I arrived in Fairbanks on an Alaska Air flight on Monday night, August 30. When I descended to baggage claim, a stuffed polar bear in a glass box waited near the conveyor belt. I’ve since seen a number of different bears and stuffed animals in glass boxes. At the time, the boxed bear made an impression.

Brian O’Donoghue, the chair of the Department of Journalism at University Alaska Fairbanks, arrived and lugged my five magenta plastic 18-gallons tubs to his van. I brought protein and green food supplement powders, my photo portfolio, framed photos of family and friends, a limited amount of clothing and books–books made up the bulk of my cargo.

Rain started falling as we left the airport. Brian took me on a night tour of the city and campus. I didn’t see much and would have remembered even less if I hadn’t been taking notes–force of habit.

The UAF campus and is buildings sit atop a hill that looks out over the Tanana Valley toward the Alaskan Range and Mount McKinley.

“The hill was traditionally where the Tanana chiefs met,” Brian said. “This is all Athabaskan country” He explained they were a fairly nomadic people who made summer camps following the salmon and winter camps following the caribou.

“This hill was considered to be a place where wisdom was exchanged.”

Perfect place for a university. I’m going to like it here.

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