When I used to run regularly, I would set up a plan for my route. I’d follow a loop, turn around at a certain time, or make sure I didn’t go too far from home, just in case. Just in case of what? Making sure that I’d be able to get back from wherever I was. Since my running days, I’ve noticed that this survival instinct kicks in when I’m doing other activities. Whether I’m snowboarding or hiking, I have a plan how to get back to home base.
When I started driving, the more I pushed myself, the further I was getting from a home base. I find myself feeling that anxious feeling of …. will I be able to get back home? It is a feeling of wanting to be tethered to safety and what is familiar. The truth is, I am a far ways away from anything I know or would call home.
When I embarked on this trip, I announced, “I’m going to Alaska.” It was an honest intention, and a plan I made with great enthusiasm. I have a running list of places I wanted to see, ferries to take and glaciers to hike. I even fantasized about the possibility of scuba diving and searching for large whales dancing the kelp off the Alaskan shores. I was sure that I’d be traveling around the state, seeking and meeting all kinds of new experiences and people.
So, the truth is, I am not going to make it up there. At least, I don’t think I am. I’ve taken so many lefts, rights and detours off my original course, that I’ve gone way beyond what is known. I followed a map posted by some #vanlife bloggers about the middle of this island and disappeared to the end of a road that turned to gravel and windy turns into a very small fishing town. There are people here who write down directions for you, and make plans in person over a beer at the Marina. There is no phone service here, and I’ve found the one oasis that has WiFi, laundry and showers. The marina here is beautiful, I mean unbelievably peaceful and picturesque. Surrounded by misted mountains enveloped with fog at the peaks, and the scent of sea air, Tahsis is literally heaven at the end of a quiet long road. I barely saw ten cars going in or out of this place on the road on my way here.
You know that feeling of when you are so far away, you’re not sure you’ll make it back. That’s me, right now. It is as though I’ve gone so far away from anything known, I could disappear here indefinitely. Seeking a way to defy the popularity of this island, I chose a path far off from where the crowds like to go. Driving into this town felt like the end of the line. I may stay a while, or I may run back to what is more familiar.
Over the past three weeks, I’ve made so many turns to the left and right that I’ve pulled myself out of the routine that made sense but didn’t fulfill me. I wish there was a way for me to do this forever, just drive and explore and be able to sustain myself.
There has to be an end point. Today, I am not thinking about it too much. I’m just noticing the feeling of being far, far away from a life I knew. In this place, at the edge of a dirt road, on the other side of the island, I am discovering I’m not familiar to me anymore either. I’ve morphed on this trip. My emotional priorities and needs are different. In the simplification of my little world on wheels, I’ve opened up doors and pathways to so many new experiences. I’ve barely touched all the places on this earth I want to see. I don’t think Alaska is in the cards for me right now. That’s ok, I’m in a little town called Tahsis. It’s a gem, undiscovered and lusciously perfect in that it is still untouched by new found greed, over development and adventurers willing to drive this far west on 28.
It’s heaven. But if I stay too long, I might get stuck for fear of not being able to get back home.