On the road again

 

Staying home for a month?! Time to decide where to go next!
Staying home for a month?! Time to decide where to go next!

Have you noticed that the time flies? It has been over a month since we came back from Phase 4 of the Global Project, yet it seems that only a day passed. And here we are, on the road again. We are heading for Anchorage, where the summer is in full swing and, perhaps, is actually on the downturn already.

The flight today was a mere 6.5 hours and I personally barely noticed it. The data systems on the airplane gave us more headaches than usual but nothing major, just something to plan for for tomorrow’s work day. We flew mostly high, at 41,000 feet and the sights were not as spectacular as some other times. Of course, this probably means more that we are spoiled rotten than anything else: 100 years ago anyone would die to look at the land from the vantage point we had today, and we just say “it was ordinary”. It was not.

We saw vast plains of South Canada, with wheat fields and large rivers, and hundreds of lakes sparkling in the sun. We saw forests, and glaciers, and snow capped mountains. On the West coast of Alaska we saw long glaciers that eventually entered the ocean, calving and leaving hundreds of floating icebergs in the cold waters of the Pacific. It was quite spectacular, actually, and had we been at lower altitude I would have taken a lot more pictures. From high up, however, the blue haze and the window tint of the airplane takes away some of the color of the land below, so we settle for what we have.

We arrived safe and sound in the middle of the day for a change, parked the airplane, finished up the after flight tasks, picked up rental cars (yes, the same girls were at the Hertz counter, looked at us, frowning and asked if we live here somewhere, as we look very familiar). We do feel like we live here, actually, and departed to our home away from home, the hotel Captain Cook. I think the staff here not only recognize us but remember our names too.

Sockeye salmon is red! Fall is in the air.
Sockeye salmon is red! Fall is in the air.

The summer is coming to an end here, and the folks in Alaska are preparing to go hunting. They say that vegetarians are just poor hunters, take this as you please. I think that to live in Alaska and not hunt or fish is probably a sign that you should live elsewhere, and all the people I met either hunt, or fish, or both, or are tourists. Next week is the opening of the moose season, and many folks are talking about the details of their plans, where they are heading, what the weather is going to be and what they saw in the area last season. How could a non-hunter understand? I don’t know; perhaps a close equivalent (if you are into eating out) would be to have a superb meal at a restaurant out of state and all of a sudden have a chance to go there again: you will be looking forward to it, and remembering how good it was last time. Now, multiply the feeling by 100 and you know what going hunting feels like. If you have never felt a large fish on the end of your line; or walked the mountains with a rifle on a cold morning at dawn; or shuffled through a field with a shotgun in hand and nearly fainted from a thunder-like flush of a pheasant 10 feet away, find a friend who will take you along. You will not regret it and your life will be at its fullest then.

We have flown two research flights out of Anchorage this time. Both went past the Arctic Circle; one returned early and the other, 8.5 hour flight, reached 86°N.

Taking off out of Anchorage on Research Flight 4
Taking off out of Anchorage on Research Flight 4