Friday, August 10, 2007


I flew into Skagway on this plane -- I was the only passenger, the back was filled with cargo. The pilot is handing the cargo, boxes of tee shirts and baseball caps for the tourist shops, to the driver of the van. Skagway has a population of 862 year round residents; it doubles come tourist season, with the folks who come for the summer. The young lady who drove me and the cargo to town turned out to be the person who had arranged for me to come to town and work with the child care providers and foster parents. In the smaller communities most people have more than one job; I think this young woman had three or four.
Skagway is unusual for Southeast Alaska in that it is flat. You can see the mountains in the background, and indeed they cradle the town quite close, but the town itself is built on this narrow flat strip. The horse and buggy is one of a number of tourist vehicles. There are huge, low, yellow buses that look sort of like a limo crossed with a city bus, and the White Pass and Yukon railway, built for the gold rush and now only a tourist attraction.

Although I flew into Skagway and was scheduled to fly on to Haines, when the day for my departure arrived the lovely young lady with the van came to pick me up with news that the plane was weathered in in Juneau, so she had arranged for me to take the water taxi to Haines. This picture was taken from the deck of the water taxi as we were getting ready to pull out. The trip down the Lynn Canal was wonderful; I spent most of it on the upper deck with the very invigorating wind blowing me about, chatting with a very nice tourist from New England. He and his wife were staying at the same hotel I did in Haines and we had dinner together several times. It turned out she was a retired Montessori teacher who had just begun knitting with quiviut, the under wool of musk oxen. One of my good friends in Fairbanks, 22 years earlier, had been the only quiviut dyer in the world and one of the few non-Natives to be part of its production. I had been unaware that non-Natives could get it now; she had been well aware that since it is too delicate to be bleached, the dyes used on it must blend with the natural brown and it is a very tricky business indeed.

The world is such a small place. There I was, taking a water taxi because Juneau was fogged in, and here was this woman from across the country who had two interests in common with me.

Click on pictures to enlarge.


Deja Pseu said...

Wonderful pictures, and thanks for such an interesting "tour" of Alaska! It's fascinating.

Joy Des Jardins said...

You are a wonderful tour guide J. I'm learning a lot more about Alaska than I've ever known. Great pics.

Lucy said...

Hey, Maya's Granny!

This comment isn't really relevant to your post-- feel free to delete it.

Anyway, I caught wind of your comment on The ABW (Angry Black Woman) blog.

My name is Lucy Dee and I'm a black female standup comedienne in NYC. Based on your worldly response on ABW, I figured you might be interested in my most recent post on Metabigotry in comedy.

I'm trying to "get the word out," and I decided to stop by and drop a line. Perhaps, you would be interested in stopping by my spot and giving your opinion?

Anyway, feel free to delete this comment. I would have emailed (private msg) you, but I couldn't find it on your site.

Thank you again, and thanks for being such an open-minded citizen.