Just returned from a week-long adventure with my kids (Boston-based Sean, with grandkids Kiera and Drew on the left) and Colin (next to me). Shown here on our final day, with sister-in-law Jeannie, at lunch before Sean and kids left for two days and nights at Denali and Colin and I for Jeannie’s house, where we would wait three hours for our red-eye flights (three of them) home to Indy Wednesday night/Thursday morning. All of us look both relaxed and a bit exhausted here, and no wonder!
The week was filled with non-stop activities, gatherings, walks and hikes, dinner parties.
All of my siblings had gathered for the momentous event of brother John’s and Jeannie’s oldest daughter Hannah’s marriage to Chris, the love of her life. They are both 30 years old. They met when they were 15. And frankly, I never have seen such a beautiful, freshly loving couple as these two, despite their long history! As they say, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place during their ceremony, held on a mountainside ski area overlooking Anchorage, where they both grew up.
That was Saturday. On Friday, we went up there to hike, and found a huge crew — their friends — setting up for 160 guests. They are both ultimate frisbee players, on national teams (his father is one of the founders of ultimate frisbee as a sport), and so are all their friends, apparently, each of them beautiful, fit, athletic, and clearly connected to each other in a vast network that seems to include all of Alaska and beyond. Though Jeannie and John paid for the venue and the food, the entire meal prep was supplied also by friends, all gratis. No labor costs for this wedding. The spread of hors d’oeuvres was the most lavish and unusual I’ve ever seen. At least 30 different offerings, each one labeled “Alaska”: Alaska reindeer wrapped in bacon; Alaska goat cheese with local blueberry jam (I made both of those up, but you get the idea).
And that wasn’t even the main meal! We were all astonished that we still had room for this:
On and on, wonders never ceased. Of course the toasts were to die for. It seemed like all of Chris’s friends from his college days at Carleton College in Minnesota made the trek to Alaska for the long-anticipated event. Eleven groomsmen, seven bridesmades, and all of them, as I said, gloriously beautiful, healthy, vital.
Oh my! Apparently the culture of generosity and reciprocity is very much a part of Alaskan tradition. As Jeannie’s brother-in-law told me, during yet another dinner that was “thrown together” on the spur of the moment and lavishly for a party of what? 30? two nights after the wedding, “the world is round in Alaska.”
On the very day after the wedding, brother John (who runs three resorts for a Native corporation in Alaska) told us that we all needed to take the train to Whittier and get on a boat to see the glaciers in Prince William Sound. Okay! So the eleven of us that were staying in an Air B&B near John’s house did just that, booking a five-hour, 50 mile boat ride on which we were promised to see 26 glaciers. And did! The excursion included an unusually delicious salmon chowder lunch.
A few of the glaciers:
Having already traveled to Alaska twice (and even ridden in a bush plane to deliver mail to tiny villages, again thanks to brother John who was at that time the mayor of Nome as I recall — or was he a disc jockey?), I was not quite as astonished by the wildness and beauty of Alaska as were others in our party.
And the train ride itself? Well, wouldn’t you know, it reminded me of Siberia, from which I have just returned.
Lest you think Alaska is paradise, remember that Prince William Sound was the location of the Exxon Mobile Oil Spill in 1989 to the tune of 10.8 million gallons of crude oil. Indeed, oil and gas are what built non-Native Alaska.
The evil HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) facility sits 200 miles east of Anchorage. Missile sites sit atop a mountain across from the wedding site, aimed, of course, at Russia. And on the afternoon of the otherwise glorious wedding itself, we were treated by an unusually thick display of chem trails.