Happy fathers day to all you dads out there. You know as well as I do that our jobs as fathers and our opportunity to develop young people is the most rewarding aspect of our lives. And the most difficult, likely.
I was parked next to Kenai Lake yesterday, on the Kenai Peninsula, pointing out the glorious mountains to the girls. And Tate asked yet again, “Why do you like the mountains so much? I mean,” she added, “what’s the big deal about them?”
I feel like mountains are part of my soul and the mountains in Alaska are bigger than any others I’ve seen. They are amazing, ice capped and rising from the tidewater. On scale, they put the mountains in Washington and Montana mostly to shame. I thought about it for a few minutes and then said, “Well, Tate. Looking across this lake at those mountains and the wildlife climbing around on them, and the avalanche shoots, and pondering whether your or I could even climb to the top of one of them … and looking at their reflections in the water and the ever-changing light playing on them … Thinking about that, would you rather look at these mountains or would you rather look out the window at our house in Missoula where we just see trees and other houses and flat ground? Which would you rather look at every day? These mountains or flat ground? Which makes you think more? When you look at those mountains do you feel small and almost insignificant? Do you ever think, “I’d just like to put on my new hiking boots and shoulder my backpack and start climbing through those mountains to see what I might see? Because before long, you’ll be able to do that on your own.”
She replied, “On my own? With my friends? By ourselves?”
“Yep,” I answered, “by yourselves. With a can of bear spray and a bunch of snacks.”
She said, “Well, well, I really like the mountains best. That’s what I would like to look at every day. Not the trees and houses outside our window at our house. Hey dad,” she added, “when we buy our new house can we get it in the mountains, with a couple big trees in the yard to climb?”
“You bet sweetie.”
Following are a few images from the last couple days, mostly from cruising Resurrection Bay out of Seward, Alaska. Seward is one of my favorite places and the last couple days all I’ve been thinking is, How can I get the girls’ mom to move to Alaska? There are skate parks and awesome playgrounds in Seward; there are public beaches and camping galore, right on the waterfront; there are halibut and lingcod and dolly varden and sockeye salmon around; there are hiking trails galore and mountains, tons of mountains to climb;
there’s also the Alaska Sealife Center, which is an amazing facility showcasing the region’s aquatic fishes, shellfishes and marine mammals, along with a fantastic aviary. There are great restaurants, too, including Rays and Chinooks, two eateries that sit right above the small boat harbor offering excellent seafood dishes and regional beers with views of all the harbor activity.
We have been staying at The Seward Windsong Lodge on Exit Glacier Road, a very comfortable and nicely located place within a few miles of the glacier. We hiked on it the other day and I chipped ice off the top to expose some clean, super-dense ice below. And the girls and I chowed on it.
Which is all too say we’ve been having a blast and I’ve introduced them to some phenomenal sights and sounds of Alaska. And thinking about my interest in mountains and Alaska and all things wild, it all starts with my father and my mother, Fred and Rita, who took my sister and I with them everywhere when we were young and introduced us to Alaska by the time I was seven. Every year we cruised back to Alaska during summer, usually in August when my birthday and my father’s birthday arrive. I look back at all of that and how much fun we had, and the appreciation I gained for the wilds and I understand why I have it. My dad.
Being a father now, I’ll continue to expose the girls to wild places and hope that an attachment sinks in. We visited the Ididerod Kennels yesterday and Tate said she wants to volunteer at a Montana kennel and mush. I have a feeling she’s serious. I can’t do much more than that—teach them right from wrong, teach them to respect other people and treat others fairly, teach them to not lie, cheat or steal, teach them respect for the mountains, sea, and wildlife. That’s all I can do and I’ll have fun doing so. Then I’ll cross my fingers and hope, some day, they’ll be answering their kids’ questions about mountains and wildness. That’s our only jobs as fathers. And it starts with fathers. I understand that.
So happy father’s day to all of you and especially to Fred, the king of dad’s in my mind. When I consider my father all I can say is this, I got the luck of the draw and couldn’t imagine having ended up with anyone better. Thanks Dad!