Memories From the Travel Journal of Luke Young

(Haida Gwaii – Near western British Columbia and the islands of Southeast Alaska)

Heading northwards through the dense fog
The cigar exhale of a continent
Shields our ship from sight
As we barrel through icy waters
Teeming with ocean life
In the realms below the bowline

This summer, the summer of 2022, I traveled to southeast Alaska by ship with my uncle,
the ship’s naturalist. A history professor during the school year and a widely
experienced Alaska-hand. The misty waters, whale appearances and tree shrouded
islands we encountered were a world set apart. I couldn’t get enough of it. Among the
many conversations with my uncle during the trip, and book discussions, he mentioned
Green Alaska by Nancy Lord. I made a note to find it as soon as possible.

I found a copy within a few days of my return at an incredibly large and chaotically
organized book store in my hometown of Tacoma, Washington. The descriptions of
Nancy’s journey, retracing the steps of the scientifically unparalleled 1899 Harriman
Expedition, came to life for me, and her experience and knowledge of that expedition
were laid out with great clarity and vivid imagery. She contextualized a privately funded
scientific journey at the turn of the last century which is still to this day unparalleled in
scope. To read through all the journals and notes taken during the Harriman Expedition
would be tedious for most of us, but she did it for us and retold the important parts with
humor and interest. It was an incredibly easy, and enjoyable book to read, not just
because I saw parts of her own journey and the Harriman Expedition’s with my own

(Glacier Bay, Alaska)
White thunder unmistakable as the ice falls
Rolling into the field of floating pieces
Resting harbor seals
Rippling still waters
Heavy with salt water below the layer of fresh melt

The Harriman Expedition Never Ended
Muir saw through Harriman’s eyes
A world of dollar digits
Collectible trophies and anthropological tokens
Set behind the ice peaks and wooded slopes of a land little discovered
It was adventure and discovery

At the end of an age with little room for either
Telephones and motor cars
Steam ships and machine guns
Coming quick to take away the small pauses of wonder
Now mostly trapped between musky pages
Faded photographs and dry mouth memories

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