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Monday, May 10, 2010….

somewhere at sea with the intent to write about yesterday

The reason that I didn’t write yesterday is because I have been struggling with which angle to
take in this travel journal. Since I began journaling my travels two years ago during my trip to
China, I have strived towards writing objectively. My goal has been to document my experiences
without delving too much into my emotions about missing people at home or voicing frustrations
with those around me.
This adventure will be different. I have decided to include all of my feelings and just write. The
purpose of this cruise to Alaska is to take one final trip with my mother, to fulfill one of her
lifelong travel dreams. I think that if I were to omit my feelings and frustrations, I may regret it
in the future, when she is gone.
So, on to yesterday. It was exhausting. We arrived at Pittsburgh International at 4 AM. Because
Mom is in a wheelchair with oxygen, porters are always available to help….for a fee. All in all,
by the time we were seated on the boat at the lunch buffet, I had given out $40 in tips. Do I regret
it? Not really because I would have been even more exhausted and frustrated and cranky if I had
pushed her around all of the airports and the cruise check in. Because of the wheelchair we were
always pushed to the front of the line. Plus the porters know the airports and check in sites so I
didn’t have to push AND navigate as well. I only had to follow.
Now this doesn’t mean that I wasn’t stressed. I still had to find a wheelchair and a porter at every
spot. I did have to handle all of the travel details and make sure that she was okay. To use a
cliché, the straw that truly broke the camel’s back occurred on the ship itself.
We read the Freestyle Daily during lunch. The Freestyle Daily highlights all of the events
occurring on the cruise ship for that given day. After reading this newsletter, Mom declared that
she wanted to go to the Shore Excursion Desk. I navigated the way. Now keep in mind that we
had not been to our room yet due to unavailability until after 2 PM; therefore she did not have
her scooter yet and the wheelchair had stayed on shore.
At the Shore Excursion Desk, after waiting in a ridiculously long line, she gives me this Bambi
like stare and states, “Well. I don’t know what you want to do.”
I wanted to leave her right there. I had spent hours downloading and printing shore excursion
descriptions for her to read months prior to our departure. I was under the impression that she
knew what she wanted to do but had waited to book partly for financial reasons and partly due to
hesitancies concerning mobility.
So I grabbed copies of all of the excursions and told her to sit in an oversized green sponge like
chair. When she went to sit on a crowded bench, I said, “Don’t sit there. I said to sit here. If you
are not going to make your own decisions then you will follow my directions. Now here are the
papers and a pen. Read through them and decide what you want and what you can do. I will be
Out came the Bambi-stare, but I left to explore the rest of the deck. Specifically, I wanted to stop
at the Internet Café and the Art Gallery. At the bustling Internet Café information desk, I
overheard a man discussing access prices. All I hear was $100 and decided to stop later. In the
Art Gallery, which surrounds the Internet Café making the computers appear like an after-
thought, I spoke with the curator/salesman about the upcoming auction registration. I would have
to return later for my free champagne.
Slightly cooler, I headed back to where I had left my mother. In my absence she had chosen
some excursion options. Now at check-in earlier, when I had asked if she had a card for her
expenses, she claimed not to have brought it. Therefore all ship charges including shopping,
drink and excursion charges will be drawn from my mastercard. As she is pointing to these
excursions, I am adding the total bill in my head. “Mom, I can’t put all of these on my account. I
did not realize that you would only bring cash.”
Blink. Blink. “I have my debit card.”
Oh. My. God. “At check-in, when I asked for your card, you said that you didn’t have it.”
Blink. Blink. “I don’t have my credit card.”
She still doesn’t understand that PNC issues debit/credit cards. They are the same thing in this
scenario and the cruise ship will accept it to pay for charges.
So I waited in another ridiculously long line to add her card to our account so that she pays is
responsible for herself. Then we head to the room. I storm ahead. I’ve had enough at this point.
When I get to the room, I realize that the scooter is there and I decide to drive it to her. In trying
to get the huge machine out of the tiny stateroom, I run over both of my feet and crash into the
wall outside of the room. I really couldn’t handle much more.
As she follows me back to the room, every step angers me more and more. All I hear are her
giggles and laughs about maneuvering the scooter through tight corridors. Finally outside of the
room I said, “I don’t know how you are going to get that thing back in this room. See that dent in
the wall, see my swollen feet, it’s from that thing….and I really, really need to go to the
Blink. Blink. “Well, go.”
