26th Kenai Peninsula Writers’ Contest winners: Non-Fiction


1st Place — “Bruiser” by Elizabeth Chilson

I adopted Bruiser after he’d been abandoned twice.

At first, he was left in the advertising office of the newspaper I worked for. “Who was supposed to feed him?” I asked when I spotted him there.

“No one ‘s really sure,” the advertising manager admitted, barely glancing in Bruiser’s direction.

A few weeks later, the secretary who had been kind enough to look after him was gone too, and he found himself alone yet again. At that point, my pity stopped me in the hall, and I scooped him up and carried him to the newsroom. He made no sound or expression other than to flutter in indignation when I plunked his tank down a little too hard.

Bruiser was a betta fish named for his angry, musing purple and blue pattern. However, his pugnacious personality also transformed how you thought of his colors. What would have been “rose” on a more placid fish was “bloodstain” on him; “dusky blue” became “dark and stormy night.” He lived alone in a two-gallon fish tank full of fluorescent artificial seaweed, and the highlight of his day was angrily attacking the fish food I sprinkled lovingly into the water.

What made me love this fish is still a mystery, even to my own mind. Was it simply pity? No, it punctured too deeply for that; pity washes off in the face of ingratitude, which Bruiser displayed in spades. Was it a sense of obligation? No, for all his indifference, I loved the little fluttering devil. No affection ever made its way through the glass, despite how often I told him goodbye in the mornings and goodnight before turning his tank light off for the night.

Betta fish, otherwise known as Siamese fighting fish or Betta splendens, are some of the oldest domesticated fish in human history. Ichthyologists believe they came from wild rivers in central Thailand, their bright and diverse colors meant to advertise their worth as mates and to defend their territories. In addition to their aggressive nature, they’re also adapted to survive where other fish cannot— they thrive in low-oxygen water and have a labyrinth organ, which allows them to take air in from the surface.

Historians think the first place humans encountered them might have been the shallow water of rice paddies. They’re too small to do serious damage to people, but their bright colors and animated attacks likely drew the attention of farmers, who scooped them up and placed them in confined environments for something like finned cockfighting. Males will attack each other in close quarters, as anyone who’s had the misfortune of trying to house two male betta fish in the same tank knows. These battles usually result in the death of one or both fish. Even females will sometimes clash in tanks. In the wild, one will usually retreat; in captivity, they have become even more aggressive and territorial.

I had seen bettas for sale before. Walking through big-box pet stores, I’d cast sad glances at the pathetic displays of splendid betta fish in tiny plastic cups, stacked five feet high on metal shelves. I wondered what their tiny minds were thinking—were they eager to fight me, an interloper in their territory? Were they terrified, looking for seaweed to hide behind in this plastic


Maybe that was why I took Bruiser home—years of atonement for the lives of countless anonymous pet fish I hadn’t saved.

When I left the newspaper myself, I gathered all my files and assorted desk items into one box and took it down to my car. On the second trip, I came back and gathered up Bruiser from his spot next to the police scanner and arranged him on the passenger seat, buckling the seat belt carefully to keep him from jostling too much on the twenty-minute drive home.

“Is this the fish you rescued?” My curious boyfriend asked that evening as I installed Bruiser’s tank on an end table near the kitchen window. I carefully reached in and readjusted the seaweed, dodging the darting streak of black fish as he pursued my fingers. “He doesn’t exactly seem grateful.”

“I guess he doesn’t owe me anything,” I replied, uncertain how I should feel about it.

Humans feel an intense compulsion to anthropomorphize everything, to give it human intentions. The internet is rife with animal videos laden with subtitled explaining how a whining dog is trying to express its desire for a cup of whipped cream; lizard owners may tell you how their bearded dragon gets indignant when they change the TV channel. While animals certainly have emotions and memories like we do, assigning human motivations and social understandings to them. Really, though their motivations may be complex and intelligent, they are by no means human and do not play by the rules of the game our species so arrogantly thinks we run.

Sometimes a fish is just a fish.

I spent that year freelancing articles, and the following year, I started my master’s program for teaching. Much of that was completed from my laptop on the kitchen table, perched next to Bruiser’s tank. To keep him company—again, anthropomorphizing a fish and guessing he was lonely—I bought a bunch of tiger nerite snails that crept around the tank like orange Roombas. Bruiser seemed to tolerate them, and they kept the purple and green gravel spic and span for years before quietly expiring, their tiger-striped shells sitting vacant on the bottom. I watched the tiny drama play out in the tank over the years, expecting Bruiser to follow suit one day.

