Monday, June 23, 2008

Alaska: I'd rather be home

We're back from a week in Alaska and here are my random thoughts:
1. Alaska is vast and remote. We didn't get cell phone reception for the most part and when we did it was poor. This was a real shocker since we got very good internet/cell phone speeds in Hawaii. Also, in Hawaii, I had access to regular toilets. I won't go into details about Alaska's but it's was not uncommon for me to want to pee on the side of the road instead of my other options.
2. The most enjoyable parts of the trip: white water rafting in pouring rain (whee! the water was so cold on contact), flying in an airplane and then landing on a glacier (beautiful mountain views), having time to watch a romantic comedy (Definitely, maybe) with very little guilt.
3. Mostly I was homesick and missed my kids desperately. My father in law has a nice blog post about his experience with them.
4. I do not like hiking in the snow! Especially when there is elevation because I hate/fear the trip down. The 7.7 mile rountrip to the Harding Ice Field is ridiculously dangerous. Parts of it were like rock climbing (of course we had zero equipment) and other parts were just too death defying for me. Uncomfortable, dangerous and no fun -- I have a video of Josh wringing out his wet socks after we were done.
5. Completely overrated - the aformentioned Harding Ice Fields (best hike in Alaska, touted our B&B host. Ha!), Denali national park (SUCKS big time: 12 hours on a bus, getting up at 4:30 AM, seeing wildlife like moose, bear, caribou, fox, etc. sounds impressive until you realize they were seen as specks...Would have been nice to have binoculars...still you feel pretty removed.), short cruise in Seward (glaciers were nice, but I'd rather climb/walk/hike/fly to see them).
6. I was very disturbed by how people don't value animal life as much. Furs are more than condoned; they're a way of life. Thinking about how smart salmon are to return to the place where they were born and that large fish like halibut are shot before they're pulled on board makes me conflicted to eat them. Confronted by the cycle of life/food chain (wolves eating moose, bears eating wolves, etc. makes me sad. I want to be a vegetarian. I've reduced my meat consumption in half, but it's not enough. I feel guilty about eating eggs and drinking milk too. It's been on my mind a lot - the struggle and conflict to change my diet.
My final recommendation is that instead of going to Alaska, I would go to Iceland.


farnk said...

This really makes it look like Alaska sucks, The only people I know who said they liked it went on a cruise ship and only made a couple of brief port stops. I wonder if you sent this into the Anchorage paper as a letter to the editor they would publish it.

js said...

I wouldn't say it sucks - it certainly has a lot going for it, but much of it can be seen elsewhere/closer. The wildlife you could probably see in Yellowstone (and it's true, it was mostly far away - except for the whales - they were close, and it seemed pretty unique). The glaciers you could see other places too. Mt Mckinley is awesome looking. Kayaking on a lake and river while viewing the mountain was pretty neat, and we're not likely to do that anywhere else. It was decent, I think we just missed the kids.

farnk said...

Maybe I shouldn;t have sent pics of the kids after all - it may have had the reverse effect of making K more homesick...especially after compating with the Hawaii trip.