could live remotely and off the grid in Alaska.  I wondered if I would indeed be able to manage something like that, keep my sanity in the least, and for the most, love and need to do it at the cost of whatever sacrifice might be required.  I usually like the part of life about testing my mettle.  By the time I was lifted to Alaska, however, I had long since grown out of that youthful daydreaming about cabins and snowshoes and long periods of solitude.  I lost interest, except for a few small forays into wondering if Alaska was indeed as grand and marvelous and strangely alluring as people had claimed.  I never entertained the possibility of living there...until...well, we know pretty much the most of the rest of that story.

Part of an Alaska story to come later becaue I just realized I haven't told this one yet and it's a doozy!
For now, I have begun a brand new story, another that came quite unexpectedly. It starts, I'm going to say, in Olympia, Washington.  Now here is a place I can say I have never had the remotest interest in visiting, let alone living in, until the opportunity knocked me off my haunches. (Although I do remember spending about 3 weeks in Stanwood and on Camano Island way back in the early 80's--another tale for another time, except to say I loved those wild blackberries and fresh-caught salmon in people's back yards.)  Not that I had anything in particular against Washington State.  I just had so many other fish to fry, as they so cleverly say, but honestly, it seems like all the places where I end up are places I didn't really think of in the beginning on my own--they were just means or by-products to other ends--so why belabor this point any longer!

Well.  I am so happy here I could burst.  Just like I was in Alaska, and San Francisco, and Korea, and New Mexico and Colorado and yes, even in Utah.  Well, maaayybee not to the thrilled bursting point in Utah.  There was a time I did not want to be there, but in the end--the last end, which isn't to say the final end, necessarily--I was quite content with my life there.  It was a comfortable home with avenues for some adventure and loving relationships and not a few heartbreakenly poignant miracles.

I love my work but I can't really write a whole lot about it due to the confidential nature of most of what I do, which is kind of too bad because I know some very courageous, funny, inspiring, off-the-wall, giving, dogged and tenacious people associated with this work.   I have to resort mostly to show and tell about the area and more public events or people. 

So, here goes the first part:

I live at the end of Steamboat Island Rd. in a place called Carlyon Beach Community.

That's a heron perched upon the piling.

Night of the Supermoon

The Beginning.  Again. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Sitka, The First City Of Alaska

My last official work trip in Alaska took me to island communities in the Southeast...Juneau, Sitka, and Prince of Wales Island including Klawock and Craig.  I've already written about all of this trip except for the couple of days I spent in Sitka, so here it is.  

By the way, official websites are better, I think, at advertising their uniqueness and if you are interested, check these out: , , .  You won't be sorry at all.

In the meantime, here's my take on the "natural place to visit."  

I feel constrained to offer, again, just a wee bit of history on the hill. It's called Baranof Castle Hill State Historic Site, but there's nary a castle upon it, today.  It's an historical site of Tlingit and Russian forts, the area of land understood by the Tlingit people to be ceded to the Russian government following the battle of 1804, and the location where, in 1867, the Russian flag was lowered and the American flag was raised, marking the transfer of Alaska to the United states.       

It's also an area from which you can get some pretty decent views on a nice day.

I climbed a couple of other, smaller hills, up to the Russian and Lutheran Cemeteries and catered to my interest in rusty, old things in general and old Russian things and buried people.

Here, at Ludwig's, I had the best paella I've had since about 1981 at a college dinner party where the hostess decided to try her hand at something different.

Not only was it the best paella, it was one of the top meals I've had the whole two years I've been all over Alaska.  Another was at the Kenaitze Elder's center lunch (in Kenai) where we had volunteer, simple-folk,  homemade salmon quiche and salmon chowder...and salad with real, garden tomatoes.

While we're discussing eating in Alaska, you have to know that I've been in a number of establishments with unmatchable views, and here is one that holds a dear place in my heart and soul.

McDonald's in Sitka!  Isn't that fabulous?  I can spend a couple of bucks for lunch and get this million-dollar ambience...inside or out.  On my first trip here, my traveling companion, in the old days when I had a traveling companion, actually declared a moratorium on eating at McDonald's, before I could suggest it one more time.

I'll leave off this post with a couple more pictures, the way I usually do, of just miscellany.

I include this last picture of a little cafe in a radio station where I had mediocre food, but was very entertained while eavesdropping.  Those earnest youngsters at the counter were discussing the merits of drinking plenty of water, walking into the woods with a shovel, digging and squatting over a hole to relieve constipation.  Such a simple, miracle remedy that the woman's future house-building plans included a toilet with an extended seat to accommodate climbing up and placing one's feet alongside one's seat.  The man then described a toilet he had seen that had been placed flush with the floor, probably a more reasonable accommodation.  (I remember those squatters from my stint in Korea, and I know that those of you who know me are assuming I joined in the conversation, as is my wont, considering I never met a stranger, but I remained safely aloof, silently consuming my sammy and soda...this time.)