Vast Alaska, Far as the Eye Can See

As we were speeding past the islands of the Tongass National Forest in an inflatable boat, I was reminded of the above quote, which I heard in yoga class a few days before we left Madison for Alaska. The boat was transporting our small group from Ketchikan, Ala. to Betton Island for a rainforest hike — the first shore excursion of our Wisconsin Alumni Association Alaskan Adventures cruise. There were enormous cliffs and green hillsides on every side of us, trees climbing out of sight into the fog, water as far as the eye could see.

“If we sit with an increasing stillness of the body, and attune our mind to the sky or to the ocean or to the myriad stars at night, or any other indicators of vastness, the mind gradually stills and the heart is filled with quiet joy.”
Ravi Ravindra, translation of Patanjali’s yoga sutras

There was plenty of beautiful scenery for us Badgers to gaze at all week long along coastal Alaska and Canada, whether on shore or on board Oceania’s Regatta. The day after our island adventure near Ketchikan, for example, we spent a rainy morning and afternoon slipping through the Tracy Arm Fjord past mountains and waterfalls until reaching Sawyer Glacier, where nearly all of the ship’s 644 passengers clambered to the top decks (or the more protected indoor lounges) to see the big, blue ice and try to spot the distant seals.

Even the wildlife feels, well, bigger and wilder in Alaska. Some of my fellow Badger travelers went nature watching in Prince Rupert, British Columbia and were treated to sights of bears and bald eagles. Others caught dinner on a salmon fishing expedition. At breakfast, you might spot a pod of killer whales off the rear of the ship while sipping your morning coffee.

Neither words nor photos can do Alaska justice — ask any of the 36 Badgers who journeyed to the last frontier with me. That’s why I highly recommend you find time to see it for yourself.