Do you have a memory that instantly puts a smile on your face every time you revisit that memory? One particular afternoon during a family reunion several years ago does just that. We were on a seven-day Alaskan cruise aboard the Princess line, and while I returned home with more highlights than I could capture in one Facebook photo album, this particular memory tops the list.

It was mid-itinerary as we sailed through the Inside Passage, which meant that it was time to unzip the luggage, push aside the cold-weather apparel and pop open the bottles of wines we were saving for this very moment. This was also the moment that would make the additional investment in balcony rooms worth it.

While some tended to uncorking the wines and our private outdoor seating arrangements, the others approached the dining buffet to pile plates high with meats, cheeses, crackers and other satisfying carbs, grapes and melons. 

Out on the balcony, glass after glass of reds and whites were poured, a soft, cool breeze accompanied our lazy banter while the sun lit up the serene, cobalt-colored passage as we steamed past bits of glacier here and islets there.

This was summer in Alaska, and on that afternoon some yoga pants, a zip-up jacket and a scarf was just right. In between the sipping, munching and laughter I’d stop to look over our balcony and listen to the persistent whooshing as the water gave way to the huge ship. After that I would pour myself another glass of wine.

I also looked up, down and sideways and as far as I could see we seemed to be the only ones out here. It was probably better that way; the number of empty bottles seemed to influence the volume of our conversation. We continued to uncork the grown-up grape juice anyway.

At that moment, we had nowhere to be except for down memory lane, recounting past family reunions in Hawaii, Chincoteague, Florida. At the same time, we took in the present; we were on our own private balcony, floating through the fjords of Alaska’s greens and blues and grays, reds and whites in-hand.

My sassy aunt, verbose grandfather, wisecracking Uncle and brother-in-law among others also made for quite the entertainment out on our private patio. Everyone was happy and thoroughly enjoying each others’ presence. It was perfect.

Fresh air, the outdoors and good company have the ability to recharge the mind and spirit if you can pause long enough to let it, and aren’t too tipsy to appreciate it. Despite all of the wine, we accomplished both.