The panorama from the tiny 19-seater Beechcraft turboprop for the half-hour hop to Homer from Anchorage is magnificent.
Here I am in the large collection of packing cases that goes for the Prudhoe Bay Hotel, about 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle, with nothing to do for the next three hours before the flight on to Barrow, flogging the proverbial dead horse.
Somebody has indeed sighted a critter - in fact a dirty great grizzly bear at 10 o'clock, across a broad pebble-bottomed river just below a line of spruce.
OK, I know we live in an age of language inflation where never-use-one-word-when-you-can-use-four is the golden rule, where simple terms are preempted...
All have populations of under 100,000, and often as much to offer as cities ten times their size.
Waterfalls, large and small, tumble down the cliffs every few yards - and, alas, a zillion selfies click every few nano-inches on the observation platforms with a gazillion inane and insane grimaces, grins and grunts. I must be in a proud minority of one in my aversion to the selfie craze.
The location is spectacular -- separated by the narrow Gastineau Channel from Douglas Island, surrounded on all sides by snow- and glacier-capped mountains gouged into tortured folds and precipices by the retreating glaciers of the ice age.
Cities are great for so many reasons (the convenience, the culture, the 127 different kinds of Thai delivery). But there's also something to be said for small towns (quaint Main Streets, kooky annual festivals and charm out the wazoo).
We're on a catamaran in Icy Strait off the tip of Chichagof Island in Alaska's Inside Passage, 20 miles from Glacier Bay National Park, looking for whales - and I'm hoping we don't see any since we're guaranteed a $100-rebate on the $179.75 per-person cost if we see none.
There's hardly a cloud in the sky, the fjords are bathed in glorious sunlight belying their name, and the panoramas that are usually shrouded in clouds and rain are superb.
Summer is a time for leisure and travel. To escape the daily grind and take that lone vacation that we've strived for the other 51 weeks out of the year. Many people fly to these destinations.
Famed for its large number of magnificent craggy volcanoes and its equally magnificent animal inhabitants -- the fearsome, massive grizzlies -- it was here that Disney shot its 2014 Bears documentary.
Barrow, the northernmost town in the United States, 350 miles north of the Arctic Circle, is a bit of a mess. It can't even make up its mind how far it actually is from the North Pole, let alone from its southern counterpoint.
Virtually every other rail company I have traveled on throughout the world issues a numbered reservation, thus avoiding such a circus.
Yes, we're panning for gold at Gold Dredge 8 just outside Fairbanks, and Yours Truly -- of course -- is doing it all wrong. They keep on coming over to show me how to shake the pan once I've got water in it. It seems I'm using a self-pleasuring motion instead of a full-blooded hearty to-and-fro swing.
We're off to a roaring start. My wife Rivka is coming along on an 8-day/7-night cruise up the Alaska coast. Roaring in this case means we start the great royal hunt for her passport three months before departure.