Kachemak Bay, Alaska
One of the many benefits of travel is that it connects you to the places you've been and therefore to the lives and the problems of the people there.
I have fond feelings for most of the places I've traveled to, from San Juan to Santa Fe, Portland to Prague. You get back, and one of these places is in the news and you feel more affected by it than you would about some random place. And you even understand it a little better.
So the news about Ted Stevens is sadder than it otherwise would be for a retired Republican politician. But for better or worse, the Stevens name and legacy is HUGE in Alaska. Like the Kennedys in Massachusetts. From the moment you step off the plane at Ted Stevens International Airport, his name is everywhere.
Even more ubiquitous are the seaplanes and other small craft that constantly buzz overhead and are parked on the edge of every lake and pond. To get around the huge and rugged country, they use planes like we use cars. Alaska has the highest number of pilots per capita of any state -- 1 of every 78 people.
Then, of course, there's the unpredictable weather -- rain, mist, mountain-hiding fog.
All of these came together in the news of the past 24 hours, and as a result of my trip I'm better able to understand the circumstances and events and their impact on the people there.
Be strong, Alaskans!