Friday, July 27, 2012

Talkeetna, Anchorage and Seward, Alaska, June 25, 2012

When we checked into our hotel Tuesday evening, we were told on check-in that the toilet wasn't refilling as fast as it should. It worked, they said, but that for the inconvenience (it really wasn't), we were provided with two free breakfast buffet coupons.

Safe to say, we planned our day around being right there when the buffet opened at 5 a.m. to be able to safely make our way from Denali to Talkeetna in time so Waverly could go ziplining.

That's right, I said, "Waverly," and not me.

Not that I don't have a spirit of adventure, because I do, but it is something that she wanted to do when she first looked at things to do on the trip and it was also a fair trade-off for her to have an activity all by herself as she waits on me at races.

Up until the drive south, we hadn't yet seen Mount McKinley because of all of the cloud cover and bad weather. However, we were treated with numerous opportunities to see the largest mountain in North America, especially on the drive on the 14-mile spur road back north to Talkeetna.

While Waverly ziplined, which she did for the first time since youth camp the summer before in Tennessee, I got two hours of solid sleep in the car. Wonderful

She had a great time as she often does.

We almost pulled the trigger on taking a flight up near or around Mount McKinley. And while I had the money (in cash on me), it was a study on whether it provided enough meaning to us compared to the other activities that we had planned and would continue to do during the trip.

While we definitely determined it would be cool to do, it actually didn't compare to the hot air balloon ride that Waverly took when she was 10 years of age during a weekend vacation to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I worked one summer for about four months.

Needless to say, we didn't. We drove to Anchorage for lunch at The Moose's Tooth Pub & Pizzeria (some really, really good pizza), filled up with gas and then headed south on the Seward Highway towards Seward and the Kenai Penisula.

As I have stated before, we know where we need to get to - to stay for the evening - but we make things up in between. We stop at the places and things that we think are interesting and don't look back.

I thought about trying to get over to Kenai and down to Homer, but we stopped for some tourist information and I saw something that was rather unique.

We took a short detour to go through the longest tunnel in North America - 2.5 miles long - that would take us to Whittier, the gateway to Prince William Sound. What was interesting about the tunnel is that it is used by both vehicles and trains. It was originally built for the railroad in the early 1940s, but opened to vehicular traffic in 2001.

Whitter is called the "strangest town in America" because it could seem very claustrophobic from the rest of the world. It is primarily a commercial fishing area and is used as a jump-off point for cruises to explore a number of glaciers - up to approximately 30 - in Prince William Sound. And PWS is best known as the site of the 1989 Exxon Valdex oil spill.

You could go through the tunnel at the bottom of the hour and return only at the top of the hour. The rest of the time on the clock is used for railroad traffic. So unless we went in and right back out, for $12, we were there for about an hour.

Once we were done, we drove straight to Seward, checked in to our hotel and then explored the town. Seward actually has no fast food. No McDonald's, Burger King or KFC, which actually isn't a really bad thing. There's a Safeway grocery store, three gas stations (Shell, Chevron and a local company) and a lot of local businesses. The iconic Iditarod Trail actually begins here, even though the dog race itself starts in Anchorage.

We drove around the small town and found the Mount Marathon trail. It is a point of about 3,000 feet in height that hosts a very, very difficult Fourth of July race each year. I don't think any time soon that I'll be giving up my announcing assignment on the Fourth for the Bud Heat Wave ... but maybe some time.

Today was another day where Dungy's devotional didn't necessarily have too many parallels with what we did today.

The title was "Disbanding the Me Generation" and the verse - from 2 Timothy 3:2 - was, "For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred."

I think I passed the money test (earlier)! Actually, that was an exercise in using money wisely I thought.

"We are living in a time when people refuse to see where God is directing or listen to what God is saying," Dungy also wrote. "And we perpetuate our focus on self through Facebook, Twitter, MSpace, and on our own individual blogs. They all reflect our insatiable desire to express ourselves, to tell others what we think, what we do, and where we go.

"They all highlight our desire the world to oursevles -- to lift ourselves up and to somehow feel the world's affirmation."

When I read that I'm thinking to myself, "Is that what I'm doing?"

I dialed back my thought, looking inward, and said, "No. I have people in my life who enjoy knowing some of the fun, neat things that I get to do in my life. That's all."

There have been a number of times, though, where I've examined the purpose of what I've posted before and, yes, some of them have gotten me into trouble. But instead of people trying to understand why (and what was behind it), they simply assumed it was directed at them when - in fact - it was me working through some hurts of my own that I had already worn out with a number of people.

Nonetheless, it is a good check to ensure why we are doing what we are.

So what's behind this post? I'm just trying to challenge myself, live life to its fullest, be a good father and hopefully be a little bit of who God hopes that He wants me to be.

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