Since everything fell into place last-minute—the apartment, the moving, the timeframe—the trip also took place last-minute. When I realized I would be homeless for ten days between my old apartment and my new one, I found a cheap flight to Alaska and booked my ticket. Then I called my brothers (#’s 2, 3 and 5 in the male line-up in my family) to see if they would be home the following week to receive me.
Luckily they were, as were their wives and kids.
My large family is notorious for poor communication and planning. (See above.) With this in mind, I just crossed my fingers and hoped that I would get to see everyone at least once, and maybe even get to see everyone all at the same time!
I had never been to mainland Alaska. I’ve been to Sitka multiple times, but that’s a small island in Southeast Alaska, hours by plane away from most of the rest of the state.
Another draw for me was that I had six nieces and nephews up there—five of whom I had never met, and I was excited to make their acquaintance.
I also didn’t know my sisters-in-law that well, and this would be a fun opportunity to spend more time with them.
Once I arrived, I was also startled to make the acquaintance of the numerous large game decorating the house of brother #2.
I knew my brother loved to hunt, but I didn’t realize how much, or how obvious his passion would be to the casual observer. As soon as I walked into his house, I was greeted by four large animals mounted on the walls—a caribou with quite the impressive rack, a big-horned sheep, and two bears (one being his wife’s).
My bedroom contained a caribou hide (which he had tanned himself) and several animal skulls on the workbenches against the wall. (The guest room is obviously something else entirely when there are no guests. We don’t have to spend time pontificating on the main purpose)
Overall the trip was incredible. Surrounded by mountains, I felt calm and serene, as though Alaska is where I belong. It was an unexpected feeling, and started me wondering what I’m doing living in California.
It could be just that I was away from all the stress that had built up over the past few months. I fully reveled in not having to worry about email, website requests, ambiguous work projects and job descriptions, apartment searching, packing, cleaning, and the whole rest of the sh’bang I had left behind.
I simply breathed in the fresh mountain air, and closed my eyes happily at night, even though the midnight sun kept my room at early-dusk brightness well past my bedtime.
My best take-away from the trip, besides seeing my entire Alaskan family, (yes, we were all able to get together several times!) was that things are only as hard as you make them to be in your head. Seeing the way my siblings and their families function helped to put my life and “troubles” into perspective, in small but profound ways.
In short, nothing is all that hard when you don’t have dependents. And even if you do have dependents, that doesn’t have to slow you down. My sisters-in-law are champions when it comes to taking their kids everywhere with them with no complaints, including hiking, camping, and hunting. My brothers work incredibly hard to support their families, and still manage to find time to host BBQs, go fishing and hunting, and even occasionally come down to the lower 48 to visit.
That trip to Anchorage, Alaska, was one of the best I’ve been on in a long time, and I would love to go back sometime when I have an entire month or more to explore… Maybe I will have to consider moving there! Then I can get that fresh Alaskan mountain air anytime I want.
Have you ever been to Alaska? What parts? What part of Alaska do I need to make sure I see next?
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