Whether by some fluke of water temperature or sheer force of will, that betta lived on. I adopted him in January 2018, at which point he’d been in the newspaper office for more than a year. 2018 and 2019 ticked by, and he showed no signs of slowing. Our resident cat, an enormously corpulent tabby, spent time each day communing with the betta behind the glass;

when we adopted a second cat, an affable orange fluffball, both cats would regularly watch him like ichthyological television. Every morning, I stopped in to feed him and chatted about what I expected for the day and reported back at the end. Every morning, he replied with aggressive flutters and darting behind his customary artificial plants.

Average lifespan for a betta fish in captivity is estimated to be between three and five years, though that calculation is hard to pin down, as owners often don’t know exactly how old a fish is when they purchase it. Some owners on internet forums complain that they can’t keep a betta alive longer than a year; others say they have had some live to five or seven, keeping the fish stimulated and changing the water regularly.

Part of his longevity might have in fact been due to my miserliness. Fish are ectothermic, meaning their body temperature and metabolism are determined by the water temperature. Normally, recommendations are for bettas to live in water between 72 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, which has to be maintained by a tank heater. Most standard advice is that colder water will make them more susceptible to disease because their immune system slows down.

However, I never purchased a tank heater, and Bruiser lived his life in a tank at room temperature—around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Shockingly, this didn’t kill the fish—in fact, he seemed to live a relatively normal life, albeit grouchily. Some of his mood might have been related to the water temperature, as some experts say they’ve observed depression in bettas in colder water. But the coolness may have slowed his metabolism, possibly lengthening his life; living alone in the tank with no additional finfish may have limited any diseases coming from outside, too.

By my extremely rough estimate, Bruiser was about four years old when he started declining in winter 2019. Everything in my life had changed since I brought the betta home—and things were to get infinitely worse three months later—but I’d kept up my morning greetings even through my student teaching and late-night writing sessions. I’d adopted a cat that occupied much of my attention and lap space, but I remembered to carve out time for my first pet each day. While the mammal in me has always bonded more with fluffy, warm-blooded creatures, there was an ineffable warm space in the well of my heart for the betta that no cat could displace.

One day during our morning greeting, I noticed that the betta failed to rise toward the flakes in the morning. It didn’t bother me until he did the same again in the evening. By the next morning, his tail looked droopy, and he hovered near the bottom of the tank; I watched worriedly, waiting for some pugnacious swoop to tell me he was alright.

It didn’t come.

The third morning, I knelt by the tank and stared at the still form on the gravel for a few moments, waiting, before I realized he was gone. The gills no longer fluttered, and the splendid tail lay limpid and still. The one remaining snail inched closer, but Bruiser failed to react.

As gently as is possible with a dollar-store fish net, I scooped his body from the gravel and shuffled it into my hands—the first time I’d ever physically touched him. Every other time, he’d been transferred in a net, a bag or a cup. His scales were surprisingly smooth, as if he occupied no space in the world—as if he slipped between even the molecules of air. He weighed nothing, felt like nothing, and perhaps was nothing. He was a displaced tropical fish that lived in a lonely tank in a lonely town in a lonely region of the subarctic.

But he was loved, and love gives weight to existence.

Winter in Southcentral Alaska means the ground freezes hard beneath a frosty blanket of snow. I considered flushing Bruiser down the toilet, as I’d seen so often in movies, but I found that the idea of just carelessly discarding him into the city sewers felt callous. Instead, I carefully folded him up into a series of paper towels, tying the bundle shut with the slack. Leaving him on the countertop, I traipsed outside into the thick pre-dawn darkness and chopped a hole down into the snow with a spade.

Chopping out the snow was one thing; chopping a hole in the earth was another. I realized this was wildly impractical in December, but I was committed at this point. Luckily, it was Saturday, and I had the time. After about twenty minutes of effort, I hacked a triangular wedge of frozen ground out of the hole beneath the eave, carried it back into the warm kitchen and left it to thaw in a bowl with some warm water.

Half an hour later, I reverently carried the little bundle and the bowl of soupy earth out into the cold. The neighbors’ lights were all off, and my fiance was out. Though I was in the middle of our small town, I was alone with the faint stars and the fitful breeze. Unsure of what ceremony to make of the event, I slowly lowered Bruiser into the earth and arranged his body on the bottom. Should one say words at a pet’s funeral, especially when one is alone?

