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Sunday, May 31, 2009

North to Alaska

I don't have time at the moment to inject these photos where they belong in this post, and I have more to upload, but Wilder's awake and I need to skeedaddle. More later!

It's been nearly two years since I left Alaska and the return to my home has been phenomenal. It's in my blood and after the longest of my absences I finally understand the Alaskan mentality I sought to escape -and now cherish. Duct tape, polar fleece, rough edges -it's what Alaska is all about. It makes it charming, as well as perplexing and slightly ridiculous. And today, as I drove around the mountainsides and reunited with wonderful friends, I felt my soul pulse with life and resonate with this place I called home for 27 years. My parents grew up here from their childhoods onward and chose to remain here to raise our family. The significance of this place has knocked the wind out of me several times since we arrived less than 24 hours ago. I am here and I miss it. How blessed I am to have been raised in the great state of Alaska, which, consequently, is celebrating its 50th year of statehood.

We arrived late last night and were met at the airport by David and Gina Murrow -a truly beloved couple of mine. They lent us a vehicle and we will later be spending half of our visit at their home which they graciously offered us. Wilder and I arrived at the Pichon's house -one of my best friend's from high school's parents- and quickly settled in for the night. Wilder did pretty well, though he thought 4am was the perfect time to start the day. Fortunately after a little playtime and a bath he was ready for a nap and we were able to snooze soundly until 8:30am.

We headed out soon after waking, no plan for the day except perhaps drive around and see my old stomping grounds. Driving up to the Chugach State Park I couldn't contain myself any longer and called Erica. "Hi!!! I'm here!!! Call me, call me, call me, I want to see you soon, best friend! I'm up by Flat Top!" Within a minute she called back.
"We're on our way to Trinity for church. Do you want to join us?"
"Absolutely! We'll meet you there." Only prepared for driving and hiking about (and NOT for church) I shrugged at convention and happily joined Erica -and Joseph her fiance, and nearly the whole Colliander crew- at my old church. Wilder was a dream for the folks in the nursery (praise the Lord) and it was incredible seeing so many well-loved and familiar faces. These were many of the families who have shaped my life and touched my heart since I was 5 years old. Oh, my delight was indescribable.

After church and a considerable time socializing (we were the last to leave, if that tells you something) Erica rode with Wilder and I to run an errand and then head to her folks house for a big, family brunch -as only the Collianders know how to do. This was house I spend countless sleepovers at, ate wonderful family meals and received many backrubs and hugs from my 2nd mother, Gwen. Erica and I have dreamed aloud together about our future husbands, educational goals, life ambitions and who we'd become as women. Walking up the steps and through the door was just another very welcome feeling of stepping back home.

We enjoyed wonderful company and fellowship over brunch, then we ladies hurried off just up the street to Erica's hairdresser who was doing a practice run on her bridal up-do. Erica tried on the wedding necklaces I made and it's obvious she's going to have a tough time deciding on one -she loved them all (hooray!) What a marvelous time getting to see Erica done up as the stunning bride she'll be in less than one week -she looked gorgeous.

We parted ways and Wilder and I headed back to the Pichons where he played and napped on and off. Wilder became rather restless and it was clearly time for another adventure. We hopped in the car and caught the tail end of the Sunday Market downtown and snapped some pictures while perusing the booths as they were packing up. Definitely a spot to hit up next weekend.

Dinner couldn't have been more perfect. Barb cooked salmon steaks with delicious sides -the epitome of Alaskan fare. I loved getting to chat with her, Kristen and Wayne as Wilder went nuts playing with all the toys they have for their grandkids. It has been wonderful getting reconnected and caught up with the Pichons -I even got to talk to Katie (one of their daughters and my very dear friend) when she called at dinner.

Obviously I'm thoroughly enjoying myself, and Wilder is doing an excellent job traveling along with me. I am so very thankful for this opportunity to be home and rekindle so many very precious friendships.

Alaska rocks.


Roccy said...

Welcome Home! The way you described Alaska - and your thoughts of it - is exactly the way I feel about Pennsylvania (and I'll be heading there for the summer tomorrow - three kids in tow!).

I'm so glad Wilder is such a fine traveling companion.

Enjoy your time. Soak it all in.

Anonymous said...

I'm so jealous! I miss it!! Have a great time up there! :) ~Kirsten

Anonymous said...

I miss Alaska and I've only been there three times!!! God's country, for sure. I miss you and Wilder too. Have a wonderful time re-connecting with special friends and your birthplace. I'm so happy you are having this opportunity. Love to you both! MiMa

P.S. My very best wishes to Erica and Joseph for their very special day and a wonderful future together.


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