It has been three days since I returned from Alaska and I am still struggling to put the experience into words, but I must try for fear I will lose them.
Let’s start with how my family and I ended up in Alaska.
My grandpa was stationed in Anchorage from 1960 – 1964 while he was in the Air Force. My mom tells me he loved it there and that it was always his dream to take his daughters and grandchildren back to visit. He was never able to, though, because he passed away suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart attack when I was only 3 years old. When my grandma passed away a year ago also unexpectedly, we decided it was time. We were going to Alaska to honor them.
Fast forward a year and my mom, brother, aunt, cousin and I are in Alaska and have no idea what to expect!
Let’s just say, it was amazing. Of course, our experience was probably different than most. We booked a seven-day trip between three different lodges, all through Alaska Wildland Adventures (AWA). And they took care of everything! They picked us up from Anchorage, boated us between lodges, and scheduled our transportation back to Anchorage for our flight home, they provided us with breakfast, lunch, appetizers, and dinner (AND DESSERT) every day (and not just any old meals, but gourmet meals… like some of the best food I’ve ever eaten), they sent guides with us on every activity equipped with snacks, hot cocoa, endless information about the plants and wildlife around us, bear spray, extra water – you name it, they had a bar with wine and beer at every lodge, the cutest and most comfy little cabins you could ever hope to stay in, and the friendliest staff I have ever met. They even had saunas at two of the lodges and a drying room for our wet clothes at the other! They absolutely spoiled us. We were in heaven.
But beyond being treated like camping royalty, there was something else lurking behind the adorable cabins, wine by a crackling fire, and chocolate desserts. There was magic.
One of our guides was quick to point out that there is no such thing as magic. It wasn’t fairies transporting our luggage from lodge to lodge. True, there aren’t fairies flying around in forests or magic pixie dust to make us fly. But I see magic as more of a feeling, and Alaska was magical.
There was magic in the way the water was a pure, crisp, light blue, in the way the sun stayed up until past 11pm, in the way bald eagles flew right over our heads and porpoise swam along the side of our boat as if to play with us. There was magic in how easy laughter came to us and how quickly we gained lifelong friends. There was magic in the abundance of edible berries along our hiking paths and in the passion our guides exuded as they told us about the tiniest little piece of algae. There was magic in the way creeks sang us to sleep, in the way conversation flowed for hours, and in the way each day seemed to last for two days. There was even magic in the form of rain that soaked every inch of our clothes on an extra muddy hike and caused us to shiver uncontrollably, that stranded us inside a lodge for an extra day with nothing to do but to drink mimosas, play cards, and build puzzles. There was magic in these moments because despite the fact that they were far from ideal, far from “the plan”, we still managed to enjoy ourselves. We were able to move past the disappointment with ease and make the best of the situation. There was magic in Alaska, in every moment, I swear to you, and we all felt it.
There is no such thing as bad weather. Only bad equipment and a bad attitude. – Nadja, one of our awesome guides
If I know anything now after visiting Alaska, it’s that there are endless hours of entertainment in skipping rocks, that no picture will ever be able to capture how magical a place feels, that you can never watch too many sunrises while drinking your morning coffee, that sac lunches taste like a 4 course dinner at a 5 star restaurant after a grueling hike, that you can make lifelong friends in only a few hours, and that berries are better with picked straight from the branch in the middle of a forest.
And the best part? I have pieced together another puzzle piece for my future! On our 4 hour boat ride from Seward to the Kenai Fjord Glacier Lodge, I decided to apply for a job at AWA for next summer before I head off to Europe in October! And, who knows, I may love it so much that I decide to cut my Europe trip short to come back to work another season! I’m just living in the moment. 🙂
Live in the moment, guys, and never work a day in your life. -Elias, one of our awesome guides
Have you felt any magic lately? Tell me about it in the comments!