An Alaska Immersion Worth the Wait


I stood shivering outside the Juneau airport, fighting down a sneezing fit, having just enjoyed my second COVID-19 test swab in three days. Fewer than 24 hours before, I’d boarded a jet in Orlando, Florida, temperature and humidity both in the 90s. Here, around midnight on a late August evening, it was 40 degrees cooler and spattering drizzle—familiar southeast Alaska weather, but pretty far from what most would call welcoming. But as I waited for the motel shuttle bus, facing up the Mendenhall Valley in the chilly darkness, a surge of gratitude coursed through me. I was home. 

Just a month before, making it back to Alaska had seemed

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