Saturday, May 1, 2010

Clouds To King Salmon

Mountains! Glaciers! Scenic Vistas! Where did they all go?

The cloud cover on the flight from Anchorage to King Salmon allowed me too rare a glimpse of what I knew was jaw-dropping scenery. Dang! The clearest sky was over Anchorage - any visibility I’d hoped for rapidly became history as the plane headed southwest. Nonetheless, I comforted myself with the fact that there was no turbulence and so my stomach was not being lurched all over the passenger compartment.

It seemed somewhat peculiar that there was no security check at the Pen Air gate. Do they figure that if you’re going to the Alaskan bush, all bets are off? You probably have only frozen chicken and falafel balls in your baggage anyway, nothing to cause consternation among the flight crew. My ½ gallon of soybean squeezings traveled in my backpack – again, I felt as if someone was saying “OK, you’re going to the bush. If you want to carry it, knock yourself out.”

This next little episode would definitely not happen in the lower 48.

Before getting on the Saab 340 I had handed the aforementioned backpack to a woman on the tarmac so she could stow it as an extra checked bag. As I found my seat, I realized I had left my camera in the backpack. I then got UP out of my seat and inquired as to the possibility of my retrieving said backpack in order to procure my camera. They let me OFF the plane where I stood, nearly under the wing, as the backpack was taken out of the cargo area and handed to me. I pulled out my camera, the backpack was put back into the cargo area, and I got BACK ON the plane.
It all just seemed so normal, for some reason.

The plane was not full and the flight attendant, 1 other woman, and I were the only females on board. Must be in Alaska! Burly guys were on their way to open up various fish processing plants in the area. The fellow sitting next to me said that the canneries here are mostly all gone now but that his factory froze herring for shipment all over the world.

We came in low over Naknek Lake and eventually found the ground through the clouds. It was spitting snow as I disembarked and was met by one of the interpretive staff of Katmai. My “welcome to King Salmon” tour required all of the 2 minutes it took to get from the airport to the government housing complex.

I dropped my belongings in my cubicle of a room (bottom bunk!) and then, in the spirit of MY TRAVEL AGENT, walked over to the King Ko Inn to order my King Salmon Introductory Alaskan Pale Ale. At $7 for a pint, it was the only one I ordered, but I made it last. By the time I left I felt I’d met ½ the people in town.

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