If I had said anything, what would I even have said? And for whose benefit?

In the end, I buried him in silence as best I could, and shuffled some of the crusty snow back on top. No unfamiliar eye would ever guess what had happened there, but I knew. To everyone else, the site was unremarkable, no more than a divot in the earth. But to this day, I still think about it, Bruiser’s lonely body in the cold earth, just parted from the warmth of my hands.

2nd Place — “How to Paint Chisik Island” by Isabel Kulhanek

Creating a painting is not as hard as it may seem. Creating something beautiful, vibrant, and bright requires only the right pallet and the correct brush. Finding the tools and mixing the correct colors can be daunting at first, but with a little time and practice, you will soon be able to create any color your creativity requires. To paint Chisik Island, you need only to start with primary colors. The primary colors consist of blue, red, and yellow. Together, these three colors can be blended and mixed to create all the other shades of color you need. So, prepare your palette by applying generous globs of yellow, blue, and red.

The Primary Colors

Yellow like the dandelions that crowd the edges of the poorly graveled trails that run through the net racks and out into the field to the outhouses. I crouch in the grass, just off the main trail that connects our ancient tall blue fishing cabin to the squat green one that falls apart more and more every year. I watch a mouse gingerly ease its tiny body up an unusually tall and thick dandelion stem, its tiny feet and tail are wrapped around the stalk. It climbs, its sides moving in and out in rapid shallow movements in silence until its tiny head reaches the top of the flower. I hold my breath as I watch its tiny head go to work chewing at the delicate golden petals. It doesn’t see me, crouched in the grass and watching, perfectly still, hardly breathing. The flower’s pollen collects at the corners of its tiny mouth, it looks as if light pours out from its innards.

Red like the blood that courses from the freshly slit gills of a still struggling king salmon. This one is big. It slams its tail against the bottom of our tiny aluminum skiff, and with each powerful thrust blood rushes and sprays from its gills. The blood is thick and oxygenated and warm, and it collates at the bottom of the skiff in booger-like streams. It looks like red ribbon is being pulled free from behind its gill plates.

Blue like the ocean that sits perfectly still like a pane of glass or a mirror as I run along the beach in nothing, but an old raggedy shirt secured around my waist. I run with a stick clutched in both hands, ready to fend off a bear or my brother if either is brave enough to set foot on my expanse of beach. The sun reflects off the ocean, like a blue-marbled path, I feel like I could step onto it and run out to sea.

Now that you have the primary colors laid out on your palette, it is time to start mixing. It is best to start with small portions of each color. Use your brush to mix them together and ensure that they are well blended before adding more of either color. For this painting, you’ll want greens, pinks, and purples for the field and flowers. Brown, black, and grey for the mountain that makes up the island. Perhaps different shades of blue for the sky and sea. Once your colors are mixed and you are satisfied with each shade, you may begin to paint your canvas.

The Base Coat

Magenta Pink like the fireweed that envelopes the base of the mountain and circles around my camp. I duck beneath it, my head hidden within the stalks. I try to hold my breath, but I giggle as I hear small footsteps draw closer. The fireweed sways above me, their bloom just beginning. Each plant sports three or four pink flowers at its very tip. In a few weeks, it will look like the land has been set aflame.

Walnut Brown like the wooden spoon my mother yields as she chases us beneath the clothesline and screams. I laugh and my brother screeches. Our mother’s angry groans only empower us and give us speed. She runs around the half-full basket of wet laundry and grabs my brother. As hard as she can, she slaps the brown spoon, which she grabbed from the kitchen for this very purpose, across his backside. The spoon cracks in half, a sound so deafening I think I hear it echo from the cove. The camp erupts with laughter from my brother and defeated cries from my mother. The brown spoon rests in pieces at my feet beneath the clothesline.

Hale Navy Grey like the overcast sky that shields the north point of Chisik from the sun and makes the ocean look dark and mischievous. Even though it is shaded we slip on our wet suits, and with the water couch and the buggy board in our arms, we prance down to the skiff. We tie them off to the boat, and the motor rumbles to life. The sky darkens, an angry blueish grey, and we laugh as rain begins to fall.

Now that you’ve finished the base coat, it is time to let your painting dry for 2-4 hours. Make sure your painting is in a safe place, away from children and pets, as it dries. Once it is dry to the touch, it is time to add the fine details to your painting.

