Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Alaska Part III: Light, dark and passage of time

Lauren asked a reasonable question yesterday as we all made our way along the Inside Passage of Alaska. It would seem, she figured, that with few lights in this wilderness area that the night sky would be filled with stars. She wondered if I'd noticed a special starry brightness from the balcony off our cabin on the NCL Pearl.

I couldn't recall seeing any stars, in fact didn't really remember seeing a dark sky! Somewhat intrigued, I decided to pay attention to all things celestial today and note when the sun fell below the horizon and returned to light our way. Turns out it never got totally dark at all. I guess I was sleeping when night and day were discussed in science class years ago.

According to data provided by NCL and the weather channel, the sun supposedly set around 9:50 p.m. last night and was set to return around 3:50 this morning. But when I shuffled out onto the balcony in my jammies around 11 or so, it was still light, the sky a silken blue and a streak of golden orange playing across
the horizon.

Two hours later and the horizon had grown dark but the sky overhead was still blue, a pastel shade dark and deep that I associate with dusk. No stars in this land of the midnight sun. A few hours later and someone had turned the lights back on, the sun peeking brightly above the horizon, offering a very early wake-up call for anyone without blackout curtains.

This playing around with light and darkness and the passage of time – right now it's four hours earlier here than in the Land of Cotton – is toying with all those natural rhythms of my life. The clock might say it's time to go to sleep, but the sun is suggesting otherwise. It's a price, btw, I'm willing to pay for a week in this pristine paradise.

LINGERING SUNSET: It remained light (photo above) for most of the day as we traveled north along the Inside Passage of Alaska.

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