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Friday, July 9, 2010

Alaska Reflections

When you take an epic trip, like my recent five week journey to Alaska, it almost takes a while for the whole thing to sink in. On one hand, once you've returned to your regular day-to-day routine, it almost feels like the trip never happened, or that it was over so fast. On the other hand, when thinking back on the trip every once and a while it sinks it - wow, I was really there, and I really saw all those amazing things. It's hard to capture the essence of the trip.

I don't really fancy myself all that much of a poet, but I have recently been intrigued with haiku, since to me they seem to often convey both natural beauty and personal emotions. There were a few times throughout the trip when free-form haiku seemed to just come to me, so I thought I would share them here as one way of reflecting on my trip.

Alpine flowers grow
Solitude in the tundra
Only bears walk here

Waterfalls cascade
The canyon slowly changes
I want to stop time

Humpback whales surface
Alaska rain showers down
We are all looking

Sun shines bright on snow
At the base of the mountains
How little we are

Haiku are sort of an artistic way of reflecting on the trip, but I also have a more scientific, factual side that likes to keep track of numbers and statistics. So I call my second way of looking back on my trip "Alaska By the Numbers".

Miles traveled by car: 5092
Miles traveled by ferry: 1728
Miles traveled by bus: 132
Miles traveled by train: 40

Number of bird species identified: 147
Number of year birds: 50
Number of life birds: 16

[Note: I added the purple martin (year bird 212) and willow flycatcher (year bird 213, NA life bird 336) on the last day of the trip at the Anacortes ferry terminal.]

Number of mammal species seen: 29
Number of these that were marine mammals: 8
Number of bears seen: 21 (19 black bears, 2 brown bears)
Number of these bears that were in Canada, not Alaska: 16

In addition to being an amazing wilderness sight-seeing trip, it was filled with great quality time spent with my parents, to whom I am eternally thankful for letting me tag along on this adventure! I'm glad all my blog readers were able to follow along on our travels, and as many of you have expressed to me I hope you get to experience the wonder that is Alaska for yourself first-hand. I know I plan to go back!

I'll conclude my Alaska reflections with this quote that I saw on a sign along the way, which to me captures part of the intrigue of nature:

"The wilderness holds answers to questions man has not yet learned to ask." -Nancy Newhall, author

1 comment:

Warren Baker said...

I dont think my comment went through, so if this is a repeat i'm sorry!

I loved the last photo, and well done on all that wildlife spotting. Especially the new birds for the year and the lifers :-)