Sunday, June 9, 2013

North to Alaska

In late May, as I was finishing up the edits on my manuscript for Raising Goats Naturally, which will be published this fall, I was racing against a different kind of deadline -- on May 25 we were supposed to board a cruise ship headed for Alaska -- and no one wants to take their work with them on vacation. As it turned out, I had a couple of final emails to handle as our vacation started, but it all worked out.

Mike and I at Mendenhall Glacier
I have wanted to go to Alaska for a very long time. When I was in college, I set a goal to visit all 50 states by the time I was 25. I almost made it. I had visited all of them except for Minnesota, Alaska, and Hawaii. We actually moved to Hawaii in 1990 when my husband was in the Navy, and in 1999 we drove through Minnesota on our way to Yellowstone for a family vacation, but Alaska had always eluded me.

Then last summer my mother-in-law was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer and given six to twelve months to live, and I realized I needed to get moving on my Alaska goal! My in-laws had visited 44 countries, and I remember my mother-in-law telling me -- when she was about the age that I am now -- that she wanted to travel while she was still young enough and healthy enough to enjoy it. It didn't seem like that long ago, and yet here I am at the same age she was at when my husband and I got married. So, last August, we made reservations on a cruise to Alaska for this May.

Ice in the water as we cruised towards Sawyer Glacier
It was stunning and breath-taking and beautiful and every other adjective that means gorgeous and pristine, and I want to go back again because one day in each city was simply not enough time to see everything. And while I was there, something suddenly became crystal clear to me. So many people talk about vacationing to get away from their day-to-day life, and ever since moving to Antiquity Oaks, I haven't wanted to get away. I love my life here. But there are other places in the world that I want to see, such as Alaska ... and the Canary Islands and Spain and Scandinavia and even Africa and Australia. I used to feel sort of guilty for wanting to visit other places, but I'm over that now. I realize that wanting to see those places does not mean that I love Antiquity Oaks any less.

Our tour guide Aaron at Jewell Gardens
One reason I love to travel is because I want to learn how people do things in other parts of the world. While in Skagway, we visited Jewell Gardens, a CSA garden, restaurant, and glassblowing studio. Folks in Skagway have one grocery store and one natural food store, and both are stocked by the single supply ship that comes up once a week from Seattle, and it takes a few days to get there from Seattle, so you can imagine that the produce available in the grocery store is not what we would call fresh. Jewell Gardens provides a wonderful assortment of locally grown produce to its members. Visiting Jewell Gardens has really inspired me to do more with Antiquity Oaks. I love the way that they've combined the CSA garden with a display garden, restaurant, and glassblowing studio, and I've been thinking of how we can do something similar here ... probably not glassblowing, but maybe something with fiber arts?

I've been feeling mentally stuck for a few years, wondering where to go with our homestead. I knew I wanted to do more, but I wasn't sure what to do that would be doable because all of my ideas seemed big and expensive. However, after seeing Jewell Gardens, I see that we can do something more that would not be overwhelming, and I am really excited to get started.

If you want to see a few more of my Alaska photos, click here.


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