08/27/2012 50 °F
Again I find myself in the Starbucks at Fred Meyer, seeking usable internet and a portal to information and the outside world. This time, rather than smartly dressed men, I observe elegant Russian women in ankle length dresses and head scarves chat in the setting sun. One wears blocky Keen hiking shoes with her maroon dress. The shoes remind me of Seattle, the contrast the the aesthetic and the practical is uniquely Alaskan though. It is somewhat surprising how cosmopolitan the Kenai Peninsula feels. There is a large population of Old Believers, orthodox Russians that have lived here for a long time. The men have bushy beards and the women only wear dresses, even when fishing. I can't imagine a dress is comfortable underneath slicker pants. One of the women I watch has a knee length skirt. She must the rebellious one in the family.
Besides the Old Believers, I met dozens of Kazakstani and Chinese immigrant workers at the Ocean Beauty Seafoods processing plant in Kenai. It seems like each year attracts a different group. I remember a few years the Kasilof dock had a handful of Turkish workers. One of them helped me pitch fish into braylers, probing me on why I had not accepted God into my life. Also, compared to many areas in the States, Alaska has a large Native population. One of my Native friends passed on to me horror stories from his grandfather, who had his testicles dipped in bleach by his school teachers to try to keep him from having children.
Over the last week, I went with my aunt and uncle to two towns on Prince William Sound, Whittier and Seward. The eastern side of the Kenai Peninsula is mountainous and lush, like Washington State. Both towns are small ports, sitting at the base of forested mountains as the land to water exchange between the Kenai, Anchorage, and Southeast Alaska. We took a boat trip out of Whittier to shrimp and watch the glaciers. Prince William Sound is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. If you have never seen a glacier, it is truly something to behold. They have a color quality that is unlike anything else, a blue within blue within white. They look as old and powerful as they are. Thousands of gallons of water melts from them in 100 foot tall water falls. Flocks of birds and sea mammals gather much like we did to harvest the bounty of the sea that these areas create. The shrimp we caught were massive and delicious.
These next few weeks mark my last of the summer in Alaska, and the beginning of the next leg of my journey. I do not know where I will end up or how I will get there, but I am excited at the unlimited potential in this step. Luckily for me, there are Starbucks' to sit in all over the world.