Each year there are a smattering of summer days in Anchorage, Alaska that, to arrive within them by airplane, might convince you that God set up his earthly throne right there, smack in the middle of all that crisp blue sky and fresh air and not-too-oppressive heat. And furthermore, was that a moose you saw on descent?
That didn’t happen to Erin Kirkland, who hit the tarmac in mid-December to begin her new life amidst temperatures that, if you failed to properly squint, could freeze your eyeballs.
“I could see frost on the mustache of a ground crew member who patiently waited near the aircraft’s door,” she writes in the introduction to her book, Alaska on the Go. “[O]ur 11-year-old shouted, ‘What’s wrong with this place?’”
Things got better.
“Challenges, in our experience, are simply bumps in the road,” says Erin. “We just have to keep going over them toward the destination.”
The adventure that launched that day for the Kirklands is now twelve years rich in exploring and documenting and growing into a place that, despite its challenges and remoteness and potential grizzly bear run-ins, has simply become home.
But what to do with all that accrued wisdom?
For Erin, she decided to take good notes in order to become a great guide.
“I’ve had this book in mind ever since my feet hit the frozen sidewalks of Anchorage back in 2005,” she writes in Alaska on the Go, a guidebook geared specifically for family adventures. “As mothers often do, I created a mental list of things I wish someone had told me, vowing to make these nuggets of information available to other parents before they decide to pack up kids and caboodle and head north for the trip of a lifetime.”
For example, what happens when you agonizingly prepare for a whale-watching quest by replaying Free Willy a hundred times and checking out every whale book from the library only to settle into your marine adventure and see, well, nothing?
“I’m a pro, accustomed to the ‘sometimes-you’ll-see-them-sometimes-you-won’t’ mantra,” writes Erin. “Kids, though, don’t always see things the way we adults do, and even the name ‘whale-and-wildlife-watching’ all but seals the deal: WHALES and WILDLIFE.”
The good advice?
Snacks! Scavenger hunts! Chatting with a real boat captain!
Anything to redeem the adventure, reignite the focus, and keep the kids engaged.
And engagement, as it pertains to the Kirkland’s reinvention in Alaska, is perhaps everything—to look around and see what’s there, even if its a barren landscape whipped by ferocious winds, and recognize it all as the very real backdrop of a family life fully lived.
“Our entire family learned to love the 49th state, to embrace even its frigid winters and sometimes-rainy summers,” writes Erin. “We camp, hike, fish, and gaze daily upon a landscape that fits perfectly, as if Alaska was made specifically for us. It is and always will be home.”
These are the stories of real people who embody, emulate, or otherwise exhibit the short-list of values we care about most at Stormy Kromer—kindness, family, neighborliness, resilience, graciousness, strength, adventure, and a love of the elements (both urban and natural)—despite any adversity. We build caps, clothes, and accessories for a special community that’s not only eager to thrive within those elements, but also give something back. Our clothes are made like them. Like you. These are your stories.