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We Found Gold – Part 1

September 14, 2019

This was not OUR ship, but another seemingly sailing straight towards us. Obviously, he took a turn.

Another Way for week of September 13, 2019

We Found Gold – Part 1

After serious saving and waiting approximately five years, my husband and I were finally able to visit Alaska in August.

The Christmas of 2015 we told our kids not to give us gifts for Christmas but maybe give money towards an Alaska trip. The yen to go far north started for my husband a number of years ago when his father visited Alaska with his second wife who had relatives there (his first wife died in 1973). So we longed for the opportunity to also explore America’s “last frontier.”

Flag of our 49th state, at a real gold mine, Gold Dredge #8.

Alaska has a limited season for warmish tourist travel, (the prime time is really just mid-June to mid-September at latest), so that’s not a big window working around family schedules and priorities. We planned to travel with Stuart’s brothers, our sister-in-law, and a friend, so meshing all our family birthdays, events, and medical issues meant wondering “will we ever be able to pull this off”?

For one thing, Stuart and I wanted to wait until we retired so we wouldn’t burn two weeks of vacation days on one trip; then our middle daughter was expecting her second child the middle of one summer; then my brother-in-law’s youngest daughter was planning an early September wedding—not a good summer for parents of the bride to go on a big trip; finally last September our oldest daughter was expecting a third baby, and we needed and wanted to be around in case the baby came early. Plus the other grandma had already booked an Alaska trip last September and likely would not be around to help with the baby and older sons, and one of Stuart’s brothers was also scheduled for major surgery. So all that meant we waited. I doubt we’re alone with these kinds of issues at our ages.

We spent many hours together over the winter and spring planning for the trip with my brother-in-law here, and my sister-in-law. Here they're not trip planning but Barbara was figuring out if she would ever enjoy doing Soduku puzzles. The answer? (What do you see on her face?)

We spent many hours together over the winter planning for the trip with my brother-in-law here, and my sister-in-law. Here they’re not trip planning but Barbara was figuring out if she would ever enjoy doing Sudoku puzzles like Nolan. The answer? (What do you see on her face?)

But this summer we finally got “our” turn, and as we began planning in January there were many worries about “what if this or that happens” filling our darker hours wondering if the long anticipated trip would actually come true. There were particular health concerns among our party of six so trip insurance was an absolute must. All of us held our breath as the summer edged closer to departure. I watched my steps very carefully: no falls please!

On the morning of August 12, I pinched myself to feel it was real. I thought back to the western camping trip my parents promised us when we were kids, which we began planning in 1959. They said, (wisely in retrospect), “We’ll all save up our money and when Nancy graduates from high school in 1964, we’ll go out west for about six weeks.” We were immediately excited and ready to go, but all four kids groaned that five years was way too long to wait and that we’d be “too old.” By trip time, we ranged in age from nine to 17: smart parents to plan such a trip that we would all be able to remember. So we were old enough to not pinch each other and fight on long miles in the back seat.

Glacier Bay, with some of the best weather we experienced.

My parents gave us the gift of visiting many states and national parks, and a treasury of family bonds and memories. While my parents knew it was important to be old enough, for this Alaska trip we travelers knew at ages 65-71, it was important to go now, before we got TOO old.

Speaking of long miles, fast forward to 2019 as our group of six flew from Washington D.C. to

A bush pilot illustrating landing on a river: a necessity for getting around in Alaska for those who live in certain areas. No, we did not ride one of these to Alaska!

Denver, and then on to Fairbanks, Alaska. The flight from Denver to Fairbanks was over five and a half hours and none of us purchased extra legroom (not even the six-foot-four guy wearing a huge leg boot). I was ready to pinch my husband at times to move his arm over, but finally adjusted to a posture where my shoulder got its space too.

Next time, I’ll share some of the high spots, low moments, and biggest learnings of this particular trip. And how we found gold, both the literal and the sentimental kind. I think we appreciate things more we have to work hard for and wait on, agree?



I’d love to hear about a trip you were delighted to take. Or you memories of a childhood trip to which you looked forward. Or perhaps one you’re planning now!


Share here! Or send comments or questions to me at or write to Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.

  1. This trip was definitely a family affair from planning to execution. We have not taken trips lately, and I think you know why. Next week I’m looking forward to our trip to Lancaster County, PA. It’s be a working getaway, but I look forward to seeing cousins, old acquaintances and new faces.

    Your trip to Alaska must have been spectacular! 🙂

  2. Enjoy getting back to your county! I’ll be anxious to hear new stories with your adventures as a memoir writer! Blessings and safe keeping.

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