Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Location: United States

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

"I've flown over 194 missions and I was shot down on every one. Come to think of it, I've never landed a plane in my life." -Lloyd Bridges, Hot Shots

Denali, the Great One. Or was that Jackie Gleason? I can't remember. But, this is an unretouched photo of Denali. You can make this picture larger, like Greg did on The Brady Bunch to prove that his team lost a game they won, but all you have to do is click on it. This one is very cool, and worth the time (check out the glacier). Unless you're a communist . . .

Fortunately, I was not shot down on this plane flight.

Alaska is big, about the size of Texas and Asia, if you put them together. This may not be as large as Sean Penn's ego, but, it's still a pretty darn big place.

Darned if it isn't small, as well.

I was flying from Anchorage a while back and plopped down in my seat. As a guy who's spent more time in planes than Carrottop has spent listening to silence at the punchline, I know you're supposed to grab the aisle. You get in, have more shoulder room (which, for a magnificent sculpture of chiseled muscular manhood like me is important), and are first in line to pretend to be an NFL linebacker and push widows and orphans out of the way to get off the plane once it's landed.

I used to get the aisle seat.

Now, whenever I fly, I grab the window, and my camera. Alaska presents too many opportunities to take magnificent pictures. Denali always looks different, and no matter how often I photograph it, like a virgin on a wedding night, I never get tired of seeing something new.

So, I'm sitting by the window. A young gentleman had graciously let me by, and I had my book out - the ultimate in a Star Trek-like shield in a "leave me alone, I'm flying" sense. Another gentleman, this one older, finally showed up to take the center seat between us and the plane was now officially packed.

Our plane. No, just kidding, ours was smaller. But, I thought this looked snazzy, what with the artsy buildings, plane, and mountain backdrop. This is likewise enlargeable.

The plane, a 737 dating to 1937, and configured for carrying cargo up front (no kidding - half the plane consisted of cargo heading up to Barrow) lumbered into the sky. After the requisite warning that the I-Pod that would have previously sent the plane into a sudden and uncontrollable fiery crash could now be used to listen to The Clash without fear of turning oneself into and inadvertent mass-murderer, I unlimbered my camera for a few shots of Denali.

That's when I heard the most amazing thing. The passengers sitting next to me had never met each other. But, they began talking, and soon realized that the older gentleman is a lifelong friend of the younger gentleman's father. They talked at length about all things Fairbanks. I didn't mean to eavesdrop, and, was soon reading my book again.

But, it struck me: two people, never having met, knew all about each other.

Alaska is small.

I can't go to the grocery store without meeting someone I know. I can't go to Anchorage without running into someone I know. Heck, there was someone I knew on the same plane - just several rows ahead of me.

Alaska is huge in area, but small since there are more people who worship Ra, The Sun God than live up here.

I actually know my neighbors, by name. They know us, by name. I've heard the horror stories of the previous owner, who, to judge by their comments was a cross between Linda Blair's character in The Exorcist and the crazy cat lady on The Simpsons. I think they like us better.

When I stepped out of Fairbanks International Airport into 23F weather, I realized what had been wrong when I'd been in Anchorage - it had been a blistering 40F, and it was nice to be back where the weather was a bit more temperate.

I guess it just feels like home. My family and I have become accustomed to this place. And because this is where I buy my beer.


Blogger Dame Koldfoot said...

Congratulations, you've joined the Sourdough Club! Once you get past the "it's only two years, 3 months and 12 days to go and I can't wait to get out" mentality and move on to the realization "this is where I want my kids to grow up and I will stay until I'm old and decrepit," you've become an Alaskan. People will either immediately love Alaska or immediately hate it. The large spaces appeal to those who, in the lower 48, cannot find a home with a yard larger than most playground sandboxes (well, except for certain areas of North Dakota, but who would want to be a NoDak?), but the extreme cold and darkness of winter soon weed most folks out of the Sourdough club. The smallness of the community appeals to those who want to be friendly with their neighbors and loan things like the John Deere tractor with a snowplow or play pinochle just to pass the time. True Sourdoughs get the best of both worlds--wide open spaces and plenty of room with a tight community where you find long lost relatives on the plane to Anchorage.

8:51 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

Hmmm. It took me a few months, but now I think I might stay in Alaska for a loooong time (extra o's added for emphasis). I've been here since 2003, and I kind of dread taking trips Outside. Of course, when I have to start using the outhouse at -40 degrees, I may change my mind.

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's to the sun god.

He's such a fun god.

Ra. Ra. Ra.

(Sorry. You made me do it.)

8:36 PM  
Blogger the Witch said...

Wait - you mean to say that the Mrs. is left alone with the two boys? But what if one thos Es-Kee-Moes attacks? I've heard that their frozen "pies" are actually made of people.

11:56 AM  
Blogger the Witch said...

Cute, Oz

11:57 AM  
Blogger Woofwoof said...

Wow, 23F. And it's not even the end of October yet.

7:52 PM  
Blogger John said...

dame koldfoot,
You are gracious in your comments, I must admit that the only thing that irks me is that you so eloquently put in a paragraph what I attempted to say in 1500 words. My hat's off.

Yeah. That's going to be a tough one. But, as my friend who lives in similar circumstances tells me, it's right at that time that he's walking out, but then looks up, and sees the stars on a -40 night, and sees that it's all worth it.

yeah, I was thinking of you when I wrote it. You evil bastard.

The Mrs. has available to her a greater amount of firepower than was available to a typical Civil War regiment. And she shoots pistol better than me.

It's true that Es-Kee-Moe Pies (the way you type that reminds me of Heathers) are made from people. But they are tasty people.

And, as for Oz, well, I've known him for only about 24 years . . . he's sick, like me. (Add it up, Oz)

Yeah. We're sweltering. Should be 20 degrees colder. It was last year.

9:27 PM  
Blogger GoGo said...

p.s. Did you get me mp3 email lad?

11:49 AM  

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