19. A Sign of Discontent

At one point during my tour of the Kenai Peninsula I stopped to fix a snack around noon at an overlook on the Cook Inlet which is the sea approach to Anchorage. It was quite an elevated spot and had a sweeping view of the Inlet. After lunch I was walking about a bit and I noticed a road sign lying face down in the nearby bushes. It was full of bullet holes. Road signs with bullet holes are typical in Alaska, but this sign was really riddled. Curious, I flipped it over and laughed out loud. It read in big black letters:




I counted thirty-four bullet holes. About half went through from the front and the other half from the back. The shooter had added his own emphasis to the message. Just the “POS” of “POSITIVELY” was hit eleven times and “NO” was almost obliterated with eight hits. “SHOOTING” on the other hand got off lightly with only three. Even the post which was still attached had several holes in it. But all of this was still insufficient to express the shooter’s displeasure, and the entire structure had been uprooted and thrown face down in the bushes. That sign may have been another one of those instances that I dwell on in the first chapter where the result achieved was exactly the opposite of the result intended.

I saw the sign as symbolic of a large segment of Alaska’s population. They are there because they really don’t do well in a more populated and settled environment. They resent authority of any kind and have gone to Alaska to get as far away from it as possible. Some of them are rugged individualists and others are misanthropes or malcontents and some are genuine neurotics. There is a high incidence of alcoholism among this crowd. Every time I went into a liquor store in Alaska there was always a guy in there who could barely stand buying yet another bottle.

I decided that I had to have that sign as a souvenir of my Alaskan adventure. I unbolted it from the  post and packed it away in my van, thus going the shooter one better by making it disappear altogether. I suppose it was the  property of some governmental organization, but I didn’t feel too bad, it was certainly useless in its present condition.

To be fair, there is another segment of Alaska’s population which is there because of the distance from civilization, but they are pulled by the desire to experience pristine natural surroundings rather than being pushed by an avoidance of civilization. Perhaps these are two sides of the same coin. At any rate there are still vast areas of Alaska where the presence of humanity is, at best, insignificant, and one can get a fair idea of what the world must have been like before the explosion of humanity.

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Monday, September 7th, 2009 Chapters 11 — 20

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