A journalist observes life in the far north.
A week ago today I spent the day at a cookout at the Charley Young Beach in Kihei, a city on the island of Maui. The area is known as South Maui even though to my mind it’s in the middle. The beach was lovely in the way that beaches in the tropics can be. Waves crashed onto the shoreline. The sun radiated. The sky was blue. Down the beach, a hotel and palm tress jutted out in what looked like an oasis. All manner of women wore bikinis.
The children played in a tidal pool most of the time. I ventured out from under a beach umbrella now and again, my Irish skin coated in sunscreen. I walked barefoot on the beach with Slate on my back. The tops of my feet were sunburned. Jade made new friends. Slate always seemed covered in sand from head to toe. Alec swam in the ocean.
It seems like months or years ago after this weekend in which we drove to the mountains and woke up in a blizzard. A foot of fresh powder covered everything. The white was blinding and Jade kept saying, “My eyes hurt,” even though she wore sunglasses as we walked down the hill from our cabin to the truck. It seemed everyone in this tiny hamlet of snowmachine enthusiasts was hurrying to pack and start the 180 mile journey back to Fairbanks. It was expected to be a long, bare-knuckle drive home and it did not disappoint.
A patch of road from Summit Lake to Black Rapids that usually takes 20 minutes to cross took an hour. We couldn’t see on-coming vehicles until they were right ahead of us and when we passed, a cloud of snow blinded us for 10 or 20 seconds. The snowflakes were gigantic. The size of marbles. At times, it felt like we were driving in a white abyss. Alec lost control of the truck and slid a bit once. My big fear was that we would come out of a cloud of snow and find ourselves careening into a creek.
But we made it out of the blizzard OK. I keep thinking about the other drivers. Did they do as well?