As much as we toiled through the chilly rains of coastal Oregon, California had been parched for years. It took a long pull on Earth’s canteen this winter, and we’d have the pleasure of hanging out with the well-hydrated monster of a state for the next week.
We left Harris Beach and bid adieu to Oregon as we crossed into Northern California along US-101. I stand by my belief that the first couple hundred miles of California should belong to Oregon. A continuation of old growth forests and rugged coastlines greeted us.
Wet. The wetness came first from our eyes as we left Seattle. Later, from the skies of the Oregon coast.
We looked west, to the Olympic Mountains standing majestic on their peninsula. We looked east, to the cascades, home of innumerable volcanic peaks. To the Sound, its waters the home to innumerable islands. To the city skyline, home to innumerable characters we’ve met in the time we called it our home.
It’s time to go. Our souls forever stamped with the memories made in the northwest. We are grateful.
Toward the end of the year, we had a decision to make: extend our time in Seattle or head somewhere warm for the winter. Santa Barbara is always a good choice, we thought. But I think we can both agree, staying in Seattle was really the only move for us. It’s felt like home for years- the hospital, the city, the northwest. I can’t imagine how I would’ve felt if we left back in December. A story with too abrupt an ending. A savage rug-pull. We had so many things left undone, and many more that longed for a replay.
There’s simply too much to cover to write any sort of narrative for this post. Instead, we’ll just go over everything in photos, with brief descriptions.
Returning to Seattle after our Alaskan Summer, we settled into our new apartment briefly before packing bags to head east. We spent a lovely weekend up in New Hampshire with family at the new lake house, and Grammy was able to make the trip from Buffalo- her first time getting to meet her great-grandson Elliott. We spent time taking in the beautiful weather and enjoying everyone’s company.
Last post of the our great adventure. A month late to writing it, as life seemed to pick up pace and complexity as we left the wilderness and camping.
On down the Haines Highway, fog enveloped us as we crested the highway pass at 3000 ft. It was a lonely, lovely highway. It seemed untouched, undisturbed, forgotten. The road pulled us back south into British Columbia from the Yukon, and we bid the northern territory goodbye, unsure if we’d ever step foot there again.
Glass on Kenai Lake awaited us the next morning. We’d decided to make our return trip back up the Kenai Peninsula that day, but had some time to spare.
Blowing up the kayak, we floated out onto the water. About a mile wide, and about 22 miles long, with two deep bends, I wanted to get to the east side, across the skinny way. A mountain cascade poured into the lake from beneath a tunnel of small trees, and we traveled to the mouth of it and relaxed for a half hour or so, in silence, save for the stream. Jamie and Charley took a nap. I couldn’t stop staring up at the long bowl that we floated within.
Rain again. We slept in at Porcupine Campground in Hope, hoping it would dry up outside before we started packing. It didn’t.
Jamie finalized a blog post as we huddled under our awning. We’d be heading further south in the Kenai, to Seward, so we grabbed coffee at Kayak Coffee Co in town to give our bodies a little extra fuel. I spotted a guy wearing a Bills hat under a pavilion beside the coffee shop’s parking lot.
Oatmeal, yogurt, coffee. It’s amazing that we haven’t tired of the routine yet.
We left Eagle River campground and made our way back into Anchorage for a few more items we’d decided were necessary. I picked up a new air compressor for the tires, as we’d given ours away to a poor soul on the Old Denali Highway with 2 hissing wheels and a handful of miles to get to a service center. Jamie popped into the grocery for a couple more things, and we wasted no time getting out of Anchorage, heading eastward along the Turnagain Arm.
A long, skinny waterway branching east from the Cook Inlet about 40 miles, Turnagain Arm is a a sight. Massive heaps of rock rise up from the mudflats of the Arm on both sides, and the extreme tidal changes give birth to bore tides- one of only a couple places on the planet where you can see the phenomenon. One long, subtle wave pushes massive amounts of water from Cook Inlet into the Arm. Some folks will surf the wave for miles, as it gently ushers them east beneath the towering mountains.
Archie was all stocked up the morning of the 14th. We were anxious as hell to get going. It seems that the longer you wait to set out on a trip like this, the more things pop into your head. “Maybe we need to get another basin for the camp kitchen. Do we have enough fire starters? Is my sock stockpile enough?” Sometimes you just got to get going.
It’s a big trip, no doubt. 7 weeks through Canadian and Alaskan wilderness, camping and living out of the car. But the anticipation can breed stress, and the best remedy is: to go. It’s not a regular vacation. It will be gritty, tough, stressful, spiritual, soul-filling, rewarding. A premium moment in our lives. We’re going to learn, grow, persevere, improvise. But staying present is the goal. We are here.
We finished our last shift at Cottage Hospital on the 25th, and had only a moment to let that sink in. We’d pack up our duffels that night, drop off Charley at the dog-sitter in Ventura, and catch an early morning flight back home to visit family and friends.