"Bekka goes Alaska" mollyireland's Profile

Gone with the wind

Hello everyone, who knows me and welcome everyone, who doesn't know me (yet)!!
Not too long now, and I will be starting into my big adventure. And right here will be the place, where you can read about it and hopefully even see a little bit of it (all my German friends and family, please excuse, for it will all be in English - but I will try to give translations for the slang words).

In exactly one week from today, the wind will be picking me up and blowing me west until he's setting me down in Seattle, from where my big journey will begin. Within six months, I will be travelling to the farthest north of the American continent and to the most westerly point of the western world. In between, I will investigate the wonders of the most scarcely inhabited state of the U.S. and then I will be moving way east until, in October, I will be arriving in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to take my plane home.
In these six months, I will be travelling by air, by sea, by train, coach and car, and I'm sure, I will also be using my feet a lot.
I will be seeing bears, moose, whales, seals and many more (at least I hope so).
And I also hope, that I can share my impressions with you here.
So stay tuned, and join into the excitement...

This is the dawning of the rest of our lives ...

... on holiday !

April 12th 2008, Day 1/187, 5131 miles, flight 11,5 hrs, 9hrs time difference

For the past three months I had been working toward this day and I had made this trip in my mind so many times that it was hard to believe that it was actually happening now.
I felt like I knew Alaska inside out, and now, being so close to it, it felt strangely unreal and further away than ever.

Having felt quite stressed from the preparation period leading up to this trip, my mood got increasingly better, as we lifted off. They served us wine, which helped a lot. After the second glass, when I started to feel a bit ditsy, I finally realized what a fantastic time lay ahead off me and, best of all, 187 days of it. I guess, the people around me thought the grin that all of a sudden brightened my face was due to the wine, but it was because I felt like I just had invented the high art of living.

The flight was excitingly uneventful and concluded its first leg in Calgary at a sunny 18 degrees Celsius.

As we turned to land, I did manage to catch a glimpse of the spectacular view below us.
Underneath us we were looking at sheer endless grassy plains, flat like an iron, bordered by the majestic rockies on the horizon that rose like the battlements of a castle out of the ground.

The start of the flight to Seattle opened up the view to the east with neverending plains as far as the eye could reach. The fields were squared off in 800 by 800 m patches, that seemed to lose themselves in the nowhere. Once airborne, the plane turned towards the Rockies, revealing that the transition between plains and mountains wasn't as drastic as it first seemed. There was something like a foothill zone that looked like a wave rolling out onto a beach, leaving ripples in the sand.
It must have been an enormous push from the Pacific side that once formed the Rocky Mountains, as you could literally see the landmasses that had been pushed up becoming these hills.
What followed were hundreds of kilometers of rugged mountain peaks. The trees on their slopes looked like chocolate powder on the snowcovered surface, reminding me a bit of a blackforest gateau (without the cherries though ;-).

Most stunning was the view of three singular mountains peeking out of the mountain range like giant guard towers, as we approached Seattle.
One of them must've been the famous Mt. St. Helens.

When we landed in Seattle, we were greeted by sunny 26 degrees Celsius (!!). Getting off the plane, the air seemd to be filled with a scent of spring flowers that followed me all the way into town.

Getting off the bus in downtown, I found myself among giant skyscrapers and busy streets, but the atmosphere was that of a warm summer day. Everyone just seemed to be relaxed and easy going. No sign of the usual hectic in a big city.

The hostel was right across the street from Pike Place Market, a market square filled with interesting knickknack stalls and fresh produce in the style of the turn of the century architecture.
The street corner, the hostel was situated on, was busy with homeless people hanging out, street musicians playing Indian drums and people waiting for "doors open" in front of an old theatre, that still advertised its acts with stick-on letters.

