Just for the record, here is the "After" shot of my inbox. Not too bad, a bunch was SPAM.
And so we come to the end of another vacation. This one was (as many are) filled with incredible scenery, epic adventures, and many times spent with great friends. We head back home with our hearts and souls filled with gratitude. The Alioto family was a big reason we chose to go to Alaska, and we were so blessed by their generosity. They showed us how they are thriving in Alaska, and we are so grateful to get a glimpse into their lives. From the work they are doing at The River Covenant Church, to the friends they introduced us to, to doing “Alaskan” things like making fireweed jelly. We loved every second we spent with them.
We saw some amazing things like the towns of Homer and Seward, gorgeous sunsets, countless wildlife, glaciers, mountains, rivers, the list goes on and on. The never-ending forests of green trees and bushes were a definite treat considering the entire state of California is nothing but brown these days. We had a pleasant amount of rain (again, something we haven’t experienced in the state of CA for quite some time), along with many good days of warm sun and blue skies.
I think my personal highlight of the trip was being on the top of Skyline Ridge (the result of the hike that nearly took my life). Having the ability to spin around 360 degrees looking at mountains, lakes, and rivers that stretched as far as the eyes could see was incredible. We watched rain move across the valley below, we watched the sun set behind the clouds and light up the rain storms. The morning sunrise brought valley fog hovering above the lakes, and it was so clear that you could even see Mt. McKinley in the distance.
As always, the inevitable return to daily life (mostly the part about going back to work) seems a bit daunting. But until we win the lottery, it’s the reality of our lives. But even still, we are again reminded about how much we have, how God has blessed our lives, and that there is still so much to see and experience in this world.
Before I wrap up this last post, I want to take a moment to thank the people who made this trip possible. First, our fantastic neighbor Marilyn. Her diligence makes it possible for us to go away and know that our home is in good hands. Second, my (our) co-workers. In our absence, there is still much work to be done. And the people I work with to an amazing job of “holding down the fort”. Third, to all of you for your support and prayers. Knowing that you were reading this added another element to our trip. It’s almost as if you were all traveling with us, and that’s a great feeling.
In the coming weeks, I will be working on editing the countless photographs from the trip, and will upload them as soon as they are ready.
At any rate, tomorrow (Monday) we head back to work. Life keeps on moving along. But I know the experiences of this trip will stick with me for a long time. Some of them were “bucket list” items, and I know I will remember them the rest of my life. Alaska is an amazing place, and I highly encourage everyone visit at some time in their lives.
Definitely a "first-world problem" when you have too many awesome photographs to choose from. Don't worry, I will post a more complete set after we return. But for now, I will recap the last couple days.
On Tuesday, we drove about an hour and 45 minutes to the town of Seward. Seward is right on the coast, and is a pretty popular town for cruises and other tourist stuff. We did a glacier tour which was incredible. We went out on the water for about 4 hours, and saw numerous glaciers as well as a pod of orcas. The pod had about 7 or 8 members, and they were content swimming around while we watched them. After a while, they disappeared for about 5 minutes, and resurfaced heading in a completely different direction.
After the tour, we drove to Cooper Landing where we spent the night in a quaint log cabin. The next morning, we woke up, had brunch, and hit the Kenai River for a 3 hour float tour. Again, a great day with warm sun and cool breezes. The scenery was gorgeous, and we also saw some more wildlife.
And now as I publish this, it's time to start packing. We depart Anchorage early Saturday morning and will be home before we know it. We are going to miss the Alioto family, as well as the lifestyle here in Alaska. It's been a great trip, and we can't wait to return.
It's been an awesome couple days here in the great state of Alaska. I (Jimmy) went on an overnight hike/camping/hunting trip with Frank and Dominic. I've never done anything so physically exhausting, yet so rewarding. The views were indescribable. The hike up was probably about 2,000 feet of elevation gain in 1.5 - 2 miles. Some stretches were extremely muddy and slippery. It was relentless, and beyond difficult. But like I said, the reward at the top was amazing. Here are a couple pictures.
Yesterday (Sunday) we went to church at The River Covenant Church. It was an incredible service, with terrific people. After church, we had yuuummmmmmyy Mexican food with friends of the Alioto's (Joe and Sam), and then went to an extended care facility for another church service. We topped the day off with a bonfire on the beach (see selfie below). Another great day with incredible weather.
There is no photo I can take to reflect the vastness of the clear Alaskan sky I am standing under tonight at midnight Alaska time. It's my first clear night here since our arrival. Suzanne, Eden and Zion are all asleep; I cannot. I am amazed at the realization of how small I am in the vastness of all that He has made. I am not insignificant. I am but a small part of the greater plan and for once, I am happy playing whatever small part I might have. This place is sacred. This place is pure. Not sure if it's the Alioto's Abode that brings this peace to me, or the time I've just spent under the stars. Wherever it has come from, I am grateful for this sense of oneness with the sky above me; the realization that my place here matters; and the knowledge that we are all loved beyond measure. Jimmy, Frank and Dominic are away on a camping and harvesting (aka hunting) trip and I am so happy Jimmy will have this wild adventure.
I am filled with gratitude for all that we have been given; I am aware of the gifts we have yet to receive. More importantly, tonight, I am aware of the small part that we all might play in the universe. We need to celebrate our uniqueness, love who we were made to be, and wish for nothing more than to fill our lives with as much love as possible.
Sending love and hugs from under the Alaskan sky....