year of books – march, april

Alaska, reading

I’m finally feeling a bit caught up in the reading department. It seems I’ve been behind in keeping up with reading one book per month ever since… January. 🙂

During a quick last minute, weekend trip to Salt Lake City, I finished up “A Long Trek Home: 4,000 miles by boot, raft and ski” by Erin McKittrick. Hooray for March’s book.
McKittrick as a great conversational style about her writing. She and her husband, Hig, and two kiddos, Katmai and Lituya, came through Ketchikan a few months ago on a tour for her second book. I talked with them for a while about their experiences and I easily heard her voice in my head as I read.
The fun thing about meeting the authors and going to readings is getting signed copies of the books. I’ve been able to pick up a few while in Ketchikan for the past year.
I did really enjoy both books. It was such an interesting look at how simple life can be, living in a yurt with two small children, or backpacking from Seattle to the Aleutian Islands.
Sometimes after finishing an adventure book, I feel an intense need to go explore someplace or get “lost” in the wilderness. I felt that after finishing Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild” even though I was already on a ferry to Alaska. I didn’t feel that way with these. I suspect it’s because their adventures are a bit more ambitious than I would choose myself. And sometimes, it sounds down right miserable.
I’m fine with reading about it from the comfort of my chair in the living room. 
McKittrick talks a lot about the impact of greenhouse gases and the effects of global warming on Alaska’s environment. I never really considered Alaska’s terrain or weather as fragile — it’s so bitter and harsh. But I was reminded that glaciers and forests are just as fragile and sensitive to climate change as algae are to water temperature change. 
She doesn’t talk much about solutions though, only that global warming is happening and Alaska’s environment is changing. It’s quite possible the solution is bigger than one person can write about in an adventure book. When I finished the books, I sort of thought, “Well, there’s nothing we can do about the Malispina Glacier melting.” A sort of, I don’t know what to do and I know I’m contributing to greenhouse gases, but what do you want me to do about it?
The pair have founded “a nonprofit that uses science and adventure to further the conversation about Alaska’s environment,” according to the book cover. Check out Ground Truth Trekking (facebook, twitter) for an updated report about their adventures, science and experience raising two children off the road system in Alaska.
And, if you don’t know what it means to “live off the road system in Alaska,” you should pick up “Small Feet, Big Land” and learn about it. 
I enjoyed reading about the journey, and getting an intimate look at life “on the edge of Alaska” with toddlers. The life may not be quite what I imagine for myself, but it is a good reminder of how simply life can be lived.
After finishing up “Small Feet, Big Land,” I picked up “The Vagina Monologues.” The V-Day performance was produced in Ketchikan a couple weekends ago. I really wanted to see it, but I was pretty sick that weekend and opted to stay home. I had heard enough about the performance and content to know the vein of the subject, but in talking to the director and a couple participants, I became even more curious. In the name of research for the article, I finally purchased up the book.
So far it’s a quick, easy read. Maybe I’ll be able to stay on schedule this month. 🙂

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