David Sedaris on Alaska, land of eagles and no ties


Humorist David Sedaris has a summer travel tip:


I always thought I would know who gave me my COVID, but in the end I have no idea. Someone in Alaska, I’m guessing. And that’s okay. If you’ve never been there, you definitely should, if only for the wildlife.

One afternoon in Kodiak, a pilot offered to take me on his coffin-sized plane and give me a tour. “What are you interested in?” he asked.

I had already seen more eagles than I could count, so I replied, “Bears.”

“They don’t really get together this time of year,” he said. “But I could fly you over my parents’ house and you could see that instead.”

So I did.

In many of the cities I went to, there was no place to buy a tie. Go to a restaurant or the supermarket and everyone was dressed to kill something… and then bathe in his blood.

In the yards of the people lay piles of junk: old boilers, outboard motors. I mentioned this to someone and she explained that everything had to be shipped from the lower 48. Things were expensive and hard to come by, so people tended to hold onto them in case they or any of their neighbors needed it for spare parts.

One thing I never understood about Alaska was the sense of community the people have there. Oh, it exists everywhere on some level. If one of my neighbors in New York needed me to run to the grocery store, I would. If their apartment were flooded, I would offer my spare room (for one night). But we are not together in the wilderness. We are not hundreds of miles from the nearest emergency room. So it’s a good thing I caught COVID there and then returned to New York, where hospitals are like eagles — it makes you sick, at least in my neighborhood. I just don’t need one. My COVID was like a mild cold.

It’s the only thing I brought home from Alaska—that and a beautiful bracelet a man in Anchorage gave me. No reason. He just did it.

All it takes is some great people to convince you of that everybody in a whole state is great. The pilot who showed me his parents’ house, this stranger at the airport, a Jewish woman in Juneau named Libby who calls herself one of the “Frozen chosen.”

I’m telling you: Alaska. You have to go!


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Story produced by Amy Wall. Editor: Joseph Frandino.


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