By the time the Krakowski family made it to the promised Cessna ride, they were on their ninth hour of travel and the novelty of Alaska had long since worn off. Except for Nathan's father.
"Look at that, kids!" Doctor Paul Krakowski shouted over the roar of the plane, pointing down over the vast Northern Slope. "The last great untouched wilderness in the world! Only a handful of people will ever see this in their whole lives!"
Nathan, locked in the same sullen silence since they'd left Chicago, ignored him but eight-year-old Anna put down her Junior Crossword with sigh. The pilot obligingly banked as she squinted out into the June sunshine.
Beyond the tiny cluster of brown and gray buildings tucked into the shallow valley below, pristine fields and foothills stretched out in an immaculate vista as far as the eye could see. Miles of blinding white snowfields alternated with bright green grass all the way out to the distant, icy sea.
After a long moment Anna slumped back in her seat with another, deeper sigh.
"This cabin had better have a decent wireless connection," she said. Her dad's face fell.
Kathy Miller-Krakowski, Esquire, pushed aside the stack of briefs she'd been studying and tentatively rested a hand on her son's shoulder.
"I'm afraid those won't do," she said.
She looked at Nathan's glum face and squeezed his shoulder. "You know, Nate, I do understand what it's like for a boy your age, how it's important to make a good first impression, especially trying out for the team." She squeezed again. "And with the girls . . . But where we're going, it's way below zero six months of the year. And the winds blow in from the North, making it feel even colder. You've got to be practical, and those just aren't."
She put the briefs in a trash bag and handed Nathan a pair of baggy, gray thermal long-johns.
Opening: Sarah from Hawthorne.....Continuation: anon.