The previous post was supposed to go up two weeks ago but I didn’t do something correctly. So I’m doing two at once.
MY TRIP TO ALASKA
My head is still spinning from my eight days in Alaska. To get there, hubby and I first spent the night in Fresno so we didn’t have to get up quite so early for my 6 a.m. flight. From Fresno, I flew to Seattle, Seattle to Anchorage. No hotel shuttle so had to take a taxi. My roommate, fellow author and friend, Victoria Heckman, arrived in Alaska a few days earlier and left me a note that she’d gone off to Seward sightseeing. Bouchercon was being held in a convention center two blocks away and after unpacking, I headed there to get registered.
Bright (well not really because it stays dark so long in the a.m) and early on Thursday morning, Victoria and I headed off to the convention center. It was raining and a bit chilly. We were on a panel together in the morning about ethnic detectives, signings followed, and a little later we had author one-on-ones. From that point on we were both free to go to whatever panels we wanted.
Some of the panels I attended were Books to Film; then I learned about DNA and how they are really using it to crack cases; Baker Bob, Alaska’s first serial killer (gruesome); Cold Cases; Forensic Pathology. The three most exciting and entertaining speakers were first, Rescue Swimmer, CPO John Hall, a real life “Guardian”; Fish and Game Biologist, Rick Sinnott who described wildlife encounters; and Mr. Whitekeys who told about the dumbest criminals. There were others, but those were my favorites.
The Special Guest of Honor was Diana Gabaldon and she was a treat to hear. I skipped the next evening’s guest of honor and went to dinner with fellow author and friend, Gayle Wigglesworth and her husband to a great restaurant with a spectacular view of Cook’s Bay and the Sleeping Lady mountain.
Barbara Peters, owner of the Poisoned Pen Book Store and Publishing Co. talked about publishing and bookstores. Most enlightening.
I went to the Awards Banquet and was thrilled when Simon Wood won an Anthony for his short story. The last day I watched Alaska Search and Rescue Dogs perform, and attended the closing ceremony and a Pamyua Concert.
One of the best things about these mystery conventions is renewing friendships and meeting new people.
Now I have to tell you about the really exciting part of my trip. For some reason, no one had figured out what school I was to visit in Wasilla. Also, they wanted me to drive a rental car, which I didn’t want to do. One morning while walking to the convention center, I was complaining about this and a woman I didn’t know asked me where I was going. When I told her, she said she’d take me wherever I wanted to go in Wasilla because that’s where she lived. I took her up on her offer. Her name is Pat Park-Fisher, a wonderful lady.
She drove me to Wasilla and to the home where I was staying. Several years ago, when I came to Left Coast Crime when it was held in Anchorage, I met two Native women, Katina and Amber. Katina invited me to visit her when I came back to Alaska and we kept in touch over the years. I stayed with Katina, had dinner with her family twice, and lots of wonderful visiting time. Her mom told me stories about her childhood living in a remote village and being taken to a mission school to live.
Finally, a school was arranged for me to visit. In the meantime, Pat took me sightseeing in Wasilla including a visit to the Iditarod Headquarters and a reindeer farm. (I learned reindeer are domesticated caribou.)
My visit to Wasilla Middle School began at 7 a.m. when school starts. I was there all day in the library talking to 6th, 7th and 8th graders. I loved every minute of it. We talked about how to write a mystery. The kids were imaginative, excited, and wonderful. Sometimes I had about 50 kids in a group.
The town of Wasilla is medium-sized and has most of the stores you’ll find in the lower 48. What is different is the scenery. The town is in a high valley and surrounded by huge snow-capped mountains. The snow was lower every day, reminding the people who lived there that winter is on the way.
My hostess, Katina worked every day, but we spent our evenings together. The last day, she got off early and took me to the Anchorage Museum and we had our last dinner together (which included reindeer sausage). From there she took me to a hotel close to the airport as my plane left at 6 a.m.
What a fantastic adventure for this great-grandmother!