Aug 23, 2010

Alaska: The Red-Eye

Our final moments in Alaska could have been anywhere -- Busbee's driving around the city, me and Tom sitting at a Barnes and Noble, turning in the rental cars, baggage check-in, impatiently going through security. Could have been any city, any place. Except maybe for all the coolers being checked in with the baggage.
Flying home at 37,000 feet & 561 mph, the gulf to our right, gigantic snowy mountains to our left & beneath us; beyond that, the Yukon. Approaching Sitka, Juneau, outside temps hit -74 degrees. My headset's on with calming music. A toddler's in the seat behind me, screaming, kicking my seat repeatedly, occasionally singing. Tom smiles, "Isn't he adorable?" He mocks.
The pilot should be hanging a left soon.

Yes, I'm watching. It's the red-eye so many people are sleeping, but I'm glued to the window.
Places below me: Elfin Cove, Dobsons Landing. I wonder what they're like. Will I ever get back?
At 37,000 feet these mountains look like I could reach out and touch them. I think back to when we peeked over the hill on I-26 just after Spartanburg, at Summer's promising beginning, and the Smokies just appeared, looming above. Tommy drawled "¡Las montaƱas! and sighed with awe.
At 37,000 feet, Summer's End, I look out and breathe "¡Las montaƱas! "

We've boated to the very foot of these mountains. We've flown up near the tops of these mountains. We've zig-zagged through them on a tiny plane with their jagged walls cradling us. We've landed in the middle of them like kids at a playground at 5,000 feet. We've listened to the thunderous roar of the glaciers shifting, we've crunched through the snow, we've watched Dall Sheep and Grizzlies and Wolves pace the grassy slopes of these mountains. We've watched the Bald Eagle soar over these mountains. We've seen the clouds creep in and swaddle the mountains. We've seen Dr. Seuss-like trees secure the perimeters of these mountains. We've seen climbers hike and artists paint these mountains. These mountains leave us worshipful, breathless, longing. and now, sadly, we leave them.
In my tiny airplane seat, I draw back, look around, lean forward to peer over at Doug and Jackie. Doug is gaping out his window snapping photos much like I am. Here's his view on his side of the plane:

What a trip.
It's a good, good thing we had such sweetness waiting for us back at home.

My Other Alaska Posts:
Kenai Fjords, Seward
The Seward Highway
Kenai: Dipnetting
Seward: Exit Glacier
The Sterling Highway
Capt. Cook State Recreation Area
Anchorage AK: Paragliding
Talkeetna, Alaska
Talkeetna Glacier Tour (my favorite part of the trip)

Travel Info:

Talkeetna Roadhouse
Talkeetna Air Taxi
Mahay's Riverboat Service
Denali National Park

1 comment:

~Connie said...

Thanks for the 'trip', Val ... I enjoyed the visit through your blogs. As always, great job! (And, yes - you'll go back ... WE'LL go back!) :)