Day 12 – A Love Letter to Alaska

Day 12 – A Love Letter to Alaska

Gail Jessen, Live Voyage Reports

John Muir wrote of Alaska: “Going to the mountains is going home.” © 2014 Gail Jessen
John Muir wrote of Alaska: “Going to the mountains is going home.” © 2014 Gail Jessen

Every time I travel I fall in love. Movement seduces me. My wanderlust is palpable, an insatiable ache. This is true for every vagabond soul I’ve met. I’ve been wandering long enough to not confuse this love with a naive crush on travel. My love is seasoned and unconditional. I love the bad days, the tired days, the beautiful days, the productive days, the rainy days.

Yet my soul spends too much time inside concrete jungles, offices, four straight walls. I’ve been craving a wild travel experience. I want endless space and crisp air. I fantasize about virgin land unexplored by man. I need pure silence. There was no option but The Last Frontier. Naturalist John Muir said Alaska is “hopelessly beyond description.” Author Miranda Weiss writes that “people move to Alaska to find themselves, but also to get lost. [They’re] in search of some indefinable hybrid of adventure, wilderness, and what I imagined would be a simpler life. I think we all wanted to know what we would look like in front of a backdrop of wilderness, who we would become once the fancy clothes and high ambitions were stripped away.”

Miranda moved permanently to Alaska as a young, recent college graduate. I traveled briefly to Alaska as a stressed out thirty-something professional. We arrived as different people with the same goal. We wanted Alaska to strip us down without apologies. We understood that the less control we took over her refiner’s fire, the more it would change us. She forces you to realize how small you are. She forces you to admit Nature is entirely self-serving, virtually indifferent to your existence. She forces you to question how you show up in your real life, how you define yourself inside your four straight walls. Miranda writes that “doctoral degrees mean nothing when your car slips off the road, when it’s moose season, or when the northern lights strike us all dumb with awe.”

We’re still sailing away and I’m already thinking about next time. I’m thinking about boarding a train to Denali. I’m thinking about floating in the turquoise Glacier Bay. I’m thinking about a motorcycle ride from Skagway to Carcross, stopping to wade my bare feet into every lake. I’m thinking about the layers I have left to strip away. As Muir said, “I had nothing to do but look and listen and join the trees in their hymns and prayers.” I’m going home changed. Everyone who lets themselves breathe in the energy of Alaska goes home changed. That’s her gift to anyone who understands how to receive it.

This is the place that is given to you
because you have found it yourself

because you stayed long enough
to move your gaze fully to the south

because you returned at times
to accept the ritual: to care

and be cared for by rock
and bush, creek, and bird.

This is the place where your faze
took hold, found words and moods

for words, where others will come
for your small sound when you are gone,

to listen for the door you left
swinging, just out of reach

on immense hinges.

Your Land, by Mike Burwell

It’s your turn. Just go.


You can re-live this adventure and join me on my next journey via Instagram and Twitter @fourthirtyam. If you’re wondering who you shared this adventure with, here’s a quick post about me and how I ended up reporting for The Avid Cruiser.

I hope you’ve enjoyed your virtual vacation. We disembark in San Francisco tomorrow morning. Once I’m home and the dust settles, I’ll tell you how that process went. Check back soon!

Star Princess, Alaska, Roundtrip San Francisco

PreviewPreview: Exploring Alaska's Inside Passage aboard Star Princess
Day 1Pre-cruise Adventures in San Francisco
Day 2Departing San Francisco on Star Princess
Day 3Sailing To America's Last Frontier on Star Princess
Day 4Still Sailing Toward Alaska on Star Princess
Day 5Last Day At Sea On Star Princess Before Ketchikan
Day 6Ketchikan, Alaska on Star Princess
Day 7Juneau, Alaska on Star Princess
Day 8Skagway, Alaska on Star Princess
Day 9Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska on Star Princess
Day 10Sailing Toward Canada on Star Princess
Day 11Victoria, British Columbia on Star Princess
Day 12A Love Letter to Alaska
Day 13Disembarking the Star Princess
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  • Gail What a great amount of information you provided in such a way that made it a pleasure to read! Your writing style is so friendly and you provided the right doses of humor, advice and experience. Your blog will be helpful to both first-time and repeat alaska cruisers. I hope you entertain us again soon with your next journey! Thanks

    • What great feedback, Peter. Thank you so much for taking the time to post. Your comment confirms that I accomplished what I hoped to accomplish. As for future Live Voyage Reports…we shall see. Stay tuned!

  • I agree with Peter. I looked forward to reading your report and seeing your photos every day. Combined with the Star Princess bridge cam I almost felt like I was on the trip with you! We’re really looking forward to doing this trip next month to see a bit of the Alaska you described so well.

    • What a great idea to read the posts in combination with the bridge cam! I’m glad you feel prepared and excited for your journey. Thank you for reading along and interacting. It’s been nice to “meet” you. Bon voyage!


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