Art Inspiration from Alaska
To celebrate my 50th birthday (I need to start owning this number), Neil and I took the kiddos on a cruise to Alaska. Just saying those words makes me feel more grateful than ever. It was truly a trip of a lifetime. Of course with any trip, inspiration is everywhere.
We decided to do as much as we could while in Alaska as we all felt that Alaska was unlikely to be in our travel plans any time soon. Once aboard the cruse ship, and after the excitement of being on board with so much food and entertainment, we settled into a routine that included some pretty cool land excursions: salmon fishing in Ketchikan, a helicopter ride and dog-sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier, rock-climbing in Skagway (not me!) and white water rafting in Denali.
And although the excursions were pretty fun, staring out of my balcony at the passing mountains and glaciers was my favorite activity. One morning, after a failed attempt at loading the laundry (don’t ask), I walked out onto a small deck. It was six in the morning and the waters were glassy. Off the side of the ship, I heard a slapping sound. Going over to check it out, not fifty feet from the boat, a humpback whale was slapping her fluke against the water. Her juvenile calf was practicing his breeching–up and down, up and down–about ten times. It was as though time had stopped. Just me and the whales.
My favorite moment.
In Juneau, we took a helicopter ride to the Mendenhall Glacier and went dog-sledding. Yup. Dog-sledding. My daughter was out of her mind with joy. We learned a bit about the Iditarod and about Alaskan Huskies and then after an onboard presentation from Iditarod champion, Libby Riddles, I knew that my So. Cal students were going to experience this amazing race and breed of dogs, too.
Bringing this story back to art, wouldn’t it be cool to have the kids make little huskies out of clay then make a dog sled from popsicle sticks? Can’t wait to experiment on my own to see how this would work.
Traveling from Anchorage to Denali onboard a train may not have been the most efficient form of travel and certainly the grossest (we ran over a moose, for pete’s sake) but it was beautiful. A bright, sunny day afforded us spectacular views of Denali. The mountain is HUGE. Which at first you can’t appreciate because it’s just there but once the clouds roll in and all you see are the foothill mountains, and then the BIG ONE appears above the clouds, you really get a sense of its size. A little perspective goes a long way. And that would make a great lesson too, right?
We didn’t see any bears but we did see moose (and not just smooshed ones) and many bald eagles. The wildlife is so unique that I just can’t wait to do a whole unit on Alaskan animals. The types of salmon and what they look like before and after they spawn is pretty amazing on its own, but add in a few salmon-snatching eagles, and I think the kids would have a lot of fun.
Taking a ten-day trip to Alaska interrupted our hard work on my new art curriculum, but it was worth it. As soon as we got back, the work started again, but in a good way. The smell of my office, the brewing of my own coffee, the way my chair feels, my beautiful Mac computer…all combines into a feeling of incredible contentment.
Neil and I have a wonderful life.
Our launch date for the new art curriculum is still August 1, 2014. Neil is putting the finishing touches on the classroom portal and I’m editing my lesson plans. Can’t wait for the big reveal!
We are heading to our Canadian cottage on August 3 to see our families and to celebrate more milestone birthdays.
Hope you are having an adventure filled summer, too!