'Vacation'....What Does it Mean to You?

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What do vacations mean to you?  Vacations can have many meanings for all of us, i.e.: a time with family and/or friends, a time to relax or play hard, a time to reflect or forget.  Perhaps each vacation holds a special memory of a season in your life.

Recently I spent a week in Alaska, the first time I have visited the amazing and beautiful land.  My intention was to spend quality time with my youngest son, which happened along with a deep connection to the land and it’s heritage. The ‘vacation’ part of the trip was some time spent in the Denali National Park.  A time to become disconnected from the outside world and reconnect to self.

The Kantisha Roadhouse is where we had booked reservations for 2 days/3nights, the bus ride was a 6 hour ride into the resort and a 5 hour ride back to the front entrance of the park.  We were blessed in seeing many of the larger animals who live within the park.  Moose, Caribou, Bears, Doll Sheep, a wolf with her 3 cubs, and more bears with their cubs - told by our guide we were the 1 percent of all visitors to the park (600,000 per year) to have seen such a variety. 

The next morning we awoke to rain, and it continued throughout the day.  Regardless of the weather, we still ventured outside in our raincoats, enjoying the landscape.  Taking pictures of vegetation, each other and ourselves.

The following morning we awoke to clear skies, and the experience of the day to come will be forever in my memories.  We were some of the few people on earth to witness Mt. Denali, ALL DAY LONG the mountain shined its peaks and valleys for all to see.  The majestic site was breathtaking, I took the time to sit and meditate on top of Blueberry Hill, facing the giant mountain. Feeling blessed and full of gratitude for the experience and opportunity.

Vacations can feel like a lot of work to prepare for, in which they are.  Preparing our lives to be placed on hold, only returning from our time away to chaos - perhaps taking weeks to get our lives back to our normal pace.

Vacations can also connect us to each other, bring a grounding to our lives, putting into perspective what is one of the most important parts of living - being with each other, truly being with one another. To experience the day and come together in the evenings to share our experiences, pictures, perspectives, excitement - ALL OF IT. 

This ‘vacation’ was an experience to see the joy of life through nature.  To see how drastic changes in daily weather can create such beauty.  Through diversity growth can become a landscape of majestic beauty.  Not only for what our eyes can see, but for what our souls can feel.  

These pictures were taken by my son, Daniel Neal, who currently attends University of Alaska Fairbanks: