Traveling to Alaska, I expected to meet people from all over the United States and the world since Alaska is a destination for people worldwide. I camped next to a couple who journeyed here from Austria. I met a group of four who hailed from Australia at Tetlin National Forest. A couple traveling on motorcycle from Brussels; another couple on motorcycles from New Zealand. Closer to home, I ran into a cyclist from Salt Lake City, Utah en route to Denali National Park. It occurred to me that my world is smaller than I realized when checking in at the Chena Hot Springs Resort outside of Fairbanks, one of the employees told me that she is from Cape Coral, Florida which is our sister city. My world continued to shrink when Pamala met and went running with a fellow traveler in Cooper Landing, Alaska that is from our neighboring county in Florida. While in Canada, a couple saw our Florida license plate in Jasper National Park and introduced themselves. They lived 30 miles south of us in Naples, Florida before moving to northern Florida. Even the proprietor of “Beautiful Downtown Chicken” in Chicken Alaska (year round population between 17 and 37) had family ties to Fort Myers.
The most interesting small world encounter during this trip happened in Wasilla, AK. Bear with me as I give a little background: several years ago a guy named Rob came to work for me in Fort Myers, Florida while I was an Air Traffic Controller. He was prior military as was his dad. As we were talking, I mentioned that I was stationed on Adak in the Alaskan Aleutian islands while serving in the Navy twenty-five years prior. Rob told me he had also been there as a small child when his dad was stationed there. Rob couldn’t remember exact dates but it seemed as if he and his family and I had just missed each other. Over the next few years Rob and I became friends and we participated in several athletic events together where I got to know his parents Bob and Rhonda, as they were often there to support their son. Bob was also an Air Traffic Controller in the Navy and we talked briefly about our military service and our time on Adak but never in detail.
Fast forward a few years, Bob and Rhonda moved from Fort Myers to Wasilla, AK earlier this year. We stopped in for a visit during our Alaska travels and they graciously hosted us for the evening and fed us an awesome home cooked meal as well as sharing their laundry facilities and spare bedroom. The next morning Pamala was sleeping in and as Bob cooked breakfast, we got to talking more in detail about our Navy years. I mentioned how when I left Adak what disarray the facility was in, both militarily and Air Traffic-wise. Come to find out Bob knew exactly how bad it was as he was sent there as the new commanding officer for the very purpose of straightening it out! It seems he got there within two months of my leaving. It truly is a small world.
I know Bob and Rhonda are readers of this blog, so thanks again for the hospitality and I hope we can reciprocate next time you are in Fort Myers.
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