THE TUB AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD
David Gibson relaxing while on vacation in Alaska
Our Midsummer Trip to Alaska
way. He and his wife Blythe are a pretty fascinating power couple; he’s a geologist and ex-BP employee
Last month, instead of our usual annual trip to Honduras, my wife, mom, stepdad, and I journeyed to cooler climes to escape from the heavy Texas heat. My brother and his wife own a vacation home 65 miles outside of Anchorage, on the edge of a tiny little body of water called Lake Hiline. When my brother asked us to come take a visit this summer, it felt like the perfect opportunity to mix up our usual travels and see something a little different. We rarely head north when we pack into a plane, and though I’d been up to my brother’s icy getaway before, my wife hadn’t. It seemed high time she beheld the enormous beast that is the wild Alaskan moose. The house is a dot in the midst of a landscape of steep, snowcapped mountains, accessible only by seaplane. Watching from the window as the plane glides onto the lake and lands directly in the water is a pretty unique experience, but then again, pretty much everything concerning my brother, and especially this beautiful place up north, is unique. There’s a lot to take in up there, but one of my favorite features has to be their hot tub, which is heated by a wood-burning fireplace. The whole thing looks like a giant wooden beer keg, with a view of the otherworldly Alaskan landscape in all directions, including Mt. McKinley – or Denali, as the locals call it. Around this time of year, the sun basically never goes down. But during those late nights where you find yourself wide awake at 2 o’clock in the morning, you can just plop in the hot tub and watch all the beavers and other little critters as they scramble all over the place. And, of course, aside from all the sailing, biking, fishing, and other activities we got up to, there was the added benefit of reconnecting with family. My brother Gordon and I don’t see each other too often, but just as with the rest of the family, whenever we meet up, we immediately fall back into the old, familiar patterns — in a good
with his own oil excavation outfit out in Denver, and she’s a Cornell alum administrative law judge up in Anchorage, doing a lot of work for the local native American tribes. In any other world, they’d be natural enemies. In the past, when he worked for the oil megagiant BP, she’d sometimes get home from work and tell him, “I can’t tell you what happened at work today — but I can tell you you’re not going to like it.” Their Hiline home is a gorgeous place, with all kinds of wildlife bustling around the area. I remember the last time I was at their house in Anchorage 15 years ago, when my sister-in-law Blythe — who once won the Alaska Iron Man triathlon — and I took a long bike ride out to see if we could spot a moose. After a long ride down a winding path, lo and behold, there was a 2,000-pound bull moose just lounging right at the end of the track. Though we didn’t have a close encounter like that on this visit — or like the time Gordon got chased out of his own backyard by one of the gigantic animals — we did get a chance to see a couple. They’re just huge ; seeing them on TV doesn’t do them justice. While it was a fantastic, relaxing trip, full of incredible sights and a lot of fun, it is nice to be back in the muggy Texas weather again, where the sun actually sets and you don’t need to bundle up at every moment. But if you get a chance to check out Alaska, definitely do it. I can’t think of any other place with such staggering natural beauty.
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