The Fine Details

Midnight Black like the motor oil that stains my hands like octopus ink. I rub them together beneath the surf, but it clings to my fingers and palms. My dad flashes me an open hand, beckoning for me to pass him the pipe wrench. My hands are cold, and the wrench feels sticky and heavy as I lift it to him. My father takes the pipe wrench, and his hands are even blacker than mine.

Juniper Green like my family’s four-wheeler, still running after six years, that rumbles and groans as we drive it full throttle down the beach after a young black bear. My dad clutches a gun, the barrel pointing towards the sky as my mom drives the wheeler. I sit on the front with a baseball bat clutched in one hand. My other hand wraps around the frame on the front of the wheeler, and I hang on for dear life as we scream and holler after the bear.

Atomic Tangerine like the sunrise that is just beginning to peak over the mountains as I twist the throttle of my own outboard with an ice-cold hand. I lean forward, my face to the wind, and smell the kelp, the fish, the driftwood, the birds, and the mud in the breeze. I drive my own boat towards the growing sunrise as my crew prepares our first net for setting.

When you’re finished adding all the fine details, leave your painting to fully dry for 4-6 hours. Once it is dry, it is ready to be hung up, framed, and shown off.

3rd Place — “Forest Bathing in Blueberries” by Mary Katzke

I’d spent the evening thinking.

Which is anything but preparation for sleep.

First there were the usual suspects like the grocery list, car maintenance and medical appointments to schedule, an unanswered work query sitting open on my laptop. Deadlines ignored too long. The water leak in the wall from the upstairs neighbor. A niggling argument with a friend days ago and reconsideration of a comment made in haste. Stacks of stuffed plastic tubs waiting to be unpacked in the new apartment. Then there was my son, Corin, so far away, vague and distant in our last Sunday phone call. I was hoping it was just a passing mood. Round and round, the thoughts took turns on stage, wrestling, overlapping, in a relentless tango.

Then Beth texted.

How about a trip across the bay tomorrow to pick blueberries? Otter Cove, she suggested. Find that berry basket and head into the wilderness with some of her friends?

But it’s supposed to rain, I thought, meekly. The water will be choppy. Water taxis are expensive. And the lists. What about my lists?

Then a chorus line of previous berry picking experiences moved center stage. If you’ve ever heard the calming chatter of women coming across the tundra while berry picking, well, you may know true peace. Being new in town, I needed to accept this invitation. The next morning, I tossed rain gear and snacks into a pack, told Mali, my canine companion, to get in the car, and we headed to the dock at sunrise.

The crossing was damp but otherwise uneventful. The air in the woods was redolent with wet conifers and aging ferns, the beginning decay of autumn, and the salt-air. Fully suited in rain gear, we swished our way through the untouched undergrowth to blueberry bushes. Swollen and ripe, the berries needed a mere touch to fall into our hands. They stained our fingers, and lips— because you cannot help but nibble along the way.

Fresh berry-laden bear scat littered the trail which we stepped around and sometimes. My friends were fearless, joking that at least the bears weren’t hungry. Did anyone bring bear spray, I wondered? Slowly the energy of the forest, the women with their baskets, the mission, quelled my fears.

Still, we took turns singing. It felt good to sing in the woods. The rain muted us enough to dilute self-consciousness. It felt comforting to prepare for winter by harvesting from the land. Berry picking is akin to knitting or painting, only on that day, less solo and more communal. The sound of rain tapping away on our shoulders and hats, sleeves and pants made me think of ballet dancers coming down a long hall, walking on point.

The murmurings of berry pickers mixed with natural sounds is far superior to the electronic music and loops of ocean waves in those calming apps. Instead, we listened to shrubs rustling in the wind, rain drops drops falling on yellowing Devil’s Club. Eagles and gulls wheeled overhead. The rush of a nearby stream and thrumming base of the steady rain on the forest canopy settled like a comfort I hadn’t felt in years.

At this point in our lives, the four of us carried the weight of past losses, wrestling with anxiousness about family we hadn’t seen nearly enough during the pandemic, and no doubt, untold private concerns. I only have the sketch versions- the outlines, and story by story, my own have started to emerge with my new friends. Shared worry is less gnawing than private. We are quietly accepting of space to wrangle these puzzles and heartaches, distracted only by our cumbersome Gortex, polyester and rubber rain gear. Mossy and slippery underfoot, we slid and fell onto the wet, padded forest floor again and again.

