Back in June, Eric and I left beautiful Santa Barbara to drive to our hometown of Coalinga, CA. We were getting ready to embark on a family vacation to explore the last frontier – ALASKA! Now there are an endless amount of reasons why the trip was so unforgettable, one being how unmatchably beautiful Alaska is. Another being the crazy adventures we set out on each day, from hanging over the front of a historic rail car as we winded around steep icy mountains into the Yukon, to observing huge chunks of glacial walls break off and crash into the ocean right in front of us, or even getting to see whales surface and bald eagles soar across the landscape from our very own balconies. And those are just a few of the things we got to do! But none of those are the reasons I’ve deemed this trip one of the best in my life. No, it’s actually much simpler than that. This trip will always hold a special place in my heart because I got to spend 11 uninterrupted days with some of the people I love and care about most – my family. Of course we see each other throughout the year, namely on Christmas and Thanksgiving, but this was the first time we got almost two weeks together, without work or anything else to detract us from spending quality time together. Yes, we even went without cell and internet service for most of the trip, making our time together that much sweeter. But the ultimate reason Alaska tops all other trips is because it was a celebration. A celebration of life.
You see, in December of 2012, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time in her life. We all knew the incredibly real battle that was ahead of her, and she was not looking forward to going through the challenges of chemo again. That’s why, early on, we said we were going to go on the best family vacation of all time as soon as she finished her last round of chemo. We decided a relaxing and adventurous cruise to Alaska – a place we were all eager to see – would be the perfect celebration. The year and a half that followed was full of surgeries and doctor appointments for my mom, but you better believe the day she finished chemo, the celebration and planning began!
I’ll never forget one of the last nights of the trip, sitting down at dinner and toasting to my mom, reminding ourselves why were on the trip, telling her how incredibly loved she is and how thankful we are for her, and ultimately celebrating her life and her strength. My family means the world to me and these photos will always bring back some of the best memories of my life.