I opened the door and let it slam behind me. Done.
Once she was in the room, I calmly related my feelings. Her response to my frustrations and
anger was “Well, if you don’t want to go on the excursions with me then don’t. I thought we
were going to do stuff together.”
GRRRR….I need me-time. I need to relax and not worry about her getting around. I need
breathing room to sit in the sunshine, drink at the bar, talk to people I don’t know! And that is
what I told her. Her next response was, “Well, if you need money all you have to do is ask.”
What?!? Sigh. She doesn’t get it and never will. I feel like I’m a teenager again, laying on my
bed, crying in utter frustration as my dad tells me, “I know she’s a bitch, but she’s your mother.”
The mandatory Muster Drill is beginning and I leave to attend and make excuses as to why she is
not present. It wasn’t a total lie. I do think that she was out of oxygen.
After the Muster Drill (which was really stupid because they hold it in the auditorium and
demonstrate rather than have us participate), I headed up to the top deck for a drink and
developed a new outlook for this trip.
I went to the Tahitian bar and ordered a Bahama Mama complete with a pink umbrella. Drink in
hand I sashayed over to a lounge chair facing the Olympia Mountains. They are truly majestic
and beautiful rising high above the shores of Washington. Snow capped on top and deep purple
below, with pristine blue sky dotted with puffy clouds, I realized that this is my vacation too and
I need to enjoy it. As I listened to the band playing “Rambling Man” and Kidd Rock’s remake of
“Sweet Home Alabama,” I relaxed with my drink, occasionally taking pictures of sailboats and
After my second drink, a Bonvoyage concoction special, I met a family of eight (all couples of
course) and shared a bottle of wine with one of them. The band had ceased playing and I felt that
it was time to return to Mom in the room.
Throughout the course of the evening, I visited the Casino and registered for the art auction. I
loved my free champagne; of course Mom gave me her glass as well. For dinner, we went to the
Indigo Restaurant to enjoy a sit down dinner consisting of a Caesar salad, New York Strip steak
with green beans and a bake potato followed by a creamy caramel chocolate mousse drizzled
with a raspberry sauce.
Cruise food is all the same – delicious! For lunch I ate a bunless burger with bacon, salsa and
cheese and a fresh tossed salad. I picked the ingredients and the Asian guy tossed it for me
May 10, 2010…..Inside Passage
“What’s up, my man?” Dave yells across the bar.
“Um, what am I supposed to say to that? How should I answer?” Bob questions in a thick
Australian accent.
The things you learn on a cruise ship while eavesdropping. I seem to have a lot of time to pay
attention to other people on this trip because I am either alone or waiting for my mother. This
time it was the latter because her scooter died.
We had eaten dinner in the Summer Palace amidst golden leaf candelabra, Faberge style egg
banister toppers, and a sinister looking portrait style painting of the final Czar and his family
(including the dog). Disappointingly, the menu was the same as last night. I tried a different dish
– Greek Salad and Chicken Piccata with gnocchi, followed by a dish of chocolate ice cream. The
salad was not very Greek due to lack of dressing. The chicken was so succulent though and I
think the gnocchi had been boiled in a beef broth. The ice cream is served with a cookie that has
nearly the same texture and flavor as a cake ice cream cone. It’s shaped in, well, a triangle shape.
After dinner Mom didn’t want to go back to the room; she wanted to go to the Pearl Casino.
Earlier in the day, we had played Bingo. She spent $80 for “the meal deal” and received six
paper bingo cards, an electric bingo machine with 86 cards, raffle tickets and tear off tickets. She
won $3 on the pull tickets. We only played four games of Bingo, but the prizes were each near
$300. We had to go to the casino to redeem her $3.
So we are on our way when the Scooter just stops. My first thought, along with everyone else’s,
was it charged? Well, it wouldn’t even turn on which indicates that it is not. The strange thing is
that I had checked the meter about 10 minutes prior and it read full. I leave her there and go
down to the room for the charger. We plug it into the bar and wait a half an hour before calling
the Service Desk. To make a long, painful, boring story short, the ship technicians believe that
the charger is the problem. The ship’s game plan is to find another person on the ship who rented
a scooter from the same company and borrow their charger until we can get another one from
this company.
