My family moved from LA to a remote island in Alaska because we wanted to be closer to nature.
Every summer our island gets massive cruise ships with people ready to explore what we call home.
Cruise season makes me appreciate where we live.
From our living-room window, we watch as the massive cruise ships sail into town, depositing thousands of tourists, hungry for salmon or hiking or a zip line tour through the rainforest.
The relationship between our town and the tourists is both important — many people here rely on the seasonal income — and somewhat fraught, at times the island can feel slightly overrun.
Other than during the summer of 2020, when COVID-19 shut down all the cruises, it's been a fact of life every summer that I've lived here.
I don't work in the tourism industry, so I don't have a stake in the ships' comings and goings. But neither am I annoyed by the tourists. In fact, their presence is a reminder of something special: that I get to live in a place people pay a lot of money — and in some cases wait their whole lives — to come and see.
It's a pretty magical place
For those who don't want to pay for a floatplane tour of Misty Fjords or aren't inclined to spend the day on a charter fishing boat, it might be enough to simply wander through the Tongass National Forest to feel they've experienced southeast Alaska.
The forest here feels primeval, with its old-growth evergreens and mossy undergrowth. I'm well versed in the sounds and smells of the forest because every morning I take my husky-Lab mix, a curious one-year-old, up the Rainbird Trail. There are three access points, and I like to mix it up . Sometimes I walk from my house up to our small college campus and start there. Other times I walk down the hill and across the Third Avenue Bypass, with its spectacular views of the water and the mountains, and up the stairs to one of the other trailheads.
Most mornings, it's just us up there, but not because it's not a heavily used trail. It is. But there simply aren't that many people in this town, so the odds of there being more than a handful of walkers at the same time are slim. So I can let Birdie off her leash, watch her as she races ahead of me or scurries around the back of a tree sniffing for other dogs who've come before.
Other days, our whole family piles into the car and disembarks in the Ward Lake parking lot, where we loop the lake and follow the changing seasons. For the record, the smelliest time of year is when the salmon start dying. My 3-year-old sometimes steps on a dead fish that has washed up on shore just to feel the squish of it under his shoes, which is age-appropriate but slightly gross.
We often drive out to the beach, and even at the beaches there is evidence of the rainforest — as if the woods stopped only because the ocean got in their way. We take some firewood and tea, and even on chilly, drizzly days, we can still manage to have fun: digging in the sand, beachcombing at low tide, or swinging on a sturdy rope that hangs from one of the trees.
The tourists see these places, too, and I'm so happy when I happen to see them discover the magical places we love. But I've come to realize the difference between us: They're making memories that they can tell their friends back home, while we're living our everyday lives.
Cruise-ship season reminds me of how fortunate I am to live here and makes me appreciate this slice of the world even more than I already do.
Read the original article on Insider