As I extend my left leg and push off from the hold, my right arm struggles to grasp the rock above me. This sport is all about focus and determination, two traits that define my current state of being. I stop momentarily and look about me; it seems surreal that I am in the center of Alaska’s Glacier Bay and simultaneously climbing my way up the most difficult level of Norwegian Pearl’s rock wall. The picturesque scenery and cool breeze confirm my thoughts: life just doesn’t get much better than this.
Leaving behind the Texas summer heat, my family of six set off for seven chilly days in Alaska. We brought sweatpants and scarves, known to us previously as just fashion accessories rather than practical purchases. However, as luck would have it, our days in Alaska were the hottest the natives had seen all year. They were sweltering from the “heat,” but for us, temperatures in the 60s and 70s instead of our usual 104 were something to rejoice over. Needless to say, we were thrilled.
Sports lovers from birth, my three siblings and I are active and energetic. We worried that a cruise ship would make us restless and antsy, and that there would be no outlet for our lively lifestyle. The Norwegian Pearl proved us wrong. The four of us, although vertically challenged, have a particular affinity for basketball. So we spent our days shooting hoops and working on spin moves while watching the whales swim by.
The age difference between my youngest brother and myself spans seven years, but, as the trip went on, that gap seemed to diminish. Our trip to Alaska proved most bonding of any of our family vacations. With much to do aboard the ship, one would think that the four of us would go our separate ways. However, we decided to take turns picking activities, and consequently became closer than ever before.
As the ship docked at each successive port, we were reluctant to disembark. Only the thrill of exploration and the assurance of togetherness convinced us to leave the ship. Our excursions enhanced the sense of family togetherness that the trip had created.
Staying true to our inquisitive nature, we hiked our way through Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan. Instead of shelling out hundreds for overrated shore excursions, we found a national park guide who showed us natures finest. From aggressive feeding bears to brilliant glaciers, our awe increased as we shared our discoveries with one another. It was simply magnificent.
The one excursion we did indulge in was a kayaking trip. Boating by pairs resulted in a surprisingly excessive amount of giggles. My youngest brother partnered with my dad, who allowed him the satisfaction of believing that he was doing all of the paddling, when, in reality, it was the other way around. My other brother and sister struggled to get the hang of their paddles, and ended up going in circles until the guide attached his boat to theirs, and pulled them the rest of the way along. My mom and I set up a perfect system, and swiftly guided our way through the river, admiring the exquisite view.
After spending a summer apart from one another, our trip to Alaska brought us together. Throughout the year we are all busy with life’s hustle and bustle, but for seven straight days, we embraced our time together, created timeless bonds and lasting memories, and enjoyed the incredible possibilities that Alaska has to offer.
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