Alaska.You Have My Heart.Again…

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Alaska. The Way I See You.

Rocks, Roots & Rainbows.

Granite, Gold & Glaciers.

Cold & Crisp, But Kind.

The Water Is Clear, But Candid.

She Is Fierce, Yet Friendly.

Beautiful, But Bold.

If You Don’t Believe In God; You Will.

His Presence Is All Around.

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Graduation

So, as many of you know – I have had a busy summer.  My Son graduated from High School, I had a work Conference right after, came home for a few days, we then left for Hawaii with a good friend and two of my Son’s friends; we came home for a few days and cruised to Alaska.  It was a super great couple of months.  My co-workers probably disagree; but very understanding.  The graduation was so fun and full of life.  Having a bunch of kiddos around, seeing

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Oahu, Hawaii

them light up as they received their Diplomas, listening to them talk about their future; having the “Graduation Party”.  We saw so many Friends and Family and they were all around to embrace our kid.  It tugged at the heart strings; but made us so proud.  Two days after all of that it was our annual work conference.  Gone another week. Came home, packed up and headed off to Hawaii.  Took two of my Sons buddies, met up with a great friend and hung out a little over a week.  I was a bit unclear about this trip because of the

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Elections Conference

three boys.  You are never sure if they will get along the whole trip, if two will buddy up; you just don’t know.  HOWEVER, they were sooo fun and I would take them around the world – in a second.  Not only were they fun, they simply made the trip.  They lived like rock stars and we had a ball watching them.  We came home for about four days and then left for an Alaskan cruise.  This was a fun one.  My Aunt and Uncle were celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary and invited 50 friends and family members.  They have spoiled us throughout the years and this was seriously, icing on the cake.

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Alaska

When I look back on my life, my most vivid, “fun” memories, had something to do with my Aunt & Uncle.  Their life was insanely busy; BUT they still wanted to see my report card.  Gave me kudos; would give me a $5 bill.  For all of my school breaks, I was typically with my Gramma.  Gramma lived in Seattle and my Aunt & Uncle lived on Mercer Island; or the “Rock”, as the locals call it.  Therefore, we were with them a lot.  The memories I have of the “Rock” era are so fun and H-A-P-P-Y!  I mean, who doesn’t love being on a rope swing, on Lake Washington?  What about the Sea Dancer?  The bath tub?  The round bed?  My cousins pictures all over with his perfectly coiffed, feathered hair?  Or his hockey pictures?  All of the avocado plants?  The big glass table?  The poker table?  The hanging bed?  The sauna?  Riding around in the Lincoln?  The red marble bar?  The BBQ pit out back – oh, what I wouldn’t due to have that at my house now… My Aunt’s beautiful, perfectly blonde hair?  Her crab salad?  The orange furniture?  The dancing?  What about the sauna?  Remember the bridge you drove over to get to the house?  Or the fish tanks as you walked in?  The Picasso’s?  When it was cold – the fire place?  Ping pong or Pool?  I literally could go on and on.  They were the ones that made life so fun.  I have always looked back and remembered how hard they worked for such a fun, GOOD life.  I always wanted that.  They BOTH showed you how important work was.  I have ALWAYS thought about that.

Not only was this cruise fun, it was so interesting.  Listening to the stories the Friends had.  Or the Family.  They were ALL fun.  Most of the Friends that came, worked with or for them.  They knew their integrity.  All of them would do anything for them.  The stories that were told, were just as if it happened yesterday.  The memories are GRAND.  They are so happy.  Their kindness has ALWAYS mattered.  Our dinner time was 8 o’clock every night.  However, we all met up around 6:30, in a gated off space just so that we could talk.  Communicating was so fun.  Listening was even better.  Some of the stories that were told – you just wish you could have been a fly on the wall!  One thing that was so interesting to me was,  how my Uncle responded.  I think he was actually surprised we all had so much fun with them AND remembered it all.    The pictures he shared nightly, were so awesome!  They are pictures I have seen hundreds of times, but seeing my Husband enjoy them, or the young ones look at them, was truly a treasure.  My Aunts hair used to be brown.  My Uncle hunted a lot back in the day – in his Lincoln.  Everybody had cigarettes.  There were bottles everywhere.  People were just flat happy around them.  My Aunt was so damn classy – still is.  My Uncle still has the charm, too!  Not only were they fun – they still are.

