Friday, October 10, 2008

So far, so close

Distant places: Tabs at Bethel Airport for luggage sent by bush plane to small, really small airports.

Just spent some days in Alaska on assignment. All that flying and staying at hotels invariably reminds me that I have somehow gotten a much better deal out of life than I deserve, and should be ashamed of myself.
Most of Alaska is inaccessible by road, and the part that isn't accessible by the Alaska Marine Highway either is commonly called "the bush". There are two kinds of settlements in the bush, villages and "hubs". Hubs often have some kind of road system, some cars, and, more importantly, a number of services like hospitals for the villages in the vicinity.
We traveled to one such bush hub, Bethel. To be honest, I wasn't entirely sure what we were going to do there, but fortunately one gentleman, James Pak, had started up a limousine service. In Bethel. A town with ten miles of paved road. "Normally, you take a limo to go somewhere," Mr. Pak explained. "A theatre, a restaurant, anything. But here there's nowhere to go. People just want me to drive around. So what I offer isn't transport as much as an opportunity to do something special."

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