Travel, Words


A Perfect Day to See Denali

Do you ever get tired of using the same old words to describe something — can I say it just once — “amazing”? Consider the white-fisted mountains that knock the breath right out of you, or the sinuous body of a glacial river that silvers along in the late-day sun. Do you look at those things and say:

Wow. Awesome.

I do.

And then I feel kind of dumb.

On one of my first trips to Alaska, Stewart and I laughed all the way from Fairbanks to Seward because everything we saw was “amazing” or “quite something.” We needed some new superlatives.

So the next time we had internet access, I visited several online thesauri and scribbled a long list of new ways to say “cool.”

Young Caribou Buck Along the Denali Highway

Because I just returned from Alaska, where I confronted this linguistic difficulty anew, and because I know I’m not alone in running out of words for great things, I thought I’d share my list — or at least a clipped version of it so it will fit here.

I mean, if a large black bear lumbers across the trail in front of you, you’re going to need something to say on the spot. (Most likely your choice will be more along the lines of a surprised expletive than an enthusiastic pronouncement, but this list will help you get ready just in case.)

For your exclaiming pleasure, here is a cache of glorious, electrifying, fantasmo words you can use to describe things that are intoxicatingly mindblowing or singularly marvy.

Cuz Alaska, man, it’s boss.

Just one more thing. Spike wants you to know how much he enjoyed his stint as a blogging porcupine. He was needling me a little about how well he was received — even porcupines need a few strokes — and he was tempted to stay on. But he couldn’t resist the call of the wild, and how could I hold him back?

Maybe we’ll see him again next year.

Spike’s Off Duty
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  • Reply Joyce Hinnefeld September 16, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Still speechless in the face of these photos (even with your fine list in front of me).

  • Reply tigress September 16, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    those photos – and alaska – look amazing! *jealous* how wonderful that you do this each year!

    i'm gonna miss spike.

  • Reply Denise | Chez Danisse September 19, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    I believe I'd be flat on my back before I could utter a word after seeing a large black bear lumber across the trail in front of me. I think I have a crazy fear of bears because I've never seen one. I had a similar fear before my first bee sting…

    Your trip looks…um…mythic! Good choice?

  • Reply Michelle M. October 16, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    Let's add "blue-ribbon" to the list, e.g.: "That's one blue-ribbon bear", or "You've cooked up another blue-ribbon jam." In other words, one should keep this list handy when reporting back to you on the quality of your canned handiwork.

    Primo post. I'd have been laughing right along with you on that drive. I struggle with the same limited vocabulary when I find myself in places of unparalleled beauty. It's hard to resort to "amazing" when I used the word to describe the sticky bun I ate earlier that morning.

  • Reply Anonymous December 5, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    We visited the great Alaska in 2009. It was a remarkable breathe taking mystical time.
    Stephanie Hiatt

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