As I write, I am sitting in the lodge, sipping coffee and soaking in the sunrise. For the first time in weeks I feel quiet and the scene before me soothes away the stress and chaos of the last few weeks.
In Alaska, when most people talk of “going to town” they are talking about anchorage, in the bush however, when we talk about “going to town” it means going to any town. A town being anything with a store and more than five people, Talkeetna can be town!
In November, we made plans to go out for Thanksgiving and Joe’s sisters wedding. A lot goes into planning a trip away from the lodge. First, finding the right caretakers, mainly someone who won’t burn down the lodge and likes our dog. Then, coordinating a flight in for them and a flight out for us and someone to pick up and drop off at the Talkeetna airport. From that point on Joe and I were in a whirlwind of preparations, filling water tanks, updating caretaker’s notes, making supply lists, cleaning, laundry and packing. Lastly, since Joe was in his sisters wedding and needed to look respectable, I gave him a hair cut. He was starting to look a little bushy! He just about froze since I cut his hair out on the deck to use the light, and it is only the second time I have given him a hair cut, so I wasn’t particularly fast.
On the wednesday before Thanksgiving our friends Josh and Bailey flew out to caretake for us. They brought their dog Cinder to keep Howie company. He was beside himself with excitement and I think he scared his new friend! Nothing says “welcome” like 90lbs of muscle flying at you jumping and barking, and racing around like a lunatic.
After a quick walk through with Josh and Bailey, we loaded up our gear onto the plane. It was a tight fit with all of our stuff, my bag tried to take over my seat the whole flight back to Talkeetna. One of my favorite things about our life in Alaska is flying in a bush plane, I absolutely love it. It was a clear and beautiful day for flying.
When we got into Talkeetna, we loaded our stuff into the car and headed for Palmer. While, Joe and I love life out in the bush, there are a few simple pleasures that both of us miss from town. Our first few stops were to indulge a few of those guilty pleasures.
The next two days were filled with family, food, football and friends. It was so nice to enjoy time with family and watch the Seahawks play on tv, instead of listening to the game on the radio. We even made it to the movie theatre with the family. Saturday, was Carleigh and Jake’s wedding and reception, lots of laughter and tears
Sunday, Joe headed back to the lodge with a friend, while I hopped on a plane to Denver, Colorado. My beautiful niece, Aleena Grace passed away just before we flew out from the lodge. It was a bittersweet time with my sisters, I always love spending time with them, but standing at Aleena’s grave saying my final goodbye was heartbreaking. I spent a week with my sister and then flew back to Anchorage.
We had enough snow to snow machine back into the lodge, so Joe and Ben met us at the trail head in Talkeetna. Joe’s parent’s and I had supplies, so we loaded up the sled and Ben and I swapped places. He headed back to Palmer with Joe’s parent and I started my first snow machine trek back to the lodge. I felt a calm begin to settle in as we raced over the snow and the familiar mountains of home began to come into view.
Our time with our families was special, playing with nieces and nephews, catching up with brothers, sisters, parents and friends, celebrating new life and marriage, grieving losses and saying goodbyes, but as we crested the ridge and dropped onto our lake and headed up toward the lodge, I felt like I could breathe deep for the first time in weeks.
We are always excited for our trips into town, for time with family and friends, but nothing is sweeter than coming back home.