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The Northwest

Climate Change | Shifting Borders


July 23, 2016 — This is what I came to see!

At the end of the day, Elisa and I walk back to Roblin's home. The rain has subsided a bit, it's early evening when the sun should be setting, but it's still light out. Oh yes, we're in Alaska: home of the midnight sun.

Roblin is sitting in front of the television, playing video games with his two boys. Allie is downstairs painting the walls of what she hopes will become the family room. I'm tired, but Elisa is restless. The plan is to head out early in the morning, and Elisa wants to do one more thing before we leave Juneau.

She finally announces: "No trip to Alaska is complete without seeing a glacier!"

She had done more reading before our trip than I, and at one point before we left suggested we might want to go on a helicopter tour to see these glaciers from up high. Nope. To me, these trips were adventures. They were about meeting people on the ground, hearing their stories and having intimate conversations.

Besides, I was not about to go up on what I feel are rickety flying machines, vulnerable and exposed to the cold air!

Roblin finally suggested we drive over to Mendenhall Glacier. "It's only about seven miles up the road," he says "And possibly the easiest glacier to see." He hands us the keys, and waves us along.


Whoa! ♥️


Using the panorama setting on my camera, I snap this photo. How truly amazing is Mother Nature!

Staff inside the Visitor Center are very friendly and chat informally, answering our questions. We are quickly snapped away from our euphoria when, without hesitating, one of them volunteers the following: The Mendenhall Glacier is rapidly retreating due to climate change.

She shows us some photos of what the glaciers looked like, how it has changed in size over the past 50-60 years. Without knowing where I live she says: "Look at this one. It shows a mountain-ringed ice field almost the size of Rhode Island." 😁

There was a time when the area was free of human habitation. But the very buildings, restaurants, shops that we enjoyed in downtown Juneau, plus car emissions and cruise ships pulling into the harbor are causing the warm air and the ice to melt.

Borders. Moving. Shifting.


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