We didn’t go for the weather which was mostly rain or even to see wildlife. While Kodiak, Alaska is known for its bears and outdoor activities, we traveled across four time zones for one reason—to visit our son and his family. Kodiak is almost as far as one can possibly get from his last assignment with the Coast Guard in Clearwater, FL and still be in the US. Getting to Kodiak has a significantly higher hassle factor than the ease of a non-stop flight to Tampa. But we choose to make the effort for the sake of relationship building, especially with our granddaughters.
While Skype is great, it has its limitations. Video chatting allows us to read a book and show its pictures, but it doesn’t substitute for hugs, assembling puzzles, helping with bath time or walking to jewel beach to pick up sea glass. Many people have exotic locales on their bucket list, but our primary motivation is to visit friends and family, rather than seeing another country or continent for the sake of adding to a list.
Things we learned about our son’s current home:
Kodiak has around 14,000 people and is called the Emerald Isle of the Pacific. It’s the second largest island in the United States, approximately 250 miles southwest of Anchorage in the Gulf of Alaska. It’s an archipelago and rain forest. Fishing is the most important economic activity. Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge comprises two-thirds of the island and is home to a subspecies of the brown or grizzly bear. According to Alaska Fish and Wildlife estimates, there are approximately 3,500 Kodiak bears. These bears live exclusively on the islands in the Kodiak Archipelago and have been isolated from other bears for about 12,000 years.
In 1964, the largest earthquake recorded in North America (9.2 magnitude) shook Alaska and triggered a tsunami. The so-called Good Friday Earthquake leveled Kodiak’s downtown and wiped out its fishing fleet. Kodiak rebuilt and is among the top three fishing ports in the country.
Kodiak has the largest Coast Guard base in the country. Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak has Dolphin and Jayhawk helicopters and fixed-wing Hercules C-130’s. Three Coast Guard vessels are home-ported in Kodiak. The U.S. Coast Guard in Alaskan carries out fishery law enforcement, monitors fishing fleets and saves lives with search and rescue missions and medical evacuations.
© Joan S Grey, 31 March 2015