Bob and Dakota
September 6, 2018
The epitome of Alaska. So many stories waiting to be heard. Bob and Dakota.
During a drive to Seward I noticed a small pullout overlooking a beautiful turquoise lake. I stopped to admire the view and saw a clearing through the trees. I climbed slowly past the trees and down the cliff. The forest gave way to wide open coastline by the train tracks. I was caught off guard when I turned to see a man walking beside the tracks picking strawberries. I remarked how beautiful this place was and he mentioned he hadn't seen many people come down this way.
He explained how the entire coastline used to look like the beach ahead of us, covered in large driftwood. The forestry service lit a controlled burn that quickly progressed into the contrary. The fire advanced over the hills and threatened the forestry headquarters in the area. Bob chuckled at the irony of the situation. He offered a history lesson on why the Chugach Forest exists as a protected area. He talked about his previous life in the air force and how he was excited for things to slow down at retirement.
Of all my encounters and experiences in Alaska, this one felt the most real. A man and his dog picking strawberries on a bright August afternoon: willing and excited to share memories from his past, to a complete stranger.