Alaska, Part 3: The Way it Invaded our Souls

I heard a rumor that one of the Kuhns babies looked at his mother, wide-eyed, and whispered, “are there dragons in Alaska?”

That may be the best description of how Alaska made me feel. Like there could be dragons here.

After Elaine’s wedding, I was so tired that I sat in the red chair and didn’t move. For three days I’d focused on wedding, wedding, wedding (you can read about that in Part 1 and Part 2). But now the wedding was over. 

I ought to just go home and sleep. Should I just go home and sleep?

It was bedtime, after all. But the sun was still up, in that curious Alaska way. And I felt like maybe there was yet another adventure awaiting, once I got my second wind.

“Let’s go to the river, or something,” said Karli.

So we drove down to the river, a strange, gray, churning thing full of glacial silt. We wandered over the bridge and along the riverbank.

The endless twilight. Everything seemed moody, and weighty, and powerful. The world was a vast expanse of wonders.



I wanted to capture the way Sherri smiled as she squished her feet in the clay.



Pic by Karli Kuhns


Karli, Sherri and I made Wesley take a picture of us.



Later we got a proper selfie with all four of us.


Karli ate the moon.

We got back into the car, and then we took some wrong turns. Was it nearing midnight? Time seemed irrelevant. We hopped out and wandered around. Aimless. Drunk on the enchantment of tonight.

The next day we went to Hatcher pass. Everyone came: The Stoltzfus clan, the Kuhns clan, the randos…even Elaine and Brandon. Yes, the newlyweds themselves decided to show up.

“Our honeymoon doesn’t really start until tomorrow,” said Elaine.


Elaine and Brandon


Daisy and her baby beside a mountain stream.

Oh yes. I should tell this story. Remember that cute to-go mug I got at the coffee shop on Friday? Well, it was so adorable that I didn’t throw it away. I continued to brew tea in it throughout the weekend.

On Sunday, when I went to brew myself some tea, I noticed that someone had attempted to wash it. And it was a paper cup. But it still looked usable, so I poured boiling water into it, clicked the lid on, and carried it across the room.

The weakened paper walls of the cup began to collapse. Boiling water spilled out onto my arm. I dropped it in pain, and ran to the sink to run my arm under cold water. Even so, I had a pretty bad first-degree burn, and a mess to clean up.

I found a bag of frozen peas in the freezer, and I wrapped it in a towel and held it on my arm. That helped with the pain. But by the time I got to Hatcher Pass, the peas were melting. Besides, I didn’t want to hike around holding a bag of peas onto my arm. So if my arm started to hurt pretty badly, I’d just dip it into this cold mountain stream, and feel blessed relief.



We ate a picnic on the mountain. Without plates. No one remembered to bring plates.


Photo by Karli Kuhns


Photo by Virginia Kuhns Petroski



Photo by Virginia Kuhns Petroski



Photo by Karli Kuhns

On Instagram, Karli wrote, “Words can’t quite express the way Alaska made me feel. Mixed emotions. Happiness, longing, joy, peace, turmoil…I wanted to sit on the top of a mountain and dream for days.”

And I don’t think I could say it any better than that.

Later that Sunday afternoon, Karli and Sherri took me to the airport in Elaine’s car. I waved goodbye to this majestic place that now held a snippet of my heart.

I’ll be back, Alaska.

I promise.

6 responses to “Alaska, Part 3: The Way it Invaded our Souls

  1. I loved this post! Live as it should be lived. Enchanted by God’s marvelous creation, and spending time with friends! Sorry about the 1st degree burn! 😦


  2. Wow, you can really wright Miss Emily! I truly felt like I went along on your trip to Alaska with you. I feel as I know Elaine, Brandon, the Kuhns, the Stoltzfus clan and the randos! (Did you invent that word? It’s great!).

    I really love the casual feel of your writing. It makes me feel as if we were sitting across from one another having a nice chat. Yet, you avoid the many grammatical errors that bloggers feel ok about, due to the casualness of the platform.

    Best sentence ever: “Everything seemed moody, and weighty, and powerful.” How many times have I felt this way but lacked the words to express myself? And you seem to have done it exquisitely and effortlessly. Thank you!

    Have you started writing your book yet? If not, I encourage you to begin right away. Your voice and message is one that should be available to all. Even though you never, ever preach, your message comes through beautifuly!

    Got a run, kids need help getting ready for school, lunches to make it etc. thanks for the beautiful read.


  3. I loved this post. I was not prepared for the sudden rush of emotions when I saw your lovely photos of Hatcher Pass. Ed and I honeymooned in Alaska and Hatcher Pass was one of our favorite spots.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So beautiful!! You just made me want to go to Alaska so bad!!! Every time I start reading one of your stories, I just sit motionless, reading, till all of a sudden I realise that my hand, or my foot fell asleep. Then I look at the clock, and realise how long I sat without moving, and I’m like, ‘Whoa!’ ( I hate sitting still. I’m always fidgeting, especially when I read, which is quite a lot of fidgeting in one day). You are amazing, Emily.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: The Journey to Virginia, Part 2 | The Girl in the Red Rubber Boots

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