The Craigslist ad read something along the lines of “looking for adventure? Apply here unless you’re an axe murderer.” Lydia, and Australian on holiday all over the US, didn’t take long to respond… and I didn’t take long to agree that we were going to have a grand adventure. I’d pick her up in Anchorage after exploring Homer, AK for some time.
There’s something omnious about leaving what you know behind. Not that I am attached to a place, there’s just something… a little unnerving about knowing that each place I visit might not harbor any flicker of home. To live as a nomad means to have no fear of homelessness, or at least to be able to cope with such, and so I cope. But it doesn’t take the woe away that maybe, far from what I’ve come to know and consider a temporary haven, I might screw up beyond what I can fix alone and that there will be no safe place to hide and heal. It’s rather instinctual. I often wonder how migrating birds sleep well at night in unfamiliar trees with no promise of the sought after success ahead, of warmer lands and fertility, that they’ve ventured for. Their drive is admirable and their courage even more so. And so I calm my fears each time I take the first step towards a new horizon with the fact that sandhill cranes celebrate their departure with days of dancing and singing in the company of loved ones, stretch their wings, and fly over 3,000 miles to their seasonal landscapes while eagles rip them from the sky to end their days… but the fear never stops them. They always sing. And they always fly further.
I hugged Nick goodbye. A long hug goodbye. He shoved his hands in his pockets and walked down the stairs beside Miner’s Market and disappeared out of sight. There’s always a tear to choke in those moments when I leave the hearts I’ve come to love behind, as there’s no guarantee I’ll ever see them again; let’s face it: no matter how dettached or accustomed to the nomadic life that one is, there’s always doubt (if there’s not, you might be a sociopath). And that’s where the ominous feeling emerges. But Johny Bravo was hiding in the forest nearby, waiting for me to pick him up and take him to the airport, so I had no time to delay and wallow in my woes. The cooky kid had straight up ran away from our psychotic boss. The night before he rushed to my room and offered only a brief knock before opening the the door to ask me – rather command me – with upmost urgency that, “I need you to take me to the airport with you tomorrow.” I laughed and agreed. The next morning, he had vanished, but not without delivering the message to me that I would pick him up in the woods. He’s a good fellow to talk to, and if helping him escape was all I could do for him I was happy to do so.
Everything was alligned. Johny Bravo was on his way home to Seattle, Lydia was preparing for her flight north and drive south, and my friends in Homer were arranging the opportunity for me to join them on a halibut charter. I’m not sure if it was a blessing of circumstances that made that departure easier than most, or if I’m finally so detached from things that it simply doesn’t sit too uneasily in my mind, but, regardless, I quickly found myself sorting details in my head that needed sorted, and rearranging my Jeep like a ridiculous game of tetris to fit two backpackers in my Jeep half way to Homer. I had made the promise to pick up any reasonable-looking backpacker on the way, and the couple I found first were very pleasant, warm people. Homer bound.
Homer blessed me with halibut so fresh, that it was only dead a mere hour before I picked the carcass clean and scared the hell out of Texans who then saw me as some Alaskan wild woman, feasting on the raw meat of a halibut. Freshest sushi I had ever eaten. And may I say, take the water taxi across the Spit and enjoy the hiking on the other side! Grewingk Glacier is a beautiful hike. I was joined by three strangers kind enough to share their hummus at a lunch spot by the glacier… and somehow, they ended up keeping my leggings. So that’s cool.
I can’t complain about the drive through the Kenai either. Yes, the water is actually that absurd color. The glacial sediment brings out the richness of the water, and when the sockeye salmon spawn one can catch glimpses of crimson in the opaque turquiose.
But the adventure was near its end. I stopped one last time for a brief walk by the Kenai Princess Lodge to eat rose hips and wild cranberries, and sent the message on to Lydia that I was well on my way. Without a moment to pass, I packed my things and continued the adventure back to Anchorage. She had taken refuge in a wonderful hostel, the name of which I can’t remember. But there were no shoes allowed inside, and several friendly cats… and silk sheets. Now Lydia was a riot. Offensive, insightful, sassy, adventurous… I couldn’t have asked for a better traveling partner. We spent our night in the Anchorage based hostel discussing logistics, stringlets, southeners, preparations for cold weather, crocodiles, grizzly bears, squirrels, youtube videos, romance, food allergies, what to do in case a bear attacks you, bogans and rednecks, duck faces, flat out like a lizard drinking, music, and everything in between.
We were destined for an adventure in Canada.