Travelling solo (to a brand new place) has always been daunting for me. It’s not something I’ve wanted to do while growing up, and only found myself in that situation a couple of years back due to a twist of strange events. However, I’ve been hooked since the initial “try-out” if you will. My parents (and many acquaintances) still frown upon the idea of solo travel and are very indignant about finding enjoyment alone. I’m still coming to terms and searching for the sweet spot of alone time required to enjoy to my heart’s content, and not feel guilty about the downsides to spending too much time alone.
There’s a certain kind of charm to exploring little alleys and getting lost to get the feel of a city, making a plan and then forgoing it all together based on your whims and fancies. I’ve had troubles in the past deciding what I want to do (based on emotion) rather than logistics (what makes sense) and every trip has taught me a thing or two about myself which I can’t dismiss easily.
Also, Norwegians really seem to have their life sorted unlike the rest of the world. I’m a little envious.
Three weeks into my Alaskan trip, I took a break from the research (forced break due to sudden alpine tundra rainfall), and travelled down to Skagway to meet my family (they were doing a tour of Alaska whilst I was slaving away.) On one of the days, we decided to try something completely brand new for the family – doing a wilderness hike and canoe expedition to see Davidson Glacier.
Davidson Glacier was originally discovered in 1867, and made famous by the Father of National Parks, John Muir, when he recounted it in his travels around Glacier Bay just a decade later. It used to be almost a tidewater glacier, but has receded into the mountains over the last century, turning into a valley glacier with its own glacial lake (so far up we can’t see it.) It’s currently runs for about 4.6 miles.
A couple of months back, I was reading The Popular Science Monthly from June 1889 (for research, not for fun), Glaciers on the Pacific Coast by G. Frederick Wright, where he estimated the original front of the glacier to be a whopping 3 miles wide. Unfortunately, there is no speculation on the length it used to be then. It’s said some Russian scientists tried to explore, but it went so far back and that they weren’t ‘heard from again’, but it’s likely it was due to lack of communication rather than death, I would think. Anyway, as you can see from my photos above, there is no 3 mile wide glacial front and it’s hard to imagine one. It’s crazy to learn the theory and science behind changes in our natural environment, then experiencing it firsthand.
The weather in Alaska changes like the drop of a hat, and our guides shared that while the morning storm passed a couple of hours ago, there were still chances of a drizzle or more. As expected, plans changed according to the weather situation. After briefing and being outfitted, we took a speedboat to Glacier Point where we begun our relatively short mile hike on uneven terrain (lots of interesting vegetation, but rarely any wildlife) then canoed upstream. Halfway through our rowing, the drizzle turned into stormy wind and hail fell. However, our guides deemed it safe for us to proceed. Wildlife became scarce the closer we got upstream to the glacial waters, and the water was murky.
To safely navigate the landscape, we learned about kettle holes on outwash plains formed by retreating glaciers, resulting in misleading puddles of water that could be over 5 feet deep. Our guides taught us how to use our canoe paddles to test the depth before walking through them.
We hiked over what was a river (just 24 hours ago) and learned about sand formations underwater. Due to the erratic weather, the glacier shifted through the early morning, and resulted in water blockage that choked the water source. We could see water flow patterns, which is rare. During the hike, we also managed to learn about fossil formations on rocks by glacial pressure (aka earth art.) It’s incredible to see the different combinations of sediment and earth that form together over years, producing a wide variety of little pebbles and rocks.
Towards the end of our visit, the storm threatened to come back, and we witnessed a giant chunk of glacial ice calve. It ended up sitting and waiting for the river to rise. Within the span of an hour hobbling around the glacier, the water level rose a foot and we had to speed hike back to the canoes before the river came back and washed us away.
This turned out to be such a terrific experience, and I would recommend it for all adults (with a little bit of training and some persistence in difficult weather.) However, I would not suggest bringing a phone or a camera with them unless it was waterproof (not water resistant.) Shortly after our little adventure, my phone died thanks to the extreme weather conditions and I had to get a new one. But hey, these pictures were really fun to take too. My dad has a collection of these photos hung up on the wall of his study room now, and that seems to be well worth it.
These are snaps taken off the marine highway while travelling to and fro, visiting Inuit tribes around the North Slope Borough and the Yukon Koyukuk Area. If I didn’t see these waters myself, I probably wouldn’t believe they were this shade of blue.
What a summer! Once again feeling terribly blessed.
A ridiculous encounter during this Alaskan trip. Sometimes I feel like I’m not here for a study /research program, but rather a holiday because all of these unfamiliar experiences. I did retract my statement a couple of times, but what is truly amazing is being able to see how people live and work in completely different environments so dissimilar to ours, yet reflective in so many ways.
High Times by Richard Prince, May 30–August 23, 2019, Gagosian San Francisco
Before this, the dead heads and hippie drawings – heart and soul drawings that were too real to talk about. This series was so fun, more psychedelic than the past. I love how varied and unexpected his work always is.
Crashed Brownie’s surfing trip this May on a whim. I never thought that I would be a beach type of person, or a ‘whim’ type of person either, but it turns out that a great book goes well together with lying in the sun. I also tried tanning oil (recommended by Brownie) for the first time in my life, and needless to say I will stick to being pale. Love me some sunshine (and loads of sun block.)
There is more I remember, but I don’t think I want to pen it down. Imagine if authors or poets said that! Ha. Thankfully I do not posses the emotional capacity of a poet, nor the linguistic capability of a writer.
A three ton installation derived from the study of spiders and the intricate structure of their webs. I’m in awe of the design and effort it took to execute something like this on such a large scale. It was thoughtful and future facing, with each installation showcasing a vision and potential of a floating city (due to environmental concerns.) I love that this isn’t just art, but excellent design.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about an interview I had back in 2014. The interviewer asked me what enticed me about hospitality, and how I felt about the industry. At that time I barely had an acceptable answer (I was 24, utterly useless and caught off guard.)
Six years later, I still think back on that interview and the answer I wish I had put into words then. The reality is that the pleasure derived from a sensory experience at a specific place will always have a special place in my heart. Café Henrie is one of those places, even more so since it has long shuttered it’s doors. It melded the art, fashion and culinary world (a rare combination, even to this day.)
The name Henrie, a tribute to his daughter Henrietta. The space, peppered with ever functional Tom Sachs furniture, Peter Shire mugs, Petra Collins neon signs, with André’s latest projects strewn about. Coffee by Counter Culture, and brunch fare by Marquis Hayes (who described himself going from “crack to croquettes” in a New York Times article back in 2015.)
There is a distinct memory of walking a couple of blocks from Nolita to Lower East Side in the (strangely) frigid November chill, buckling down for brunch early in the am, holding onto Peter Shire’s Echo Park Pottery mugs (for the first time in my life), watching people as they made their way to work. My mind palace is only capable of so little, since I am neither a skillful consulting detective nor a manipulative charming psychiatrist.