Returning refreshed, renewed and ready

Published 1:10 am Wednesday, August 27, 2014

This week’s column is being written from the Minneapolis – St. Paul, Minnesota airport as we return from a long overdue vacation to Alaska and Canada.   Last week I wrote about the stunning beauty of Alaska.  This week I will cover a few other things I learned over the past couple of weeks.

You can live without cell coverage and Wi-Fi.    Cell coverage in Alaska was almost non-existent except in a couple of the larger towns. It took me a couple of days to adjust, but when I did manage to reconnect to the world, everyone seemed to be doing just fine without me.

Wi-Fi could be found here and there, but it was almost always too slow to download anything except basic emails.  So how did many of the people communicate?   They used payphones, believe it or not.   Once a staple at our restaurants, they haven’t been around in the lower 48 states for more than a decade.You don’t have to have a car to survive.   In fact, in many places a car would be useless.  In much of Alaska, the rivers are their highways.   Boats travel slowly from town to town, carrying supplies just like they did in the Gold Rush days.   Many people, including the high school football teams, travel by seaplanes, landing on the water in the river in the summer and on the ice on the river in the winter.

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In Canada, we traveled to islands on huge ferries that were carrying 18 wheelers, large buses, and vehicles of every size and description.   They are amazingly accurate in their timing and even have large restaurants on board.

There are still a lot of animals in the wilderness.   We saw almost every animal that Alaska and the Pacific Northwest is famous for.  We saw magnificent bald eagles everywhere, often hunting salmon running in the rivers or nesting with their young.

We saw bears, moose, caribou, and many other species; all in the wild.   We saw several types of whales, including the humpback, beluga and orca whales, otherwise known as killer whales.  Our last night we were treated to a pod of killer whales frolicking in the ocean oblivious to people like us gasping in delight.   After all, it was their territory, not ours.

You can (will) eat more than you think.  After a week inland, with a much higher physical activity level than normal, my appetite easily grew aided by the delicious food prepared at the various lodges where we stayed.  After that, we hit the food for which many large cruise ships are famous.  Beginning the day with a breakfast buffet and closing with a four course meal each night, I am afraid to step on the scales upon my return home.

You can get along with friends in close quarters for two weeks.   This isn’t always a given.  My college roommate and our wives were all celebrating our 60th birthday, but we have never shared such an extended vacation together.   Great friends do indeed make great traveling companions.

You can return home without being exhausted.  Probably more than at any time in my life, I needed a vacation; a time away from the many pushes and pulls of a busy life.   Despite working hard to see all that Alaska and Canada had to offer, I am returning home refreshed, renewed and ready to return to work.   You can’t ask for a better vacation than that.