05 April 2014

The Last Frontier, Part 2: The Inside Passage (Seward to Sitka)

[In Part 1 of “The Last Frontier” (posted on ROT on 26 March), I described the land-tour portion of my 2003 trip to Alaska and the Inside Passage.  In the continuation of the log of that trip, my mother and I board the Holland America Line cruise ship MS Statendam in Seward and set sail south along the rugged coastline of southeastern Alaska.  This was the bulk of the visit to the 49th state and it took a week to get to Vancouver, British Columbia, a distance of 2,318 miles (2,014 nautical miles).  This installment of “The Last Frontier” will cover the first part of the voyage, from Seward to the island of Sitka, 549 miles southeast along the coast of the Gulf of Alaska. The voyage continued on to Vancouver where we disembarked and stayed for two days; those portions of the trip will be covered in subsequent installments.]

We arrived in Seward, about 130 miles south of Anchorage, in the early evening on Sunday, 10 August 2003, and the process of getting aboard the ship was actually remarkably efficient considering that it required passing through customs and immigration (we would be disembarking in Canada), plus the process of getting a boarding pass for the ship (which isn’t a card like on planes, but a laminated plastic credit card-like ID with a bar-code for an optical reader; it had to be presented whenever we left or reboarded the ship).  The Customs and Border Protection thing (the former INS passport control) was expedited because I had pre-registered our forms on line before we left New York.  Apparently, some things do work as they’re promoted!  Our bags were even in our cabin within minutes of our arrival (and yes, the couple with the missing bags in Fairbanks did get them on the ship!).  The ship sailed just about right on time—9 p.m.

After dinner (I had salmon again, by the way!), we looked around the ship a little, to start to figure out where things were.  (We actually never really did.)  The MS Statendam V and her sister ships (the Maasdam and the Ryndam) are really huge.  They hold 1600 passengers (there were something over 1300 booked on this trip, apparently) with a crew of 557.  Afloat since 1993, she weighs over 55,000 tons and is 719 feet long with a beam of 101 feet; she’s 130 feet tall with 14 decks.  No matter where we set out for, or how careful we tried to be to get there efficiently, we nearly always ended up going up the wrong ladder or elevator and found ourselves on the wrong end of the ship.  (I did learn one thing, after several abortive attempts: Deck 7 is blocked in the middle of the ship by the galley—you can’t go from one end of the boat to the other on that deck.  If, as usual, we ended up at the wrong end for where we wanted to go, we’d have to go up or down a level to cross over!  After a couple of experiences, unless I was certain the place on Deck 7 where we wanted to end up was at the same end of the ship we were on, we’d go straight to Deck 8 to cross over.)  Even after a week aboard, there were some places on the ship I could never remember if they were located fore or aft—even if I knew which deck they were on.

Actually, a ship the size of the Statendam is too big.  It becomes like an exercise in efficiency rather than comfort and pleasure—what you’d think a cruise was about.  Also, that efficiency didn’t always work out—like the morning we got off the ship by tender in Sitka.  (The so-called Captain’s Night was also a study in cattle-herding!)  Furthermore, the part of the trip that was “cruise”—the shipboard stuff like the casino, the shops, the silly activities they devise, the “art” auctions (you never saw such dreck!), and so on—mostly bores me anyway.  Though not everything was useless.  There was a naturalist on board who gave talks about the kind of wildlife and topography we’d be seeing.  (At Glacier Bay National Park, a Park Ranger boards the ship and talks specifically about the park and glaciers.)  The naturalist also led a whale-watching session on deck one afternoon (yes, we did see some killers).  There was also a native artist on board.  This one was carving masks—though he did other work as well, like drums, paddles, and larger carvings—and he was interesting to watch and talk to about his work.  (The art of the Northwest Indians really knocked me out when I first saw it in Seattle years ago.  I have a mask from that trip, and that’s the same culture as in British Columbia and Alaska; they do the same kinds of imagery both in their traditional art—masks and totems—and their more modern pieces.  Beside the scenery and the salmon, the native art was one of the things in which I was most interested in Alaska.)  Otherwise, the ship stuff was only there to fill truly empty time as far as I was concerned.  We went to several of the “entertainments”—sort of college-level quality, as I’m sure everyone knows—and a couple of the movies.  Anyway, I wasn’t on a boat for the “cruise”; I was there to look at the coast as we sailed down the Inside Passage.  After about a day, we discovered the Crow’s Nest, a bar at the aft of Deck 12—the highest point on the ship that’s still inside.  We’d go up there and sit and watch from the comfort of an indoor vantage in upholstered arm chairs.  At cocktail time, we’d sit and watch the scenery go by with a drink before dinner.  Now, that’s sightseeing!  (I’m not really into roughing it, in case you hadn’t figured that out.)  Occasionally there’d be little to see through the fog and mist—I said that was common along this stretch of Alaska—but often it was just astounding.  Then again, the fog and mist can be sort of intriguing, too.

