Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Dreaming of Alaska

We're not looking to hang it up any time soon.  But the day will come, we know.  We suspect that we're closer to the end our time of being full-time sailors than we are to the beginning.

There's this whole other part of our lives, and our hearts, that has nothing to do with sailing - that's the life that we left behind in Alaska.  Alisa and I both moved there in our early twenties, and we both fell hard for the place, and the lifestyle and the people.  We worked long summers on the water, doing field biology.  I mountain climbed, and together we made long (like, up to two weeks long) cross-country skiing/camping trips in remote corners of the state.  In the winter we enjoyed the company of like-minded people in an endless-seeming round of saunas/banyas and potluck dinners.

Life there was rich.

We don't think about Alaska much, day-to-day.  But we know it's the place we'll return to when all these nautical wanderings are done.

The thing is, that it's hard to imagine just what our lives there will look like.  This time of living on a traveling boat has changed our outlook immensely, and we know that we want to do something different when we go back.  Our old lives of being biologists working in a government office were great in many ways, and it may be that we end up going back to doing something similar.  But, given everything that we've seen and done in the last six years, it's natural that we might want to try our hands at something else when we go back.

The question, though, is what that might be.  We have lots of notions, but no firm plans.  So a few days ago I taped a piece of paper up on the bulkhead in our cabin for us to start writing down ideas for our Alaska life.  Getting to the point where we could untie from the dock and set out on this life took years of dreaming, planning and preparing.  So we figure that a successful re-entry into land life may take a similar amount of effort, and this list-on-the-bulkhead is our first concrete step in this direction.

No details to share, yet, except that under the heading "In Alaska, we want to…", the first thing I wrote was "have time".  As busy as we are right now, getting ready for the next season, and as busy as I have perpetually been, working as a freelance scientist to keep this project going, I recognize that the amount of time that we have together as a family is the greatest luxury of this life afloat.

For Eric and Elias, meanwhile, Alaska is an even more abstract proposition, a dreamy place that mom and dad always speak of in glowing terms.  Eric is very concerned about having a knife when we go to Alaska so that he can protect himself from bears.  And Elias has more detailed notions - how he'll stay fit in Alaska, how he'll hunt ptarmigan with a slingshot or a bow and arrow or a falcon.  That sort of thing.

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