Another fun thing on this cruise were the people that would talk to me about my Gramma.  She was such a GREAT, stout woman.  I just wish I could have had her for longer.  Obviously God needed a true Republican woman up there 🙂   BUT, the lady that has cleaned for my Aunt & Uncle for 40 years – yes, she is still there, told me how much my Gramma loved me and that I was her favorite.  Those are the best things to hear when your getting close to, well, what ever my age is…  I loved hearing things like that.  It was so fun.  The stories were something I hope everybody has.  Maybe you do.  They were fun reminders. They were things you want to be sure and do with your own kiddos.

This cruise was the first trip we had been away from our Son, for this long.  And yes, he is 18, but it was new for my Husband and I.  With our Son being away for Graduation and Hawaii, we thought it would be best if he stayed back; because he does have a job…  I read A LOT; Chris played Poker.  We ate whenever we needed to.  Slept in.  Not having to make sure your kid is having the time of his life, was quite nice.  He was so very missed, but I’m pretty sure he had a good time with us away.

As I said, 50 Friends and Family Members were invited.  Probably the closest family was, unfortunately, unable to make it.  This trip was a true testament that we are all getting older.  None of my Aunt or Uncles siblings were there.  That was hard on them.  The people that they were always the closest too.  My Mom being one of them.

My Mom is my Uncle’s baby sister.  He has always treated her like that and still does.  She got an infection that really took her down.  She was in a rehabilitation facility as we cruised to Alaska.  His other Sister just found out she may have Parkinson’s.  One of my Aunts Sisters stayed back because her Husband is very ill.  Of course, they understood, but it was hard on them.  Staying close – it’s getting harder.  For all of us.

My Aunt & Uncle have one Son.  We have always been close.  We look like we could be siblings.  Our Gramma would always tell me that people would ask her about us.  We both have TALL kids.  He used to scare the hell out of me growing up with that damn Godzilla mask of his!!  His room, growing up, had Heart (as in the band) posters everywhere.  The carpet in his room had stripes.  -My Aunt was so hip at her designing!  I have always felt like we were siblings.  We were kind-of raised that way.  IMG_9368We look a like, too.  This cruise was different for us.  Our discussions were different.  Their were a lot of tears.  We talked about what the next few years are probably going to be like.  Our parents are aging.  *sniff*

At my Aunt & Uncle’s 50th Wedding Renewal; we all celebrated.  We celebrated them.  Their hard work over the years.  Their kindness.  What they have done for all of us.  Their class.  What hard work looks like.  How important time is.  Time.  Is there ever enough?  It’s not just them getting older.  It’s me getting older.  How do you learn to slow down and take it all in?  To ENJOY your time?  Do you have to wait?

 

If I look back at the “fun” times, our parents were the age we are now.  THAT is weird.  I visited my Mom at the rehabilitation facility she is at, yesterday.  I took a picture of her and my self and sent it to my Uncle.  He told me how good she looked and to give her a hug.  I then sent him a picture of her hands.  Her HANDS.  They looked just like my Gramma’s.  It caught me off guard.  The aging parent.  It’s hard.  We are now becoming the parent.  That’s even harder.  My cousin and I get it.  We “get” it.  We just don’t want to.

On a MUCH lighter note. My cousin, the one I was just talking about, had both of his Sons with him.  They are both in their early 20’s.  It is fun watching him be a Dad.  See how he reacts, or doesn’t.  His youngest is a Senior in College and he brought his GF.  His oldest proposed to his GF on the cruise.  It was really neat.  I couldn’t figure out if it was a total surprise or not.  Super fun though.  The ring was gorg and the wedding talks began.  I remember being in that situation – many moons ago – But it was so fun!

Speaking of my cousins kiddos…  Watching them watch their grandparents was neat.  When this was probably the first time they realized their Grandparents are aging.  Seeing THAT through their eyes.  There was a true realization and tears.  Lots of tears.  Meaningful tears.  Ones in which we will all remember.

