Back in the Saddle Again

Now that we're back from our trip through Alaska, what are the strongest memories and lessons learned?

This is my personal blog and not the opinion of anyone else, the station nor my family nor a News Story.

Well, we've been back for almost ten days since our trip through Alaska came to an end, and everyone is asking me how it went, what it was like and if it was pretty.

This seems a little strange to me, because I've been posting pictures and blog entries right along through the trip, and I assume that my photos have been shared on the air during newscasts or weathercasts cause that's what I do on these trips.

So when someone asks me, like they have no idea in the world what I do for the station or what's been going on, I have to remember that not all people are attuned to the media as I might assume they are.

Anyway, the first question I get is, "Was it cold up there?"  And I have to answer, "Hotter than Hell...96F in Fairbanks." 

 At first, I get stares cause they think I'm kidding, but when they realize I am not, they inevitably say, "I didn't know it got that warm in Alaska."  And I have to explain that Alaska is as big as a continent in itself, and the interior of a continent is always subject to extreme swings in temperature, unlike the coastal regions that are moderated by the presence of water.

"Did you see a lot of wildlife?"  NO, in fact, we did not.  The extremely high temperatures, clear skies and bright sunshine make the wildlife hide.  And with daylight lasting 22 hours at a time, they don't come out at night, 'cause there is no night near the Arctic circle.  This also surprises people.

The fact of the matter is that I saw exactly ONE moose, standing in a muddy pond near the Gold Dredge #8 just off the narrow gauge rail-line.  Then several days later, I saw three bald eagle babies in a nest via closed circuit TV just outside Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.

 And then in Ketchecan, Alaska, we observed six bald eagles flying, rousting and soaring around a particularly tall pine tree next to their salmon cannery.  And that's how much wildlife I got to see on the trip.

Now, because I joined the trip a little tardy, the rest of the group got to go inland around Denali on an excursion bus and may have seen a bit more of the wildlife there, but I understand even those sightings were limited by the bright, clear days in Alaska.

Do I wish we had had different weather?  I'm not sure. I think it was really a treat for our group to be arriving in Alaska on the longest day of the year and to observe the 22 hour day with only two hours of twilight in between.  But I do wish it had been cooler for our visit, as none of the motels have air conditioning (why bother with it?) and the fans, while nice, just aren't the same!  I think if it had been cooler and more overcast, there would have been a lot more wildlife sightings, but then who knew that it was going to be the hottest it's been in years in interior Alaska during our two week trip?

Second to that, I do wish that I had remembered when the salmon run, cause that's always a treat to see them battling their way up the freshwater stream to get as high up before they spawn and die.  Many don't realize that the salmon not only smell their own home creek or stream to spawn in, but also that they begin dying the moment they cross from salt water to freshwater...and that it's only a matter of time before they expire.  The salmon eggs left upstream hatch and make their way down stream and repopulate the population, and that's what drives the whole salmon canning industry.

So I do wish that we had positioned our trip a little bit later in the summer, both for the heat and the salmon run.  But then, we can't have everything either.  Most people who went agreed that this was the "trip of a lifetime" and that they "never imagined that Alaska could be so majestic, so wide, so warm and so varied."  We have this image of a cold Eskimo in our mind's eye, and that's only partially true, for part of the year.

So now the question has come up, where would we like to go next year?  Any particular destinations in mind.  We talked quite a bit about this on the trip, and got suggestions from the fellow travelers.  Ideas range from:

1) Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and Glacier National Park via rain (NO flying involved!)

2) London, Normandy and Paris

3) Netherlands during tulip time

4) Germany

5) Crater Lake and the Pacific Coast highway

Nothing is written in stone yet, so if you have an opinion, I'd love to hear it. Please let us know what you favor, as all the trips will be happening whether Kirk and WTAP sponsor them or  not.

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