For the next two months, this blog will be devoted to traveling around and experiencing the great wide beauty of Alaska. 

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I’ve entered another world. It resembles worlds I’ve experienced in the past–great coffee shops, art galleries, local bands, dive bars–but it’s surrounded by glimmering water, jagged snowcapped peaks and a sun that doesn’t set until midnight. A six mile ride out on the spit–a straight six-mile finger of land that extends into Kachemak Bay–unveils a completely new landscape of harbor filled with schooners, skiffs, crab boats, all sorts of vessels designed for water exploration, and gritty bars where fisherman gather to swap tales of winter crabbing in the fierce Bering Sea.

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Water is a way of life here, but so are the mountains. If you have a friend with a boat you can access the perfect complimentary adventure of a sea to ski. On Saturday morning, we met Alayne’s friend at the harbor, loaded skis, skins, ice axes, packs into his small boat named Vamanos and motored across Kachemak Bay to the snowy peaks of the Kenai Range. Hours of uphill hiking among moose tracks and bulging piles of bear scat led us to alder bushwacking, soft snow skinning. We paused for lunch–king salmon that had been smoked by a friend, dark chocolate–and gazed at the bowls and ridges around us that bordered the sea.

“This sounds naiive to say,” I started, “but I had no idea life was so good in Alaska.” Alayne and Dan both smiled like they knew a deep secret I was just beginning to grasp.

Hours later we reached the high point of the ridge and gazed into Grewingk glacier. A haiku came to mind:

Granite icebergs burst

from a solid sea of white

ribbed with tints of blue

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We skied patches of soft corn snow and slowly picked our way back down among the alders, the moose tracks, the bear poop. We paused along the trail to collect fiddleheads and devil’s club shoots to cook later in the week with some newly acquired King Crab. By the time we reached the black sand of Hawaii Beach, it was nearly 11pm and the sun was iridescent on the water. At midnight, as we drove up Alayne’s driveway, we spotted a mama moose and her calf.

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How did I not know the wonders of this place before? It is as though I’m being let in on a great secret. Perhaps what makes it so secret is that you never really know the depth of the place until you experience it first hand. This is just the beginning.

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Last week, on a whim, I decided I needed an adventure. And so, I applied for a Frontier Airlines credit card and used my free signup miles to book a plane ticket to Alaska, where I’ll spend two and a half months of my summer with soul sister, Alayne Tetor. I depart on June 4th, barely two weeks after I made the decision to go.

My boss was shocked at the quick decision. “You’re leaving June 4th?! Holy hell,” he exclaimed. “But I’m giving you two weeks!” I insisted.

My roommates took it a little better. “So, I’ll put that Craigslist ad up right away,” Kelly responded. Fortunately my current room-in-a-house situation is month to month, without a lease, and with a group of fun older people who believe strongly in finding, and following, your destiny. “What an adventure!” she mused.

“You know, Homer isn’t right in the mountains,” Alayne warned me as we hashed out plans. “I know it,” I replied, “but honestly, Alayne, I’m so hungry for something new I don’t even care. And besides, I’ll be able to see the mountains from Homer…”

I’ve never been to Alaska, know very little of Homer besides what Alayne and Google have told me (fishing town of 5,000, home of the Homer Spit, southwest side of the Kenai Penninsula, artist and intellectual hub, barely reaches 75 degrees all summer), and there’s something about not knowing that is incredibly exhilarating. I can honestly say I have no idea what shape the summer will take.

Of course there are practical considerations at hand: I need to find a job, for starters. I have a handful of leads at restaurants in Homer, and Alayne has a few ideas up her sleeve. Finding work isn’t my biggest concern; even if the job sucks I’m still living in Alaska and only need to hack it out for two months.

Then there are the fun considerations: glacier skiing, salmon fishing, blackberry pie baking, wilderness exploring, hopping a plane to Juneau, a ferry to Ketchikan, experiencing an entire 24 hours of sunlight, making art and inspired writing, being immersed in all of the beauty and hugeness of the Great White North.

Of course, I have asked myself  ‘why do this?’. And I tell myself, because it’s there.

And then I ask myself ‘why not?’. I can’t think of one single reason not to.

Homer, AK, curtesy of bayrealtyhomes.com

Homer, AK, courtesy of bayrealtyhomes.com