Thursday, November 7, 2019

Adventure Series Part I: The Summer I Became Alaskan (even if only in my own mind)

Sixmile Canyon Whitewater
Packrafting First Canyon on Sixmile Creek
Awhile back, when I was quite a bit more, ahem, active with my blog, I pondered what it meant to be 'Alaskan'. At the time I had lived in this massive and complicated state for seven months. Now, almost two years after penning that post, I sit today in the same place, pondering the same basic question.

"Alaskan," Strictly Speaking

People are proud in Alaska. Proud of the incredible landscape and unique local color. Proud that, though to nearly everyone else Alaska is a wonderland of superlatives and extremes, to them it is simply home.

Legally, a person becomes a resident of Alaska after living in the state for a calendar year. However, a friend (a fourth-generation Sewardite I should add) recently voiced that she would never accept someone's claim of being "Alaskan," strictly speaking, until they had lived here longer than all other places combined. By that rubric, since I moved here in 2017 at age 33, I wont qualify until 2050.

So no... I'm not Alaskan.

But What is Alaska anyway?

The word "Alaska" for most conjures images of muscled brown bears wrangling salmon from alpine streams a glacier-capped summits lanced skyward in the background, or ethereal aurora borealis dancing over pale snow blankets and frozen lakes. There is a global sense that Alaska has become the western hemisphere's superlative for nature at its most raw and rugged. In short, what makes Alaska Alaska, are mountains, wildlife, and the wilderness.

A Kafka Moment

One day recently, I woke up transformed. The place I'd lived for two and a half years felt different. I no longer felt like a traveler. All of the wondrous extremes a person could witness here were no longer new and novel. They were simply home. Alaska had become a part of me in a essential way, like my body had absorbed it via osmosis. But when exactly had this metamorphosis taken place? And how?
Cake picnic overlooking Godwin Glacier 7/29/19

A Blog Series!

Enter the summer of 2019. For five months I was immersed in the Alaskan landscape as a deckhand and sea kayak guide. I logged fifty sea days bumping through the rugged North Alaska Gulf seeking the most speculator places to sea kayak on Earth. Days off saw me scurrying to the summits of rugged local mountains or hurling my packraft down frothing rivers. When fall fell over the landscape, I could finally relax and digest the collective experience of this summer and what it meant.

To explore this insight, I'm endeavoring on a four-part blog series (the "Adventure" series) to revisit key moments, places and features of my summer that made it so transformative. In other words, I am attempting to capture in words a snapshot of how I transitioned from tourist to traveler, and finally, after over two years, from traveler to resident, even if I'm still not, and perhaps never will be, officially Alaskan ;-P 
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All writing is the original work of Brian Wright and may not be copied, distributed, re-printed or used any form without express written consent of the author. Find out here how to CONTACT me with publishing and/or use questions 



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