Sian Young grew up in Wales hearing stories of her grandparent’s journeys around the world. As Young reached adulthood, she too began taking trips to various destinations in Europe and even going to India. Young, now a 31-year-old mental health nurse living in Bristol, England, is spending a month in Alaska, which is also her first trip to the United States.
When her grandmother was near death after a battle with cancer around Christmas time in 2014, Young and her brother spent a lot of time asking her to recount stories
of her travels.
“She loved to tell a good story. She probably exaggerated a little, but she loved to tell stories,” Young said. “She’s a really tiny person, like really short and petite, but she’s the life and soul. You know those people that are really little but dominate the room, she was a lot like that.”
Young asked her grandmother where she thought she would like to go, out of all the places she had been. Her grandmother replied, Alaska.
A few days later, Young’s grandmother called her into the room to talk privately and gave her an envelope with money. Unknown to Young, her grandmother was doing this for all the grandchildren.
“I didn’t know that she was planning to give us money, so she kind of called me in and gave me this envelope and said, ‘I want you to use this to go somewhere to remember me,’” Young said. “I remember coming out of the room and my brother, she had already given him money, so I came out of this room crying my eyes out because it was really emotional. It was probably three days before she died. My brother just took one look at me and he was like, ‘Oh, you’re off to Alaska then.’”
Young saved up for another year, and then booked tickets to visit Alaska. She had a few ideas of things she wanted to do from her grandmother’s stories, but did not create a schedule for her trip. Without a plan other than a hostel stay reserved in Anchorage, she arrived and started talking to people to see where she should go. This led to the Kenai Penisula where she met and hiked with a group, a weird detour in a desolate town of Hope and a car camping experience accompanied by a moose, and then to Seward.
After going to Seward to see the glacier and a boat tour, Young drove down into Homer on the night of Sunday, May 8. After Homer, she plans to head back towards Anchorage, take the Denali Star train, and see where else the road leads her until she leaves at the end of May.
When Young arrives back home in Bristol, she will watch a film of her grandparent’s trip to Alaska, which she decided not to watch until she visited first.
“My granddad used to take video and pictures of everything and make it into a film, so I’ve got this film at home of their trip to Alaska but I haven’t watched it yet,” Young said. “I thought if I watched it, then I’d be like trying to go where they went whereas I just have to do it a bit my way.”