A mountain of a trip, and a mountain of pictures
Kodiak, an Island of the southwest coast of Alaska was home to me. I will always have a fond place in my heart for “the rock” as it is known by those of us who frequent it. I know people who love it and I know people who hate it, but I don’t think I have ever heard any say “meh, it’s Okay”. Some people cannot stand the thought of the rain, remoteness and the possibility of being stranded days beyond your intended stay. I have been there. There are only two ways to Kodiak, the ferry and the air. I remember once when I was commercial fishing, waiting five days, five full days to get off that Island and go home to my wife. That was a time when I hated the rock. That was long before internet and cell phones, the days before lattes, facebook posts and twitter. So we just sat, sat , sat in the airport, me, my crew and about 200 other unwashed, stinking commercial fisherman, waiting for one day of decent, not good, just decent weather.
But even that could not sour me on Kodiak. It is nearly impossible to beat Kodiak when the weather is nice; those three days are awesome! I know when we last lived there we loved it. We loved the pace of life, the beauty, the fishing and hunting, and our church. Shoot, we even got a Wal-Mart. It was a good life.
This time we were just going back for a visit. You see my dad was born and raised in Kodiak, and he went on to become Commissioner of the Dept. of Public Safety. He was very involved in native issues and did quite a bit for the native community. He was the first Alaska Native Commissioner and proud to be so. He died a few years ago, and since then a few of the native corporations made a move to name a Mountain after him, one in a bay where he and mom spent there last time together. So our trip was part of the celebration of the naming of this mountain. I, unfortunately, was on the committee planning this thing out. Had I the foresight to know what that would entail, I likely would’ve excused myself.
Part of the committee job was travel, travel to get the family to and from Kodiak. Things were falling into place a little nicely and I should have known a curve ball, nay a sinking slider was upon us. The day they were supposed to arrive, our air transportation was cancelled. coincidently, this was the day prior to the event. Ahhh Kodiak you got me again! Myself and my family, understanding how this hearty island worked, we were there a week early on the ferry, so we were good to go. It was the other 18 people with which I had to deal with. Frantically, as fast as my fingers could pound the flat screen of my iphone, I was sending emails, making phone calls, and reading emails. Finally after hours and hours of heartache, indigestion, anxiety, stress and a little fear, we were able to make arrangements to get the family to the Island with hope, just hope of getting them home ( I of course did not tell them that). But I knew once I got them there, the rest would depend on the Island.
I don’t want it to appear that the whole time was a stressful mess, just a few days of the trip. The rest of the time we explored the rock as if it was our first time. We hit up our favorite beaches, sites and mountains. Visited spots where Tra and I had dates, ate at new places and old, visited great friends and had a genuine good time. The first day of the ceremony went well, for most of it was indoors. The second day of the ceremony, well….. it didn’t happen. It was to involve a boat trip to the mountain to place a plaque. But when the weather is blowing Northeast 45, no one is too skippy to take a boat trip anywhere, especially the skippers of the boat. None-the-less, we made a day of it, again hitting the beaches, all 30 of us.
The beach we chose that day was Pasagshak, a beautiful forty minute drive through three Kodiak wind swept bays and over the mountains. There were horses, buffalo, salmon, bald eagles, deer and more spread along the way. After several stops, we arrived at the end of the road, our beach of choice.Upon unloading the crew, and doing a little beach combing, I sat on the beach, watching my kids playing in the surf, looking for fossils, exploring the WW II bunkers, and climbing every hill in sight; I breathed in the salt air, listened to the massive surf pound the beach, and felt the wind pressing against the back of my jacket, and I was in the moment in one of God’s greatest creations. Just then, a small, but fast raindrop pelted against my nose, and caused me to look up into the sky. I didn’t have to look up much, and I saw the low dark clouds hovering in a haze of foggy rain, and I realized that I had to figure how to get all these people home. At that moment I knew, the Island had got me once again. How many days this time Kodiak? Some things never change.