Alaska Adventure A Lesson For Fear

ATV-1ALASKA — As she climbed onto the ATV, she wondered if her arthritic hands would allow her to complete an hour-long trip through the bush without crashing, or at least without more than the usual pain. She’d experienced this type of fear before, like being afraid of heights and climbing into a helicopter to see the Norwegian fjords and later a fixed-wing aircraft to land on North America’s highest peak, Mount McKinley. Being unable to swim, she jumped on and off a a 27-foot boat that had to be tied to the bollards while she and her husband — the boat’s only occupants — negotiated 64 locks on the Midi Canal, in southern France.

Fear was not new to her. Only its type.

“I don’t even drive to the grocery store,” she told the guide, whose name was Terry. “How can I drive an ATV?”

Terry was re-assuring.

“You’ll do fine,” he said. “We’ve had lots worse than you.”

To err on the safe side, Brian put her second in the line of six vehicles on the Black Bear ATV Adventure for passengers of the Star Princess. If she was at the back, he explained, we might lose her. Better she set the pace, even if it was slower than that of her colleagues.

The ride from the McKinley Princess Lodge to the “bush” and the preparatory and necessary orientation did little to re-assure her. Nothing would, until she started guiding “her” ATV along narrow paths, over exposed roots and between trees which looked doorways that were too tight.

But she did it.

It was a terrific shore excursion, she said. There were no black bears, except what was left of one on Terry’s ATV, a prop he happily needed to justify the name of the event. There ATV-4was a loaded gun on his belt, in case an unfriendly black bear showed up, but in the four years he’d been doing this he’d never had to draw it, let alone pull the trigger.

There was lots to see in the wilderness. 

Chaga, widely and wildly rumored to be a cure for cancers, growing out of the birchbark on many trees. The Susitna River, peacefully flowing through its sandy banks in a land where ATV-5nature is often not peaceful. Nuggets on the river beds, ranging from sandstones to jade…real jade, Terry said. Rougher roads than we’d ever seen, almost impossible to drive anything on — “almost” being the operative word.

ATV-3In the end, it was another “overcoming fear” moment. Another one she could share with her granddaughter, who had to write a paper at school about overcoming her own fears, which were far different, yet much the same. She told her grandmother’s story — not the ATV one, the McKinley one — as an example of how it’s okay to be afraid, and oh-so-satisfying to beat it.

Overcoming fear.

That’s what going to Alaska can do for you. If you’re on a Princess cruise that includes land tours before this summer season ends, do it. Ask for Terry.

And what’s next for this woman of adventure? Would you believe tunnels once used by the Viet Cong, near Saigon?

There’s no stopping her now.

In the news…

• Enhanced Internet, social media packages fleet-wide for Carnival
• Crystal Cruises to launch two 70-suite river yachts in March 2017
• Carnival donation of $2.5 million to preserve coral reefs in Caribbean

Today at portsandbows.com: AmaSerena officially joins AmaWaterways fleet

Norwegian Dawn
7 nights
January 24, 2016
New Orleans (return): Cozumel, Roatan, Belize, Costa Maya
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $71
www.ncl.com

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