Flying High in Alaska

Sitting out on the deck of this cruise looking out onto the ocean waters as far as my eyes can see, I feel the smallness of myself, my upcoming surgery and the fear and anxiety surrounding it really do feel like the tiniest drop in this vast ocean.  And then at the same time, I have moments of pure emotion.  Riding on a helicopter days ago in Juneau with my entire family looking out over Herbert Glacier was an experience I will never forget. I guess because I am already feeling so vulnerable that when I soared over weeping forests, snow capped peaks, winding rivers, and glaciers – literally just a thin sheet of glass separating me  – I felt even more exposed and open that tears streamed quietly down my face – the culmination of it all I guess.  Yes, I was terrified at moments…I realized as my daughter Avery said, “mom, stop squeezing my hand so hard” into the headsets we were all wearing and everyone had a good laugh!

Knowing what it took for my dad to arrange this, and for my sister to get transferred into the helicopter from her wheelchair, and being completely overcome by the beauty and mystery of the is Glacier, I just lost it…in a good way.  In the way that felt like life is so damn beautiful…and precious!

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All of us up there!!!
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Herbert Glacier
view from the helicopter
view from the helicopter

Yes, this was my favorite trip of the cruise and it was my favorite day as well.  I awoke by myself as 5:30 am as we were entering the Tracy Arm Fjord.  My family slept as I crept onto the deck and almost gasped.  Our enormous ship was traveling down this narrow passage and we were surrounded by waterfalls, icebergs, and steep glaciers.  It was breathtaking.  I huddled in my jacket and as I turned to my right I could see my brother and law Klaasy on his deck and then my sister Michelle peeked out from behind him so I made my way to their deck where the 3 of us watched in awe for hours.  AJ joined us eventually and then my kids who were delighted by the seals and sea lions that continued to poke their heads out of the sea. 

Tracy Arm Fjord
Tracy Arm Fjord
AJ finally wakes up and joins us! :)
AJ finally wakes up and joins us! 🙂
And now the kids finally wake and we cozy in together.
And now the kids finally wake and we cozy in together.

So today is our last day on this ship and tomorrow we dock in Seattle.  It was amazing how quickly everything from my life just turned off when we began this trip.  Now, as we near the end, I can feel everything turn on again.  When we get into ports and I turn on my phone and I get so many sweet and thoughtful texts and emails from friends checking in…and I switch to the other mode of “wow, my surgery is in 5 days”!  This trip really was a great thing to do this week and I am so thankful it all worked out. 

Most importantly, spending time with my family in this part of our country that is quite spiritual in its raw beauty and immensity, is exactly where I need to be right now.  And eating cheesecake or ice cream every day somehow seems to be exactly what I need to be doing!

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3 thoughts on “Flying High in Alaska

  1. All of it sounds magnificent and I am so glad you were on this trip exactly when you were. Dan and I are thinking of all of you every day and there are miriads of people praying for you all. I hope we have a chance to talk, but if not, just know that we love you and are in your corner every minute.
    Love, Essie

  2. I’m happy for you, Erika, that you got to see this. May the glacier continue to give you peace and awe. Love, Tina

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