As I passed through the burn today (no, not the one on the Iditarod trail but the one between Sterling and Cooper Landing), I began to reminisce about life a year ago.
If you don't live here and didn't vacation with us here last summer or fall, I'll fill you in...
We thought we were living through some kind of mini-apocolypse of natural disasters. Don't get me wrong, I did not fear for my life or the lives of my loved ones. But I have to admit right now, I thought things were rough!
Forest Fires, Floods, and Drought!
There were many raging forest fires. There were floods. There was drought. There were evacuations. We had clients stuck in various parts of Alaska because of natural disasters. The road in Denali National Park washed out.
If you were traveling with Salmon Berry last summer, you did not sleep in a vehicle on the side of the highway. We handled it. But the number of incidents going on around Alaska, nearly all of them natural disasters, was staggering, we thought.
It felt apocalyptic at the time. We were tired. We felt a little sorry for ourselves. We have now learned how ridiculous that was.
Over the winter, as we did some more great business, Australia burned and we realized how good we had it. Yes, there was a lot of fire in Alaska. But nothing like what Australia dealt with. I mean not even close!
Then we get to the pandemic. When we voluntarily cancelled more than half of March, we felt sorry for ourselves, but knew we were doing the right thing. We were confident that it was temporary. We had no idea what was really coming.
Last Week: Tears and Perspective
Last week as I cried my eyes out over having to lay off some of my team, My dad said "Candy, keep this stuff in perspective." And then he listed things like: "You aren't at the hospital with a dying loved one, your husband isn't fighting cancer, you're not going to be homeless, you're not going to jail, you're not on a ventilator in a hospital somewhere."
Today as a Berry
So now, here we sit. When we do have customers, we are happy and scared all at once. We have spent lavishly on numerous safety measures. But like others, still wonder if we should even have our doors open.
So now I must rely once again on the wisdom of the most powerful and successful person in my life, and here is what he is doing for me: my dad reminds me every day to keep things in perspective. Yes, Business has been hard before, but I've always kept my dad's base phrase in mind...
"No one's dead, no one's on jail." (Yeah my dad puts jail right up there with death on his very short list of bad things that could happen.)
I love Alaska and Mandy Garcia is the best business partner the world has ever known.
I love Alaska and I love tourism and I am proud of the business that I have built doing something I love. My business has not actually failed. I've just been reacting to my *fear* of failure.
I have an amazing business partner that is in this with me and insists that we fight on, even when I get discouraged. Her positivity is incredible and noteworthy. Tourism will come back stronger than ever when it is safe.
And we will be here when it does.
To all our friends and family across the world. To all those that love Salmon Berry, know that we are still here. We are standing strong in the face of hard times and we hope that you are, too.
Candice McDonald Kotyk
-Mom, Founder of SBT, owner of Copper Whale Inn, Now resident homeschool teacher, occassional delivery driver, and at time a tour guide extraordinnaire