chasing beautiful

it’s hard to believe a month is over.

i have been humbled over and over this past month-
by the patients who have shared their stories with me,
by the doctors who creatively navigate limited resources and complex social situations,
and by this amazing place where every step forward takes you to somewhere more beautiful.

so now 28 days and 1,236 pictures later, i give you my favorite images of alaska.

sitka really is a great little town, rain and all:

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sitka’s trails are gorgeous:

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mendenhall glacier and its ice caves were absolutely amazing:

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i loved watching the sun set in juneau:

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tracy arm fjord and the sawyer glacier was like nothing i’ve ever seen:

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20130922-190727.jpg (that iceberg made its own rainbow.)

on the ride back to juneau from tracy arm fjord, the water was like glass:

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20130922-191449.jpg (that jagged mountain forms the US-Canada border)

the sun tried to break through the rain on the flight to hoonah; the sun set above the rain clouds during the flight back:

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hoonah was an untouched kind of beautiful:

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kayaking was still one of my favorite days:

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i’m glad i saw humpbacks from the shore and not from a kayak:

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even though it rained a lot, the rain meant a lot of rainbows and a deep happiness on the days when sun melted away the clouds:

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i’ll end with the prayer of gratitude that i’ve exhaled a million times this month:
“blessed are you, o lord, who has kept us alive and sustained us, who has brought us whole to this moment.”

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hoonah

i’ve been in hoonah this week. to get there required flying a little sea plane that only holds four people. it was a gorgeous and nauseating ride as we flew just above the mountains.

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this is the village of hoonah:

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the clinic in hoonah is small, with a few exam rooms and a one-bed emergency room. one of the emergencies this week was a bear attack. no joke.

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a highlight of the week was seeing a pod of humpback whales during my lunch break:

20130926-202053.jpg i also finally got to see two bears in the wild, but as above, bears are kinda scary.

it’s gonna be hard to go back to my rushed morning coffee after drinking my coffee with these sunrises:

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20130926-202547.jpg it was a beautiful week.

village trip: hoonah

i’m in hoonah this week. hoonah is a village of 760 people, three-quarters of whom are native alaskan. it is located on an island about 70 miles north of sitka.

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like sitka, it rains a lot in hoonah. i brought my rain gear.

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SEARHC
has a clinic in hoonah that sees around 340 patients per month (yes, that is almost half the town). the clinic is staffed by a physician assistant. a family doctor from sitka visits there 4 times per year. she happens to be going this week and agreed to take me with her.🙂 there are several similar clinics throughout the region.

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i’m excited about this week. there will be lots of pictures when i get back.

ps – unrelated to hoonah. this is a form a patient requested to have signed by a doctor in clinic last week:

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apparently if you have a physical disability that keeps you from walking in the woods and hunting, you can get a permit that allows you to shoot things on the shore from your boat? only in alaska!

eating in sitka

so there aren’t a ton of dining options in sitka, which i know comes as a shock. despite that, i’ve managed to find a few favorites.

two restaurants in town were featured on bizarre foods america (not sure what they ate that was so bizarre).

my favorite of the two (and my favorite in town) is larkspur cafe. their specialties are salmon chowder and spicy rockfish tacos. our waitress baked the cranberry pecan chocolate chip cookie herself.

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the second restaurant featured on the show was ludwigs, which is a fancy little bistro near downtown. it is way too fancy for me, but they have a chowder stand on the bay that offers tasty clam chowder made better by a gorgeous view:

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a sitka classic is the harry race soda fountain which is known for their ice cream sundaes and milkshakes. i may have visited more than once…

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to keep things diverse, a couple restaurants offer the cuisine of several different countries. for example, at agave you can get mexican, american, or pizza. not many places in the world have enchiladas and spaghetti and meatballs on the same page in their menu.

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asian palace offers a similarly extensive menu of vietnamese, thai, chinese, and korean dishes. when asked what the best dish to order is, the waitress replied: i don’t eat here.

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hands down, the best meal i’ve had here was the fresh halibut my housemate caught:

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think i have a future in food blogging (or in obesity)?

fortress of the bear & other sitka attractions

fortress of the bear is at the edge of town and serves as a home for orphaned bear cubs.

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it’s kinda anti-climactic to see a bear in an enclosure, but with only one week left here, these may be the only bears i see. they are still pretty impressive:

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brown bears get to be seven feet tall.

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because the bears have been there since they were babies, they know a few tricks. this is when the owner told him to show his mean face:

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these guys know goldilocks:

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apart from fortress of the bear, there are a few other things to see in sitka. trip advisor voted the raptor center as number one. i agree that it is pretty cool. i also am partial to totem park.

at the edge of downtown is baranof castle. it offers a great view of downtown sitka (assuming the sun is out). it is the site where the US purchased alaska from russia. best $7.2 million the US government ever spent.

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this is downtown sitka during rush hour traffic:

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the only other thing you should know if this inspires you to come to sitka is that every day at noon there is a test of the tsunami alarm. let’s hope there is never a tsunami at noon or the whole town will ignore it.