In 5th grade, Danny prepared his state report on the great state of Alaska. That little gem still occupies a spot in his sentimental box in Parker's closet, and the state has ever since occupied a place in Danny's imagination. Our upcoming 10th wedding anniversary provided an excuse to visit the land of his dreams, and I can't say that I was an unwilling participant. Thanks to a great deal on cruise travel and two sets of very willing grandparent babysitters, we thoroughly enjoyed a week away in a very beautiful, very different part of the country.
I'd visited Alaska as a little girl, but had not remembered just how remote the place is. The land is so rugged, so steep, that the population is confined to a few very narrow valleys, surrounded by impenetrable mountain ranges. Much of it is accessible only by boat or plane, and so few people live there that many towns don't even have a doctor. The tourists outnumbered residents 8 to 1 at two of our stops. Some still live without electricity, high-speed internet (gasp!), running water, or more than a very occasional glimpse of sunshine. I grew up in Seattle so I know wet and miserable, but Alaskans take it to a whole new level. As you might guess from the photos, we left the sun behind in California, but to us rain is a novelty so we didn't mind a bit. My only regret is that the fog made it even more difficult to capture just how vast and breathtaking the landscape really is (or at least I'll blame it on the fog - couldn't have been the photographer). Everything is just so big, but with nothing around to compare it to, all perspective is lost. We were fortunate to see a bear (that little black speck in the stream, second to bottom photo), salmon spawning, whales (or at least Danny did... I might have seen them too had I been willing to set aside my books in favor of exercise... apparently there were great views from the gym), and a couple of bald eagles. We saw glaciers, fjords, waterfalls, icebergs, and very charming towns. The boat wasn't bad either! We made a few friends among the retirees (we were most definitely the young 'uns, making it very easy to feel sexy on formal night!), ate well and often, and just as I had hoped... slept! All in all a wonderful trip, and already probably more than you wanted to know. Home is great though too, and I'm thrilled to be back with my babies. They didn't seem to miss us a bit, but a week without them is long enough.