Recently, I took a much needed vacation from the trade show world and visited southeastern Alaska via a cruise ship.
Spending a day at sea heading out of Seattle was perfect for clearing my head of the constant stresses that we all live with each and every day. The soothing calmness of the water and the subtle waves rocking this ship ever so slightly was ideal to catch up on reading and much needed rest. This was the perfect setting for me to reflect on the first half of this year and my life overall (which is pretty fantastic).
Upon arriving in Ketchikan, Alaska, I noticed the sea planes taking off and landing. I thought to myself, “I bet they don’t miss waiting in line at red lights during their commute to and from work” or worse yet “waiting through green lights when your vehicle doesn’t quite have the space to inch across the intersection without blocking the cars perpendicular to you.” Nope, Alaskans don’t stress such a thing. In fact, red lights themselves are probably few and far between.
What do they stress about up here? In all of the rugged, raw beauty, everywhere I looked, there must be a catch. The COLD! Yes, the cold harsh Alaskan winters must be horrible and miserable with most of the non-winter months spent planning winter survival and keeping warm. Whew, for a brief second I thought I found paradise and the simple life, a stress free happily-ever-after place, free of all of the industry-related trade show variables and issues that arise every day in our world. Moving to Alaska would bring on a life stressing the COLD.
Would that be so bad? How cold does it really get? I set about investigating this thought over an Alaska Stout beer near the pier. Beer would surely help ease the pains of winter in this part of the world! Problem solved – a stress free life surely awaits me in Alaska! Time to hop back on my floating hotel for the week and find a place to fantasize about living in.
Next Stop Juneau
I was excited to visit Juneau by the time we arrived. I had heard of a glacier, Mendenhall, that was only a short bus ride away. As we made the trek through the quaint little town of Juneau, our bus driver spoke of all the wonderful bears, eagles, and salmon that called the area home. He advised us to take the Nugget Trail up the falls for a better view of the glacier.
Upon exiting the bus, I grabbed my day backpack and approached the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center in search of the trail. Never mind the visitor center. I wanted to see the chunk of ice!!
In my typical turbo style, I hiked the 1.1 mile trail in a handful of minutes with my heart racing and adrenaline pumping the whole way. Wow! An amazing and jaw dropping view as I came to the end of the hike. So much beauty with the whole spectrum of the color blue on display along with an impressive waterfall right next to me. Like a child, I had to bend over and touch the water to see how cold it really was. As I bent down, a small mini iceberg lapped up on shore and I shouted with excitement! I picked up that football sized piece and took a few pics with my very own baby iceberg. After spending a half hour or so enjoying the gaze, I headed back down the trail to the visitor center.
This time I actually went inside the visitor center and was astonished to learn that the Visitor Center was built right in front of Mendenhall Glacier in the 1930s. The photos on the wall looked like a different piece of ice. Today, the glacier is over a mile away and has been shrinking at a furious pace over the last 60+ years. The lake in front of the glacier didn’t exist when the Visitor Center was built. GULP!
At that moment, all the talk of climate change became a reality. A huge lump formed in the back of my throat as I witnessed first-hand what climate change means. It means a lot for Alaskans. Their environment is experiencing more drastic effects than what we are experiencing in the lower 48 states. I thought that I had found a paradise with a life involving only a little bit of stress (staying warm during the winter Alaskan months), but in reality, Alaskans are stressed about the rapid change occurring in their environment. As I became more aware of the impacts that they are feeling, I began to sympathize with them and wondered how can I really help the situation. I’m not going to turn into a tree hugging, save the planet hippie, but I will surely think twice about my footprint on this planet.
In our industry, we can certainly help steer clients towards eco-friendlier exhibit options. At Exhibits Northwest, we offer recyclable fabrics for our displays and use recycled aluminum. I’ll end my sales pitch and invite you to peruse the photos in this post. Yes, a Caribbean cruise is nice, but I encourage you to take the Alaskan trip soon. The clock is ticking….
GM, Exhibits Northwest Portland and Seattle
Tags: Alaska Cruise, Climate Change, Exhibits Northwest, John Zipay, Sustainable Exhibits