Alaska is such an incredible place that I thought I would dedicate a post to Jennifer's favorite Alaskan memories.
The wildlife in Alaska thrilled Jennifer. She didn't have to look far to see animals. This is Jennifer's view from her bedroom window...
Jennifer got to watch the Iditarod when the race passed right by the condo. She cross-country skied to the trail where the dogs would be. She snapped this photo.
Jeff and his sons loved salmon. There was a large creek near their condo in Anchorage. When the salmon were running, Joel, Christian and Jennifer would go down to the creek and net out the salmon of their choice. (Yes, this is probably poaching....).
Another favorite memory is camping in Denali National Park. Here, Jennifer saw with her own eyes, grizzly bears, foxes and huge herds of caribou. It is truly incredible to see these animals in the wild.
Animals are missing in most of our daily lives. A lot of urban animals are humanized. They wear clothes and get pushed around in baby strollers. Its living with animals that are truly wild--animals that can eat you or maul you but that can also feed you and clothe you--that is gone forever for most of us. When you live close to them, you respect them. When you look them in the eye before you kill them, you cherish their meat (or in Jen's case, you refuse to eat them altogether--city girl!) This strong connection with nature is good for the soul, good for the planet.
There are a lot of thrills to be had in nature too that I think we miss in the city. In urban society, we might race cars, ride roller coasters, jump out of planes or bungee jump. In Alaska, you can walk a tundra trail and come head to head with a mama moose and you will have your adrenalin pump for the day! You see views that will make you dizzy. You can experience temperatures that burn your lungs. Bald eagles are as common as seagulls but they don't cease to take your breath away. The colored lights that dance across the night sky are better than any laser light show. In Alaska, the thrills are not man-made.
Jennifer's favorite trip was when her mom took her and Daniel to see Columbia Glacier. This trip happened before Jennifer's mom married Jeff. She did not bring a camera on this trip so there are no pictures. The amazing thing about Alaska though, is that you don't forget what you see!
Jennifer, Daniel and their mom took a boat to the glacier. Jennifer will never forget the icy blue water. Chunks of ice from the glacier floated all around the boat. Seals lounged on the little icebergs to soak up the summer sun. Every few minutes, thousands of pounds of the glacier would crumble off the wall and crash into the ocean.
It was thrilling and terrifying for Jennifer. She was maybe eleven years old. The icebergs, the deep, clear freezing water and the massive wall of moving ice humbled her and ignited her imagination! She was positive that an orca would overturn their boat or that they would ram an iceberg and sink or that the glacier would shake loose and crush them. Alaska reminds you that you are small!
Jennifer, Daniel and her mom traveled Alaska by train during that trip. They road the Alaska Railroad. Every family should ride a train at least once. It was a fabulous experience!
Jennifer's only bad memories of Alaska are the long, dark days in winter. Jennifer rode the bus to school in the dark during the winter months. Her school was a converted prison building so the windows were high and small. There is no recess in high school. She was inside the building all day. After school she took the bus home and it was either already dark or it was dusk. Jennifer saw the sun for a few hours on the weekends, if it wasn't cloudy or snowing. This just wasn't enough sunlight for her.
Jennifer loved the long summer days with her brothers at the condo. Daniel and Christian always came to visit and the four of them stayed up all night on many occasions. They explored, watched movies, talked, fought, went camping, shared everything and harassed their parents as much as possible.
Jennifer and Joel were good friends most of the time. They came home after school and did their homework together. They played with the cats, walked the dog and talked. There is one day that Jennifer and Joel still laugh about today. Jennifer asked Joel if she could dress him up as a girl. I think all big sisters do this to their little brothers at least once!
Joel was a willing victim. Jennifer put him in a cute purple mini-skirt, a pink and gray striped polo and draped a pink sweater over his shoulders. She curled his hair and put make-up on him. She even painted his nails. They both thought it was hysterical (except Jennifer was a little mad that he was prettier than she was!).
So they decided to take their joke a step further. Joel practiced his high voice while Jennifer made up a name and a story for him. He became her new friend that just moved into the condos. She can't remember now what she named him, maybe it was Josie. Anyway, they decided to try and trick their parents.
When Jeff got home from work, Jennifer introduced Josie to him. Jeff and Josie had a brief conversation. Jeff did not recognize his son! So the trick work but also backfired. When they finally revealed to Jeff that Josie was really Joel, he did not take it well! Joel and Jennifer were laughing but Jeff was not. Instead of being delighted with the joke, he was furious. To this day, Jennifer doesn't know what make him the angriest--the fact that they tricked him or seeing his son in drag!!!
Now, with great sadness, its time to say, "Goodbye Alaska..."