July 11, 1996
I recently took a trip with my wife and son to Fairbanks, Alaska to visit our oldest son, who has been up there for four years. This was our first visit to the largest state in the U.S.; most certainly the farthest north we have ever been. The first thing you notice after departing the plane is the sunlight, ever present at this time of year--very disconcerting, yet energizing. Arriving at nine-thirty in the evening and feeling sluggish after eight hours of traveling and waiting for connecting flights, we found ourselves renewed after an hour of the sunlight. So renewed in fact we stayed up until one A.M., several hours past our usual turning in time. We were so concerned about getting any sleep, we took those little blue pills, just to be able to log in six hours of sleep. That first night sitting on the deck of a restaurant, on the Chena river (Chee-na) at twelve midnight and watching people boating, fishing and jet skiing, really threw the old internal clock for a loop. The sun never really sets, it just hide behind the mountains for three hours and comes right back up. Even with the sun behind the mountains for those three hours you have the same light, as though you were in the shade of a tall building. Picture this, we went off one day to do some fishing; arriving at the dock we came upon some young boys, about ten, fishing, when one of them asked me for the time, I responded "eight o'clock", where upon he asked " A.M. or P.M.?" Get the picture? Really weird, without the ability to tell time, one could get into a little trouble up there when it comes to resting one's body and mind. Kids do fine, adults beware. Sleep did not turn out to be that much of a problem, we found, after soaking up all we could of Alaska for eighteen hours a day, your body lets you know. I will be writing more about this trip in future articles, but one last thing I would like to tell you about was the air: It was soft, that is the best description of what it felt like. The temperature was always in the middle seventies, coupled with an arid climate, with a million lakes and rivers around us, that air that surrounded me was so soft, I wanted to strip down to the skin and let it caress me like a baby's blanket.
T-shirts and shorts were the most I was allowed to do. Next time, I go alone...
Copyright © 1996, Frank Wycoff.