Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Glacial Perspective

“Everyone,” my host began, “has their own mythology of Alaska.”Knik Glacier in Alaska (11)

As we drove out from Anchorage, past the town of Wasilla (yep, the hometown of Sarah Palin), I reflected on that.

Many states have images that are conjured up when you hear their names.

California. Florida. Texas. New York.

But, Alaska, probably because it’s so distant (I didn’t even know until this trip that it takes 3 hours to get there FROM SEATTLE), so big (and thus difficult to get our heads around), and somewhat the land of lore (think Klondike Gold Rush), definitely defies a unique stereotype…and that is what Steve meant, I believe.

Part of that mythology these days is Sarah Palin and, frankly, my non-scientific research says that most Alaskans could do without that.

But, part of that mythology is in the outdoors, roaming, going out and about…you vs. nature or, better yet, you AND nature.

Steve drove me up to the Knik River Lodge, owned by Peter, a Dutchman who has lived in Alaska for 24 years and done something quite special.

He’s combined a lodge experience with gourmet European cooking (he brings in a French chef) and a passion for the outdoors to create a unique experience that is about appreciating the state and its beauty.

With the help of Steve Richards, our pilot, we flew in a helicopter (my first time doing that) out to the Knik Glacier where I had a meeting with God.

It wasn’t on the calendar, He hadn’t sent an email, but He was there.

Ok, so I’m exaggerating, but if God is about feeling a sense of deeper connection to the earth and of giving you a better perspective into just how small you are in the grand scheme of things so you don’t get so full of yourself, then he was there.

The glacier is something like 6 miles wide, 26 miles long and no one knows how deep.

It’s intense, which I got to see for myself when Peter set up the ice climbing and I rappelled down (not too far) into a ravine…the bottom of which NO ONE has ever seen, but leads to an underground river.

Out there, on the ice, you think about your daily issues and your (relatively small) world and you are reminded..in a way to yet another city cannot do), how magnificent the world is and the awe-inspiring capabilities of nature.

Alaska is really a world unto itself in some ways. There’s no state income tax and no sales tax…of course, it’s easy to do that (and balance your state budget) when you have a $50 billion fund from oil royalties that serves as an endowment for the whole state.

In fact, EACH citizen (kids, too) gets an annual check for $2000 from the fund as a dividend.

All of this put some of Palin’s claims in perspective, by the way.

But, this isn’t about Palin and focusing on her does a disserve to the people here.

They are warm and hospitable. They have a great attidute and a beautiful climate and their state provides a unique opportunity to regain a perspective on LIFE that we all sometimes lose.

For some video of the glacier (here and here)


blog comments powered by Disqus
View Comments