During my first voyage to Alaska, I partook in an activity I rarely experienced in my corner of the world: bicycle riding. Admittedly, I experienced a wealth of activities in Alaska that eluded me in my southern lifestyle, but pedaling through the state capital rejuvenated me and reminded me of my capabilities when I push beyond my comfort zone. To top off the sights, sounds, and sensations, we ride to the local brewery for a sampling of the fare, and when back aboard ship, I order a bottle to remind me of the brilliance of the day.
Fast forward fifteen years and I find myself again on two wheels pedaling my way through Alaska. So much has changed in a decade and a half: Mendenhall Glacier receded deeply, my skills on two wheels floundered, and my favorite brewery changed locations. Nonetheless, I keep cycling knowing the end of the journey brings me to the delightful tastes of Alaskan Brewery. New seasonal tastes accompany and enliven my encore visit and I am reminded how much I enjoy the tastes that a distance of 3,248 miles enhances. And although the adage sometimes rings true that one can never go back, I did, and deliciousness ensued.
Saying Goodbye to Summer
I sit on my front porch tonight, surrounded by the remnants of the first snowfall of the season. Mother Nature keeps her own calendar and unlike mine, she believes winter arrives more than a week before the official start of autumn. Despite thinned blood, I face her head on and I prop up my feet on the edge of the front porch and bask in the waning sunlight and ignore the thirty-six degrees. I will enjoy my last unofficial day of summer regardless of her parting gift. Across the country students have been back in school, some for nearly a month, but I make enchantment in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming as long as the season will allow. But the foot-plus glistening white blanket Mother Nature cloaked over the ground yesterday signals the end of a glorious summer in this spectacular setting.
Melancholy moments such as this one challenge me not dwell wistfully on the time that passes, but to appreciate every day, every sunset, every excursion, every wildlife sighting, and every twinkle of the night sky that I have enjoyed. The grandest highlights and the quietest periods of reflection combine into a summer full of memories to rival a lifetime of travel. My summer home, my quirky cabin, my vast mountains, and my porch view surround me. My skin tingles from the cold air. The smell of the forest accompanies each inhalation. A foraging squirrel squeaks out his success in acquiring a stash of pine nuts for the winter. And to my right, the final sunset of my summer fades brilliantly behind the bank of trees. My senses savor these fading hours, and I cap off the farewell to summer with the last bottle of beer in my refrigerator: Alaskan Summer Kölsch-Style Ale. Summer never tasted so sweet.