I’ve been wondering whether some, those who haven’t yet experienced what I have been fortunate enough to now have immerse myself in twice, have come to consider an Alaska cruise a cliché.
The thought is not an idle one since it springs from a couple of causal conversations that took place a week before my husband and I boarded the Celebrity Solstice. Both mentioned that their spouse had expressed interest in taking the cruise — or that they thought their spouse would probably enjoy the cruise — but it hadn’t happened yet, for reasons unknown. One could see it happening someday… while the other had little interest in visiting Alaska. Both had planned other vacations this year; the “uninterested” one had gathered her eight closest friends with their husbands and her own, to jet over to Europe in a few weeks, to take a cruise sailing from Barcelona with many ports of call, including an exotic sounding Morocco. Someday, I’d like to do that, too, for Barcelona is near the top of my travel bucket list. I remember how surprised she was to hear that I had chosen to return to Alaska… since there were so many other fascinating places to visit in the world.
Funny thing about that, though, is that with this second visit almost over, I can see myself returning here for a third time. There is so much to see and experience. The first trip we marveled over the quiet and wild beauty and all the wildlife. Seeing humpback whales up close is something I still shake my head over in wonder. This trip we not only took a float plane into the Misty Fjords near Ketchikan…
…but were lucky enough to float a guided raft down a “skinny” river in a eagle preserve near Haines… on a blue sky sunny day! My two photos of the day serve merely as icons of the moment…I know they do not hint of the sacredness of place and time experienced there. Hopefully, they’ll help me remember.
I believe that every place possesses its own special brand of beauty and secrets. And all I need to do is show up, with eyes open at half-mast. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? So why is it… that for the most part, I’m not alert enough to see it. To sense a place with ears and nose and fingers and toes. I do better, here in Alaska, I think, since distractions from everyday life recede in the majesty of what lies before me at every angle, as far as the eye can see.
Here, in Alaska, the playing field is leveled so that even the normally non-observant ones, like me — the ones who have their heads in the clouds rather than feet planted on firm ground — can sail away feeling a little more in tune with nature and God. And maybe, a little more in tune with themselves.
Alaska is too artsy and alive and awake… to ever grow into a tired and overused cliche. Wonder of wonders, in spite of receiving three-quarters of a million visitors each year, there’s plenty of majesty left. It waits for you. And it waits for me, too.
It puts me in the mood to pull out that journal of John Muir I purchased last time I was here. How I wish it were here with me… instead of waiting on my bookshelf back home along with all those ever-so-lovely distractions.
Looks wonderful, dear friend! And I am ready for an Alaskan cruise.
You and Mark would enjoy Alaska… Mark more than you, maybe, since it’s cold here.. even on a blue summer’s day. The day we visited the glacier the desk temperatures hovered in the low forties…. with wind chill, we were told it was 38. Brrrr. The views were worth a little cold. All this took place a week ago today…
Funny thing about that cruise in that time seemed suspended. The trip did not fly by as much as everyday life has since our return. Of course, I’ve been busy… whittling way Kara’s nesting list…. she’s been told she’s “in the window”…. so if labor starts, they will let her deliver. I guess I have three more days of work at her house to get things in order… then I’ll return to my own house and get as many windows done as possible before this newest grand arrives. We are so excited.
Let’s catch up by phone soon. Would be fun to 3-way with Litha… but I don’t think I have the technology or know-how to accomplish! Love you.
Well. We re-read books, don’t we? And watch movies a second or third time? Who has a favorite song that they listen to only once? No one, that’s who.
There are two ways to travel. We can travel far, or we can travel deep, and we can’t do both at the same time, unless we have a very great deal of time, indeed. I don’t travel just to “see”, and I don’t think you do, either. We travel to understand, to look for surprises, to find what we missed the last time.
Besides, as Anais Nin says, “We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are.” Every time we return to a favored spot, we see it differently because we are different, no matter how much or little “it” has changed.
Clichés are the refuge of people who can’t see and think at the same time. I said that. 😉
I love your words, Linda… they put my unspoken feelings into logical thoughts. Yes, we do rewind plenty of experiences, don’t we? And as I said, I could rewind Alaska again and again… though maybe not by cruise ship… again and again.
