One of the reasons I moved to Alaska when my daughter was an early teen was so that I could share the experience with her when she was young, but when she was still old enough to appreciate all the things Alaska has to offer. I had images of hiking with her, of going on camping trips throughout the state, of viewing bear, moose, wolves, eagles and other wild Alaskan animals in their natural habitat. However, as anyone with teenagers knows, they grow from children and develop minds of their own.
We moved to Alaska and she became a snowboarder, snowshoeing through hip deep snow on unmarked paths is not her idea of a fun winter activity. After the first time we went camping and she experienced her first night's sleep on the rocky ground, she decided that "roughing it" with mom wasn't her idea of an enjoyable camping trip. When I tried to convince her to go to Denali Park with me last year, trying to win her over with tales of a 10 hour bus ride 2 days in a row through the park, she flat refused to go. She wrote a poem called "The Berry Picking Blues" after one of our "fun" berry picking trips up the side of Harp Mountain in Eagle River. I had to bribe her with an Ipod Touch last year to go berry picking with me on the trail to Symphony Lakes (this year, she won't be bribed. It's costing me more to get her to go than it would for me to go to the store and purchase a couple QUARTS of berries!). Picking fireweed, red currants, blueberries, high bush cranberries, lingon berries, and spruce tips for jelly ranks high on her "most painful things to do" list. Hiking isn't her thing. Biking isn't her thing. Spending a day at the Alaska Botanical Garden is like asking her to spend the day watching traffic and counting cars. I'd just about lost hope of enjoying the "Alaska Experience" with her, until now. This semester in school, she's taking Photography. Suddenly, Alaska is teeming with wonder for her!
For the photographic opportunities alone, she's agreed to go with me to Homer on Friday, my day off of work. The eagles congregate in Homer out on the Homer Spit this time of year. Even when they are not being fed, they can still be found perched on buildings, walking the beach, or soaring above the water. She's not put off by the 4 hour ride there, or the fact that we'll probably be there for another 8 hours, only to have a return trip to Anchorage of another 4 hours. She didn't balk when I told her that I wanted to leave at 5:30 in the morning to get to Homer early. She now has images of swooping eagles, majestic birds in flight, and perched eagles that she anticipates taking amazing pictures of. I'm even letting her borrow one of my cameras so that she doesn't have to use her pocket point and shoot model. To tell you the truth, even if this is the only trip we ever take, and the only "Alaskan Experience" we enjoyed together, it will be one that I always cherish. If this was the only experience I had with her in Alaska, it still would have made it worth moving here. How many people get to experience viewing wild eagles (and so many of them in one location) with their children? Maybe when we are there, she'll be excited enough about all that Alaska has to offer that I can convince her to take that overnight camping/hiking trip on Crow Pass that we've been trying to convince her to go on this coming summer. Maybe if I mention the pictures she could take? Hmmmm, maybe I should take it slow instead. One trip at a time.