Posted by: stacylynn12 | July 9, 2011

Presence

We arrived in Juneau after 3 days and nights on the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a bit disappointed. I guess I thought the ride would include orcas and humpbacks breaching at every turn, towering snow capped peaks and glaciers spilling out into the sea.

Expectations will kill you.

We did see a whale, or more specifically the spray from a whale spouting way off in the distance. The scenery was lovely but nothing more spectacular than we would see on a day trip to our very own Washington San Juan Islands.

We did see quite a bit of wildlife in the ferry’s theater as we watched the “Wildlife of Alaska” movie but then I had to swiftly excuse myself. The movie was being shown during one of the “open water crossings”. There are 4 different spots on the journey up the Inside Passage where the boat must enter an unprotected area – where the swell comes all the way from China according to the Purser on the boat. During this time the boat becomes a giant amusement park ride and my stomach didn’t much like it. Yup. Yours truly tossed her cookies into one of those little white bags kindly provided by the AMHS. At least they don’t charge you for the bags.

I’ve often fantasized about retirement aboard a yacht, leisurely sailing my way around the Caribbean. I might need to come up with Plan B.

Pulling into Juneau, we glided past 3 enormous cruise ships to dock just north of town in Auke Bay. It was raining and 52 degrees. It was 80 degrees and sunny in Seattle.

Grumble, Grumble.

I must admit I have a terrible habit of always wanting to be somewhere I’m not. Whenever we have traveled in the past, we arrive at point A and I’ve got the guidebook open researching what there is to do at point B. I stay one step ahead of myself.

On this trip I vowed to stay “Present”. It’s a larger goal really, one I’ve tried (and failed at repeatedly) to do while parenting my children. Think about how frequently in our everyday lives we are somewhere other than right now. We wait for the weekend to come, the next vacation, the end of the school year. If we happen to be sick, we wish to be well. If we are out of shape, we wish to be in shape. We wait for the time when we will have a more stable job or a new house. When the kids are crying we want them to stop. If it is raining, we want it to be sunny. In all this waiting and wishing we miss a whole lot of life that is happening right in front of our eyes. It may not all be pleasant but there is something to be gained, I think, by being able to sit and just BE during both the good and the difficult times. Imagine the inner peace that would come with the ability to remain calm when being tossed about in a sea of chaos.

So as I sat in the rain, in July with all my long underwear on, my down jacket, rain jacket, a hat and some gloves, I tried with all my might to not wish I was somewhere else.

A round of applause please…

Are you clapping?

…as I have in fact been able to succeed at being present in rainy Juneau. Now, I just need to figure out how to be content, perhaps even joyous when life gets out of balance, when things aren’t quite “right”. Thankfully I’ve got a year though I suspect it’s a life long journey.

Lest I leave you with the impression that it is all doom and gloom, let me share a few highlights.

Camping at the edge of Mendenhall Lake overlooking the Mendenhall glacier.
Watching a trumpeter swan glide gracefully around a small pond while Bodhi and Joshua shriek with excitement over catching a fish with their new poles.
Seeing arctic terns hover and dive at the edge of the glacier on our hike to the waterfall.
The awning that our friend Pete bought us for the van (which we began to erect upon arriving in camp and literally finished just as the skies opened up). We don’t know how we’ve managed without this luxury for so long.
The rain stopping and the clouds parting to reveal the stark peaks towering behind the Muir Ice field.
And, the grand finale… Bodhi’s “Joke of the Day”.

“Pete and Repeat were sitting on a fence. Pete fell off, who was left?”
“Repeat.”
“Pete and Repeat were sitting on a fence…”

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Responses

  1. Stacy: I’m clapping but you ARE singing my song. At the end of each day, ask the kids what the best of the day was and what the worst was and see if their view changes yours. Awnings are great!

    and for Bodhi: why do elephants paint their toenails red? So they can hide in cherry trees. Ever see and elephant in a cherry tree? See, it works!

