Alaska Escapades Travel Blog


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     Peaks stretched out to the sky, their tips sprinkled with snow. Content eagles nestled in the treetops as the sun rested at the top of the sky. The chilled breeze danced through the air and I shivered, pulling my coat tighter.

     The first word that came to mind when my parents told me that we were traveling to Alaska was light. In Colorado we take the sun for granted, but during the long Alaskan winters, the citizens don’t have such luxury. In the middle of the winter, residents of northern Alaskan towns won’t see the sun for 67 days, but in the summer they will have 80 days of 24 hour daylight. I was initially terrified and wanted to go on a tropical vacation, where the sun would certainly be my companion. Despite my protests, my parents assured me that there would be both light and dark at the time we would journey to Alaska and bought the plane tickets.

     I felt as if I was in another country when I exited the plane. Vast expanses of open land stretched on for miles without a building in sight. Wildlife was abundant. Grizzly bear and moose warning signs caught my attention. My dad told us that he would award 10 dollars to the first person who spotted a moose or bear. I was determined to win the money and kept my eyes peeled for wildlife until we pulled up to our first hotel in Alyeska. Then I became distracted with the warm, turquoise, salt water pool centered in the beautiful mountain scenery.

     My parents are especially fond of hiking, so we got up fairly early the first morning to go trek up a mountain, in hopes of not getting eaten by a wild Alaskan grizzly bear. I was thrilled. We had been driving for about 30 minutes when my dad pulled over at the trail. There was a bathroom right next to the start of the hike, and I stepped out of the car to use it while the rest of my family began getting ready for the trek. I looked down at my shoes, scuffing the ground as I strolled over to the bathroom. Everything was oddly quiet; there were no birds chirping or insects buzzing. As I looked up, my heart stopped. I came face to face with a moose. A mother moose. Her baby hid behind her legs. My life flashed before my eyes as I knew how aggressive wild moose are, especially a mom with her baby. I braced myself, feeling sure this was the end; at least my parents would have an entertaining story to tell. All of this rushed through my head in a matter of seconds, all the while the moose was still staring at me. She actually looked as surprised as I did. Or maybe she was just deciding whether or not to charge. I willed her to understand that I was just a 13 year old girl who meant no harm to her baby.  She continued staring. I was terrified. Three, two, one- I sprinted the other direction. To this day, that is the fastest I have ever run. Rushing away was probably the dumbest thing I could have done in that moment, but my fear and instincts took over. I felt sure the mother was chasing me, but, in fact, she just watched, unamused. I ripped open the car door and jumped in, my eyes huge, my hair wild, and my heart pounding. “Dad, you owe me 10 dollars.”

     After I calmed down, rain began to fall; lightly at first, then a steady downpour. At this point I really had to pee, but I was glued to the seat of the car, petrified to step foot outside again. We decided to postpone the hike and instead drove around, looking for the moose. Lucky for us, they were bedded down underneath a tree right near the parking lot. It was breathtaking watching the mother cradle her baby. The mother stood up and walked a few feet. However, the baby carelessly played under the tree for over 30 minutes, unaware that he had an audience. The mother protectively stood guard, but she meant no harm. I was extremely grateful for this. Finally, we had to tear ourselves away. As we drove out of the parking lot, I glanced back. The mother lifted her head, watching us leave. I smiled as the rain blurred her out of my vision.

     As our trip was coming to an end, I gazed out the plane window, reminiscing about the past week’s adventures. In addition to the initial animal experiences, our vacation had included a Kenai Fjords boat tour on which we saw sea lions, sea otters, dolphins, and a fin whale; a guided rafting trip where I caught my first salmon; hikes through the lush Alaskan forests; and rides on a hand tram across rivers. The wheels met the ground as we landed back in Denver, Colorado. Pollution clouded the sky while city buildings spread across the ground, and I sighed, already missing the miles of untouched Alaskan wilderness. When we finally pulled up to our house in Glenwood Springs, the sun was radiating heat; beads of sweat fell down my flushed face. I was exhausted. When I climbed into bed, my eyes closed as I dreamed of the chilled Alaskan breeze swaying the tree branches and riding snow covered mountain peaks.

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