Three weeks ago, I woke up in a hotel in Alaska. Well, not quite. It’s only 9 am right now which means it was only 5 am there and we all know that didn’t happen. But you get the point. Alaska is somewhere I’ve dreamed of visiting my entire life but I never thought I would get there because I could never find a single other human who felt the same way. I travel alone a lot. However, I really didn’t think the Alaskan wilderness would be a good place for my 5 foot 1, struggles-opening-a-water-bottle, midwest born and raised self to go alone. One thing I’ve gathered is that most people have the wrong impression of Alaska. When they think of Alaska, the picture you in some igloo, in the middle of the dangerous forest, freezing to death surrounded by hungry bears (at least that is what my family is picturing). They don’t picture the tallest mountain in North America of the majestic nature that surrounds it. They don’t understand the peace you feel in the earth or within yourself.
But still- why Alaska? -That is the question I get at least 10 times a day. Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand the appeal of sitting on the beach with an ice cold beer and the warmth of the sun overtaking your entire body. I get it. I really do. But I have always been drawn to the less traveled places in the world. The reality is, no one gives half a shit about your cruise to the Bahamas because they’ve been there too. It’s not new and exciting. But when you say you’ve been to Alaska or Iceland or somewhere that isn’t the stereotypical picture of paradise, you suddenly become a badass and they want to know your story. I don’t know if it is because these places seem more interesting or if it’s because I am determined to find their beauty when no one else can. I’ll go with the second option. It seems more accurate. About two years ago, I switched careers and along with a new job, life handed me another human who felt the same way about traveling as I do. Sometime around this time last year, between customers at work, we were discussing and comparing places we dream of visiting. Our lists were almost identical and long-story short, three weeks ago, we spent the most life-changing 10 days in Alaska. We spent 10 months planning what we thought was a once-in-a-lifetime trip and in the process, learned more about ourselves than we had in the entirety of our lives until this point. Alaska2017 may have been one-of-a-kind but it is definitely not the last time we will ever find ourselves wandering the majestic state.
Why is Alaska a big deal? If you wants a “real” adventure, why didn’t you backpack though Europe or something? -those are some of my other favorite questions. In a nutshell, its a “big deal” because it is somewhere I never thought I could realistically find myself visiting. To be completely honest, most of the time prior to this year, I hardly ever left my house unless it was to go to work. In the middle of 2016, my depression was the most unbearable it had ever been- and believe me, its been a life-long struggle. There were days I found myself not showing up to work, turning off my phone and letting the world wonder where I was (although I had a hard time believing anyone would even wonder about me to begin with). I have bad days all the time. I am not trying to convince anyone that I am “better”. I don’t believe in better when it comes to depression. However, I have found traveling -and even dreaming about traveling- to be my most successful coping mechanism so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the proudest moment of my life was exiting a helicopter on a glacier, looking up at the mountains and down at the water, and knowing that I made this happen. I got myself here. I did it.
These are the stories I want to tell for the rest of my life. I have plenty of them already and I am continuously writing more. Alaska part two is already in the works as well as Iceland, Finland, Spain and a few other. I don’t have a date for them yet, but I am working my butt off to set one. This time, I am going to document my adventures because that is the only thing I would have done differently last time if I could do it over again. I hate documenting things because I hate being reminded of my own struggles and failures. But I am going to do it this time. I want to continue to re inspire myself and maybe some others along the way.