Spirit of Adventure

As long as I can remember, the term “Spirit of adventure” has been said in my family. Many times our old station wagon could be seen bouncing down a rutted, old logging road in the backcountry of northern Idaho. My mom clinging to the door handle, with a white knuckled, death grip, dad grinning from ear to ear as he jostled the steering wheel, and us girls in the back seat shaking like little bobble heads. Mom would always beg dad to turn around and he would laugh and say, “Where is your spirit of adventure?”.  My Dad was a firm believer that if a vehicle had four wheels on its frame, it was 4wheel drive. I grew up believing a “spirit of adventure” was something you were either born with or never had. My mom always informed us, in no uncertain terms, that she didn’t have a “spirit of adventure”, while my dad seemed to have more than enough for the both of them. “Spirit of Adventure” took the blame for quite a few of the scrapes my Dad got us into over the years. Hunting with my dad meant getting up before the sun and hiking into the mountains while it was still dark to get into a place to wait….which also led to us getting lost, because nothing looked familiar after the sun came up, but when our little legs would start to get tired, Dad would remind us it was an adventure! My sister and I took to grabbing chunks of charcoal as we hiked through burned areas and marking trees along the way, at ages six and nine, we told my dad we were playing “Indians” , but on the way home we always looked for our marked trees to make sure we were headed the right direction.

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My dad pretending he caught the big one.
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Fishing, the perfect stress relief, just like my dad taught me.

I came to grips with my fate, one summer day, after my older sister asked me why in the world I had just scrambled across a rickety ladder placed precariously between the branches of two trees. As I looked at the ladder, all I could think of was “spirit of adventure”. That’s when I knew, I had inherited my dad’s “spirit of adventure”, that restless, uncontrollable desire for excitement and adventure, no matter how big or small. As it turned out, all of my sisters would, in one way or another, inherit my dad’s spirit of adventure. For me, I loved the wild things and wild places. I ran around scratched and scraped from trying to tame feral cats, and even ended up getting bit by a raccoon, who wasn’t interested in being tamed. My poor mother would sigh as she patched my pants again and removed another tick.

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Now in my thirties, I am, perhaps, in the middle of my greatest adventure yet. My husband and I recently moved into the Alaska bush to work as caretakers and hosts at a remote, fly in lodge. As I look out my window, all I can see is a vast expanse of wild and untamed country. In our first weeks here, all I wanted to do was explore, to crest one more hill and take in another view. My husband, who is not spontaneous, has given up sighing when I pop into his meticulously, organized shop and say, “Lets go exploring!” He no longer asks me where are we going, because he knows it doesn’t matter, but with each trip his backpack gets a little heavier. He is always prepared for anything that might possibly come up on our trek, first aid, food or shelter, he has it all in his backpack. Somedays I almost expect to turn around and see him marking trees with a piece of charcoal.

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Joe trying to keep his backpack dry under his raincoat.

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Recently, we had a guest who was a city girl and very nervous about her first backwoods adventure. After a few days of hiking, watching bears amble across the tundra, and soaking in the breathtaking views, I saw her begin to transform. It was her voice that asked to hike further, her eyes that wandered to a distant hillside. That’s when I discovered, “spirit of adventure” rests in all of us, its a living, breathing part of us, it needs only to be awakened.  I don’t know what lies down the road or where it will take me, but one things is for sure, adventure will always be right around the corner.

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Note the backpack, and this was just for a walk on the river bed.

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