North to Alaska: Part II

Like Robert Frost, as a teenager I was eager to explore “The Road Not Taken.” Dad was planning to move us to Alaska to live when I was less than two years old. So when John suggested many years later, that we take a trip to the 49th State, I was ready.

We had a trip planned to Orcas Island, and we decided to continue on to Anchorage to visit John’s sister. When we arrived on Orcas Island, I was extremely hot. We had expected cool weather, but it seemed they were breaking temperature records. I asked John to turn on the air conditioning, and he started searching. After a few fruitless moments, he called the front desk for directions on how to turn on the cooling. The manager asked John to open the closet door. Once he did this, he was able to see the large fan sitting inside.

So when we flew up to Alaska, I was sure I was heading to cooler temps.  Unfortunately, when we landed at the airport and de-planed, I discovered that Anchorage was also experiencing record-setting warmth! It was late June and at midnight the sun was still shining. We entered John’s sister’s car and John insisted I sit in the front. As we pulled away from the airport, I noticed a lot of hot air blowing on me.

It seems very hot in here.

I said.

Oh, my heater is stuck on. I really don’t mind it. Do you?

his sister said.

Life did not get too much better in terms of weather. John’s sister’s home did not have air conditioning. Neither did any of her friends. None of the restaurants we visited had anything other than a large fan. Everyone insisted:

We really don’t need air conditioning.

Never mind the evidence to the contrary—the ninety degree temperature. It didn’t even cool off at night–remember it was daylight for almost twenty hours a day!

John’s sister made sure we had lots of fun. We went out and watched whales and saw beautiful scenery (and of course, I loved being in the air conditioned car). One night we went to the “Whale Fat Follies,” which was an hilarious review with lots of singing. My favorite song was sung by one group of Alaska residents and one group of tourists. The first group sang, “I want to live on the last frontier,” and the second group sang, “How in the hell do they stand it here?” Guess which group I identified with?

After a week, it was time to fly back to our home. One of the people we had visited insisted that John take a giant salmon back home with him. John honestly did not want to take a fish home, but he agreed to take it just to be polite. John’s sister took us to a hardware store where we purchased a cooler and lots of dry ice and some duct tape. John put everything together and we were off to the airport.

Once we got up to the front of the long line, John was told:

I’m sorry sir, you can’t take your fish wrapped like that.

John was very amiable to this and suggested throwing the fish away.

The airline worker said:

Oh, no. I will re-wrap the fish for you.

So there we stood, holding up the line for many minutes while the fish was removed from the cooler and placed into a large paper container.

We flew home with a great story, even though John kept saying,

Let’s just throw the damn thing away!

I learned a very valuable lesson which is:  Always ask about air conditioning before going on any trip.


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