Friday, July 30, 2010

Aleutian Islands: Geology

The Aleutian Islands chain is formed at the northern edge of the Pacific "Ring of Fire." As a consequence, there are many, many volcanic islands and peaks. On most days, sadly, the weather was -- very typical for the area -- too cloudy or foggy for us to see them. On the few clear days, though, we were treated to some amazing views.

A number of the volcanos gave us ample indication that they continue to be active, though despite our fervent wishes we were not treated to an actual eruption!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Aleutian Islands: Culture

The indigenous people were more or less invaded by the Russians a few hundred years ago and their culture was strongly affected. The superimposition of western religion is evident practically everywhere, mostly in the form of ornate churches. In a number of places that we visited, the local descendants of the original people put on little shows for us, and it was interesting to see the modern preservation of their ancient history.

The native economy and environment were strongly influenced by the Russians, especially the impacts of the fur trade which developed. In some cases, species -- including the fur seal -- were hunted to near extinction. The subsequent effects on local economies were devastating.

Things may have changed somewhat for the better after the American purchase of Alaska, though many changes to original lifestyles have become permanent. Nowadays, there is ample evidence of modern "mini-invasions" such as the announcement of tourist arrivals that was posted on the store bulletin board and in the assortment of modern products.

Everywhere we went, the people were quite warm and friendly to us. To be honest, I think we provided a little bit of entertainment in this very remote and isolated area!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Aleutian Islands Exploration Begins

Months ago, my mom and I scheduled a cruise-based exploration of the Aleutian Islands. My original plan had been to hang out up in Alaska and meet her there, but by the time I'd completed the Haul Road trip I was kinda "done" with Alaska. So, rather than hang around and drive south after our cruise, I got the long drive done early and will fly back up to meet her in Anchorage tomorrow.

I've got four main reasons for wanting to explore the Aleutian Islands, besides the simple fact that I've always just wanted to go there: Culture, History (especially WWII), Geology and Wildlife.

Our cruise itinerary is pretty complex, but will basically follow the route you can see below: Anchorage, Katmai, Dutch Harbor, Adak, Attu and Petropovlovsk. We will stop at a number of other islands along the way, but those should be the highlights.

I do not expect to have internet access during the trip, but I will post complete coverage after I return... Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Back In Seattle

Right on schedule, it took me six more long days of driving the AlCan to reach Seattle. The drive went without problem, except for its mind-numbing duration. I've taken a couple of days to recover, and will be here for a couple of weeks. Then, I'm actually going to fly back up to Anchorage where I will meet my mom for a cruise voyage we have planned in the Aleutian Islands… Stay tuned!