I’ve been using my Hopper app incessantly to check on flights because I’m about one stressful email away from booking myself a ticket to Bermuda. In other words, this past weekend, I couldn’t have needed to get away more. The tension in my head spread to tension in the house and everyone was super on edge. June was a stressful month filled with challenging business crossroads, emotionally taxing personal endeavors, and a real lack of self-care. Celebrating independence was the last thing on my mind, yet unbeknownst to me, what I needed most.
The customers at my coffeehouse were asking me all day on July 3rd, “any plans for the 4th?” to which I’d reply “uhhh, getting my hair done?”. We hadn’t discussed any plans to celebrate the long weekend because Jake had been gone for work and I’d been working nonstop. Anyone in Alaska can tell you that if you haven’t made plans for a hot and sunny 5-day weekend, you might as well start hibernating now, because what a waste. We woke up on the morning of the 4th and decided last minute to drive 4 hours to Seward to camp near the beach (after I got my hair done; priorities.)
We drove into town late in the afternoon, and cruised straight to the beach. Seward’s beaches are rocky, covered in shells, wildlife, and locals with their pups and kiddos. Our shoes went flying off and our legs scrambled to the water to skip rocks, throw sticks, and scream with glee when the freezing waves would crash against our bodies, a little bit higher each time. Most likely, we could have stayed there until the sun went down, which was never. But then remembered we had veggie dogs in the cooler, along with a trunk full of camping gear, and Seward was packing out so hard for the holiday, we had already seen tents pitched on the sidewalks along Main street. So we strolled back to the car with muddy feet and our shoes in hand (needless to say, Spencer lost her new sandals. Also I am still bitter about this.) and circled the campgrounds until we found the perfect one right under the sun at the base of the mountain, overlooking the ocean.
This would be the kids’ first time ever camping, and I had no expectation that they’d be so good at peeing in Porta-potties, rotating s’mores, kicking soccer balls under the midnight sun, and sleeping on the ground. But they WERE! The tent had a pretty sweet skylight that woke us up bright and early, and under all that sunshine, I saw clearly how filthy they’d gotten. Hair full of sand, cheeks sticky with marshmallow remnants, fingernails decorated with a thick black line, and dusty toes - they were happy and wild as could be. We woke up, rolled around snuggling for a sec, and then Jake peeked his head over the skylight to say “Wake up sleepyheads! The boat boards in 30 minutes!”
I have a habit of claiming that fun is too expensive, and so does Jake. Which is why we get along, and also why we hike and sleep a lot. I couldn’t believe he dropped money on a touristy thing where there was no guarantee of fun. But, we rolled up our sleeping bags, wet-wipe bathed, loaded up shoeless Sally and her filthy brother, and raced to the docks.
We boarded Orca’s Song, a Major Marine Tours boat, and set out of the harbor to the open waters where we joined a family of orcas who rode along with the boat. We floated right over a Humpback whale just as the captain said on the overhead “Okay, whoever brought their good wildlife luck, please come back any time, because this is the closest we have EVER been to a Humpback.” Spencer was pretty adamant that she was the good luck. We saw seals, puffins, bald eagles, and baby otters, and spent three hours on the sunny seas before heading back to grab lunch from Chinook’s, making a quick ice cream run, and then heading back home.
I didn’t realize how much I needed to get away until I got there. Until my phone, in and out of service, hit 4% and I noticed how little it stressed me out. Until the fireworks went off, and the waves crashed against the shores. I didn’t realize how much my kids needed to be in the wild, chasing balls, picking flowers, eating a balanced diet of fruit platters and every last marshmallow. I didn’t realize how much Jake and I needed to just be together without our phones winning Monkey in the Middle. I didn’t realize how much I can take their company for granted when I’m overwhelmed and stressed out by the outside world, until getting outside reminded me that they are my world.
Seward has always been my favorite place in Alaska, and I’m so happy that I got to share my love for it with my babies. I’ve been running away to Seward for a long time to take a breather from my stresses, but this was the best trip yet. It plunged us into a weekend of doing more, and we entered this week with so much contentment, so many memories, and so many sunburns!
Happy Independence Day