The Great Alaskan Adventure – Chapter 2

Today we played Tourist..

I’m trying to remember my childhood. How we’d walk our dogs all around the Mendehall Glacier. I see the old grainy pictures of them in my mind, but the glacier today is not that place..

It is verdant green and lush. Even the water from the falls and the glacier seem a tint of green. At first, what hits you, is the smell of exhaust. There are some 5 buses when we arrive, and more coming and going. We take the standard photos. I squint, and I’m not sure if it’s because my contacts are dry, or if I’m trying to see the glacier. My heart breaks a little over how far back it’s melted over the years. But hey, “Global Warming is fake news,” right?

2019

There is about a mile walk out to the epic waterfall. We fall into the stream of traffic and are whisked off, like spawning salmon. And no matter how many waterfalls you’ve seen, this one still takes your breath away..

From a distance it seems standard. Meh.. But as you get closer, you hear it before you can see it. A distant, tickle of laughter in the air, followed by a cooling in temperature. And then when you break through the trees and are finally upon it, it towers above you like a God, laughing its great, crashing laughter. Your feet sink into the dry sand as you approach its base. Like a traveler reaching an oasis, you reach the fall. You are met with the cool, spray of water. And words escape you..

It is a very touristy thing to do. What was once a peaceful, leisurely place to go, now a place people from around the world flock to see. After all, perhaps one day, there wont be much to see anymore..

In keeping in the spirit, we go to the local fish hatchery. Not some place locals would go to for fun, but somewhere your second grade class might take you during Ocean Week. Inside, one giant cylander with warped glass the induces a sense of dizziness, is full of huge fish you’d never just see. Giant, lazy rock fish. Huge, spiney king crabs. Anemonies that could suck your face off. Barnacles the size of walnuts.. And of course, to one side is the touch tanks, where kids can poke starfish and sea cucumbers.. And for a good 10 minutes, I stared at a hermit crab as he contemplated moving to a new shell. I had my camera poised, ready to snap a shot of his naked body as he made the half a second change. But also felt a little bit like a peeper, looking thru the window of a stranger, and eventually left to reunite with my party..

And finally, dockside, the oddly ellusive, bronze whale sculpture. Nothing quite so awe inspiring while I was living here. Huge, with fountains and spraying water shooting up. Really, it was pretty fantastic (if a little oddly located..) Humpback Whales, such amazing and magestic creatures. They’ve always struck me as so Alaskan. The way Rhubarb feels Alaskan. Yes, you can grow and buy Rhubarb anywhere. But Rhubarb in Alaska is like palm trees in California..

…I’m not really sure where that analogy came from. It’s coming on 10PM on July 3rd (11PM down south time.) And I am contemplating the feasability of going to bed and skipping the festivities tonight at midnight. But, you see… it is a big thing here. Cars are already lining up along the main road, finishing boats are clogging the channel up, and with the fire warning pretty high up here and a possible water rationing soon, it is a really big deal that the city has even allowed fireworks at all tonight..

And so it is..

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