Alaska Trip

June 18th, 2023
contra, travel
A few weeks ago I flew to Anchorage to play for the Dancing Bears Dance Camp with the Free Raisins. It was really fun to play with Amy and Audrey again, to dance to KGB, to meet people from dance communities all over Alaska, and to visit the farthest North I've been. Some pictures from the trip, with thoughts hanging off them.

Now that I work with wastewater I'm much more interested in sewage treatment plants. Here's Boston's Deer Island plant, right next to the airport:

I love looking out the window on flights, and occasionally get decent pictures. Here's Hamilton and Burlington, SW of Toronto at the end of Lake Ontario:

Looking SE from Park Ridge Station along the UP-NW Line towards downtown Chicago:

Even though I left Chicago at 7pm it stayed light the entire way there, making for pretty good views. Lots of clouds approaching Anchorage, but they broke as we flew West along Turnagain Arm, following the road (and train) West from Whittier (internet-famous for its density, with almost everyone living in a single apartment building). In the lower right you can see Beluga Point, which we later visited terrestrially:

The Anchorage suburbs felt a lot like other parts of the US, except from almost anywhere there was some direction you could look to see snow-covered mountains:

Once we got to the camp and there was less evidence of human habitation this made it feel a lot like a Bob Ross painting:

I brought my 5x5 and 7x7 go boards and got at least a dozen people to give it a try. You can teach it quickly, games are fast, and then people can play each other and get a feel for it:

One of the other dancers brought Ecologies, a tableau-building card game. I enjoyed it, but with six players it was much too long. This was partly that five of us were new to the game, but it doesn't help that it takes time proportional to the number of players. It has a draw-decide structure, which I think nearly always should be rotated to a decide-draw structure so people can think more on their opponents' turns. It also wasn't very well balanced (review) but I enjoyed the trading, card art, and company:

While teaching a session on playing music to support the dancers a moose wandered by:

While the most common Alaskan contra dancer's car is probably a Subaru, perhaps the most literal combination of the word embeddings for "Alaskan", "contra dancer", and "car" was one dancer's lifted Prius:

Driving back to our host's, through otherwise normal-feeling suburbia, we stopped to let three bears cross the road:

Most of the musicians stayed an extra day to see more of the area, and we drove to Portage, at the East end of Turnagain Arm where we hiked up to see the glacier:

We also hiked to a small lake where the trees were incredibly mossy:

On the way back we passed the Glacier Discovery, just where it diverges from the main line on its way to Whittier. East of here it runs through a 2.5mi one-lane tunnel that (since 2000) it shares with cars. This requires some scheduling!

Flying out of Anchorage as the sun set you could see Danali and Foraker poking up above the clouds:

Back to Boston the next morning, very sleepy, seeing South Boston and the Conley Container Terminal, with Back Bay and downtown in the background:

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