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So Long Alaska, And Thanks For All The Fish

So Long Alaska, And Thanks For All The Fish

Annnnnnd we’re done.

So ends our actual last long distance trip for what’s sure to be a while. Coming home this time, unlike the end of our New Zealand trip, is much more sweet than bitter. For starters, we were both pretty much done with the whole cruise experience this time. Unlike the last time we went cruising (over five years ago!) this was much less of a relaxation tour.

Rather than spending our days relaxing on the sundeck of the ship or some tropical island, this trip involved bear run-ins, frozen glacier viewings and being jolted out of bed at 1 am to see the Northern Lights. Amazing experiences to be sure – but not quite the relaxing time I was expecting.

The other part of it is that we’re looking forward to going home for once. First of all, we have Sammy, our newest member of our family to come home to. For the first time on a trip, we left someone behind. That meant that it was impossible to completely disconnect and well…

Our dog Sammy
Wouldn’t you want to come back to this dog too?

…we missed this guy!

We also have the baby on the way – which means we still have a lot of preparations to make. Unlike when we were in New Zealand (and every other trip before that), having one of us be pregnant meant the future baby was always on our minds. Between that and Sammy, we’re both looking forward to coming home.

Finally, our ship, the Radiance of the Seas, just wasn’t quite up to par with the last ship we took, the Norwegian Gem. I’m planning to do a full review later of the experience, but for now suffice it to say that despite being about the same size, there was a marked difference between the two.

With regards to Alaska though… Wow. Just what an amazing state. The incredible landscapes. The wildlife. And the food. Specifically, the salmon and the halibut.

It really is the salmon capital of the world.

We ate some form of fish literally every day on this trip, sometimes two or even all three meals had fish in them. It was really delicious everywhere we went. We’ve always been of the opinion the Pacific fish far outrank their Atlantic cousins. Alaska proved to us that it doesn’t matter if you’re out in Tahiti, back stateside in San Francisco, or all the way up in the Arctic north outside Denali National Park. It’s. Just. Better.

Seriously, I’ve had fish ‘n chips on four different continents. This place is the best in the world.

In the coming days, I’m planning to do a full round up on my general thoughts on Alaska including the highlights of our trip, lowlights, some recommendations on some must-see things as well as items to avoid.

But for now to Alaska we say:

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Re-adjusting to normalcy: Finding adventure in the everyday

Re-adjusting to normalcy: Finding adventure in the everyday

Find the beauty in the everyday.

As I sit here at the Delta Lounge in Atlanta (which is AWESOME by the way), it dawns on me that it’s been four months almost to the day since we returned from our epic New Zealand/Middle Earth adventure. While our trip was only two weeks long, being away from home and seeing new things (not to mention the intense breaks from reality that were our travel days there and back again), where every day’s goal was to simply live in the moment, makes re-adjusting to every day life a challenge.

How does one go from sunsets and mountains and open landscapes one day to staring a computer screen, fiddling with spreadsheets the next day? And then the next day? And then the next day… And then…

One way to do it is to make sure you love what you do. I happen to really love my job which grants me the kind of flexibility to go to places like New Zealand and Tahiti. I also enjoy the actual work but unless you’re really into VLOOKUPs and Excel formulas I’m not going to bore you with those details.

However, for a long time, I really DID NOT love what I did and used to dream of going to the kinds of places I’ve only been able to go to fairly recently. My solution to the problem was to blow up my life and start over in a way that gave me the freedom to go on adventures.

But what if that’s not possible? What if you don’t have the luxury of just “starting over” because of financial reasons or family reasons or health reasons?

In that case, the only choice is to find the adventure in your every day life.

Can’t go away for two weeks? Pack up the car and drive somewhere new. No money to explore Paris or Rome? Find the nearest city to where you live and explore locally. Stuck on a business trip in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do? Ask the locals what the most beautiful local site is, take an extra half day and GO THERE. One of my coolest places I ever visited was Muir Woods, which was just an hour or so drive out of San Francisco, where I had gone for a conference for work.

Having said that, nothing Ariel and I have done since getting back has quite matched the adventure and freedom of life on the road in a strange country, without a care but where we would sleep for the night. But we’ve found other ways to make the mundane everyday into something else.

For example, in April, we adopted a dog!

Introducing Samwise Gamgee the Brave Kapoano…

His name? Sammy. Or Samwise Gamgee The Brave The Dog Kapoano to be more precise. Naturally.

And let me tell you something – he has been quite the adventure. He’s great, but he’s sure not all pony rides in May-sunshine.

Having a dog complicates matters for us in terms of our next adventure. While we can certainly bring him with us on weekend trips, we are limited by places that allow pets. Furthermore, bringing him with us on true extended travel like we had in New Zealand is just not realistic. So we will have to adjust – but we knew this ahead of time. Sammy is just one of several reasons we went all in on the New Zealand trip.

An elven cloak. Orrrr not.

So you adjust. Tend to your home. Start a garden. Reflect on past travel. Look forward to the next adventure, even if it may not come for years. And you never, ever, lament the circumstances that have led to your reduced freedom. Instead you remind yourself that you always have choices.

Our garden. The image at the top of this post is a garlic flower growing in it!

Your most important choice? What to do with the time you are given.

As our lives become a bit more sedentary, look to this blog to delve more deeply into past adventures that Ariel and I have been on together or separately so you can relive our triumphs and learn from our mistakes.

Not quite the White Tree of Minas Tirith, but it’s ours so it will have to do…

Stay tuned!