While still in Alaska my husband and I talked about coming up for an extended stay and bringing our dogs…. The idea excites but I think I’d have a lot to learn about living around wildlife. For example, how to ‘lock-down’ trash to keep bears from dumpster-diving for food…. Plus it’s hard to leave my summer gardens for more than two weeks…I can’t imagine uprooting for two months. (At least, not without a canine, home and garden sitter!.) Not many travel to Alaska in the other three seasons, of course.. though we did learn of at least one exception, and that occurs every November in Haines when 4000 eagles fly in for the last run of Sock-eye salmon. Can you imagine — 4000 eagles — everywhere, as far as the eye can see? I’d go in a heartbeat and I bet you would, too.
Ps Loved the quote of Anais Nin that you shared. I’d never heard it before… nor of him. The words are certainly true to my experience.
I love reliving our Alaskan cruise through your eyes (words). There is no better place that we’ve been to see the majesty of God and to feel His presence. To see the whales “bubble-netting”, eagles soaring or the quietness of a fjord with glaciers floating….. So difficult to explain the expanse of awesomeness to someone who hasn’t experienced it, yet….but you, my friend, do an exceptional job!!!!! I’m ready for our 2nd adventure!
Words are feeble and fragile, aren’t they Litha?…especially when it comes to describing what feels holy and sacred to us. Which reminds me of words of Frederick Buechner on this very topic….while he writes them about a workshop, they apply equally well to any other “holy” place…
“I have no idea why this place is holy, but you can tell it is the moment you set foot in it if you have an eye for that kind of thing. For reasons known only to God, it is one of the places he uses for sending his love to the world through.” — Wishful Thinking, page 46 and then… “God cannot be expressed but only experienced.” — Wishful Thinking, page 36.
As for second adventures and readiness… what about late winter or early spring… anywhere…on or off the boat? Be pondering, my Mary-like friend. Love you.
Living in Australia I can’t believe that Alaska could ever be thought of as just a cliche! It is indeed very high on the Australian travellers bucket list of things to do. It is such a long way from Australia but I’m certainly planning to get there one day. And a cruise and train trip would both be on the agenda!
No doubt about it, you will be rewarded for overcoming the distance that separates you from Alaska. I know I’ll return, someday… but it will be a while since our next trip — taking place in three months time — will put us on a 12-day cruise that sails from Sidney to Auckland. The summer following will visit the Mediterranean, with a week in and near Rome doing “this” and “that.”
I look forward to getting a glimpse of your part of the world… though I know, going in, that a glimpse is all I’ll gain. It’s a start, I suppose…even if less than an appetizer portion!
Hey… thanks for dropping by and leaving a note.
An Alaskan cruise may sound like a cliché, but I’d enjoyed mine, despite seasickness. And, it was an eye-opener for me. Sailing past the Inside Passage at dusk was one of the most serene moments I’ve encountered. Come to think of it, I did post about my Alaska cruise experience then, way back in 2009. If you’re interested, here it is. Your photos are beautiful, especially the ‘Blue Yonder’. Yes, we’re all fascinated by blue’s recently. And my Blue Jasmine movie review is up. 😉
Glad to have you back in the blogging world!
I will definitely check out your post later this evening… after I finish painting. I’ve pulled it up, as a tab in my browser, so I don’t forget. It will something to look forward to….
Speaking of blue, I wondered more than once last week, how many different shades of blue exist, as I looked out on the passing Alaskan landscape. The ice, the water, the sky and shadows all came together to paint a symphony in blues. (Guess I should have said rhapsody.) The waters of Seattle appeared to mix indigo, silver and purple — while further north, in ‘glacier’ country, the seas change to a cloudy aqua that silvers in ripples stirred up by wind and waves disturbing the surface. To call it beautiful doesn’t quite capture what I saw. But how it made me feel… well, that’s easier.. Alaska makes me feel small. Wonderfully small. And whole, too. I felt at peace in this place that seems to float in suspension, far above what can be measured by beats of a clock.
Well, back to everyday life.. and my paint brush. Would you believe I let primer dry on my good sash brush while I was reading your post on “Blue Jasmine?”
Some things in life are just too good to keep waiting… even at the risk of a ruining a perfectly good Purdy sash brush. 🙂