The first two days out from Seward were cruising days.  On the first morning, Monday, 11 August, we cruised around College Fjord, one of the many inlets of the Inside Passage that give the coast its craggy, rough, uneven appearance on maps and photos.  College Fjord, like most of these, has glaciers that flow down from the mountains—but College Fjord has a great many of them (over a dozen major glaciers).  They are mostly named for colleges—Harvard Glacier, Johns Hopkins Glacier—which funded teams to study them after they were discovered at the turn of the last century.  (Men’s colleges are on the southeast side of Prince William Sound, women’s colleges on the northwest.  Like education in the 19th century, the glaciers are segregated by gender!)  The ship cruised around the fjord as the naturalist illuminated what we were seeing and pointed out the various aspects of the glaciers.  Did you know there are several kinds of glaciers?  They’re not really different except in how they end at the bottom, but they have different descriptive names.  A hanging glacier is one that doesn’t meet the sea—it’s receded back up the mountain enough so that it ends before the water.  A tidewater glacier ends in the ocean.  That’s the kind of thing the naturalist explained as we cruised past the big ice rivers—there are dozens in College Fjord—along with the basic formation of glaciers and how they move and calve.  (We didn’t see any calving, unfortunately.  That’s supposed to be quite a sight to see—or, from what I gather, hear.  As large chunks of the glacier break off to form icebergs, it makes a really loud noise that sounds like thunder or an explosion.  While there were lots of small bergs, floes, and other hunks of ice in the fjord—as there would be also in Glacier Bay—we never saw any drop off.) 

From what I had read before we left and from what the naturalist, and later the Ranger, explained, there are a lot of details and facts about glaciers, some of which I remembered, albeit vaguely, from geology class in college, but the main thing, for me at least, was just the remarkable appearance—the fact, if you will—of them.  I mean, I knew in my head that glaciers are rivers of ice, that they flow, and so on, but when you see one—or, in the case of College Fjord, many of them—it’s really astounding that they exist—that there is such an immense thing as a glacier at all.  I mean, you can know that a glacier is a river, but when you look at this mass of ice and think, ‘That thing moves,’ and see what it carves out over the centuries—and that there are hundreds of them just along this one coast . . . well, it’s just sort of too much to credit, you know?  Like the aurora borealis, it’s just something that shouldn’t really be—but it is.  (Later, in Juneau, we went close up to a glacier—you could fly out to it in a helicopter and get out to walk on it, but we passed on that experience—and it’s even more astonishing after you see what it really is.)  From a distance, they can look like smooth ribbons of white, sometimes with brown streaks—the moraine, or ground-up land they plow up at their edges as they move along—and sometimes with a bluish tint, but they are often actually gutted and uneven, with rifts, crevasses, and pillars of ice, formed as the glacier rolls over rough or uneven terrain or around curves and obstacles.  Of course, in a place like College Fjord or Glacier Bay, where there are so many all in one area, it can be overwhelming.  (The Ranger, who, like so many of the people we met in Alaska, isn’t a native of the state, explained that a common reaction of new arrivals after a short time in Alaska is “majestic overload.”  From the wildlife to the topography to the meteorology, so many things there are huge, vast, or unique that you can get swamped.)  After a while, as remarkable as they are, one glacier begins to look like another, even when the “differences” are quite obvious.  Nevertheless, the scenery remains unforgettable, even if the variations from one individual glacier to another cease to be significant.  Sitting back, as we were in the Crow’s Nest after a while—we started out on the deck, rushing from side to side to see what the naturalist was describing—it was just breathtaking as a panorama: the rough, rugged coastline of green and brown mountains (which from the distance of the ship could look like plush carpet) streaked with gleaming white vertical lines.  Once again, it looked like a kind of Star Trek set: something that just shouldn’t really exist on this planet—or anywhere in reality.

