Saturday, June 25, 2011

bouncing the boardwalk

On Friday June 24, 2011 I posted my moment, a photo memory that is not explained.  It is a tradition started by one blogger, and borrowed by others who found it a unique way to share a moment in our lives.

There were several questions about a couple photos that day.  (I posted three photos instead of the usual one because I just couldn't decide which to post.)  The photo of the boardwalk got the most comments, so I decided to explain it.

In 2009, I travelled to Bethel, Alaska.  (Read about that here.)  It is 400 miles from Anchorage, and about 40 miles from the Bering Sea. It is a fairly large town for that part of Alaska, and has a hospital that serves about 48 villages, give or take a few.  The only way in to Bethel is by plane.  Travel between the villages and Bethel is by small aircraft, and Alaska Airline sends three flights a day to Bethel.  If you miss the last flight in or out, there is no plane until the next day.  On top of this, the planes hold passengers in the back half, with the front half being reserved for cargo. So you board in the rear of the plane, and never see who is piloting the big bird.

Bethel has a population of about 5,000 people.  Give or take a few.  There are about 7 miles of paved road in Bethel, the main one being from the airport to the downtown area.  These roads connect Bethel residents to each other, but go nowhere.  The tundra surrounds the town.

Let me explain about the tundra.  It is flat.  Flatter than flat.  And marshy.  Berries grow profusely in the summer, and everything that is green grows at a phenomenal rate, because there is about 3 hours of dusky day, and the rest is sunny.  This is the land of the midnight sun after all.

I loved Bethel in the winter, when I arrived.  (Photos of Alaska in winter here.)  But I grew to love it even more in the summer.  Mosquitos the size of small birds would eat me alive (I bought enough OFF to have owned a majority in the company), and weather was so mild no air conditioners were needed.  Skies so blue that the horizon seemed to stretch as far as the eye could see.  And clouds so full and low you felt as though you could reach up and touch them.  It was heaven on earth.  And magnificent beyond my dreams.

So how do people get around in a marshy land, when they are not driving or walking on the paved roads?  They walk.  Everyone walks.  There is a ratio of about 1 cab for every 20 people (it seems like) but the ride costs $5.  One way.  Anywhere you go in Bethel.  So most walk.

And the boardwalk is what is used to get from one place to another, a shortcut across the marshy tundra.  It lead directly from my apartment to the downtown area, to the one large store in town (like a small Wal Mart).  Because these boardwalks are built on spongy marsh, they give when you walk or ride a bike on them (although you really aren't supposed to ride bikes on them).  There is a spring beneath your feet from the boards that makes walking on them almost a dance.

I am sharing some more photos of the Bethel boardwalk, in the Alaskan summer.  For such an isolated place, there is a oneness with nature there that is hard to grasp unless you stand there, and gaze at the sky, look around you, and breathe the purity of the air.

I was blessed to have experienced it.  It is etched in my memory forever.

Bouncing across the boardwalk, absorbing it all.

Alaska the beautiful.  Alaska the magnificent.

~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie


  1. And to think I thought we were at the beach - but that would be my memory, I guess, inspired by your moment.

    Thanks for the story.

  2. I dream of visiting Alaska! As always Cath, your pictures of the place make me green with envy. xo

  3. Oh wow, how fantastic. Couldn't go back and read about Alaska again, what you had to do for the wee burn victims is seared into my brain. I'd go to Alaska for a visit but I suspect it's cold?
    Josie x

  4. @Thom Brown Pretty surprising eh? Alaska is such a variety of sights, your eyes never lack for something to see. And if I inspired a memory in you, then that is all the better. :D

  5. @Lalia Alaska is still calling my name. I loved every moment there. :D You would love it too I am sure.

  6. @Josie I can't blame you Josie, it was a tough post for me to write. And Alaska in the summer is in the mid to high 70's (that's Farenheit), and perfect, hours of sun and little if no dark. Everything grows like crazy because of the length of the days. You'd love it.