The other day I took my kids on an adventure into the wilderness. I feel like it is important to expose them to the wonderful beauty and history in this great state, and I have felt inadequate as an Alaskan father that so much of their young life has been spent sitting under blankets in the family room watching cartoons and tearing paper. The only time they ever experience the beauty of the world it is when I shake them awake in the back seat of the car so they can look at a moose as it runs away into the woods. “Neat,” they say with a yawn, and then go back to sleep.

So, I wanted to give them something more. A few evenings ago, on a whim, we drove to a state park entrance outside of town. We packed our best picnic lunch and loaded into our crowded car. On the way, I told them about the amazing things we would see when we arrived. I told them about the great mountains and forests filled with animals, and about the untouched beauty and history that sat waiting to be discovered. The ancient monoliths that God carved with his own hand and then planted here for us to observe in reverence from a distance. The magic of it exploded in their eyes.

We found a space in the parking area on the edge of the forest, next to the small log ranger station museum that was still closed for the season. The girls helped each other out of their seat belts with eager fingers. They quivered with joy and wonder.

“Oh wow!” Clara yelled almost immediately. “Look at that! I’ve never seen anything like it before!”

I beamed as she and her sister ran hand in hand across the parking lot in search of the glories of creation. But my smile quickly faded into confusion as they ran straight past the observation deck overlooking the river and towering mountain cliffs. They ran past the maps mounted at the trail head with pictures of wildlife. They didn’t even flinch when a frightened squirrel rushed up a tree to get out of their way. The squirrel and I watched them run straight to the door of the ranger station. The two little girls stopped there, giggling around the object of their adoration.

“This is amazing!” Clara yelled. “Look Dad! Have you ever seen such a thing?”

I slowly walked up behind them, crouched down and said, “Yes.” I held their shoulders and pointed from a safe distance. “This is a pay phone.”

They laughed and wiggled their fingers at each other in a nonsensical way.

“It’s soooo weiiirrd..” Lydia said in bewilderment. “It doesn’t even look like a phone…”

I looked back at the squirrel and he seemed to shrug at me.

We spent the rest of our time eating lunch at a table overlooking ancient cliffs and a sky that swirled with the voice of God. The girls ate quickly, excited to get back to the weird telephone.