    Allegra

  2. Stacy, good to hear you’re up there, I lived there for 5 months back in 1997 and lived in Juneau. Small town, but beautiful once you get a chance to see its nooks and crannies. There’s a great marshland just north of the airport that I spent a lot of time at. Back then, I was an aspiring photographer but field geology helped pay the bills and luckily kept me away from the exploration geology lifestyle, if you can call it that! Check out the Fiddlehead restaurant (if it’s still there) Back then, it was the best breakfast in town. Raven’s brew coffee is a must as well. Can’t wait to hear more from your adventures. Let me know if you’ll be heading into Haines, I have a good friend who’s here in Albuquerque for a few years, who will be heading up to visit his old friends and work on his house up there in about a week. He could also give some recommendations on what to do if you do head here.

  3. Stacy, ok, weird, I’m not Neir1 but Geoff Klise. I logged into my friends blog about her trip to Israel and I don’t know how, but it automatically logged in as her when I opened your blog. I’ll now log in with my FB id. Sorry about that.

  4. I LOVED Bodhi’s joke! We used to joke that our Pete was Repeat because he was named after my grandpa Pete!

    We just got back on Friday from our Alaska journey. We loved every bit of it, but found Southeast equally chilling; it felt just like our Seattle winters!

    While you are in the Tongass National Forest region, be sure to visit a ranger station to get Bodhi his junior ranger badge and patch. And again one for Denali.

    Happy trails!

    -Wendi and family.

  5. Hi Stacy, I stumbled onto your blog just before you left and was thrilled that I would be able to join you vicariously on your journey. I quit my job at Boeing in ’85 and journeyed to Alaska. I stayed for as long as I could afford (6 months) and then returned to WA and a job at Boeing. (still there). I LOVED Alaska (and it rained a good amount of my time on the inside passage)..but you are from WA and you will adjust and look beyond the rain at the beauty. 🙂 This was an excellent post for me…I am forever looking ahead at what I want things to be…I am another that needs to learn to live in the moment and hopefully with your reminder I can start doing better at it. Looking forward to you next post! Tammy

  6. Clapping!! Clapping!! Thanks for the reminder as I have also been experiencing some sub-prime weather while on amazing travels these past weeks and have found myself struggling to stay in the moment. I look forward to many more lessons from you as you move through this year´s journey. Love to you, Randy, and the boys!

    • Kelly,
      I read your second update and it sounded way burley. It made me feel a bit silly and whiney sitting under my awning with a dry, warm van to climb into! Ahhhh…. glad to hear the trip is adventurous anyway! Miss you too…

  7. Stacy
    Michelle was kind enough to forward your blog to us, thank you Michelle. Alaska is where I have wanted to go for a long time (BIG Cruise Ship please) and hope to make it sometime while I’m still young enough to remember it and healthy enough to see it.
    I hope you post plenty of pictures so that we can join in the beauty you will certainly see.
    Jerry (Dad) Tollison

    • Hi Jerry (Dad) T,

      Glad to hear from you and Bonnie! I thought you had subscribed but it never came through. I will try to post pictures as I can but I have to figure out some technical challenges with that. Stay tuned!
      Stacy

  8. continue on the ferry up to skagway — the mountain peaks shoot up off the water into the sky are awe inspiring!

  9. Hey there — you’re starting to sound awfully Buddhist to me, I think you might be onto something with this whole “be here now” concept.

    Great to follow along, vicariously, from afar.

    You’re not missing much in the way of nice weather in Seattle, if that helps you feel any better.

    Joke for Bodhi: Tell HIM to say “knock knock.” When he does, innocently say, who’s there? And he will be stumped. If he’s too smart for that, try it on Joshua or Randy.

    Another joke for Bodhi:

    Knock Knock
    Who’s there?
    Interrupting Cow.
    Interrupting c—-
    MOOOOOOOOO!!!!


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