Another surprise for me about the glaciers was the life that exists around it.  (There’s actually life in a glacier—a creature called an ice worm—but since you can’t see them from outside the ice, that’s not what I mean.)  I guess I knew that seals and sea lions, as well as several sea birds, hang around ice floes and icebergs—you see enough pictures of that—but I never stopped to think, first of all, that that meant glaciers or, second, that there were other animals that hang around the ice that way.  Both College Fjord and Glacier Bay are full of wildlife.  The Statendam entered College Fjord early in the morning so we were already there when we got up.  I looked out the porthole in our cabin before we went for breakfast, and just below me in the water was a sea otter.  (I remember sea otters from Monterey, California—they’re funny little critters.  When they eat, they float on their backs and crack shellfish open—in Monterey it was abalone—onto their bellies.)  The little ice chunks floating around were perches for all kinds of birds, none of which I could identify.  Later, as we cruised around the fjord, we caught sight of a few sea lions on floes.  We didn’t see any sea animals—fish, dolphins, or whales—but the naturalist explained that they often head for the glacial terminus, especially when there’s liquid run-off from under the glacier.  The temperature contrast between the icewater running from the glacier into the somewhat warmer (it can’t exactly be called “warm”) water of the ocean creates an updraft that forces smaller fish to the surface, and that attracts predators that feed off them.  Hence, the glaciers become feeding grounds for all kinds of animals whose diet is fish—including also bears (of which we saw none) and birds of prey.  So around all that ice and icewater—a human wouldn’t survive 15 minutes in that water (actually, the naturalist explained that he’d drown before he froze anyway)—teems animal life.  Who knew?  (Well, maybe you did, but I didn’t—not consciously, anyway.) 

The next day, Tuesday, 12 August, we cruised around Glacier Bay National Park, obviously another glacier place.  (This is where the Ranger boarded and became our narrator.)  I believe Glacier Bay is home to more glaciers (over 50 named glaciers) than any other single location on earth.  (I may be wrong about the superlative, but it’s close—maybe it’s just the northern hemisphere.)  Because it’s a national park, all human activity here is severely restricted—including cruise ships.  There are limits to the number that can go in, the size of the vessel, how close it can go to the shores, how long it can stay, and even how fast it can cruise (engine noise and wake, you know).  (You know, it’s ironic: for a state whose entire congressional delegation, plus its governor, promotes development, drilling, logging, and mining at the expense of wilderness, Alaskans, both native and immigrant, love and protect their environment quite jealously.  Glacier Bay is federal, of course, but other areas are not and the state has some strict regulations, and even the local residents in towns and cities have rules and laws to protect both fauna and flora.  I never asked anyone why there seems to be this dichotomy—the same Alaskans elect those officials, after all—and no one ever raised the issue.) 

Aside, once again, from the simple astonishing fact of this place, the curious thing about Glacier Bay is historical.  Well, “natural” historical perhaps.  When Captain George Vancouver (yes, the city in British Columbia is named for him) first saw this part of the coast in 1794, he never knew it was a bay.  It was covered with ice for something like 70 miles from the shore, believed now to have been the peak of the bay’s glacial coverage.  In the short time since then—actually within 100 years—the glaciers all receded to uncover the entire bay; tourists began visiting what became called Glacier Bay in the late 19th century, and the park was designated in 1925.  Sailing into it—or around it, since we actually entered the bay very early in the morning—it’s hard to fathom how Vancouver saw it 209 years ago, not knowing there was a bay beneath the ice.  Needless to say, Mom and I viewed this landscape from a perch in the Crow’s Nest, equipped with our binoculars as the Ranger narrated. 

There were also a fair number of Indians—Tlingits, the major tribe of this part of Alaska—living in this frozen territory then.  Tourism, and then the establishment of the park, began driving out the inhabitants and today only a few natives still live in the territory, subsisting on fishing and hunting.  No modern settlements are permitted, of course.  After the Ranger gave his presentation in the ship’s auditorium, he turned the stage over to a native representative who spoke about the way his people lived in the territory, both today and historically.  Aside from the general interest in an exotic way of life, you have to be a little appreciative that someone like this native speaker would allow people like us to treat him as a museum exhibit in a sense, telling us about what for us is a matter of curiosity, however sincere, but which for him is his life and culture.  (I had this same sense in New Mexico when we went to the pueblos and to the home of a Pueblo Indian near one of the villages.  It’s a little strange, if you think about it.)  Still, I confess it was interesting to hear about it. 

