Today is a family anniversary. Eighteen years ago on July 12th, Michelle and I arrived in Juneau by ferry, beginning our life together in Alaska.I was born and lived most of my life here before going “outside” to college. Whenever I think I can get away with it, I refer to Michelle as my “captured bride from the Lower 48.” I met her in college, and we moved around down south for about 9 years before making the big decision to return to Alaska.
What I remember most about that day, 18 years ago, was the end of our three-day ferry trip from Prince Rupert, Canada. As we rounded Outer Point on Douglas Island and turned in toward the ferry dock, a pod of killer whales swept by, their six-foot tall dorsal fins knifing the water. Shortly after, we passed a humpback whale rolling lazily and waving its long pectoral fins in the air, almost as if in greeting. As we prepared to dock, a break in the clouds revealed the stunning blue-white face of Mendenhall Glacier. Not a bad introduction for Michelle, nor an inappropriate “welcome home” to a native son.
Since that day, we’ve always marked the anniversary of our return. Besides offering an excuse to celebrate, it helps us keep track of residency for hunting and fishing licenses.