I’m hesitant to relate my true thoughts on this matter. I question what I will do later in life if I
develop a condition in which I must rely on a machine to breathe and another for mobility. My
goal is not to be in her position. Don’t smoke, eat well, and exercise. I must learn from my
parent’s mistakes.
After this debacle, we turned in for the night. It was nearly nine and I was exhausted. Throughout
the course of the day, following Bingo, we attended the art auction. I was drunk off champagne
(it’s really sparkling wine) by 2PM. I didn’t even bid on anything this time. I learned my lesson
from the last cruise! Truth be told, I didn’t see anything impressive that I could afford. The
auctioneer tried to auction off many pieces by Rembrandt, Kincaid, Max, and one of Park West’s
exclusive painters. My thoughts: Expensive, Boring, Awesome but pricey, and too much like a
Toulouse-Latrec without being one. Peter Max’s pieces are amazing, but he paints for celebrities
mostly; therefore his pieces are expensive. I do think that James should research Park West
Galleries to see the process of becoming a commissioned artist who paints for them. I doubt he
would want to paint for a living though. It might stifle his creativity. Like me, he is a true artist
who creates for self and the idea of having to create silences his muse.
After the Art Auction, we headed to the Stardust Theater for a presentation about shopping at
port. These presentations are held on all cruise ships and it is important to attend in order to
obtain coupons for free merchandise. For example, presenting a coupon at Diamonds
International provides a free charm bracelet. At Effy, the coupon brings a free pendant. They are
great souvenirs or gifts for free!
Tuesday, May 11, 2010…..Juneau
High above Juneau, deep into the center of the Mendenhall Glacier, lives 300 dogs and their men
(and woman!). Far from civilization and without internet or cell phones, these creatures can only
be reached via helicopter. Temco takes tourists and supplies up to the camp and brings back
tourists and garbage (including ridiculous amounts of frozen dog poop). I was fortunate enough
to strap on glacier boots and spend my afternoon with them. Surprisingly, I was not that cold
(even though I managed to somehow lose my gloves) because the camp was erected in a gully to
block gusts of wind.
My assigned team consisted of one veteran dog of 12 years, Chief who is a puppy of almost two
years (Huskies and Malamutes are not considered adults until the age of three), Danny his
brother Buck and five other dogs. Of the 300 dogs, only one has a single blue eye but all of them
race in the Iditarod races each March. Playing with tourists is a summer job for these dogs. Most
of them can trace their ancestors back 12 generations and they come from all over Alaska and the
Yukon Territory.
For the first leg of the tour, I chose to ride in the front of the first dog sled. For the second leg, I
drove the second sled. It was amazing to see these dogs work. And they want to run. As my
musher, Andy, finished harnessing the team and untangled Chief from the mess he had created,
the other dogs in the camp started barking and howling. The more my team voiced their
excitement, the more the other dogs in the camp barked and howled their disdain for not being
included in the run.
My job as the secondary musher was quite easy. Whenever Andy yelled “Whoa,” I had to step on
the sled brake. Otherwise I could focus on maintaining my balance on the thin, icy, metal sled
rails. Andy and the other camp members had already completed the tedious job of training the
dogs. Well, for the most part. Like I mentioned in the previous paragraph, Chief was only a
puppy and needed more training in the areas of chewing and maintaining his focus.
After circling the outer portions of the dog camp, on the outskirts of Mendenhall Glacier, my
time with the team had ended. I boarded the helicopter and was once more awed by the vast
beauty of the Glacier and the Alaskan landscape.
Overall, excluding my time at the dog camp, I did not like Juneau. Most of the population is
transient. Other than those sent to the area by the Alaskan government as workers and officials,
the population consists of people who are there only during the tourist season. Also, the town is
very spread out. I didn’t get to see most of the sites, such as the oldest remaining Russian church
in Alaska, due to a lack of transportation. I think it truly lacked any kind of real, native culture.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010…..Skagway
I liked Skagway more than Juneau. It is this little town that has been restored to resemble what it
looked like in its heyday during the gold rush. I had so much fun walking around town talking to
the locals who provided vast amounts of historical information about their little town. Before
heading make for my 1:00 Shore Excursion, I went into the Red Onion Saloon and paid $5 for a
one on one with the Madam of the brothel. Five dollars is the same price that men paid in the late
1800’s for 15 minutes with one of the “Good Time Girls.” Now, the Red Onion Saloon offers
tours of that length for that same price. My tour of the upstairs of the saloon was with “Madam”
Ella, costumed in the fashions suitable for a “girl of her status.”
