So. I took off again.
And thus begins the first chapter (or rather, a follow-up chapter) of my travels across the globe. On Saturday, September 23rd, I booked a ticket for the ferry. You can imagine moms surprise when I told her I was leaving, for I cut it fairly close. Any longer and I would never have left. I packed up my massive backpack, convinced that backpacking the world may be, just may be in my future. And who knows. Maybe it is. Maybe it was. Maybe all I needed was to take that leap. I stepped on the Kennicott with a bounce in my step, albeit a timid and and wholly frightened one. I had no plans for after the boat, no goal in mind, no journey in motion, no objectives whatsoever. In my eyes, I had already accomplished the most difficult task I could… I left. So suddenly that I brought my mother to tears, so spontaneously that I didn’t warn my friends, so quickly that I didn’t know how to handle myself.
I spent the day on the boat gathering thoughts. By the time I reached homer, I had put plans in motion. Tickets to Europe were cheap these days, as shoulder seasons typically are, and I found myself almost unapologetically on an escape. Susan, a quickly acquired friend, invited me to stay in her hotel room, warning me of the dangers of hitchhiking in the dark. I feel, and have always felt a stronger connection to the Irish population than I do to Americans, and when Susan’s Kerry accent became noticeable, I knew I was in for good company. Susan and I ended up spending the following day bundled up in bags and coats, working our thumbs on the highway. A homelessness rookie, I had no idea what to expect. I mean, how often do you realistically get put in a position in which hitchhiking is the only option??
I suppose now is the time to come clean as the the motivation behind this letter. My memory, though helpful at times, is shot. And due to its inabilities, I forget easily the most basic of interactions. I’ll give a short and sweet detailed account of each memorable encounter in hopes of maybe deepening my own diligence to social interaction..
In homer, Susan and I met a couple, Anne and Tim, whom we accompanied to breakfast at a gorgeous little creperie called Wild Honey. Anne, a broker for Alaska boats and Permits, and Tim, a burgening businessman in the process of building his own grow, had spent 6 months of their early lives together squatting in a campground in Kodiak. These people, I remember thinking, are the kind of people I want to be. Not so much squatting, but defying odds nonetheless. Anne, quick to offer us any sort of future accommodation, grew fond of us but had to return to work. She eventually dropped us up the highway, on the outset of our hitchhiking and was on her way.
Hesitantly at first, I grew ballsy with my thumb, grinning and motioning to drivers as they passed. As Susan insisted, I was to be the first impression if we were to get a ride. Surprisingly, in a stroke of beginners luck, our hitching took all of 2 minutes. A 70-something lady, who owned a pig and alpaca farm outside of Anchor Point, picked us up and we were on our way. A little quiet, our newfound chauffeur muttered away about her ranch, praising the importance of volunteerism and the wide variety of nationalities she had worked with. Before we knew it, we were out on the street, peddling our thumbs once again. This time took noticeably longer, but Susan and I bade our time, gossiping about our perception of legal/illegal drugs in the states. Low and behold, we finally got a ride. Michael, a 70-something hawaiian born again bush person was on his way back up the hill to Alexander creek, a tiny native village above the valley. He happened to be the utmost source on our previous drug discussion as he easily smoked 4 bowls before we even reached Kenai. “we’re gonna hotbox this shit” he insisted as the cab grew cloudy. Susan and I exchanged glances and shrugged, it’s just a part of the experience, I guess.
After well over 5 hours of smoke breaks, nature breaks, and photo breaks, we finally made it to anchorage. Susan, in an effort to make a practical joke out of drug smuggling, enlisted Michael’s aid in purchasing the least conspicuous form. Quick to get out of a definitely illegal situation, I walked down the street to Keenan’s office. He in turn, after quite a sarcastic recap, gave me a ride to Kiva’s new apartment, where I met her roommates Miles and Nick. I spent the next few days in anchorage running errands, spending much too much money, and wading through a series of uncomfortably strained interactions with my sister.
Ultimately, I got on a plane, headed from Anchorage to Seattle, another from Seattle to Calgary, AB, from Calgary to Gatwick and beyond.
I’m writing this from my third flight of the day. Exhausted is a word that is far too inappropriate for the tiredness I feel right now. I met a man on my first flight that spent his time chuckling about his “fuck it” moments and how he treasures those experiences. I took it as a sign that I was headed in the right direction. Seattle was fairly uneventful, but Calgary got my head spinning. As we flew over the Banff mountain range, I fell in love with the landscape. If there’s anywhere I ever so suddenly wanted to live, it was in Calgary, just outside of Banff National Park. When we touched down, I grew more sure of my feeling. I know the cliche for Canadians to be kind and jovial, but I did not truly know it until I stepped through the terminal. It is an atmosphere unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I aim to cultivate that kind of atmosphere someday. Or maybe today. Maybe putting it off is exactly what I’m missing… Regardless. You are now caught up in my shenanigans, so theres no escape now. I wish you the best on this journey with me.