Sunday, May 23, 2010

Full Circle

Mt Iliamna in early May 2010
May 3rd, 2010
I left Bangkok on April 15th and flew to Eugene to spend some time with my son Tuli and his family, partner Shannon and 15 month old grandson, Harper. Everything was beautiful in Eugene. The grass was green and growing, flowering shrubs peaking, daffodils and tulips almost finished, the temperature perfect. We hooked up with our old and dear friend Alice and took a walk in a nearby park with Harper. Some photos are below. Little Harper is a charmer. He's easy going, completely friendly and unthreatened by being around new people, and has a ready smile for everyone. He reminds me of his dad when he was a baby.

Me and Harper

Three generations

So I guess you can say I've come Full Circle. I flew in to Homer on April 27th, just two days shy of 6 full months of travel. I left here on October 29th with no plan and with no idea how I would fare as a traveler or with being away from home for 6 months. Of course, if you've read any of this blog you know it was a wonderful trip. But, somewhat surprisingly, I am not elated to be back. I miss Thailand and Nut. I miss the easy life, the plentiful and delicious food, the thrill of visiting a foreign land, while here in Homer it's still cold with plenty of snow at the altitude where I live. Here are a few shots of my neighborhood taken on May 3rd. Believe me, I was not happy to find all this snow hanging around in May.

May 3rd: my trusty 1993 Toyota Camry
Homer had a very strange winter. It was warm and sunny in February but in March and April, heavy snowfalls blasted the area.  It snowed just a few days before I got back. A highly unusual winter to be sure.
 Snowfall on March 16th
Below is a picture taken from my friends' front door on March 16th looking toward where my car is in this other photo.

Home sweet home

Kachemak view

Baycrest view

May 22nd, 2010
Things have improved as I finish writing this entry. Yet I'm still obliged to wear snowshoes to get in and out of my cabin--if the sun continues to shine and the temperature stays in the 50s, this weekend should signal an end to that nonsense.

However, by now I've been back for almost a month and I'm still in a quandary about being in Alaska. The snow up on Diamond Ridge has convinced me that I should try to find a place in town, both to avoid the snow next spring and to reduce the amount of fuel I use in my daily commute, and I'm trying to sell or discard extra baggage to make that an easier transition. I have a bunch of tools and stuff in a storage locker that I'm trying to decide what to do with. While having lunch with my partner Doug the other day I was musing about how to get some of those tools, woodworking tools especially, to Tuli now that he's taken an interest in woodworking. He asked me, why don't you load up the Camry with the stuff you want to give him and drive down to Oregon this fall? The notion stuck in my head and has by now become a plan. I need to visit my mom and brother and sister in Buffalo, and check in on my grandchildren in North Carolina before leaving the country. If I'm in Eugene in September, I reasoned, it will be so much easier to hop on a plane from there and head east than to do it from Alaska. And I've already bought tickets to return to Thailand on October 3rd. So the plan is now to leave here in August, mid to late August, and do a leisurely drive down to the "lower 48" as we call it, do a bit of camping and fishing on the way, and hang out down there for 4 or 5 weeks before going back to Asia. I'll return to Oregon in the spring but this time I'll wait until all the snow is gone before heading to Alaska.

My quandary about Alaska has also to do with an important question I'm asking myself again: why do I live up here, so far from everywhere, in a place with a climate that no longer suits me very well?  This is a question I think many Alaskans ask periodically and it's definitely food for thought. I've asked myself many times where I would choose to live if not here? I really don't have an answer. I think vaguely about Oregon, and Portland in particular. I have never been there except for a short visit a few years ago so what I'm going on is what others have told me. Once upon a time I rather enjoyed living in a busy urban environment; I loved Boston when I first went there in 1972. But now, after living in Alaska for 27 years, I'm not sure how it would play out were I to pack up and leave. Of course at that point the question "where should I live?" will need an answer.

I might try to catch a king salmon tomorrow down at the old fishing hole on the spit. The kings should be running in there any day now. The Anchor River season opened at midnight last night. One of the absolute best things about Alaska is the salmon we enjoy all summer.