Actually, as hard as it might seem to us to have lived in this area, the Indians of the interior—like Denali, where we had a native storyteller relate some of the legends of the local people there (they’re a different tribe from the coastal Indians—they’re Athabascans, related, ironically, to the Navajo and other Indians of the Plains and Southwest)—considered the coastal natives to have had it easy.  They had a ready—and essentially inexhaustible—supply of food from the sea and the coastal forests, plenty of wood for both fuel and building, and much more temperate climate.  Even the wildlife on the coast fares better than those in the interior.  A grizzly from Denali might weigh 500-600 pounds, but one from the coast can weigh up to a ton—all on account of the abundant, year-round food supply.  Except for the constant rain along the coast, the weather there is less harsh than you’d imagine for Alaska.  It never gets very warm, but it also doesn’t get very cold.  (Sitka, which is on an island rather than the coast itself, never gets much below freezing.  It gets far more rain during the year than it gets snow.  In fact, we get more snow on the east coast than generally falls along the coast of southwest Alaska.  Inland and up in the mountains, of course, is a very different story.)  It’s not as if these guys had modern conveniences or anything, but if you’re going to be a subsistence inhabitant of Alaska, you’re way better off down with the Tlingits and their neighbors than you’d be with the Athabascans. 

Of course, I’d have to think three or four times about living in Alaska even under modern circumstances.  Aside from the weather and all, you can’t get from one place to another in many cases by conventional means.  The whole of the Inside Passage is inaccessible from the rest of the state by land—i.e., no driving, even from town to town.  (Juneau boasts of being the only state capital which you can’t reach by car.  Some boast!)  Because of the mountains just behind the coast, the ice fields (where the glaciers are born), and the glaciers themselves, no town along this stretch has roads more than a few miles long, dead-ending at some natural barrier or other.  The state runs a ferry system along the coast—the Alaska Maritime Highway—for commuters, and the Alaskan bush pilot is like a taxi driver in New York City.  Most Alaskans are pilots—we met a couple of locals who admitted they learned to fly before they were old enough to get driver’s licenses—and many own planes, some of which, especially along the coast, are ”float planes” (which we used to call seaplanes—though why the name change came about, I don’t know). 

On top of these peculiarities, and certainly in large part because of them, prices in Alaska are outrageous.  Milk costs as much as $4 a gallon, and homes can go for $300,000 for a one-bedroom cabin.  (Of course, if you’re a permanent resident of the state—once you’ve been there for a year and don’t have a primary residence someplace else—you get a stipend from the state.  And there are no state income taxes—though sales taxes can be fairly high.)  The people who live up there, however, put up with this because they really want to live in Alaska.  It’s a very peculiar sort of attitude that Alaskans have, both the native-born (“Sourdoughs”) and the newly-arrived from the “Lower 48.”  They see the rest of the country as too busy, crowded, hurried (Alaskans we met frequently spoke of “ish time”: everything in Alaska runs on an approximate schedule—”7-ish” or “10-ish”), and overbuilt.  (I guess they look at rural Montana, say, and see Manhattan!)  By the way, we met one Alaskan—native-born in Anchorage—who was married to a Hawaiian.  Now there’s an odd match!  Oh, and one of our guides in Sitka was a school teacher during the rest of the year and she reminded us that during the winter, the kids go to school all day in the dark.  (Recess is indoors.)  Can you imagine living that way?  All-day sunshine might take its toll for some for a while, but that all-day nighttime would drive me ’round the bend pretty fast, I think.  I got antsy in Berlin when I went to work in the dark and came home in the dark—but we did have sun in the middle of the day at least; I could see it at lunch time.)