Even though the tears flowed, we all had such a GREAT family time.  All of the “FRIENDS” are family…  At these events – you always meet those fun ones.  You know – those fun cousins you want to go hang out with?  Maybe throw back a few?   (N.O your one of them!)

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As for a sincere, Thank You – Uncle J & Aunt D – Your strength, kindness, stealth, honor and love has been a part of my life forever.  It is what I remember the most growing up.  What you have shared with my child is unforgettable.  What you have given me is something that I can not describe.  The arm around my shoulder; the simple hug; Election talks… Your love for your family & friends, Trumps everything.  You have taught all of us how important work is, in this life.  I hope I get back an ounce of what you have.  Much, much, much love and so much more.  Thank You.

Love, A 

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Okay, okay, so I started off writing this blog as a reference to friends that wanted to know how Alaska was…  Or where did I go…  How was the cruise, etc…  I got off track.  I always say – Family First.  So, here was our agenda and a few things we did:

First stop – Ketchican!

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When we were in Ketchican last year, we found a restaurant that we fell in love with.  Ketchican Crab & Grille.  They don’t have a website, but there food is divine. As soon as we got off the ship – Chris and I literally ran to it.  Oh, yeah, it was 10am and they didn’t open until 11am.  We then walked a few blocks and got there at 10:55am.  The crab is not just fresh, it is GREAT.  The service is fun.  I mean, just look at these pictures…

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Pic on the left is Mac-N-Cheese and pic on right is calamari.  They were both sooo good. Ketchican is (what you see getting off a cruise ship) is really “touristy”.  We didn’t do any excursions in Ketchican; so all I know about it is, you can buy GREAT gifts for your co-workers.  They have diamond stores on every block.  The mile-ish that we walked around the dock is fun.  Book stores, a clinic, boats.  It’s neat.  I would love to go out and adventure.  Next time….  Here are some very random pictures of Ketchican:

 

Beautiful, isn’t it?  Next stop?  Juneau.

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Again, we experienced Juneau by walking off of our ship, with the “what do we do” theory??  We ended up taking the Tram up into the tree’s.  It was absolutely GORGEOUS!  They had a couple of Eagle’s on display, a fun couple of trails, a restaurant – we ended up having a couple brews.  The best part?  By far, the view.  Again, we killed all of our time up in the hills in Juneau with no excursions; but we would do it again.

 

Our next stop?  Skagway.

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Skagway was so beautiful.  We ended up taking the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad Summit Excursion & Train Tour.  It was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!  We learned so much, took tons of pictures and decided if we ever came back we would do the longer tour.  It is just so interesting what people so long ago did.  Or what they were capable of doing.  In the snow; that was so deep.  White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad  < Check this link out – You will learn so much about what these people endured, built and what we gained.

This is from the tour – Again, AMAZING…

 

Last stop?  Victoria, BC.

The BEST part of Victoria?  Butchart Gardens!!  I LOVE this place.  The history is amazing! ( Information on Butchart Gardens << Check out this link for BG) We simply took the excursion there.  Spent a few hours there and then came back in the dark.  Super fun!  I told my husband, after our Kiddo goes to college, Victoria would be a fun place to hang out for an extended weekend.  The pics don’t do this place justice, but here goes…

 

Victoria at night…

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Other than being with Family and making new Friends, this was truly a great part for me-

 

I absolutely loved our deck.  I LOVE to read and never have time to “just read…”. I did a lot of that, too.  For the record – I read 3 books!  I also got into the Word daily.  The sights were beautiful and the weather was perfect.

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On a fun note – Does your family have a Family Priest?  Ours does!  Super fun guy that try’s to keep us together and in-line.  He even wears checkered Vans…

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Another thing that was fun on the Cruise was doing “On Deck For A Cause”.  5 in our group walked for cancer.  Super fun!

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Until we meet again…

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Want to follow my blog?  Let me know – ajlhanson@gmail.com and I will send you an invite.  Or Calvinsmomblog.com

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