The hostel made a great first impression. The staff was friendly and the rooms provided the largest amount of privacy possible, as each of the eight bunk beds featured its own set of sockets, a reading light, a fan (!) and curtains to shelter you from the business going on in the room, while you are sleeping. Also, each bed had it's own locker where you could fit all your luggage in.
And last, but not least, the showers across the hall were all lockable single compartments with its own toilet. They offer a free breakfast every morning and a free dinner twice a week, as well as many activities, like bonfires on the beach.
I felt like staying and spending my six months right there!!
I can highly recommend this one. It's $ 25 per night.

April 13th, Day 2/187, 13 degrees, overcast to drizzly, 2 miles on foot

The free breakfast was a dream: fresh fruit of various kinds and all the equipment to make your own waffles (with cream and maple syrup)!!

After that I went across the street to the Market to sit down somewhere and to wait for my spirit to arrive in Seattle (you know, the Indians believe, that after having travelled on a fast pace, that they have to sit down to wait for their spirit to catch up with them and in my case it seems to be true, as I'm always kinda spaced out after long trips).
I found this nice old-style cafe with a big windowscreen looking out over Puget Sound. So I sat down, ordered some spiced tea and listened to blues and country music on my MP3 player.
Unfortunately, the summer weather had changed its mind and became dull and grey, so the Puget Sound looked quite unspectacular But it was still nice to watch the ferries come and go.

The Pike Place Market was a roofed (ueberdacht) market area, set up over several levels of a cliff, which used to be the premises of old factories and storehouses.
There is a fresh produce area, which features the most entertaining fresh fish stall with fishmongers shouting their orders at each other, followed by the fish thrown across the stall from the server to the packer, while the whole crew repeats the order like a chorus.
It almost reminded me of the worker's songs the American slaves used to sing during their labour. As you could imagine, this particular fishmonger has become quite a tourist attraction and they market it quite well, by having one of the guys explain and answer questions and by playing jokes with the audience, like throwing fake fish at them.

Another very interesting place was the spice shop, that selled their spices from apothecary jars, lined up on the numerous shelves all along the walls of the shop. The different coloured powders and grains created a lovely atmosphere mix of old-time shop and oriental bazaar.
Another curiosity I came across, was the roasted nuts stall offering a large variety of rosted nuts and seeds, the most delicious sounding probably being the lime flavoured sunflower seeds. Seattle also has quite a strong Native heritage, so Indian art is a big part of the shop-scape (Ladenlandschaft) in this city and especially in the Market you find a large variety of jewellery shops, bead shops and totem art galleries.

You enter the toplevel from the street my hostel is situated on. It features large windows at its backside with stools to sit and enjoy the view and stairs that lead down to the seafront.

I was looking forward to my walk along there, but it turned out to be quite disappointing.
At first, I thought that, living in Ireland, I must be quite spoilt for scenery, because the grey weather made the Puget Sound look like a big puddle surrounded by nothing. But it was actually the clouds that hid the scenery, so there was really nothing to look at.

A little stuck for something to do, I made my way to the Klondike museum, which offered free admission, but by the time I got there, there was only half an hour left for the visit.
So I just had a quick look around.
The stories about the goldrush were very fascinatingly interesting and I realized, that coincidently, the route I had chosen, followed the traces of the fortune seekers, by starting my trip to the north, like them, in Seattle and then moving up the inside passage and across the Whitepass to the Klondike. I will share some of those unbelieveable stories at a later time.

In the evening, went to the "Kells Irish Pub", not because I was already homesick, but because I had read that the market people would go there after work and I was curious about the atmosphere.
Unfortunately, it was very quiet in the Kells Pub.

This was my first day in Seattle, more is to follow soon...
So bye for now and have a good time.

  • Intro Updated Apr 25, 2008
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Comments (1)

  • Apr 23, 2008 at 10:21 AM

    'ello hon, thanks for the emails, i hope ur havin a great time. Scotland was wondrful, so beautiful and the ppl so friendly. We were exhausted after a week of making the most of it, i dont think i cud do it for six mths!! Enjoy! Touch base again soon, Bec

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Offenburg, Germany
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