Trip to Alaska opens our eyes | Faithful Living
By JOAN BAY KLOPE
Whidbey News Times Columnist
September 16, 2011 · Updated 1:28 PM
Last month my husband and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary with a trip to Alaska. Our kids dropped us off at the cruise ship terminal in Seattle with plans of their own to eat sushi and hang out in the city. To them, cruising involves bathing suits and humid weather. Sitting on a deck, wearing a jacket and looking for mountain goats with a pair of binoculars does not float their boat.
It was fun, fun, fun for us. It’s wonderful not having to cook and clean for a week. To eat when and what you want. To enjoy uninterrupted conversations, read, watch wildlife and visit with fascinating people from around the world. You can certainly focus on treating yourself to ultimate luxuries or retail therapy while cruising, but that is not our aim. Our goal is to discover as authentic an experience as possible.
To that end we enjoyed excursions at various ports that brought us up close and personal with the environment, wildlife and the people of Alaska. We watched eagles line waterways as salmon swam to the spawning grounds of their origin. We thrilled watching glaciers groan and calve. We swapped stories with locals about their lives and the experiences they enjoy, living off the land.
My conversation with a bookstore owner in Ketchikan is a particularly delightful memory for me. My request for a cookbook that would enable me to cook authentically Alaskan opened a Pandora’s box of comparing the things we treasure on Whidbey with his seasonally favorite activities, recipes and traditions.
It is this conversation in an Alaskan bookstore that I consider as one of the greatest gifts of this trip, for I came away with a growing appreciation for the Pacific Northwest region. We live in a unique and amazing part of the U.S.
For years I didn’t live a Pacific Northwest lifestyle. Oh, I saw the water and the snow-covered mountains. I ate salmon with relish and came to enjoy the 1,000 colors of gray that commonly surround us. I celebrated the occasional snowfall and developed a love of coffee, valuing the ways it can socially bring us out of our homes and to each other. But I was too engrossed in the affairs of raising three kids to deeply enjoy our surroundings.
Then Daniel left for college, the last of the three, and I felt the loss mothers feel when the nest empties. I asked God to fill me up. To give me eyes of greater appreciation. To help me see not the empty bedrooms but a life of great possibilities beyond what I have previously seen and done. I have asked Him to help me appreciate things that have gone unnoticed and enjoy new adventures.
The things I am truly enjoying, living on our beautiful island, will be the subject of future columns. I speak to these experiences because God deserve my thanks. He is glorious and mighty and personal. He speaks quietly yet boldly. Join me in celebrating these gifts that surround us.