Alaska or Zanzibar

Zanzibar or Alaska?

I’ve been pondering recently which of these two travel destinations would inspire the most epic travel moments. I’ve been to Alaska three times (No- I did not go on a cruise) so there must be something special about it- right? True enough- Alaska has epic scenery no matter which way you turn and I noted on my last visit in June of this year, “that Alaska makes me feel small.” Feeling small is a good thing in my book (you should buy mine by the way) because it means that you’re in a place where you know that the earth and mother nature are truly in charge! Surrounded by mountains and and an ocean, all at the same moment, can leverage that affect on a person. I read a quote recently that summed it up very well, “The world is a great creation and it would be just plain rude not to acknowledge this miracle and get out and see as much of it as possible.” I am trying to do just that and Alaska is so big and vast…it just kept calling me back. However, I think three times may be a charm in my case. Plus, a too close of a grizzly bear encounter put some fear in my heart! I wrote about my first trip to Alaska and a visit to Denali National Park in I’ve Gotta Pack and the two subsequent trips will be in the sequel. As I reviewed my notes, I realized each Alaska trip had it’s own version of a “bear encounter” in varying degress of seriousness. As I look back, I realized I am most comfortable posing with a stuffed grizzly at the Long Rifle Lodge vs. the pissed-off mama grizzly on the Russian River, who let us all know the salmon in the river did not belong to us!

But what does Alaska have to do with Zanzibar? Well, I just returned from Alaska brimming with stories of epic hikes, bikes, bears and the like, to share with friends. As I told my stories to my friend Betty, she excitedly shared that she and her husband Steve had just booked a trip to kite-surf in Zanzibar, an island off the Tanzanian coast. I was immediately intrigued and just the name sounded fun and exotic. I excitedly asked questions about their itinerary and true to my nature, I was calculating how I could join them! We continued talking but I came back to reality and realized the timing and the cost would most likely prevent me from going. I had just returned from almost two weeks in Alaska, I have a small business to run and why would I want to travel during a West Michigan summer. I started to feel better about having to say no to Betty’s invitation…I realized that I live in a version of paradise, especially in the summer months. Lake Michigan and its sugar sand beaches are my staycation. Being coated in sand after some games of beach volleyball, then the “take your breath away” feeling you get after diving in the chilly big lake, followed by a bright red sunset over the pier and a view that goes someplace that my eyes cannot see! I realized that looking out over Lake Michigan makes me feel small too and I don’t need to travel anywhere to have a destination moment. I can get that feeling right in my own backyard. I sure do want to go to Zanzibar, just not when the sun is shining over the lake. Cheers to summer!

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