Strangers in Our Own Land

I didn’t know that they allowed dogs on board the ship? The question, coming from one of the thousands of cruise ship passengers trudging their way to Nugget Falls, stopped me in my tracks. Aki, who generally likes all people and most dogs, wagged tail as the women who posed the question rubbed her curls. It never occurred to her that we were locals. I looked around for a familiar face and found none. Aki and I had become strangers in our own land.

            I led the little dog onto an alternative path to the falls and pondered how Occam’s razor convinced the friendly lady that we were fellow cruise ship travelers. I’m wearing a battered Alaska Marine Exchange hat, so authentic that the bill edge has been tattered into threads. A blue hoodie with the logo for Sitka’s Sheldon Jackson’s College covered my torso. On a rainy day, when my little dog is wearing a stylish wrap, I’d blame her. But, thanks to the warm afternoon sun, she only wears a harness. 

            Over thirteen thousand people poured off one of five mega cruise ships today. We thirty thousand locals still outnumber them. But almost every Juneauite is taking the sun on less crowded land. We’ve yielded one of our most beautiful places to the visitors. From the happy tones of their conversations, they seem to be appreciating it.  

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