Located off the Parks Hwy just as you make the big turn heading into the Mat-Su Valley is Reflection Lake. It sits between the confluence of the Knick and Matanuska Rivers in the marshy Palmer Hayflats.
It’s a beautiful little lake with an easy mile long path around it. My kids have canoed and swam there, but the other morning, I decided to go for an early walk by myself. There are always times during the year when one might pause to reflect on their own lives. Around Independence Day is one of those times for me. So I took a photo journey around the lake to spend some time reflecting.
It’s been a year since we were in Jackson Hole, Wy, celebrating the 4th of July with Jeff’s family. Driving over Teton Pass, we just realized how much we missed the mountains. It was then, we decided to move to Alaska.
We loved living in Arizona, but it just wasn’t working out professionally like we had hoped or been promised it would. So we went back from vacation and started looking for a job or dental practice to buy for Jeff, along with the epic process that is licensing in Alaska.
We weren’t quite sure where we wanted to be, it was really a roll of the dice. We had been to Alaska before several times, so we knew we wanted to be in the main body of the state, not on an island. Probably somewhere between the Kenai Peninsula and Wasilla would be a great choice.
So Jeff came up here to look in September at a couple of practices for sale in Homer and Willow, and to interview for a job in Anchorage.
After some thought, we decided that we didn’t want to take on the headache of owning a practice, so we selected the job in Anchorage. But, we didn’t want to live in Anchorage. Then where? Wasilla/Palmer area looked like a great place, so after basically a dart at the dart board, here we are. What a great choice it has been.
Jeff committed to be here the 1st of December 2014, but I had to finish up a job in Arizona. So we moved up here in waves. Jeff loaded up a 28 ft trailer with 98% of our belongings and pulled it up through the Yukon over Thanksgiving weekend.
That drive is insane any time of the year, but with -40 degree temperatures in interior Canada, it was just brutal. We had canned goods freeze solid and the T.V. screen crack from the cold. Jeff’s only companion was our German Shepard Rogue for company. He spent some long, uncomfortable nights with the truck running continuously to avoid freezing up. Rogue was not a fan of going potty in -40.
Bridger flew up to join Jeff in December after winter semester so he could get a full semester in AK under his belt, while Summer, Saige, and I moved into an apartment. It was the first Christmas we had ever spent apart. It was hard to be apart. It made me respect those families who are in the military who have to be apart for long periods of time.
At the end of March, the girls, our dog Rio and I loaded up what was left of our belongings into my car and Bridger’s Jeep and towed it to Seattle to put on a boat. Finally March 25, 2015, we were all here in Alaska.
Well not quite all of us, our oldest daughters, Candace and Haley are in Utah, building their own lives. It’s hard to be apart from them, but in time, the chicks leave the nest.
Upon reflection, I’m in awe that I am living in Alaska. It is a dream come true and the state is beyond my wildest expectations in beauty and grandeur. This is the 6th big move we’ve made in our 25 years of marriage and I hope it’s the last one. I love it here, and I pinch myself every day.
Beautiful paths lead to beautiful places. In looking back over the past year, I can’t believe all that has taken place from that moment one year ago when we said we wanted to return to the mountains. What a ride it’s been!
I’m thankful for the freedoms we have in the USA that allow us to live the lives that we live. In reflecting, I’m grateful for all my blessings of family, friends, food, clothing, shelter, and a kick butt backyard here in Alaska! Happy Independence Day!
**If you are headed up Alaska 1 hwy on your way to Denali or Fairbanks, or heading to the Alcan to travel to Canada, Reflection Lake is worth the stop to stretch your legs, look for wildlife, and reflect a little bit. The turn-off is at mile marker 30.