At the Saloon, when a man saw a woman who interested him, he told the bartender. Behind the
bar were dolls that resembled each of the working girls. When one was requested, he would take
the appropriate doll and lay it on its back. When that girl became available, the paying gentleman
ascended a ladder in a corner of the saloon. For the tour, I ascended a wide staircase leading into
a parlor room designed for card playing and gambling. In the room, behind glass cases, lay relics
found stashed under the floorboards in the girls rooms or “cribs.” These relics included men’s
and women’s collars, jewelry, Eskimo sunglasses, boots, rock heroin used as birth control and
The girls’ cribs were large enough just for a bed half the size of today’s twin mattresses.
However, the Red Onion Saloon was more of an upscale brothel and Diamond Lil’ treated her
girls very well. Each girl was permitted to decorate her room as she wished. When the current
owner bought the building, she found a total of 17 layers of wallpaper in some rooms. Pieces of
each layer have been framed and hung on a wall. The original walls have been removed, but
ceiling nails are left denoting where the walls used to stand.
Madame Ella retold stories concerning Diamond Lil’ herself, one girl who killed herself and the
pay scale. Diamond Lil’ kept 50% of the $5 fee; the bouncer took 25%. Working girls made
$1.25 for each trick. At the end of each man’s 15 minutes, the working girl would drop $5 in gold
coins into a hole in the floor. Copper pipes collected the funds and deposited the coinage into a
safe behind the bar. When the bartender heard the coins drop into the safe, he would stand the
doll behind the bar back onto its feet, signaling that the girl was available again.
When the Red Light District of Skagway needed relocated, men loaded the Saloon onto logs and
with one horse moved the establishment to the location in which it sits today. Once relocated, the
men stood back and realized that they had placed it in its current location backwards! Instead of
turning it around, they cut off the front and back of the building and switched each piece with the
I embarked on a trolley tour of the city with Mom. It was actually really nice. We were driven to
a theater in which a man, also costumed for the time period, retold of the Arctic Brotherhood.
Herbert Hoover had visited during his Presidency and he was the last official member elected
into the brotherhood.
The tour led us through the city and showed some of its highlights. Earlier in the morning, I had
followed a walking tour of the town on my own, so most of what the tour guide told and showed
us I already knew and had seen. Most of it involved how Skagway began and who was
We then went to the cemetery to see the graves of Soapy Smith and Frank Reid. Soapy Smith
was a gangster who controlled Skagway. Many residents didn’t know how slimy Soapy was and
he led the Independence Day parade one year. Four days later the residents met to decide his fate.
Soapy, drunk off of red whiskey, went to break up the meeting. He was stopped by Frank Reid
who tried to stop him. When Reid fired, the bullet didn’t fire. This gave Soapy a chance to fire
upon Reid, shooting him in the groin. Reid returned fire, killing Soapy on the spot. Reid suffered
for 12 days before dying from his wound. A huge funeral was held in his honor and he was
buried in the center of the cemetery as a hero. Soapy was buried three feet outside of the
cemetery. His headstone lies behind bars symbolizing where residents believed he should’ve
been all along. The irony of the situation is that Reid was as corrupt as Soapy unbeknownst to
residents. He had committed all of the same crimes in Seattle years prior.
Thursday, May 13, 2010….Glacier Bay
Before I attempt to relate the beauty of Glacier Bay, I must first vent. Some of my frustrations
with my mother stem from the fact that she did this to herself, put herself in this position, and
now expects other people to cater to her and her condition. She is the one who, when diagnosed
with Emphysema 20 years ago, continued to smoke. Ten years ago, when Dad died from a heart
attack in which cigarettes were a contributor, she continued to smoke. Now that she has
developed an irreversible condition in which her breathing ability and mobility is severely
limited, she expects people to cater to her because she is “handicapped.” Twisted, she likes the
attention. She likes people waiting on her, moving their seats so that she is more comfortable.
She likes people feeling sorry for her. Ahhh…..look at that poor woman….
On to today…..
I am terrible at spotting or even seeing wildlife. If I had to survive by killing game animals, I
would starve to death. I can have someone stand next to me, pointing at the animal in the
distance and still not see it. So, let me relate the animals that I have missed seeing and then I will
tell of the one animal and two birds that I did see. I have missed a dead whale, two live whales,
numerous sea lions, and a bear.
