For a millennial fall festival experience, go north!



by William D. Blessing

For ten weeks in August, September, and October of 1999, Janet and I took a trip of a lifetime across the US and Canada, all the way up to the far interior of Alaska. It's hard to summarize our experiences in a few words-perhaps awesome, fulfilling, and inspiring are as accurate as any. It's about a 3000 mile drive to get to the start of the Alaska Highway in Central British Columbia, the shortest route being across Canada from North Dakota. The Alaska Highway itself is 1500 miles of unspoiled wilderness with only one major city. Traffic is light to nonexistent compared to Cincinnati. Crime and litter are almost unknown. Police are nowhere to be seen, as they are not needed. We frequently cooked outside on wood or charcoal or used our portable gas grill. Photographing the beautiful scenery and viewing the wildlife were favorite activities. In many areas the animals are protected by law and have little fear of the tourists.

In the Kenai Peninsula we camped on a small lake just off the only highway. We were the only ones there besides the ducks and loons. Our motor home was parked about five feet from the water's edge. At Seward we visited the new Sea Life Center. It features sea birds, seals, and sea lions in a natural setting. From Portage we took a short train ride to Whittier for a boat tour into Prince William Sound. The sea in the Sound is the purplest blue color I have ever seen in an ocean. The tour featured viewing sea mammals and glaciers on the mountains. Near a salmon hatchery, the salmon were so thick it looked as if you could walk across the bay stepping from one fish to the next. After living in the sea for several years and swimming thousands of miles, they return home to spawn and die. Their navigational error is measured in inches as they try to enter through a narrow gate in a large net. (The evolutionists want you to think that this instinct happened by blind chance.)

In the far north, light rain showers are common. It's different from here in that the rain falls out of a few clouds and the rest of the sky is partly cloudy or sunny. Rainbows are very common, some arching completely across the sky from horizon to horizon. After a few minutes of showers, the clouds move on and it's nearly clear again. A real storm with hard rain is very rare. The heaviest snow occurs in southern Alaska, where it's measured in feet rather than inches. Around Fairbanks they almost never have more than six inches of snow on the ground, but -70° F is not uncommon. The people are tough and independent; the weak, timid, and insecure don't stay. In dealing with the winter weather, if you become stranded somewhere, the issue becomes one of survival, not inconvenience. A few perish every winter, usually due to foolishness. Contrary to popular belief, it really warms up in the summer. Highs of 80 °F are common, especially in the interior. With spring the land explodes with wild flowers. They are seen everywhere, all the way through fall, in every imaginable color, shape and size.

Of all our experiences, staying a week in Denali, the great National Park near Mount McKinley, was the best. At 6 million acres, it's about twice the size of Connecticut. We took a bus tour that lasted all day. On a perfect cloudless day the mountain was in its glory. During the summer there are many days when it's totally obscured by clouds. The bear, moose, caribou, ptarmigan, and wolves all made appearances for our eager cameras. The bus took us over about 120 miles of gravel road, the end of which is basically the western end of civilization in North America. (Going west the next paved road is in Siberia.) The people at the park, both visitors and employees, are all there for the right reasons. Everyone has great respect for the natural beauty of the area, and in fact it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Being there is a spiritual experience-it touches your innermost being. It is very difficult to leave.

We observed the Feast of Trumpets in Fairbanks at the Dennis Gentleman home, with six other church members. Everyone brought food for a potluck afterwards. Again it was hard to leave. We observed the Day of Atonement in a wilderness park in central British Columbia by ourselves, on our way to the Feast in Penticton. The Feast was very restful with about 250 people on the weekends. The atmosphere was relaxed and informal.

We had no major problems on the trip. Not a single flat tire. We returned rested and refreshed. Our hearts and minds are filled with memories that will last a lifetime. The beauty of God's creation can only be fully appreciated if you experience it first hand. To drink it in, to see it, hear it, and touch it-we're grateful for that experience.

  About the author: William D. Blessing was born in March 1947 in Fort  Wayne, Indiana.He earned a B.S. degree in engineering science from Purdue  University (1969) and has done some graduate work at the University of Cincinnati.   Since 1969, Bill has worked for the General Electric Company in Cincinnati,  Ohio.   

Bill became a baptized member of WCG in 1972 and married fellow member Janet Brown in 1973.The Blessings live near Brookville, Indiana, and attend the Cincinnati West WCG congregation.

Bill and Janet have raised three children, the youngest now twenty years  old, and now have three grandchildren.  Their two sons accompanied them on  an earlier trip to Alaska in 1993.        

Janet has been active in the local Humane Society. Bill continues to work with the Boy Scouts after many years with his sons, now graduated. Janet does a lot of sewing, especially making quilts for family members. Bill does photography and amateur radio. Both enjoy traveling in their motorhome, especially to wilderness areas.


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On 11 Nov 2000, 14:29.