Although winter's around the corner, it’s always freezing in Alaska!
''Adventures are the best way to learn”
There was a week or so this summer when you might not have seen or heard much from me. I wasn’t just sunning myself and playing in the surf along the Jersey Shore. While the East Coast was heating up, I had the chance to chill out and enjoy the shores of Alaska. Why would I choose to spend a summer week under gray skies where the temperature never hit 50? I had a great reason. More than a year ago, I heard about this amazing opportunity. Leo Laporte from This Week in Tech (TWiT) was inviting technology professionals from across the U.S. and around the world to join him along with Paul Thurrott (Thurrott.com) on a weeklong Alaska cruise.
I’ve been a longtime fan of Leo—I started following him back in the days when he was a host on Tech TV, two decades ago. Leo and his crew have helped me throughout my career, from 1978 to 2022. As the web got developed and technology improved, we were all like pioneers exploring a new land. So, I jumped at the chance to spend a week rubbing elbows with leaders in my industry and exploring the natural beauty and rugged towns along the Alaskan coast.
I cruised on Holland America’s Eurodam ship. This was my first time cruising, and it was a blast—I was spoiled by the fantastic staff and service, fine dining, and trendy bars with unique cocktails. As much as I loved all that, though, the cruise itself wasn’t the main point of the trip for me. I was focused on connecting with people, onboard and onshore. My purpose of going on the cruise was to meet a unique group of like-minded people I could identify with.
Our ship made stops in Juneau, Sitka, and Ketchikan in Alaska and in Victoria, British Columbia. When I landed in those trendy ports, I wasn’t interested in going shopping in the 50 million jewelry stores. Instead, I connected with the people on land and rented a bicycle to explore beyond the tourist zone. I went to obscure little places and hung out with the locals and asked them about their lives. Everybody has a unique story to tell, and everybody has their own journey. Whether I’m behind the camera or sitting on a barstool, I’m fascinated by those stories.
In one town, I saw a woman and a man in the middle of the street with a tripod set up, shooting video. Naturally, I started talking to them. They were producing a documentary about the cruise ship industry and how it’s increased tourism to the town. The couple asked me to shoot some footage of our ship leaving the port. I already had footage of entering the port to share with her, and I got more of us leaving. All along, I had been setting up my GoPro camera at the front of the ship and running time-lapse from my DSLR at the back of the ship. I was getting some nice B-roll footage of us cruising through these ports. Meeting people like them, I could make the kind of connection I would never find in the touristy jewelry stores and souvenir stands.
When I was in Juneau, I found one of the remaining RadioShacks. My sense of nostalgia kicked in—when I was a kid, my mom would drop me off at RadioShack and I would spend hours there. It brought back memories, so I decided to go inside and explore the shelves—seeing a RadioShack in Alaska was really cool and very sentimental. I even bought authentic Radio Shack DPWT switches, resistors, and some diodes. I left the store with a RadioShackradio shack bag of goodies.
I got to do some “Only in Alaska” activities, too. I went to a bear retreat where they raise cubs whose mothers were injured or killed. Those babies were so cuddly I wanted to hug one, but I had to settle for some adorable photos. I got some amazing photographs of the state’s natural beauty, too. I had a 70 to 200-millimeter Canon lens and a doubler, so it’s like 400-millimeter focal length, and I got some incredible pictures of the breathtaking glaciers and landscapes. From the natural beauty to the fantastic food to the people I met, the cruise was an amazing experience. I’ll take a week of exploration over a week of relaxation any time I get the chance. I’m the type of person who is always trying to expand my network, my vision, and my education. I’m always learning, seeking out opportunities, and staying on top of technology. Some people are so complacent just doing their 9 to 5, but that’s not for me. I have to be learning and exploring all the time.
Stay tuned to find out where my travels take me next.