From above, the clouds are white and pewter, with small but steep ravines like rolling prairie hills cut by a stream. Descending through the clouds, tufts of blue flash above. Forested peaks take shape, scattered and emerging from the clear blue Pacific Ocean, and I see Alaska for the first time.
Riding the light rail to the airport felt like any other rushed trip around Seattle. I was sad to say goodbye to Marie for the summer, but not as sad as she seemed to be. I was amazed at how fast my stress and preoccupation with obligations of a few hours earlier dissipated after the plane took off. Waiting in Ketchican for my transfer, I enjoyed the last swigs of Seattle tap water from my bottle.
Lauren met me at the airport in Juneau. We’d Skyped for the interview and emailed plenty but it is still exciting to meet in person for the first time. Lauren had previewed the other teammates accurately: Odin is tall, competent, reserved, Alaskan; Kate is enthusiastic, industrious, and motivating. We met up with them at the easternmost house in Juneau, where miles and miles of national forest extend north and east, and the Gastineau Channel, long ago carved by the now-receding glacier, passes to the south. Lauren secured the house from her out-of-town friends, and it is beautiful and simple, with thick wood and abundant windows. The house is my first indication of Lauren’s knack for getting people excited about her work. After a team meeting we go to bed; Odin and Kate leave early in the morning to catch the ferry to Sitka. I will stay with Lauren in Juneau. I am surprisingly doubtless that this will be a fantastic project.