David Sedaris on Alaska, land of eagles and no neckties

Credit: CBSNews
Credit: CBSNews

▶ Watch Video: David Sedaris on the wonders of Alaska

Humorist David Sedaris has a summer travel tip:

I always thought I’d know who I got my COVID from, but in the end I have no idea. Someone in Alaska, I’m guessing. And that’s OK.  If you’ve never been, you should, if only for the wildlife.

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

I’d already seen more eagles than I could count, and so I answered, “Bears.”

“They’re not really congregating 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 towns I went to there, there was no place to buy a necktie. Go to a restaurant or the grocery store and everyone was dressed to kill … something, and then bathe in its blood. 

People’s yards had piles of junk in them: old water heaters, 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 procure, so people tended to hold onto them in case they or one of their neighbors needed it for spare parts.

One thing I’d never understood about Alaska was the sense of community the people there have. Oh, it exists everywhere on some level. If one of my New York neighbors needed me to run to the grocery store, I would. If their apartment flooded I’d offer up my spare room (for a night). But we’re not in the wilderness together. We’re 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 – you get sick of them, at least in my neighborhood. Only I won’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.

All it takes are a few great people to convince you that everyone in an entire state is wonderful. The pilot who showed me his parents’ house, this stranger at the airport, a Jewish woman in Juneau named Libby who referred to herself as one of the “Frozen Chosen.”

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

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Story produced by Amy Wall. Editor: Joseph Frandino. 

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