Archive for September, 2018

Aboard my virtual cruiser called QWERTY

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018

(This entry is copied for the most part from my journal entry of November 2015, in a notebook I called “Writing as Athletic Activity.”) 

This post probably should be called “My Life as a Vicarious Travel Writer.”

Armchair travel is an outdated term. (For one thing, how many 21st-century scribes write from an armchair?) Armchair travel has been supplanted by travel aboard a computer screen and a laptop keyboard.

A few years ago, I jumped aboard my QWERTY keypad and traveled to Greenland, to a tiny outpost on the western side of the icebound colony of Denmark called Ilulissat Icefjord. The city, formerly known as Jacobshaven, has more sledge dogs than people but is the third largest city in Greenland.

This place lies near the Arctic Circle, and its residents live in darkness for a good part of the year during winter. Its November temperatures hover around 5 degrees or 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tourists can cruise into Ilulissat, but I went aboard Microsoft’s Bing gallery on November 6, 2015, aboard an Edge web browser.

Going pictorially into Ilulissat and its Disko Bay environs had me extending my trip (via Google Maps) due south to Newfoundland where I scouted and probed several of the northern bays around the birthplace of my parents in Bonavista Bay.

I plan to make several more vicarious trips.

I was surprised to find in an issue of The Christian Science Monitor Weekly (November 8, 2015) a brief essay written by Robert Klose, a kind of flash non-fiction piece called, “I find warmth in Greenland.”

As a child, Klose dreamed of polar bears, ice, vastness, and Vikings after first hearing and understanding the word “Greenland.” As an adult, he decided to visit and planned a trip that required him to fly to Iceland first and then from Reykjavik on a prop plane to Greenland and by boat to a south coastal settlement beside a fjord called Qassiarsuk. In that remote location, he had arranged to stay in the family-run Illunnguujuk Hostel that welcomed visitors to the outpost with a population of 89.

Arriving at the hostel, he discovered that another lone traveler, mistaken by the hosts to be Klose, had been booked into his reserved spot.

Klose’s hostelers, embarrassed but undeterred, told him, “don’t worry,” and while he spent some time visiting local Viking ruins, a berth was prepared for him in a tiny house the family owned in the settlement. He was not only welcomed to a comfortable bed, but also invited to dine with the family, where three generations of Inuit natives speaking an Inuit dialect, Danish, and English, introduced him to their homeland and its way of life.

Klose had planned this to be his only trip to Greenland, but the hospitality of his newfound friends made him think again. He wrote, “I can now say that I have friends in Greenland and that even a cold, empty, and silent landscape is worth visiting, so long as one has a warm and welcoming place to go.”

Inspired by Klose’s discovery, I got aboard my Google Maps and Wikipedia vessels and went in search of Qassiarsuk, vicariously seeking the wisdom of his words.

E-nerds may call it browsing, but I was on a luxury cruise.