It’s time for the noise makers and the toasts and the traditional well wishes to the new year 2017. It’s a time of reflection for some and a time of new beginnings. We make resolutions each year with the hope that they will last more than a day.
I am still 70, but technically 70 1/2, so I can only hope that the new year finds me wiser. As a child that 1/2 year seemed to make all the difference because we were now taller or smarter or stronger than just 6 months ago. After my trip to Alaska, I know I am all those, well almost all those things, I did not get any taller this year.
I will be forever grateful that he year 2016 allowed me to realize 2 dreams I never thought I would live in Alaska, since I did not do this when I was young enough to survive anything, who thought that at the ripe old age of 70 I would follow my dream. I an thrilled that I was able to do this and can only say never stop dreaming to all my fellow wanderers. This was a hard year as well for a variety of reasons, but I am choosing to focus on the wonderful.
I also managed to live long enough to see the Chicago Cubs win the World Series. It was touch and go there a number of times, but I am so grateful they filled not just my bucket list item, but thousands of others as well.
My friends, I wish you well. Health and happiness and love in the next year.
May peace be with you today and all days.
Some of the beauty of Alaska that I have not shared yet.
Glacier fields and snow capped mountains in summer.
Small lake in Anchorage.
The beauty and distance never stops.
Now that I am away from Alaska and my summer job I have had some time to reflect on all of it. Had I decided early enough in the year, my living arrangements would have been different. I would have rented a room from a private individual and saved myself money and aggravation. Or, I would have stayed in a hostel near where I was working. Some of the people who rent out rooms are trustworthy and some are not, the same as in any place in the world. In some cases you just need to take a giant leap of faith.
I would have purchased a bicycle sooner and ridden it all over the place. While riding the bus was very reasonably priced, free is certainly cheaper. With those 2 changes, I would have been able to save a lot of money over the summer. While that was not my primary goal, it would have been a great secondary achievement.
I would have taken more excursions early in the summer rather than try to settle into my living arrangements. I should have looked at my apartment as a semester of college and just used whatever, rather than try to recreate my home.
Don’t get me wrong I did a ton of stuff while I was there, but I may have had a few missed opportunities to see and do other things. Or I might have done some things a second or third time over the summer. I’m sure I would have still spent all my money in Alaska.
Would I do it again, in a heartbeat. I would also strongly recommend it to any and every person who is able to try this. You will work very hard over the summer, but the rewards are worth it. If you are from another country, what a great way to have a working vacation and learn a different way of life. I had a friend who spent her summer in New Zealand and it changed her life forever in ways she did not expect. So jump in, the water’s fine.
Part of the reason for going to downtown Chicago now is for the temporary Christmas Market. For those who have never experienced it, it’s a little like being in Germany before Christmas.
A group of carts or caravans are located in a central or shopping location for several weeks before Christmas. Each one has different items for sale. Some have food and drinks. Other areas may have music playing from a local band. Some markets have small carnival type rides a merry-go-round or a Ferris wheel for children.
In this area people come to hear the music, to eat the food and maybe to purchase an item or two. The market in downtown Chicago is set amid the high rises in a pretty open plaza. It certainly has much of the feel of its European counterpart. Many of the venders are from Germany and many have German articles for sale.
One of the fun traditions that was used here as well as in Europe is the option of a cup. Some of the vendors offer hot as well as cold drinks and you can purchase cup along with your drink. Great for hot chocolate or mulled wine.
This has been a huge success for the city of Chicago and even on a bitter cold day people are here. For those who work nearby it is a nice change for a lunch break. Good for the German community here as well as the city.