Commentary: Dream trip points to God’s majesty


A dream trip turned into reality when my church family generously gave us an Alaska adventure as a retirement gift. In 2020, Amy and I planned a 40th wedding anniversary land tour of Alaska. Then came the pandemic.

Four years later, we flew to Anchorage, rented a car, and cruised nearly 1600 miles over two weeks, absorbing scenery, seeing wildlife, and making some interesting stops and wonderful memories. We traveled from Denali to the north to Seward to the south and Ninilchik to the west.

We took the bus tour through Denali National Park and timed the weather just right. Because of cloud cover, 80 percent of tourists cannot see Denali, the highest point in the US. We viewed the magnificent mountain, along with wildlife along the way.

We rode the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Seward, again taking in majestic views of glaciers, waterfalls, rushing rivers, and snowcapped peaks. Riders spotted moose, bald eagles, black bears, and Dall sheep.

We took a six-hour Major Marine cruise into the Gulf of Alaska to KenaiFjords National Park, seeing puffins, harbor seals, Steller seals, otters, goats, bald eagles, and humpback whales.

The crew spotted and announced a flock of birds hovering, indicating possible whales ahead. Then the whale released a spout of air and water. The boat turned and sped in his direction while passengers piled onto the deck and jockeyed for position, cameras ready.

Then four humpbacks broke the surface simultaneously, mouths wide open and full of fish, then smoothly dove back under. The captain explained the whales were “bubble-netting.” Bubble-net feeding is a highly organized, synchronized feeding technique that is a learned behavior.

Whales dive deep below schools of fish and blow bubbles from their blowholes to trap fish closer to the surface. The leading whale will blow the bubbles while the other whales swim in circles, trapping the fish. At a strategic moment, the four whales broke the surface, mouths wide open, gulping every fish in their path.

After the whales disappeared, the birds then dove en masse to get whatever fish left behind. This cooperative effort was an absolutely amazing wonder to behold.

The captain excitedly shared, “This is the first bubble-net feeding we’ve seen this season, and we saw it first!

On Mile 11 of the Talkeetna Spur, we discovered the Flying Squirrel Café, a mom-and-pop breakfast and lunch place that uses natural ingredients, mostly grown on the owners’ family farm. This innovative café in a beautiful rustic setting stayed busy all three times we visited. We picked up a homemade loaf of molasses multigrain bread and made peanut butter and honey sandwiches for lunch several days. This is a must-stop place if you’re ever driving to Talkeetna.

We enjoyed another mom-and-pop stop in Soldotna, Fine Thyme Café, which serves “the best lunch on the Kenai!” They also focus on fresh, made from scratch entries. Our sandwiches, salad and soup were delicious.

We enjoyed a dog-sled ride while learning and reading about the Iditarod Dog-Sled race. Our young musher has run the race four times. I hope to follow-up and get his story.

We acquainted ourselves with musk ox and their qiviut, the soft inner wool insulating the musk ox during the harsh Alaska winters. Qiviut, one of nature’s finest fibers, is comparable to cashmere or merino wool and is eight times warmer than wool weight-wise.

The Oomingmak Musk Ox Producers Cooperative, located in downtown Anchorage, is a small store owned by approximately 250 Native Alaska women living in remote coastal villages. The ladies knit, mail their items to Anchorage, are paid for their work, and then their scarves, hats, and ear covers are processed, packaged and available for purchase. We visited there, heard their story, and made a purchase.

The second week, we connected with my brother Mark and his family, who travelled to Alaska because their church’s youth group served as camp counselors at Birchwood Camp near Anchorage. They arrived early for hiking and sightseeing, and we spent time with them, doing the boat ride, meeting for supper, and hiking to Exit Glacier.

Adventure after adventure presented another striking panorama of God’s beautiful creation. As Psalm 19:1 reads, “The heavens declare His glory, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork”

God’s entire creation is amazing, but He outdid Himself with the forty-ninth state.


David L. Chancey, the Writing Pastor, lives in Fayetteville, GA and recently retired from his longtime pastorate. He writes a regular column and is the author of three books. Visit for more information.