When we woke in Khabarovsk, ... it was ... cold! (what?). We took off from the airport early because it was to be our longest flying day - 3 long hauls and 3 stops. Russian customs requires strict checking when both arriving and departing each airport, and it was a very long process (sometimes irritating, sometimes really funny) each time.
The crispness of the air allowed us some exquisite views of a very isolated and sometimes very strange landscape. Our first stop was to Magadan....customs/fueling and taking off. And the next stop was Anadyr, the longest of customs stops. While we stood out in the wind, one of the agents looked at me clutching my sweater and asked, “Cold?”...I said (emphatically) “YES!”. He shrugged, smiled, and said, “Summer!” We laughed. Ah. He was a citizen diplomat!
And then we were in the air, heading to Alaska. What a very strange feeling. It was a mixed bag - of anticipation for the ease of being in familiarity, and wistfulness for the closing of a magical, entrancing experience. When we got home, it didn’t seem enough to say to people who asked about the trip, that it was “wonderful”, or “amazing”, or even “life-changing”. I finally came up with a phrase that comes close to how I feel about it, “It was a gob-smacking wonder ride!”.
But wait! I got ahead of myself! We’re not done yet!
The flight from Anadyr to Anchorage was the most beautiful night light show I’ve ever seen. It started with a vivid, commanding sunset...followed by endless stars and a huge moon, and ended with a dancing green glimpse of the northern lights! What a welcome to the West Coast.
We were all a bit giddy as we got off the plane in Alaska...and before we checked into our hotel can you guess the first thing we did? We went to the local Village Inn (of course) and chowed down on, respectively, a full American breakfast, Chicken Pot Pie, and the Meat Loaf special. Oh yeah! That’s what I’m talking about! We were intoxicated with familiarity. Even though our hotel was filled with taxidermy giants of bears and moose, and more...it STILL felt familiar.
After a welcome sleep, and after the best bacon I’ve ever had ... we departed Anchorage, heading south. It was an amazing flight, full of wondrous landscape. After stopping in Ketchikan (gorgeous area) for fuel...we barreled south to Washington State to drop off our intrepid logistics master, dearly loved buddy, and our brilliant, funny friend for life, Travis Holland. And then back north we flew for a minute - for a respite of a few days at our beloved refuge, on Saltspring Island in British Columbia. Home.
But next? There’s still more...