The flight back from California involved brief stops in Seattle and Ketchikan. Winds buffeted our plane while it landed in both airports. I barely noticed the bumps as we approached Seattle. But, as the pilot warned on our approach to Ketchikan, high winds streaking down that Alaska town’s runway were going to make the landing “a little rough.”
The pilot’s warning didn’t discourage me. I was more than ready to be home with Aki. It didn’t matter that Aki’s other human and I had we just left a sunny coastal town where each morning I could ride a bicycle every morning past breaking waves and sleeping seals. I missed the little dog and the rest of our rain forest family. I was also tired of the crowds drawn by sunshine and beauty to the California coast.
As I do during after the pilot begins the “gradual descent” of the plane to an Southeast Alaska airport, on the approach to Ketchikan I remind myself that I was more likely to be killed in my California rental car than in this airplane. Closing my eyes, I thought of Gastineau Channel on a calm day where the oversized dorsal fin of a male killer whale or the flukes of a diving humpback whale might be seen. The jerking motion of the plane shook those thoughts from my mind. As the plane bounced down out of the clouds and over standing waves on Tongass Narrows, I closed my eyes and waited for the plane’s wheels to slam onto the tarmac. It did and then shimmed down the runway until the brakes finally slowed momentum. Even after the plane stopped and a flight attendance welcomed us to beautiful Ketchikan, high winds rocked the plane like a cradle.