I did manage to see one sea lion. I used a camcorder to zoom in on the animal. He waddled his
very fat body across a large, smooth rock and slid into the cold, ocean water. When I went to
replay the event, I realized that in my viewing excitement I had failed to press the record button.
I did manage to take one picture. I have also photographed a puffin and multiple bald eagles. I
even saw a few eagles back in Juneau.
Glaciers are really blue. I noticed that whenever I lost my footing on the Mendenhall Glacier and
sank below the snow, my footprint revealed blue ice underneath. Free from snow, the cliff-like
sides of the glaciers in Glacier Bay emit a blue hue that is truly mesmerizing. It’s also worth
noting the swiftness of these glaciers when they begin to fall. By the time I heard the loud
cracking of the ice, portions of the glacier were already splashing into the smooth water below.
Sometimes I am truly amazed at the wonders of nature.
Later in the evening, I called a girl whom I had met in the medical center (I’ve been experiencing
problems with my ankle and needed an Ace bandage). Lori and her husband Dean and I ate
dinner in the Summer Palace and then played cards in Bar City located outside of the Cuban
Cigar Lounge. Bohnanza is a German card game in which the object is to plant and harvest
different kinds of beans. The farmer with the most coins earned from successful harvests after
three rounds is the winner. It was a really fun game. And I’m not just saying that because I won
Friday, May 14, 2010….Ketchikan
My day began with a shore excursion to Totem Bight State Park. Each preserved totem pole tells
a story about the tribe, its beliefs or explanations of the world around the natives. In fact, there
are many totem poles around Ketchikan. It’s like an art and there are master craftsmen who make
the totems and their replicas. Although it does provide a profit, there is still a sort of sacrament
surrounding the craft that brings an aura of respect. The carvings are as intricate and as amazing
as the stories they represent. Originating as a way to write their history, the totems majestically
withstand the tough Alaskan environment. Although not as cold, gusty, nor snowy as the other
stops on my tour, Ketchikan still has its tough winters. Also the ancient paints used on the totems
lasts as long as store bought paints. To make the paints, tribal women would chew up salmon
eggs, mixing it with saliva and elements from the environment such as ash to make black or
urine to make yellow.
I embarked on a walking tour designed by the visitor’s center after the formal shore excursion to
Totem Bight State Park. Ketchikan is a very lovely town. Twice the size of Skagway, Ketchikan
is known not only for their totem poles but for their vast amounts of salmon. Although the
salmon were not spawning yet, I saw the creeks where they run and some of the traps awaiting
their capture.
Creek Street, formerly the town’s red-light district, was also included on the walking tour.
Ketchikan did not have large, prosperous brothels like the Red Onion in Skagway. These
working girls worked independently instead. One of these women by the name of Dolly worked
well into her 70s. Her house has been preserved and is open for tours. Curious, I paid the $3 (the
original price of a trick) for admission.
I was not disappointed. Dolly was the owner of the first stove of Ketchikan as well as the first
electric vibrator. Resembling a Black & Decker drill, it plugged into a wall and came with
various attachments. Dolly also had a trapdoor installed and two hidden bars to keep liquor
hidden during Prohibition.
In order to keep rendezvous to Creek Street private, the Married Man’s Trail winds through the
shaded woods behind Dolly’s and the other nearby establishments. Creek Street itself is quite a
beautiful street that is more of a dock or boardwalk than a traditional street. In fact, many of
Ketchikan’s “streets” are not meant for cars but for pedestrians. Edmund Street is a set of 200
stairs that when ascended reward the walker with the best and most breathtakingly amazing view
of the town, mountains and forestry.
Ketchikan also boasts the only tunnel in which one can drive around, through, and over. When
construction of the tunnel was proposed and passed, the city mayor ordered that workers could
not blast through the mountain because his house would be destroyed. He had built it on top of
the mountain. Since he was mayor, the workers laboriously bore through the mountain creating a
tunnel in which people can drive through or around with people and streets above.
