September in Alaska is a very different time than July or August. It is a frantic time for many Alaskan residents as they seek to prepare for the cold, dark, nights of the upcoming winter. Boats are brought out of the water, buildings and vehicles are winterized in a variety of ways, wood is put in, and the final harvests of beasts and berries are done regardless of the weather.
Fewer tourists are about, with no long lines of RVs at the gas pumps in the small towns, and the temporary “locals” working in the service industry are headed back south for the season. Tour companies and the supporting food stands, Thai trailers, and coffee shops are closed, even gone, from the empty lots that once bustled with 5 am traffic from hungry fishermen and busy women.
Wildlife is different as well. The bears are frantically finishing their feast of over 200,000 berry days and their sides move like Jello as they waddle across roads and meadows. The final salmon, now decaying, white and slowly drifting in small streams, have successfully thwarted the seine nets, dip nets, and combat fisherman on the streams only to die after a final dance in their spawning grounds.
The fall, short as it might be, gives up its last life in a burst of reds, oranges, and yellows that turn the once green hills into a mottled, earthly and rich landscape with snow encroaching slowly from the tops of the mountain ranges into the foothills. And finally, the days have turned into days of longer darkness than light.
Our goal was to come to Alaska until it was cold and dark and then to turn our attention and journey toward some destination south, international and warm. We have begun that turn mentally and physically and look forward to posting about the next phase of our peregrination.
Posted from Valdez, Alaska