I’m grateful Mom did not die while I was in Alaska. Her gift to me, I suppose. Rubber tramping into Alaska was a dream I realized despite Mom being ninety and sickly. I struggled with the decision to leave and dealt with the guilt when it surfaced. I’ve never regretted my choice.
Rebecca and Adam’s loving relationship expands their joy of living life fully. Together, with their three black dogs, they create a friendship that is playful and soulful, one that endures through the bumpy times, convincing them they want to spend the rest of their lives together. Their wedding, two years after Rebecca returned from Alaska was on the top of Crested Butte Mountain on a brilliant fall day with her brother, Michael officiating. As Rebecca stood on the platform with the backdrop of distant mountain peaks, I felt a surge of gratitude for my beautiful daughter. In Alaska, I cemented a bond with her that I never had with my own mother, a friendship that grows, a trust that is sure and steady, a love unwavering. Our hearts beat in tandem to a rhythm of understanding, respect and encouragement.
My friendship with Stan deepened while roaming the wilds of Alaska. We discovered we could spend day after day in very tight quarters without killing each other. Living so intimately connected, only seemed to bring us closer. On the road, we were forced to creatively problem solve in order to live harmoniously–there was no place to hide. We brought that spirit of cooperation and acceptance home with us. We’re in a better place now than we were when we left for Alaska. We’re more present with each other and more honest with our feelings.
After meeting the day-to-day challenges camping in the Alaskan wilderness, Stan seems more certain of himself and what it is he wants. He shared a journal entry that helps me understand what it is he feels about living life without his business career giving him a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. He wrote, “I can’t believe it’s been several years since our Alaskan adventure. So much has changed–Kay died; Rebecca got married; Janet finished her memoir and I have somewhat settled into this new window of my life. It’s strange how at the beginning of my retirement, I needed big projects–planning, researching and living the Alaskan trip; opening a consulting business and working part-time with clients; joining clubs and committees, coaching my grandkid’s baseball teams–in order to give me a sense of worth, now that I am without a business card with a big title on it. Sometimes, I think I’m on the outside looking in, but mainly, I just smile–I know the secret handshake.
A great day is when Janet and I play Scrabble after breakfast, go biking to the park, have a
bagel sandwich from Steve’s as we talk about anything and everything [it’s amazing that after 45 years, we still have so much to talk about], come home to do something creative–playing the piano, song-writing, thinking, then take a bath together while sharing what we call ‘Tub Talk’ and go to sleep cuddling with my best friend.
Today, I didn’t make a million dollars for my company, or put out any corporate fires, or help the stock price rise… I did so much more.”
I guess he’s figuring it out, day by day.
I felt more awake than I ever have when I was climbing the ice wall on the glacier, while I watched the unveiling of Denali or came face to face with grizzly bears. I realize it’s not the things I surround myself with that lead to happiness, but an experience of being alive is where the real joy is centered. The meaning of my life is found in having that experience–in the rapture of being alive!
Rubber tramping through the Last Frontier was where my spirit soared. The spirits within and dancing all around guided me to a deeper appreciation of the invisible forces of the universe that shape the world as much as the glaciers, rivers and mountains define Alaska.
Stan and I continue to rubber tramp around the continent in our trusty bubble, the Laura Lee, always on the lookout for unexpected adventure and I continue to write about it.
Boldly Going Nowhere…JC
This is the last entry for my blog book, Rubber Tramping Through the Last Frontier. A huge thank you goes out to all who followed the blog and shared your feelings and comments along the way. I am filled with gratitude for your interest and participation in this journey. I will let everyone know when the hard copy of the complete manuscript is available.
Photos by Third Eye Photography
Rubber Tramping Through The Last Frontier is my travel memoir of a bold, four month RV adventure by conventional ‘sixty-somethings’ into the wilds of Alaska. If you would like to be a follower of this blog, Google, Rubber Tramping Through The Last Frontier, go to the blog and click on the follow button.