Two and a half years ago, I posted a blog about a trip our family took to Alaska. We celebrated Shelley’s birthday by taking a cruise that led us through Alaska’s Inside Passage, into Glacier Bay National Park.
On one amazing day, we were joined by the Glacier Bay National Park Ranger team, as they gave us a guided tour through the park (from the ship), culminating with an up close view of Margerie Glacier. I wrote about the differences between our trip and the experiences my father had when he served in the army, stationed in Alaska during the Korean conflict.
Shelley and I are going to the park again. This time for a different experience as well. We are going to visit my daughter.
It turns out the cruise we took, two and a half years ago, was the second to last cruise ship to make that voyage until just a few weeks ago. It was September 2019 and the cruise ship season was wrapping up, with ships being sent to warmer destinations for the winter. Then the pandemic hit. There was not an Inside Passage voyage in 2020 or 2021.
In the previous blog, I introduced my daughter, Allie. She was finishing up her job with the Michigan DNR (state parks) as a naturalist and educator. I noted how truly moved she was by what she saw and experienced. So much so, that she worked her tail off to be hired by the National Park Service as an Interpretive Park Ranger. After spending her first season at the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado and her second at the Grand Canyon, she applied for the same position at Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska.
“Guess where I’m going?”, she said when she called. Believe me, Alaska was not the first place we thought of.
She started in March, boarding the same exact ship we sailed on in September 2019. This was the first visit to the park by a cruise ship since that time. She is now boarding twice a week either presenting programs to filled auditoriums, narrating a guided tour of the passage or answering questions one-on-one.
So was her landing in Glacier Bay a twist of fate, destiny or the result of her hard work and perseverance? I’d like to think a combination of all three, and maybe a little inspiration from my dad’s time there. Oh and we couldn’t be more proud and happy for her.
We will fly into Juneau, take the five hour ferry to a small town just outside the entrance to the park and then finally a dog sled the final 10 miles (just kidding on the dog sled-it will be summer you know). Our experience this time will not involve living in a Quonset hut like my dad, or enjoying the comfort and endless buffets of a cruise ship like in 2019. We do get to bunk up with Allie in her apartment, and have been promised at least one night of back country camping and a private kayak tour in the bay.
A whole different experience this time around.
Another whole different experience is also happening in the trade show and event industries. This spring, for the first time in two years, shows and meetings are starting to come back on a regular basis. It’s quite a different experience though, for the attendees, exhibitors, and Prairie and our suppliers/partners.
Everything from transportation to materials and labor, cost a bit more. The broken record we keep hearing about supply chain issues and increased costs, are real. Very real. It’s a whole different experience than what we were used to. Prairie is still here, though. A bit leaner, working more hours and figuring out new ways to help our customers experience success at their events.
After all, it’s all about the experience, right? At least that’s what I would tell my dad again.
And what is my son doing for his new experience? Stay tuned. That’s a whole other part.