Life Arts

Russians from CT in Alaska. Y2006

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‘How can you judge if I had exaggerated or not?

You are so dumb yourself that you can’t even exaggerate properly.

You have no idea how to do that. A person has to be very experienced in such things to make proper judgments. You do not have any experience. …’

Mark Twain

From a discussion with a critic



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The idea of writing a travel report on our trip to Alaska came to me when I was sitting at my wife’s side in our stateroom. We were celebrating my 50th birthday by ‘going cold’- that is by taking a cruise to a cold place instead of Caribbean. Lo and behold, my wife caught a cold all right. So whenever possible I urged her to lie down and rest between the sightseeing trips. As I sat near her I tried to remember when did I hear that word ‘Alaska’ for the first time. It was in my early childhood and the name of the movie was ‘Alaskan Foxes’. I believe it had something to do with the US polar pilots and God knows why that movie was shown dubbed in the provincial Russian town I lived in. Before that I knew another word- Klondike. I do not remember what was the movie about but such things as glaciers, Indians, rainforest and salmon remained stuck in my mind. So when we set sail from Vancouver I was internally prepared to the following:


  • Alaska- the 49th State of the US.
  • Population – about 600000 people.
  • Capital city – Juneau.
  • State flower- Forget-me-not.
  • State bird- The Bald Eagle
  • State Stone- Jade.
  • State Fish- Salmon.
  • State forest- Tongass rainforest, the biggest rainforest national park in the US.


  • The most popular book in the state -‘And the Sun Also Rises’ by E. Hemingway. That is because Alaska (in the area I visited) enjoys 300 rainy days a year on average.
  • State Senator- Ted Stevens who for some strange reason wants to destroy the state by pushing for drilling in Alaska wilderness sanctuary.
  • Another State Senator- Lisa Murkowski.
  • State occupation- salmon fishery and everything associated, also beer brewery and tourism (from May to September when big ships can come down the Inner Passage to see the magnificent Hubbard Glacier and other natural marvels).


An attentive reader might have already noticed an exaggeration: there is no such thing as the most popular book in Alaska. That’s is exactly what I’ll do further on - exaggerate a little bit, add some spice into the otherwise dry narrative following great Mark Twain. Whoever read his book ‘Innocents Abroad’ remembers his ‘crusade legends’, the ones he concocted parodying the stories he was told by his guides in Europe. Off we go.


In the Martian Observatory, Y2080

Astronomer: Attention students! You will now see the famous Face of Earth, the one every Martian sees when the spaceship approaches our great neighbor. About 70 years ago, just before the Contact the Earthlings on the territory called Alaska got aware of the Global Warming threat. They thus carved a face of their most wealthy individual, a certain Bill Gates into the ice surface of their famous Hubbard Glacier. Mr. Gates got so worried about his image melting that he spearheaded the crusade for the new environment through which our wise neighbors had turned their efforts to creative work and sustainable economy. As a result they now enjoy pristine air and marvelous Nature while occupying themselves with arts and drinking beer.

Any questions?

Student: Only one. What’s beer?

There is nothing motherish in the Alaskan nature. Inner Passage can be calm but when we were going through it we encountered a storm and a fog. That fog is the primary Alaskan feature because even on a clear day the surrounding mountains are covered with it and the wall of trees close to the water makes it feel as if you are in the swamp. John Carpenter should shoot his ‘The Fog’ there. They told us that the two main types of trees were Alaskan Spruce and Hemlock. We saw those growing together, So when the ship approaches the Hubbard Glacier and the Russell Fiord that grayish- greenish wall seems to close on you up to the entrance to the White Silence which is not silent at all.

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The writer is 57 years old, semi- retired engineer, PhD, PE, CEM. I write fiction on a regular basis and I am also 10 years on OEN.

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what a wild ride!  I loved the striking visua... by Jan Baumgartner on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 1:19:00 PM
We all need some rest from politics and some enjoy... by Mark Sashine on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 1:29:53 PM