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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Does This Seem Strange to You?

How I know I’ve been in Alaska awhile….

Yesterday morning began with a phone call from Bruce.

“Did you hear Mt. Augustine erupted this morning?”

I hadn’t heard that. The seismic event occurred at approximately 5am. My response to Bruce, “Well, I didn’t feel an earthquake or anything.”

Bruce: “Oh, it wasn’t very big. Just a burp, really. The ash cloud is heading northwest.”

After getting off the phone, Mom, Evan, and I ate a leisurely breakfast, then we bundled up, grabbed our cameras and headed for Glen Alps, which is in the mountains and has a great overlook of Anchorage and pretty much everything else to the north, west and somewhat to the south.

We were unable to spot the ash cloud – it was quite hazy to the west. Even if it had been clear, we might not have been able to see anything. I later learned Augustine is actually 75 southwest of Homer and, from Anchorage, probably entirely obscured by the Kenai mountains. (Still on the Alaska-geography learning curve, I am.)

We took some pictures of the low morning light on Mt. Susitna (aka Sleeping Lady), then headed back down the mountain.

We didn’t have any specific plans, so we decided to try and find an antique store and do some browsing for “treasures”.

On the way to town we spied a moose and calf munching in a parking lot so we paused for some pictures and video.

Found the antique store within which I was specifically searching for wall décor for my eggplant-colored bathroom, and possibly for some Alaskana art. My heart started palpitating when I found a print by Fred Machetanz (a very famous Alaska artist). It was one I hadn’t seen before (this isn’t saying much), but that made me sure that the $150 price tag was a great bargain. (Supply and demand, baby.) I called Bruce at work, he did some “googling” for me, but we really couldn’t find out much. He recommended I walk away. So I did, but only after putting a hold on the piece so I could some more research.

We picked up Ellie from school and were excited to see yet another moose resting in the drainage ditch on the preschool grounds.

Got home, at leftovers for lunch. Made some phone calls. Researched Machetanz piece – didn’t find out much more. With reservations and regret, decided to walk away.

When Bruce got home from school, he sat the kids down and gave them lessons on how to breathe through their shirt should they encounter an ash cloud. I impatiently tapped my foot – we were going out for dinner; I was hungry. “Why don’t we just get some of those mask-thingys?,” I asked. Meanwhile, the kids rolled their eyes. They’d already heard all of this at school.

So, Mom took us out to The Bear Tooth Grill, a locally owned and extremely popular restaurant. The kids licked their plates clean (literally – I’ve never seen them eat so much food at a restaurant before), and then we hopped across Northern Lights Boulevard to Title Wave Books, the best and biggest bookstore in Alaska. I was feeling a bit queasy (too much dinner?), but after a very margarita-y burp, started to improve.

Bruce wanted to check out new fishing books. He was unsuccessful finding a book, but he did find a second-hand DVD of the movie “Sahara.” I found the new book by Gail Godwin, just hot off the press. I also thumbed through a book with Fred Machetanz’ work, looking for the piece I’d found in the antique store. Still couldn’t find it. Meanwhile, the kids each found a book.

We made our purchases, headed home and tucked kids in to bed. Bruce watched his movie, I finished my library book (“Spook” by Mary Roach), and then we headed to bed.

As I lay in the dark, I reflected back on the quintessentially Alaskan day. Two years ago I would have been deeply impressed by it: moose, a volcano, Fred Machetanz, and The Bear Tooth.

What would have been a strange and unusual day two years ago, now seems normal. That, I realize, is the weirdest thing of all.


At 4:14 PM, Blogger Gateway School and Learning Center said...

There's no turning back now! You're a local whether you like it or not.


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