An Unconventional Conversation…

What Alaska Said to Guam

Life is about contrasts.

Who would have thought I’d be in such opposite places in the world one year apart?

Like, did you ever think about where you were a year ago? And how they compare?

At the moment I find myself in cold, dark, ALASKA.

This time last year I was in paradise.

Tanguissan Beach-largeI remember waking up and seeing sweeping ocean views of blue green tropical waters. It would take my breath away & I’d pinch myself and say, really?

I was waking up in Guam, the beautiful US territory in the Western Pacific.

Today in Alaska at 9:00am it is still dark. There are no azure skies and ocean; I do not hear children’s voices running and playing on the beach. Instead I hear the crunch of ice beneath my feet when I walk to my car. Looking out the window, I see darkness, although when the sun at lasts wakes up, I will see various shades of grays, whites, & browns.

In Guam, I remember my glasses fogging up when I walked out of the air conditioned buildings into the hot, humid tropical air. The strange twist is that when I went to the library on base, I’d have to wear a fleece jacket to be able stay there for more than 5 minutes to deal with the sub temperatures of the air conditioning.

2012-10-30-Alaska-snow-dark-carsHere in Alaska, I wouldn’t dare go outside without a warm coat, hat, gloves. And sometimes hand warmers.

That’s contrast all right.

 What if Guam had a conversation with Alaska? Reasonable, eh? They’re both the US, both not attached to the Mother Land.

GUAM: Hey there Frozen Man. How’s it going? I heard you guys got a lot of ice up there and not much snow this winter. That’s too bad.

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Skiing above the clouds — flying with fear

It was simply meant to be a Christmas present for my husband. Being a pilot, he loves to fly. It’s one of those passions your spouse has that you say, “I’m glad you love being a pilot but not me. I will stand on the ground and watch while you go up and fly around.”

But I am not married to that kind of man. He wants me to go with him, to share, to enjoy the experience with him. He wants ME up there with him. Oh brother.

So when I told him that he would be flying on a ski plane to Denali, he loved this idea. And quietly I added, I’ll be staying back at the lodge and taking pictures.

“Well I’m not going if you don’t go.”

But, but… I don’t know if I can do it. You know how I hate flying.

“Well, then I’m not going.”

When my husband says something like that I know that the steel trap door is down and that there is no way that I’m going to budge him.

So I relented. Of course. I said I would go.

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Alaska is not for sissies — or is it?

It takes a lot of energy to not be afraid.

Traveling around the world, I’ve come to know intimately the voices inside my head that love to challenge me to not do something, to stay in the comfort and safety of my hotel room. I’ve become expert at hearing these scary little saboteursin my head and talking back to them defiantly…”I’m doing what I want and you’re not going to stop me.”

Sometimes the voices, try meaner tactics. They try to take control . They say stupid things like, what if you get lost & you can’t find your way back? What if you can’t find anybody who speaks English while you’re cavorting around by yourself everywhere? What if your oxygen runs out while you’re scuba diving? WHAT IF?

 But until I came to Alaska, none of these conversations included what if I get attacked by a bear? Or charged by a moose? Or what if my car battery dies (like it did on a beach in Okinawa) and it’s 10 degrees outside? What if I freeze to death?

I’d been in Alaska for 2 weeks. I knew it was long overdue that I explore the wildness of Alaska.

So I did. I drove a few miles outside of Anchorage. The drive was stunning.


Majestic mountains on my right, the white icy inlet on my left. I was pondering where to pull off the road to take photos of the beautiful scenery around me. “Go here, go here”, I heard myself say and I turned off onto a road that led to a lake. A frozen lake of course. As I parked my car and got out onto the white landscape, I greeted a woman walking back to her car walking her dogs. Another car in the parking lot was empty.

Hmmmm, I thought. There are people around. It’s safe. Right? I felt the familiar uneasiness, exploring a new place by myself. Everything around me was silent, as if frozen in stillness. I looked around. The scene seemed eery, almost mystical. The barren trees stood together, in a forlorn manner as if burnt.

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