Monday, September 30, 2013

A Vegan Looks at Alaska

A while back, I had the opportunity to actually meet some Twitter friends!  They came to Alaska for a vacation and, yes, we arranged a "tweet up", albeit a smallish one.
The Buck-White Boys
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Alas, Jeb and I didn't have an opportunity to meet the four-leggeds pictured above, but we did meet the two-legged Buck-White Boys and had a delightful visit.  It's remarkably fun to meet folks (in person) for the first time, whom you already like and are pals with.   To make the entire experience even more fun, we've been e-mailing back and forth and one of the Buck-White Boys has generously shared today's guest post about the Alaska trip. 

A Vegan Looks at Alaska
T. Clay Buck 

No, not that kind of Vegan, a LAS Vegan, as in from Las Vegas.  You know, “Vivaaaaaaa Las Vegas!”  That one.

There are three types of people that move to Vegas:  1) Those desperate to make it – at a slot machine, gaming table, in a show, with someone; 2) Those who are, at best, ambivalent about Vegas or, at worst, hate it, but they’re only here because they have to be (job, spouse, family, couldn’t stay in California/Hawaii/Other expensive state); 3) Those who really do love this valley and recognize it for so much more than its bright lights, big entertainment reputation.

I like to think I fall into the third category.  I moved here eleven years ago.  Fell in love, grew my career, bought a house and am now living the neon-tinged suburban dream.

Very, very few visitors ever get beyond the Strip.  And if they do, they might go to Hoover Dam or the Grand Canyon.  What so few people know about Vegas is its high desert topography.  We have Red Rock Canyon to the West, Mt. Charleston to the North, Valley of Fire and Lake Mead to the East – when you really look at it, it is a beautiful part of the country.

And there’s the weather – yes, it’s very hot here.  In July and August.  Triple digits.  Joke about it all you want, but it IS a dry heat.  And there is a difference, a very big difference, between 10% and 75% humidity.

But for the majority of the year we have clear skies, bright sun and you can see from one end of the valley to the other – a distance of about 25-30 miles.

And you reach a point where you realize that you can’t live without that kind of openness.  Trees, mountains, hills, cloud cover all make you a bit claustrophobic.  But you also crave water. 

We’ve been in a drought for the eleven years I’ve lived here, so you don’t very often see a lot of standing water.  Any time you do see water that’s spilled or running off from a sprinkle you think what a terrible waste it is.

You guys in Alaska have an awful lot of water.  That’s really the major first impression that hit me both times I’ve been.  There is so much water in Alaska, it just hangs around in the air and you call it fog.  You have so much water you can afford to let it freeze and sit on top of mountains for thousands of years.  You have so much that that frozen water spills over the side of the mountain, you call it a glacier and sell tickets for us Lower 48ers to come see it.

Good for you. 

Nearly everyone who visits Vegas says to a local, “Oh, I came for a few days and it was more than I could handle.  Just too much overload.”  Listen, in Anchorage apparently there are moose walking down the streets like it’s an episode of Northern Exposure and Vegas is too much overload?  We reached a point on our trip where it was just, “STOP!”  Ok, just stop.  I need five minutes without a glacier, an animal, history, something stunning to look at or a freakin’ salmon. 

Because you come to Alaska to feed your soul.  You come and you fill up on all of that water and beauty and scenery.  You breathe it in through your pores (really, great skin after an Alaska trip – could you bottle that?) and on those days in Vegas when its 111 and you haven’t left the house in 3 days, you have that memory, that beauty, that sustains you through the long hot summers of life.
Mendenhall Glacier
You can get to know The Buck-White Boys by going to their blog, visiting them on Twitter or liking their Facebook page!

I hope you find this guest post as charming and thought provoking as I do and may you have a week filled with perfect moments!

Magic All Around is available in digital and paperback formats from Amazon and can be special ordered for purchase at most brick and mortar bookstores.