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Mountains – Reason 7

Here are my TOP TEN REASONS for writing The Mountains Bow Down.

#7: Cruises

Mountains Bow Down

Growing up in Alaska, I watched my hometown morph from a sleepy capitol to one of the busiest tourist ports in the world. In the spirit of Scarlett O’Hara, I raised my fist and cried, “So help me, God, I will never go on those ships!”

Of course, I also swore never to nag my kids. Or eat while driving. Or say things like, “There are two kinds of people in the world…”

Alaska Summer

Heaven on earth, Summer at 10 pm

And so, there I was, sailing through Alaska’s Inside Passage with two thousand strangers. Everyone oohed and ahhed at the view while I tried to figure out ways to kill them.

For the book, you know.

Anyway, I’ve seen Alaska from every possible vantage—ground, air, water, skis—and I can say with certainty that water wins. The mountains literally sparkle, the sky spreads out like God’s throwing a surprise party.

I even appreciate what cruise ships offer. Specifically, I liked ditching my car for a week; skipping dinner reservations yet still eating delicious meals; and sleeping every night in the same comfy bed but waking every morning in a new place. Genius!

And, hey, it’s not like my lonely boycott would stop these things from sailing into Juneau.

If you’re planning an Alaska cruise, here’s an inside tip. Consider traveling in May. Not only are cruise prices significantly lower, the crowds are less crushing and the weather can be glorious. When we landed in Juneau the first week of May, the temperature hovered around 75 degrees without a cloud in the sky.

Raleigh Harmon enjoyed her Alaska adventure so much she’s begged to return for more far-north geology—and juicy crime. I’m seriously considering it.

Alaska Mountains

Sawyer Glacier, featured in Mountains

In the meantime, here she is on the cruise ship’s upper deck, in the opening of The Mountains Bow Down. 

With the trajectory of launched missiles, the mountains soared from the ocean. Smothered with evergreens, the steeps pointed to a sky so blue it whispered of eternity. Though it was June, snow on the granite ridges refused to melt despite twenty-four hours of daily sunlight. And where a liquid silver sea lapped the rocky shore, a bald eagle surveyed the cold water for fish.

First week of June, 5:00 a.m. in Ketchikan, Alaska.

It felt like falling in love.

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