Go. Absolutely Go. But Not Here.
First, and above all else, if you’ve never been to Alaska, go. I know I say that about a lot of places, but trust me on this. As if my life wasn’t miraculous enough that I visited once, the good graces of even better karma allowed me to voyage back and soak in what I failed to absorb on my first journey. Admittedly, I did take the traditional inner passage cruise experience that most seasonal travelers experience, but I often wandered off on my own, even away from my travel companions. I have an overflowing vat of memories, all of which are gems. Did I mention you need to go here?
One of the outings I experienced on my second journey may have been too touristy for this travel rebel: a large-scale salmon bake out in the woods. The rustic ambiance of the pseudo Alaskan wilderness loses much when multiple motor coaches pull down the dirt road and unload, and then, to my isolated, touristy horror, leave us there. My spidey senses were tingling and I immediately began to doubt the rationale of getting locked into a cheesy knock-off of what life was like on the Pacific Coast decades ago. My only saving graces? I did accompany my traveling companions, so I wasn’t completely alone among strangers, and the grill was already cooking and the smoky aroma tempted me.
Glasses And Fire Pits
As the cattle herded themselves towards the picnic tables and the smell of fresh, grilled fish, I managed to stumble upon a cabin – part kitchen and part bar. I inquired doubtfully about the existence of adult beverages. Why, yes, I was pleasantly shocked, they did have beer. My favorite local brew (see A Taste of Alaskan from November 2014). On tap. In a pint. In the middle of nowhere. Suddenly the bleakness began to sparkle and I took my cool glass of suds and patiently waited for the rest of the crowd to portion out their first filet as I enjoyed my midday delight.
After lunch, the forced enjoyment led us to a yurt occupied by a local, perhaps seasonal, theatrical troupe hell bent on imparting our busloads with tales of the “real Alaska.” Again, this wasn’t me, but with the buses departed and the food served, I wandered about the area, past a waterfall, still sipping my Alaskan Amber, finding my own, genuine view of the last frontier. Within a few steps, there it was: a fire ring, surrounded by logs and stones where others might wander after the low-tech performance and before the buses rambled back down the dirt road. I sat quietly enjoying the warmth of the flames, the pop of the burning logs, my solitude, and the taste of Alaska in my glass. Go. Just go. And have a beer.