This past week we had the opportunity to return to Alaska and visit Leif's family in Sitka as well as spend the weekend in Juneau as part of Chapel by the Lake's annual church renewal. We had a delightful time and I was reminded of some of things I had forgotten about living in Alaska:
1. There are no atheists whenever a plane lands. I forgot how exciting (aka terrifying) flying in Alaska can be. The planes often land hot and hard with limited visibility, high winds, and runways are too short by today's standards but have been grandfathered in like Sitka's landing area. It's not unusual for the passengers to erupt into wild applause whenever the wheels touch down and grip firmly onto the armrest whenever a plane is about to take off.
2. Alaskans are a rowdy bunch. Most flights today are quiet or there's a low hum of conversation. That's not the case when you're in Alaska. It's more like a family reunion of people laughing, reconnecting, and talking. On the flight out of Sitka, we sat next to Leif's first grade teacher. I've been on flights where the stewardess actually has to instruct people to quiet down because the rumble of conversation is too loud for people to hear the announcements.
3. Alaskans are a tough bunch. The average Alaskan woman is strong and can hold her in own in almost any situation. She's the kind of woman who if I met in a dark alley I'd step to the side and say, "Go right ahead!" She's comfortable in her own skin, knows how to make a pair of Xtra-Tuff boots look good, and ready to smile at the first ray of sunshine. The average Alaskan man knows how to skin a salmon, handle himself in the wilderness, and save the world with duct tape and a blue tarp (or at least help out his neighbor).
4. The sense of community in Alaska is extraordinary. Because of the challenges of climate and remoteness of Alaska, people are well aware that they need each other. They value community and connection and have a way of being there for each other in extraordinary ways.
5. On a sunny day, Alaska is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. We were blessed with quite a few sunny (and cold!) days during our visit. The snowy rugged mountains pierced the sky and anchored the sea in a way that's simply breathtaking. Everyone needs to make at least one trip to Alaska in their lifetime to witness the wild beauty of God on display in this region.
*Photo courtesy of here