As I sit here in my hotel room on a foggy night in Juneau, I can’t help but reflect on this grand journey. Perhaps it’s the film noir feel of this old-fashioned hotel room — the feeling that makes me want to be typing not on a MacBook, but a Remington typewriter. Or perhaps it’s just the bittersweet ending to this trip, but I think back on the experiences I’ve had in just under 20 days and feel privileged to have had them and to have known the fine people I’ve shared them with.
Many months ago when I volunteered for this trip, I couldn’t have imagined just how wonderful and strange this journey would be. I’ve seen mountains, rivers, oceans, ice fields, deserts, old things, new things, I’ve had hot days and also those with snow, days where the sun seemed to never set and seen the amazing pink and orange hues of an Alaskan sunset, I’ve flown in a single-engine plane at what seemed like an arm’s distance from a mountain and I’ve eaten in some of the finest gas stations in all of Alaska and the Yukon.
I am still amazed by the disparate experiences I’ve had within days (or sometimes hours) of one another. We’ve left a town with a population in the triple digits and arrived at a major metropolitan center in a matter of hours. We’ve experienced almost all four seasons on one stretch of road. We’ve had some of the finest local homemade food in some of the strangest places with equally strange names. We’ve stayed in thoroughly modern hotels, hotels with history, hotels with unique character and charm, and hotels that do not have televisions or telephones in their rooms.
But in every place we went there was one thing that remained consistent: genuinely warm, friendly and proud people willing to welcome you and do whatever it takes to make you feel at home. The people of Alaska and the Yukon Territory are some of the proudest people I’ve ever met. They truly embody the frontiersman spirit and are glad, if not overjoyed, to show you why the “Great Land” truly is great. Their warm, welcoming shops and businesses invite you to travel farther and find out more.
Roadside services aren’t just places to take a break from the road, they are places to talk with the locals and learn just what it means to be Alaskan or from the Yukon. In today’s fast-paced world it’s a comfort to know that places like this still exist. That, in the words of a character in a favorite movie of mine, it’s good to know they’re out there “Takin’ ‘er easy for all of us sinners.”
Well, that ought to do it from out here on the road in Alaska and the Yukon. It’s back to the dreary life of a cruise ship officer. It’s certainly tough being me. While I wouldn’t necessarily classify this trip in the category of “life changing,” it’s certainly been a learning experience. The people, the places and the experiences will always stay with me. Not to mention that I might think twice before speeding past roadside eateries located in gas stations.
Keep on being “World Famous!”
Signing off from Juneau, Alaska. I’ll see you out there in this big world of ours.
Anthony is off to Rotterdam as crew purser.