27 June 2009

Lingering farewells

When our boat tour in the Kenai Fjords National Park ended, we drove a very short distance to our lodging for the night, the Seward Windsong Inn, overlooking the Resurrection River. It was a bittersweet evening for us all coming so soon on the heels of an exciting day and marking the official end of our Alaskan expedition. How fortunate we were to be with such an interesting and congenial group. I can honestly say I am glad now to know each and every one.

Back in Internet-land here in Seward, the first time since Tuesday, we also received some sobering news from home. My dad has been admitted to the hospital. I wish I were there, but I'm not and cannot be. My sister, Joyce, and brother, Paul, are readying themselves to go help our mother. How grateful I am for and how comforted I am by that.

We ate breakfast this morning while watching the gulls give the bald eagles a very hard time over the river, generally well-deserved, I understand. I took these photos on our walk back to the room to ready our luggage for pickup. Can you tell I was dragging my feet ever so slightly?

The lingering was to no avail, I must add. The luggage was collected and we did set out for Anchorage -- back along the route of yesterday and Wednesday. Our rest stop in this direction was in a most delightful location, the name of which I do not remember. But, the terrain was astounding and the wildflowers abundant. This is Connie walking alone on the rise adjacent to the one on which Tal and I were walking. She seemed so at peace and I was suddenly and deeply aware that the ending to this trip was not going to be abrupt. Nancy was deliberately easing us out of the wilderness and back into our regular lives.

As a result of this stop I have a new favorite flower, pictured here: a chocolate lily. At first I didn't notice them -- brown, down-turned flowers. But, brown, down-turned flowers? They are so regal and striking, a fitting late discovery on our Alaskan adventure.

I suspect Nancy was lingering, as well, stopping at a favorite place of hers: the pottery studio of a good friend, featuring wood-fired kilns and a small gallery operating entirely on the honor system (always unlocked, purchasers leaving the money for the chosen item in the shop). But, our visit in the land of enchantment, the land of the midnight sun, did end. First we dropped Connie and Peter at the airport. Next Nancy left Tal and me at here at the Super 8 near the airport. Now that was a reality check, a far cry from the places we have stayed for the past seven nights. Her last stop was a downtown hotel to deposit Ann and Joan. We progressed through our final hours together steadily, but without any hurry on Nancy's part. I did not sense she was eager to finish up. A tribute to her professionalism, to our cohesiveness as a group and to Alaska itself.

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