Wednesday, September 3, 2008

It's So Cold In Alaska....

Texas always seemed so big, but you know you’re in the largest state of the union when you’re anchored down in Anchorage.
Michelle Shocked
Alaska First -- Alaska Always.
motto of the Alaskan Independence Party

From what I’ve seen, Alaska’s incomprehensibly beautiful, as well as the coldest, most merciless part of America.

It was the masterful and incommunicable wisdom of eternity laughing at the futility of life and the effort of life. It was the Wild, the savage, frozen-hearted Northland Wild.
Jack London

I’ve never actually been there, but I’ve seen lots of episodes of Northern Exposure. I liked how that show portrayed a wide variety of weird people...as people rather than punchlines, or subjects of pity or derision...even if it had to stick them all so far away. More recently, there’ve been some good movies about people going to Alaska to die. One of them’s Into the Wild, based on the book by Jon Krakauer—to which I feel kind of a personal connection. In the early ‘90’s Chris McCandless and I were both not long out of college, and led by overwhelming alienation into the woods. In the summer of 1992, while he ventured into the Alaskan wild, I hiked the Appalachian Trail—idly wondering if it might cure what ailed me, or provide skills necessary to one day escape permanently. I came back. He died. I wondered aloud to a friend if the difference was that he had the courage to go further and deeper. My friend laughed, said maybe I was less afraid of other people—didn’t need to go to Alaska.

7 comments:

Tiffiney said...

I to have watched Northern Exposure and Into the Wild loved both of them! I would love to visit Alaska one day, when it is warm! I would really like to see for myself how beautiful unspoiled land can be. But since I have four kids it will most likely be awhile before I get to wander up that way. Till then it is added to my list of things to do...one day ;)

ssgreylord said...

so glad you made it back from the appalachian trail. so sorry chris did not have the same fate... i realize there is something poetic there in his death, but i prefer living...

Juliet said...

I never saw Into The Wild. Wanted to but never found the time. I have been to Alaska though and pictures just don't cover it's beauty. It's untouched. I felt like I was on the Frontier. If you ever do go, I suggest visiting Mendenhall Glacier. I was on a cruise when I went to Alaska and we went up into an inlet, surrounded by mountains. To feel that small was empowering oddly enough. I loved every minute of it.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

I love that line "I’ve never actually been there, but I’ve seen lots of episodes of Northern Exposure."

It made me think how we judge the world so much based upon what we see on a small box in our living rooms, as opposed to actually experiencing it for ourselves

L. Venkata Subramaniam said...

its good for tourists. But I am sure for those living there its a hard life.

But you have portrayed it as a dark place in this article....is that the picture you get when you think of Alaska. I think of pure white snow all around when I think of Alaska.

Wayfaring Wanderer said...

Maybe you were better prepared!

I read the book, then watched the movie.....before this year, I had never even heard of that guy before.

kden said...

Also loved Northern Exposure. I've been to where they filmed it, in Roslyn, Washington. Not even filmed in Alaska. But....they sure made it look like they did. Sorry to hear about Chris.