Monday, August 12, 2013

Coming to an End

We arrived in Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia last night to a dismal climate with rain, lightening, and lots of thunder, but today proved to be a gorgeous, warm day. And as I sit here in our campsite, I'm saddened by the fact that the trip is two days from being completed. I just can't believe how fast the entire trip has gone-where in the world did seven weeks go? But then I realize that instead of being a bit sad because it's ending, I think about how lucky I am to have done this trip with Doug and especially my Mom. Not many people get to spend so much time with a parent later in their lives so I'm thrilled to have this opportunity. 

Traveling tends to change people from all the experiences, but then traveling so far North to Alaska, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories really makes a tremendous impact. You learn to treasure moments each day that make you smile, laugh, or just cry because they add a little bit to your life story. One such moment was just over a week ago in Watson Lake, Yukon when we stopped at the Sign Post Forest. Back when the Alaska Highway was being built in 1942, a homesick soldier from Illinois placed a sign in Watson Lake with the name of his hometown and the distance back to that town. Little did he know what an impact his simple task would become because today over 77,000 people have placed signs in the "Forest" that have become a little part of their stories. So for the last two years, I have talked about making a sign and putting it up at the "Forest" and this year I did just that. I made a sign with all of our names on it, including the dogs, and together we put the sign up representing a little story of our lives. It was an overwhelming experience for me putting the sign up, but then I had to turn away because I was really crying when my Mom made us promise to revisit the sign in 50 years. It made me happy to have the sign there, but then I realized that maybe my Mom won't be here if we ever revisit our sign. But at least we have a sign up saying that yes we were here!  Here's a picture of the sign and us posing with the sign.

Another such impact on this trip was finally making the journey all the way to Tuktoyuktuk, Northwest Territories. Our hopes were dashed during the early part of the trip when the highway to Inuvik, Northwest Territories was closed, but then when the road reopened, I knew we had a chance to fulfill a dream. And we did it in style! The plane was only a four seater so we had the plane and pilot all to ourselves both going and returning. So when the pilot spotted four beluga whales, we were able to circle back to watch them for several minutes. Then we had the tour guide to ourselves which made it seem more intimate of a tour. I even got to stop at the post office to take pictures and mail a few postcards. In fact, the tour guide got a kick out of the fact that the postcards we mailed from his little post office were going to Florida and California. And finally the real thrill of the trip was being able to wade into the Arctic Ocean and freeze our feet of course!!! But I really don't know anyone else who has traveled that far north to the Arctic Ocean and put their feet into it's icy waters. And that part of the trip is another part of our story for the rest of our lives.

There are many more other adventures we've added to our story, but I guess what I want to convey is how important it is to experience life every chance you get. We get one shot at this so we have to make it count for something. And each day we experience anything, it becomes another piece to our story. I'm happy to have added many more stories on this trip; many will never be forgotten.

Thank you for joining us on this incredible journey. It's not over; it's just another new chapter.

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