We were middle-aged Teletubbies, wriggling in laughter.

Even Mali wore a raincoat, teal with paw print design around the neck, velcroed snuggly around her belly, dry and content. Mali has a sweet tooth and figured out she could pick her own berries, and did so until she lost interest. She, like us, listened, smelled the air, observed. She knew from past foraging trips it could be awhile so she folded onto the forest floor under

rusting sword ferns with a sigh.

My thoughts traveled to memorable berry picking excursions over decades in Alaska. When Corin was three, we had taken our friends from Thailand, Cham and her three-year-old son Raj, on their first berry picking adventure. We hiked up near Flat Top and at that time, the boys were consumed with Buzz Lightyear. They wore their matching costumes, with inflatable

wings and flashing lights, all day, every day, including to bed where the wings jutted out behind them. Even then, Corin sang. On that day, as they flitted from bush to bush, the tips of their wings poked up across the hillside and the little white costumes’ knees came back with purple berry stains. Our sons are now long away at distant colleges but Cham and I share that memory every year when it crosses our Facebook feeds.

In 2007, filming the intimate story of a Twin Hills woman fighting late-stage cancer, sweet Maalu told us that she, as a younger woman, had kept her unwed pregnancy a secret from her mother until after berry picking season. The reason was because she did not want to miss berry picking with the women of her village, days filled with gossip and recipe exchanges. The baby would come, one way or another. Of all the things that must have been on her mind, this was what she thought of at that time. The comfort of ritual, perhaps. That day during our interview, she invited us to jump on the back of her four-wheeler to join her with her now adult daughter and grandbaby to gather berries. She also helped me understand the cultural significance of this ritual.

Not every outing was comforting or insightful. One crisp evening in late August, in Arctic Valley in the 80’s, I was with a boyfriend. Our teetering relationship was facing an upcoming separation as I was heading off to graduate school in New York. We were anxious and welcomed having something to do with our hands. My fears were front and center, his ready reassurances hollow, and false. Our picking was haphazard, inattentive, handfuls gathered, some swallowed, most handed over to our collective vessel—a baseball cap— with no reverence. Tossed, dropped. Had the sun been setting? Did we take them home? It must have been quite cold because I remember wishing I’d brought a better coat.

I remember wanting to be held.

In 2011, a work assignment from SouthCentral Foundation for a wellness calendar sent me to Dillingham where I had two days to cast and photograph women “in kuspaqs, picking berries”. I started working on the plane. Yes, the woman in the seat next to me said, she picks berries- who doesn’t? And yes, she has friends who could join us during magic hour on the tundra. The light was golden, the women, beautiful. Sometimes life hands you gold. They were relaxed, smiling, absorbed. I had nestled down among the low bushes with my Nikon to watch- and listen. By now, I had a better understanding of the cultural relevance of berry picking. The photo, for 2012’s calendar month of August, was a bucolic scene, a perfect palette of Persian carpet colors, and an affirmation of community. The message: Take care of yourself, many others depend on you.

A most treasured outing happened just last summer in Prince William Sound in lateAugust, 2020. My son— now college-bound— and I were the fortunate guests of friends on their boat. It was a brilliant, sunny and glassy day on the turquoise waters, rare and unusual enough by itself. We moored off an uninhabited island, and foraged the richest berry-picking any of us had ever come across. Complete virgin territory. Huge, succulent, falling-into-our-hands blueberries. We spread out to harvest and marveled with the reverence at this lucky spot. My son, adjusting to his new role as an adult, kept many things close to his chest. I watched him focused on filling his bucket, imagining what he was visualizing. Sourdough pancakes dotted with blueberries, and sweet jam on toast? Or perhaps thinking of the classes he would register for back at school. Maybe the girlfriend who wasn’t with us. That night, after a bit of prodding, he sang in the firelight of our campfire with his mature baritone voice. His gift to us was a Wagnerian aria, shared in a rare moment of vulnerability.

Berries freeze easily, on cookie sheets where they turn into purple marbles, then divided into zip lock bags to be savored in winter. Every last bit of summer’s berry bounty is consumed. I watched him pack his delicate treasures in bubble wrap to be carried back to his dorm room refrigerator. We had picked enough to carry us both through Christmas.

When we would be together again.