On our third day out from Seward, Wednesday, 13 August, we put in at the first port of call, Sitka.  As I said, Sitka is actually on an island (Baranof Island), not the coast of the Inside Passage, but it’s more different than that.  Sitka was the capital of Russian Alaska (Novo-Arkhangelsk—New Archangel—in those days) until the U.S. bought the territory in 1867 (remember “Seward’s Icebox” and “Seward’s Folly”?) and is the center of Alaska’s remaining Russian heritage.  The name Sitka sounds like it ought to be Russian, in fact, but it’s not actually.  It’s a corruption of Shee-Atka, the Tlingit name of the island.  (The Tlingits actually defeated the Russkies under Alexander Baranof in 1802 and sent them packing for two years.  The Russians returned with warships and cannon, retook Sitka, and established their capital there.)  One odd result is that, while we (or, at least, I) think of Indians who have become Christians as mostly Catholics because the Spanish did most of the converting in the Southwest and California, the Indians of Alaska are often Russian Orthodox.  According to the history of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Sitka, several of the important religious leaders of the colony were converted natives, several of whom became saints in the Russian Orthodox church. 

We arrived in Sitka in the morning, as usual, but because the town and the harbor are so small, this was the only port in which the Statendam couldn’t dock.  (Other large ships were also moored out in the harbor.)  That meant we had to go ashore in a tender.  Aside from being a little awkward—you have to go down an outdoor gangplank several decks to the water level and climb into a bobbing little boat—it’s also not easy to go back and forth from the shore to the ship on a whim.  (When we came back to the ship, the tide had come in so not only did the gangplank now lead to a higher deck, but the step up from the tender to the bottom of the gang was a lot higher—a real problem for my tiny little mother!  Tides in Alaska differ greatly between highs and lows—and there are two changes each day.)  In addition, since the tenders can only take a certain number of passengers and it takes time for one to make the round trip, there was a wait to get ashore that could sometimes be lengthy.  (There were two tenders, but it still took time for one to unload returning passengers and turn around for the trip back to shore.)  Here was another aspect of the trip that was less than pleasant.  You can’t just get a pass for the tender and then go off somewhere else on the ship to do your thing and then come back in time to go ashore.  You have to get your boarding number and then wait around—they used the movie theater—doing nothing until your tender trip is ready to board.  Obviously, there are more people who want to go ashore at certain times of the day than at others—early morning (because of those who booked morning excursions) and around noon (afternoon excursions and most of the people who were just going ashore to wander and shop on their own) were most popular.  There was a lot of dead time at those hours, and, of course, we decided to go ashore at 11 a.m. and got caught in a mass of waiting passengers. 

This didn’t do any real harm, except that we had to sit in the theater twiddling our thumbs for half an hour.  Once we got on our tender, the trip wasn’t long, and we got to Sitka with time to look around, grab a little lunch, and return to the pier for the town tour we had booked.  We had dressed for cool weather, thinking it’d be that way in the morning off the ocean and all, but we immediately found that we were overdressed for the bright, sunny warmth.  (This is where not being able to hop back on the ship was inconvenient—we couldn’t go back and dump jackets and sweaters and come back.)  Sitka is tiny, of course—about 8,000 inhabitants in the town, with more, of course, around the rest of the island.  (You can imagine what these little towns are like, especially from the perspective of the residents, when several large cruise ships unload their passengers directly into the downtown.  At times during the season, tourists outnumber the residents several fold.) 

In many ways, Sitka looks a lot like towns on Cape Cod or other seaside villages—except that the shop windows have lots of Russian-inspired stuff (mostly junk, I must say) along with the salmon, furs, and other Alaskan stuff.  Like the other Alaskan ports where we stopped, Sitka’s main drag is one shop after another, over half of them selling jewelry.  (Jewelry seems to be the tourist purchase of choice for some reason—I don’t see why.  It’s not all gold, which would make some sense even though I don’t know how much gold is still found in the state, or even made in the U.S., much less Alaska.  Some is Indian, like we saw in New Mexico—but not all of it is.  We even went to the briefing by the ship’s “shopping ambassador”—she’s supposed to have the skinny on where to go, what to look for, and how not to be cheated, and so on—on the assumption that she’d say something about the local arts and crafts.  Nope—all she talked about was jewelry, especially diamonds.  We went to her desk one afternoon to ask her specifically about art and native work, but she didn’t know anything at all.  Goof ol’ HAL!) 

