Alaska – Day 4

Alaska – Day 4
July 9, 2012

It has started off early. Went to bed before 9 p.m., and been up off and on since midnight. There are truly 24 hours of daylight here, and it’s taking some getting used to.

There was widespread, but good-natured, disappointment on the train today that we hadn’t seen Denali yesterday, but as the train traversed the countryside, bringing us up close to still-large mountains (more of the consolation prizes) that disappointment lessened.

I again spent much of the trip on the ouside platform (okay, the “smoker’s area”) in order to get better photos, and I wasn’t disappointed, not only in the photos, but in the chance to get to know some of my fellow travelers. For example, one woman, the only smoker in the group, is here to help her sister cross an item from her “bucket list”. Of course, her sister likely won’t remember the trip for long: she’s in the relatively early stages of Alzheimer’s, or some form of dementia, and the memories will pass far too soon. But, as this wonderful sister says, “She’ll have the photos to prove she was here.”

Robert, a school administrator from The Woodlands, is here with his wife and two boys and his parents, who are on this land excursion for the 2nd time, and will be cruising for the 4th. Turns out we’re both southern California boys (he’s from the L.A. Area, I’m from the San Diego area).

Judah is an immigrant from Israel who’s been here 40 years and is now a citizen. He and his wife are lovely people who, like many of us, are simply awed at the majestic sites we’ve already seen. “My wife and I, we are so excited! She told me yesterday, ‘would you ever believe that, after being born in Israel, we would be in Alaska?’ It is so beautiful!”

We arrived in Talkeetna, the town in which the TV show Northern Exposure was set, around 5:15 p.m. or so, and were quickly transported to the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, which features a sizable observation area from which one can survey the rugged Alaska mountain range.

Soon, word spread that Denali was visible, having lowered the veil of clouds from over its face and wearing it now as a scarf wrapped around its neck. The funny thing is that, because the snow and ice are there year-round, sometimes the peak can be mistaken for clouds on days like this.

And again, there are parallels to the christian life: there will be struggles, hardships, and disappointments along the way, but this life is a journey. It’s at the end of the road that  the reward is waiting for those who persevere, just as certainly as Denali is there – even when hidden from human eyes.

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