Earlier this month I headed down to Wrangell, Alaska for the annual conference of the Alaska Association of Harbormasters and Port Administrators. I love flying through Southeast Alaska, and I never get sick of taking pictures from the window of the plane. I feel a little silly, but I can’t help it – the landscape from 30,000 is simply fantastic. It takes a remarkably long time to get from Homer to Wrangell, a total distance of maybe 700 miles? 7:30 am flight from Homer to Anchorage, followed by a flight from Anchorage to Wrangell. Flights that go south tend to make milk stops…1.5 hours to Juneau, 24 minutes to Petersburg (pictured below as we flew off to Wrangell), 10 minute to Wrangell (continuing on for another 30 minutes to Ketchikan, and finally to Seattle). We arrived in Wrangell around 4:30pm.
I gave a presentation on Alaska Clean Harbors, a program I’ve been developing for the state over the past year and a half. Check out the website: www.alaskacleanharbors.org. ACH is similarly structured to Clean Marina programs around the Lower 48 – marinas (i.e. harbors in AK) using various practices to minimize their impacts on the marine environment. It’s work that I love doing, and the group of harbormasters, engineers, vendors, regulators, etc. who work in this industry has been fun to get to know.
There’s a beach just a mile out of “downtown” where there are over 40 petroglyphs carved into rocks by the original Tlingit who lived there. I took a run about the island and checked them out – it was fun to hunt for them at the low tide!
Looking down at Wrangell – a town of around 2,000 people. Wrangell is one of the oldest European settlements in Alaska – Russians came to trade furs as early as 1811 (that’s early for up here!). Fishing and timber have been the main industries in Wrangell, with timber being king from the mid-40s until the mid-90s when pulp mills in Sitka and Ketchikan shut down. Below is a picture from a boat tour we took and an abandoned sawmill with a scrap metal barge. So much abandoned infrastructure…it reminded me of the abandoned cannery in Port Graham. Many of these places look like the workers just evaporated – like everyone just walked away and left things in suspense.
Waste oil disposal at the harbormaster’s office. These are the kinds of work-pictures I take on these trips.
I made it home on Thursday night, just in time to start my Master Gardeners course at the college. Sleep deprived, brain whirling and excited, I settled back into Homer life after a beautiful trip south. I’d love to go back someday and explore that entire region of Alaska – it’s like another state down there. We need to get the boat down … someday maybe we’ll take her across the Gulf and beyond!