Alaskan Blog Archives

Burned Woods

In Eagle, posting via painfully slow dialup-over-satellite (the local telephone system connects to the world via satellite, as is common in the Alaskan bush). Data connections here are always very poor. I’d curse the local phone company, but its employees are guys I grew up with. And they shoot better than I do. (Hi, David!) Besides, connecting to the internet in Eagle is like that old joke about the dancing bear: it’s not the quality of the dancing that impresses, but the fact that the bear dances at all.

I took an interesting snapshot along the Taylor Highway. Last summer was an awful, terrible year for wildfires. Here you can see a birch tree that was burned at the base and is now dead, against a backdrop of heavily-burned black spruce “forest”:

wildfire damage along Taylor Highway

Nude Woman On A Taku Glacier Iceberg

One of the main occupations in Alaska is dreaming up clever new ways to get one’s hands on tourist dollars. We get a lot of tourists (and why not? It’s a great trip, everyone agrees) and like tourists everywhere, they like to buy novelties and trinkets.

This novelty postcard falls near the bottom end of the taste scale, but I’m sure it sold handsomely. I found it on eBay, but did not buy it:

Taku Glacier nude

This “real photo” postcard dates from the 1950s or so. The nude woman is obviously what the kids these days call a “photoshop” , but here she’s been added to the scene in the darkroom with scissors and paste. There’s no way anyone could stand safely on that jumbled ice. But still, it’s a cute postcard that probably moved briskly off the racks.

The glacier in the background is the Taku Glacier south of Junuea, and it’s a popular destination for cruise visitors. Some of the bolder cruise ships enter Taku Arm and approach pretty near the glacier, bumping aside icebergs as they go. But there’s a brisk and thriving business in Juneau selling day tours on smaller catamarans normally used for whale watching. The scenery (even without naked women on icebergs) is unbelievably spectacular.

Real Alaskan Vehicle, With Eagles

Here’s a real Alaskan vehicle for you. I called it the War Pig. I bought it off my (sort-of) brother-in-law for seven hundred bucks, after he bought it for some lesser sum at a salvage auction. First thing I did was put five hundred dollars worth of snow tires on it, because I wanted it for rough winter driving. I loved that thing — it would go anywhere (four wheel drive baby!) and it didn’t matter what you hit. Dents? Hell, that’s a pickup truck fender on the front!

Real Alaskan Suburban

Here you see me stopped along the Chilkat river near Haines. It was in November of 2001, and the bald eagles had gathered as they do that time of year. Alaskan or not, it was more bald eagles than I’d ever seen, so I had to stop and stare. And take bad snapshots, like any other tourist:

Chilkat River eagles

Here’s another picture of the War Pig, parked up near the top of Haines Pass where the snow was already deep:

Haines Pass at dusk in November

Pretty mountains. That’s the trouble with living in Alaska. You’re just barrelling along in your cartoonishly bad Suburban, trying to get somewhere to clean out a storage unit, and the scenery just jumps out and ambushes you. There’s nothing you can do but stand there for four or five minutes and soak it up. Then you shake your head, realize you’re freezing your ass off, and get on with your life.

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