We had booked a tour of “historic Sitka” on the assumption that we’d get a little overview of the town and some of the history of Russian America.  You’d think so, wouldn’t you?  I mean, this is a really unique aspect of American history—the only Russian colony on American soil and so on.  We study a lot about the Spanish, English, French, and even Dutch colonists here, but how much do we learn about the little bit of Russia that was planted in North America?  Not much, as I recall.  I expected this to get done up pretty big in Sitka where just about all that’s left of that history remains.  (There are a few remnants of something around San Francisco, but it’s not much since that extension of the Alaskan colony wasn’t much to start with.)  Well, boy were we wrong—and misled once again.  The tour was pretty much a bust as far as history was concerned.  We stopped at a cultural center with several native artisans working in various media—baskets, wood, metal, and stone—which was interesting and the work was often beautiful, and the center is set in a wooded area along the water within which are dozens of totem poles, making a lovely and interesting stroll.  We drove through Sitka and out to the airport and the driver pointed out the Russian Bishop’s House and other sights, but we didn’t stop at any of them or get any kind of historical explanation of their significance.  We went to the Convention Center for a performance of Russian (and East European) folk dances, which was nice if a little hokey.  (The ironic things about this little exercise were that 1) the dancers, all amateurs and all women, were not even Russian-Americans and 2) we got more local history from these amateur devotees than from the guide.  The dancers, who were all professionals with other, real jobs—doctors, teachers, and such—were freer with local lore than the woman we’d paid to tell us about Sitka.)  Then we were deposited at the cathedral, to go in on our own and learn what we could inside.  Hell, we could have managed all that on our own—and would have if we’d known how inadequate the “professional” tour would be.  (Our idea was to use the tour as a way to see what we wanted to spend more time with on our own afterward—like a book’s table of contents.)  We would have a similar experience in Ketchikan.

The cathedral is kind of curious in itself.  It is, of course, the Russian Orthodox cathedral of Alaska—though it’s a tiny little church, really.  It’s wooden, of course, and it sits smack in the middle of town, essentially in the center of the main street at one end of town—the street splits and creates an island for the cathedral.  But what’s curious is that the current building is really only about 40 years old.  The original 1848 church burned down in 1966—a votive candle was the culprit, I think—and the entire town descended on the building en masse to save the contents.  They stripped everything valuable and precious out of the interior, including the stained-glass windows and the chandelier, which one townsman reached by piling chairs one on top of another so he could hand it down to another Sitkan.  The 19th-century building, which was also wooden, burned to the ground, so the current one (which is a replica of the original) isn’t really historical—but everything that’s inside—the icons, statues, crosses, windows, altar, hymnals, and so on—is all original from Russia, brought over during the 120 years the cathedral stood there.  (Well, I imagine there are some things that have been added in the past 40 years, too—but you get my drift.)  It’s also curious because there are no pews.  Worshipers stand or kneel on the floor—though there are some chairs for the aged or invalided if necessary.

I started studying Russian in high school and continued in college and the army; I’ve long had an interest in Russian culture, so I was really hoping to get a sense of Russian America in Sitka, but I gather from what I did see that it just isn’t there.  I suspect that even if we had simply done our own poking around, the Russian heritage in Alaska is so far below the surface, I’d have had to be an archeologist—or at least an anthropologist—to uncover it.  I was hoping that the Russian heritage might have left the kind of imprint here that the Spanish heritage left in the Southwest or the French in Louisiana.  If it’s there, it’s not promoted.  I don’t know why, either—they’re certainly not ashamed of the heritage.  I had also hoped to find a little souvenir specifically of Sitka that was literally Russian-American—I don’t know what, but something that was both Russian and American somehow.  (I was probably thinking of something like my souvenir of New Mexico: a modern artwork by a native artist—a Taos Pueblo, in fact—drawing on his traditional cultural imagery.)  There wasn’t a thing—the Russian-flavored souvenirs (mostly kitsch from what I saw anyway) were either imported from Russia (the same stuff you can find here, especially at the Russian Arts shop that used to be down on 6th Avenue south of me) or emulations of Russian crafts.  (There are matryoshka nesting dolls of every description everywhere!)  I guess that’s emblematic of the whole situation.

[Our next port of call was Juneau, the state capital. Installment three, when I post it, will pick up with the last leg of the cruise down the Inside Passage, with the stops at Juneau and Ketchikan.  Part 4 will cover the visit to Vancouver and the flight(s) back home.  I have no schedule for posting the segments of this log so I can’t predict when (or even if) I’ll include them on ROT, so if this journey interests you, you’ll just have to check back in to the blog from time to time and see if I put up another installment.]

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