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  • Sarah Reijonen

The Importance of saying 'YES'

And how it brought me to Alaska


As I sat crammed in the bright orange turretless tank of sorts, shoulder-to-shoulder and knee-to-knee with 11 other people, I thought about the butterfly effect and how I had come to this point. Me being in snowy Chena Hot Springs on 4.3.21 all started when Spank and I applied for our working holiday at Chicken Gold Camp four years ago. It all started with an arm-twisting (from my gold prospector husband) and a timid but resounding: YES.


Now I revel in gratitude as I watch this ever-expanding group of Alaska friends grow, all because God brought us to Chicken in 2017 and we said yes to the opportunity and many more along the way.


Another yes—another one I was leery of—was getting in that bright orange tank, also known as a Sudsby, that would take us up a mountain. I wasn’t worried about not being six feet from 11 other people, not at all. I was worried about the hint of claustrophobia I’ve developed in recent years. I admit, there were a few moments where I thought I might leave claw marks on the interior of the rolling, orange behemoth and there was another moment when a hot wave of “let me out, let me out, let me out” nearly boiled over and out of my mouth, but I kept my cool as I simultaneously stripped off all my layers in a sweaty panic.

But, we made it to the top where plenty of fresh air, a yurt and a bonfire awaited. We had cocktails and Korean BBQ and listened to how Bernie, the owner of the hot springs met his new wife (who made all the amazing food) after losing his first wife to ALS. He talked about how God brought them together and about the power of prayer. God was talking to both of them, but their new-found relationship required a YES from both of them. They leapt into the arms of opportunity and grace with a big YES and now have that story to tell and someone to share life with again in the way only a husband and wife can.


After coming back down off the mountain, we went to the ice museum and had Bernie’s famous appletinis out of hand-carved ice martini glasses. From there some people went on to the greenhouse tour (yes, a greenhouse that operates at 20 below!) and thermal energy tour, but Spank and I had already been on those so we snuck off to watch the Gonzaga game. A few hours later, the crew had re-grouped for an epic three-hour Cousin Curtiss concert (he’s one of the Chickenstock staples and flew up from Colorado). I danced and jumped and just tried to stay in a general upright position with all my happy Alaska friends who I’ve met in the last few years and some just in the last few days. But that’s how it works up there in the magical North. And yes, to say I have a love affair with Alaska is an understatement. Of course, it’s a beautiful place full of wonder and daunting critters and danger, but the best part is the people, hands down. My heart is full after a weekend like that, but it just serves to remind me how important it is to be grateful, to show up and to say YES.


Life is a series of opportunities, and while sometimes saying no is in one’s best interest, it’s often a limiting and stifling word. Saying yes opens doors. Saying yes invites friends and makes room for others in your life. Saying yes creates memories. Saying yes leads you to a yurt on the top of a mountain in Alaska.


See more Alaska PHOTOS.

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