With nearly one-half million acres, our big back yard called Chugach State Park is more than a recreationist wonderland. It is a spiritual refuge, or what I like to call a “sanctuary for the soul.”
One of the most accurate and enduring analogies I’ve come across to describe our society was gleaned in high school, when I observed that the same few people planned and organized school events like dances, and the same folks did the cleanup afterward. I wasn’t one of those industrious volunteers, because I didn’t attend the dances. But I always felt guilty for not pitching in.
The telephone rings during the family dinner. It’s a telemarketer. The cable TV company called earlier and wanted to offer us a better deal. At work our iPhone serenades us with an incoming call, derailing our train of thought. During a conversation, a person interrupts us in mid-sentence. In many cases the person doesn’t even realize he or she is doing it. Television advertising interrupts our programs. News commentators talk over each other two, three and even four at a time.
I’m not sure how he did his research, but John Metcalfe, a staff writer at The Atlantic Cities, (a website devoted to global cities and trends) has identified eight U.S. cities that he believes have the crummiest winters. They are Chicago, the nastiest; San Francisco, lamest; New York, filthiest; Syracuse, snowiest; Washington D.C., gridlockiest; Seattle, wussiest; Los Angeles, car destoryingist; and Fairbanks, most depressing.
Note: In planning an upcoming trip to the Grand Canyon, I thought of this story from seven years ago, when I joined my daughter for an unforgettable hike down into one the world’s most fascinating natural wonders.
Support for the Chugach State Park Park Access and Trail Rehabilitation Project has grown significantly in recent months, with more than 20 user groups and organizations endorsing a small set of projects that have been recently submitted to the Alaska Legislature for a $415,000 capital appropriation.
My skis made a swishing sound in the partially crystallized snow on Feb. 1 as I glided over Eklutna Lake, following a track I had put in a week earlier. I could see the faint outlines of other ski tracks, but not nearly as many as I expected given the superb conditions. With only a few inches of snow atop smooth, firm ice, it would have been great for skate skiers.
From the jump-ball tip off to the final buzzer at Chugiak High School varsity basketball games, he’s always there — a stocky figure with an easy laugh who can be seen busily recording data, huddling with the team and spurring them on. Over the past 25 years, Mustang coaches have come and gone, the names of team members have changed, but Eagle River’s Mark Meyer is still there — from the gym floor to the locker room — a quiet yet unwavering force behind the team.
I thought about writing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head office in Washington D.C. to see if they would consider putting a rare and vanishing Alaska species on the endangered list: the human foot hunter. (Not a person who hunts feet, but one who uses his own feet for locomotion and access to hunting areas).
Anyone who has spent any time in Alaska’s outdoors has made mistakes — more than we’d like to admit. It’s a big state and there’s a lot of room for big errors. I’m not going to dwell here about obvious blunders — like forgetting mosquito repellent, matches, raincoat, not taking enough food, a knife or extra socks. I’ve done all of those things at least once, and some even worse. I’d rather confine this discussion to the more subtle, seemingly benign mistakes that can compound into bigger problems.