The Ketchikan Post Office is extremely busy. I went two different times and the line was always
at least six people deep. Finally, on my third pass by, I committed to mailing my postcards and
began a conversation with the woman in front of me. As the children’s librarian at Ketchikan’s
only library, the majority of Ketchikan’s residents love Skagway but dislike Juneau for the same
reasons that I mentioned when describing Juneau. There is a transient population and those who
are there even for a season don’t take the time to relate to others. In Ketchikan, she said, one can
pass an entire afternoon just talking with someone in the street.
Saturday, May 15, 2010….Victoria, British Columbia
This beautiful, temperate island is a haven for wealthy retirees. Basic condos on the island begin
at $100,000. British influence remains strong and residents drink tea daily at high noon. The
Empress Hotel is known for these engagements. The Parliament building with its “Birdcages”
and the nearby castle are also remnants from the Queen and other British influences.
However, my first sight once we rounded the corner exiting the port in which the Norwegian
Pearl docked was of six college-aged men drinking beer and lounging on multiple couches on
their beautifully manicured front lawn! They screamed and waved as the double decker tour bus
ambled past.
Beyond that hilarious sight, we were driven around wealthy areas. Although beautiful by any
standards, Victoria really didn’t seem to have much to offer. But I truly can’t say for sure because
I did not have the opportunity to explore it on foot by myself. Prior to leaving the port on the bus,
my mother informed me that I had to return with her so that I could go on the ship and arrange
transport for her from the customs house to the ship.
Near the conclusion of the tour, the bus driver stopped beside The Empress Hotel to let off those
who wished to remain downtown. As the driver closed the door and began to drive, mom turned
to me and blinked.
“Why didn’t you get off the bus?”
“You said you needed my help getting back on the ship.”
With a flick of her hand my mother replied, “Oh I could just have someone from customs call the
ship for a wheelchair.”
Wow. The shuttle bus from the port to downtown cost $7 one way and was at least a half an hour
walk if sped on foot through the residential district. Due to the meager 5 hours we were provided
at Victoria with nearly 2 spent on the shore excursion, once I recounted my available funds, I
decided against paying for a return back into the downtown area. Instead, I chose to do some
quick souvenir shopping at the gift shop beside the custom house and purchase a stiff, over-
priced drink on the ship while convincing myself that I wasn’t missing anything.
While sitting at Sea-Tac airport (short for Seattle-Tacoma), I have had an abundant amount of
time to think about my trip. This is truly the last time that I will travel any type of distance with
my mother. It does sadden me because the reason is only partly by choice. She really can’t
withstand this type of travel. Let me rephrase that statement. She refuses to embark on any type
of travel without embracing her self-perceived handicap. She can breathe without oxygen. She
chooses otherwise. She can walk on her own without a scooter or a wheelchair. She chooses
otherwise. Soon, I believe, she will lose the use of her legs because she doesn’t want to use them.
She likes the sympathy and attention derived from others when they see her in her “condition.”
If I can avoid doing so, I will never sail with Norwegian Cruise Line again. The food was
mediocre and I feel like I ate the same thing every day this week. The choices on the buffet never
change and other than one ulterior choice daily, the formal dining rooms never change their
menus either. There were seven specialty restaurants on board that ranged with cover charges of
$15-$25. I have never attended so many presentations and seminars in my life. Perhaps the high
age average of the ship’s passengers can account for the bland food and boring activities. Plus
nothing ever began on time and whenever I was hungry I could only find one place open – the
Blue Lagoon. Have you ever seen Asians eat chicken wings? They use a knife to cut off the meat
and eat the chicken with a fork. I felt awkward to say the least.
Alaska was amazing. I have never seen such a pristine, unaltered environment rich with history.
From the blue hues of the glaciers to the houses of the demimonde, I find the Alaskan
appreciation of what is and what was refreshing. I liked Skagway best because I gained a
valuable sense of knowledge about the town’s past and present. I was intrigued and fascinated by
how excited the costumed citizens were at relaying this information to an outsider. Ketchikan
presented the same revelry for their past and present through the preservation of their totem poles
as well as their respect for the environment of their salmon beds. Although Juneau as a town falls
short amongst the comparisons of towns, its true essence raises high above the town in its
Mendenhall Glacier. Those mushers in that camp of 300 dogs embrace and preserve Alaskan
history through running the Iditarod every year. Although it is now considered a sport (actually
the state’s declared sport!), oftentimes in the dead of winter and through vast uninhabited areas
(like Mendenhall Glacier), these mushers and their teams also contribute to the preservation of
our most northern, eastern, and western state.