2017: The Highlights

Pulling together my thoughts from a tumultuous and challenging year, I had to face it: This was my least traveled year yet. But it was also one of my best. While my parents made their way across the African continent by boat, plane, safari jeep, and camel, my geographic range rarely strayed from Alaska. But what a state to call home. I was warned early on about the ways the Land of the Midnight Sun gets under your skin. You’ll be back, they said. And in the mysterious and frustrating way that “they” always seem to be right, they were. Again and again, my internal compass keeps turning me north.

After reluctantly packing away the life I’d built in Anchorage, coming back to Colorado at the end of 2017 was full of the comforts that I miss in Alaska: warm winter sunshine, family and old friends, and reasonably-priced produce. But there’s always another opportunity to chase, and this time I’m headed to a tiny town off the road system in Southeast Alaska.

On paper, it’s not a particularly enticing gig. I’ll be working at the headquarters of Glacier Bay National Park, ten miles from the town Gustavus (with a population of 400), where winters are dark, wet, and isolated. No bars, no well-stocked grocery stores, no bookstores or late night fast food. But there’s something intangible that a list of lacking amenities doesn’t account for. A quality that places like Gustavus lend that can’t quite be captured, like stepping out to watch the northern lights dance across the bay without another soul in sight. The faces that recognize and embrace you in a small town that relies on each other. The camaraderie of a shared spirit that brings people to the quiet corners of the world. An appreciation of the things that make you want to leave behind phone service, reliable WiFi, and the comforts of free 2-day shipping.

Living in Alaska has taught me how stripping away some of life’s little conveniences can bring out what’s most important. I hope 2018 brings more of that.

Girdwood & Fairbanks, AlaskaDSC_9111DSC_8972DSC_8909Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaskadenali mountain on a clear sunny dayDenali in evening light with clouds and trees in the foregrounda river with mountains and trees in the backgroundVancouver, British ColumbiaDSC_8680DSC_8623DSC_8662Lake Clark National Park & Preserve, Alaskaa glacier viewed out of the window of a planethe view from the beach of a lake with trees and mountainsDSC_7383Seattle, WashingtonDSC_6861DSC_6846DSC_6834

“I have found that some of the simplest things have given me the most pleasure. They didn’t cost me a lot of money either. They just worked on my senses. Did you ever pick very large blueberries after a summer rain Walk through a grove of cottonwoods, open like a park, and see the blue sky beyond the shimmering gold of the leaves? Pull on dry woolen socks after you’ve peeled off the wet ones? Come in out of the subzero and shiver yourself warm in front of a wood fire? The world is full of such things.”

― Richard Proenneke

 

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