Our water-logged salmon spread sandwiches had been consumed with purple stained fingers and lips. A little mouthful here and there, our lunch and trip had been a merging with nature, perhaps nurturing the beginning of longer friendships. After two hours, our group walked down to our water taxi with baskets, zip locks and raincoat pockets bulging with our

hand-picked fruit.

Now that I’ve settled more in this small seaside town, I miss my lifelong friends from the city. The first thing we did when I arrived back in Anchorage for a supply run a week later was to grab our berry buckets and head out for more. No better way to catch up on all things personal than in our secret picking spot right in the city, untapped and abundant. I brought an old wooden stool and planted myself where the bushes were full enough so that I could stay in one place and hear everyone. Did I know there was a new taco wagon in town? Annie’s new job, Martha’s second grandson, who we knew who had Covid, who was thinking about retirement, and when will this tedious pandemic finally fizzle?

I’ve read that Alaska’s wild blueberries have forty times the anti-oxidants of storebought. I know for sure they taste better. My standby of yogurt and berries with homemade granola is a regular indulgence, and I make plenty of smoothies, scones, and syrup. This year, I tried a new recipe— blueberry custard pie with walnut and coconut crumble topping.

It was divine.

Grade K-3

1st Place — “My Brother Getting Poked” by Runa Larson

When we were in Hawaii, I woke up and put my clothes on and went in the car with my brother, my mom, and my dad. We went to the beach. It was a warm, sunny day. My brother went in the water a lot and the tenth time he went in he kicked a sea urchin by accident. He ran out of the water yelling, “Mooooooooommmmmmm!!!!!!” She ran to him and picked him up

and carried him over to her towel.

He told her what happened, and she said, “I might have some tweezers in my backpack to pluck out the sea urchin spines.”

She did have tweezers so she plucked out all of the spines. He cried and cried while my mom took out the spines because it was very painful. My brother said, “I want to go back home. I am hungry and my toe hurt!”

So, we went back home and ate lunch, and we played outside. Later, on our trip, my brother did go back in the water, but he made sure he didn’t kick anymore sea urchins!

2nd Place — “Hunting Season” by Corey Isenhour

It was a sunny, fall day when we left for hunting camp. We had to drive 200 miles. That is a lot, especially when you have two vehicles. We also brought along our Argo. An Argo is a pretty massive ATV. We use it to pull ten trailers into our camp.

On the way, my dad broke some belts. They’re important because they make the motor run. Without them, the Argo can’t move. Even though there were problems, we fixed them, and we had a great time because we had so many bags of candy.

Finally, we made it to our camp. Once we off-loaded our gear, we set up a humongous tent. Before it was dark, we took the Argo and went scouting for moose. There is a special area where the moose like to be. We drove down there and there were so many! We actually saw two bulls fighting! It was insanely cool! Now we knew where the good place was.

The next morning, we went back to that place. We spotted the perfect moose. My dad flew out like Superman with my brother’s rifle. In two minutes, it was over, and we had our moose. Three hours later, the moose was skinned, and we got it back to camp. After three more days and three more moose, we were ready to go home. This was my first moose trip, and it was so amazing. I’m already really excited for next year’s trip!

3rd Place — “The Family Trip” by Haven Maxon

Mom and Dad went to Hawaii without me and my brother! I was five and my brother eight. We had to stay home with our grandma. They were there for 2 weeks! They stayed at a hotel that had an inside pool.

We Face timed them on the phone every day. While Face timing, we saw our friends and we wished we were in Hawaii, too. I really wanted to be there because there was a pool, and our friends were there. We really missed our parents. They told us they had caught a gecko, and they went to a barn and saw some pigs and horses. Then my parents came back to Anchorage. They spent the night there because it was dark, and they couldn’t drive back. The next day they came back to Homer, Alaska. They gave us a big hug because they were so excited to see us, and they had good news. We were going on another trip. All of us!

We all went to Caribou Lake, snow machining with our friends. After the snow machine ride, we came back home and had Christmas dinner at our house. We had all our family over. The surprises were not over. After Christmas we went to Hawaii! This time it was all of us! We had so much fun. We went into the pool. After two amazing weeks it? it was time to go back home. Can you believe it? Our flight kept getting canceled, so we had to stay in the airport. My brother fell asleep, but I did not, even though I was very tired. Finally, we got on a flight. We took off from Kona and flew back to Anchorage.

This was my favorite, family trip! Do you know why? Of course, it was the pool!