Seward, Alaska is one of the easiest towns to camp in with a couple hundred or so campsites stretched out along the waterfront. You pay for the sites like you would a parking spot; just punch in your site number at a kiosk then swipe a credit card. The place was quite busy the three nights we camped there and the campground was overflowing with the usual coastal Alaskan sorts (lots of Europeans, retired folks in RVs, large families from Anchorage, etc.) as well as a rough looking group of people camped just a few sites away from us. The leader of that last group was a very disheveled, mostly toothless woman somewhere between the age of thirty and ninety (honestly there was no way to tell her age) who talked at a volume louder than most people can yell. Oh, and she sounded exactly like Dale from King of The Hill.
There also were a trio of squatters who set up their tents just a few feet from ours and well within our campsite boundary. They had appeared in the short time we spent at the beach making dinner. Upon our return they sheepishly explained that they could not find anywhere else to camp and asked nicely if they could stay. We decided they could and even invited them to our fire which they declined. Instead all three disappeared into the larger of their two tents.
Less than thirty minutes later a European couple approached us and asked if we knew where they might be able to camp. We did and through a series of intricate maneuvers made possible due to us having talked to a large friendly family earlier in the day, they ended up camping next to us. Actually they ended up sleeping in their large SUV because they did not have a tent. And then Henna, who was whittling, cut her finger. Not a lot of blood, but she looked quite faint and kept repeating “I’m sorry” while madly gripping her finger. The cleaner bathroom (running water and soap) was a few blocks away and that is where we went to dress her wound. All this tired us out and, despite the bright sun, the loud toothless woman, and our giggling neighbors (who later we learned were stoned out of their minds), we decided to go to bed.
But then a beat up Subaru slowly drove past our campsite before circling back with the driver honking his horn several times. It was our friends Eric and Mara, two backpackers from Holland, whom we had previously met in Juneau. They did not have a car the last time I saw them so I asked them if they had stolen this one. They had not but they did need a place to stay. So I asked the European couple who were about to retire inside their SUV if Eric and Mara could set up a tent and they of course said yes. We then re-lit the fire and cracked open a few beers.
A couple of days later Eric and Mara joined us on a fjord tour. This tour was arraigned months ago as part of an article that I wrote for Splash Magazine. It was a very fun, but also very rocky experience. So rocky, in fact, that many of the passengers became sick with the crew quickly whisking people to the lower, calmer deck the moment their face changed color. The seat directly next to me was like a magnet for the sea sick as each person who sat there had to leave at some point or another.
The captain was only a bit older than the crew members. Over and over again she would say things like, “wow, we have already seen three bald eagles, a Beluga, and two sea lions.” And then a little while later she would repeat that same line with two more animals included. I am not sure exactly why she doubted our recall abilities, but the voyage felt a whole lot like a very intricate memory game.
Her first mate was a friendly bearded kid named Simon who appeared more Gilligan than hipster. Toward the end of the tour a rogue wave surprised everyone on board. A garbage can fell to the ground and the television monitors flickered. The boat came to a complete halt and it seemed like maybe the ship was seriously hurt. Corey was especially concerned so I tried to reassure her by pointing out that Simon did not look the least bit concerned. And with that Eric leaned over and very deliberately said, “Ah, but Simon has seen some shit.”
And so have we. It would be impossible not to after traveling over 10,000 miles in a giant circle. And really, when it comes right down to it, what better reason is there to travel than to see a whole bunch of cool shit. I am just happy to have been able to experience it all with my two best friends. I also am very thankful to all of you who have checked in on us throughout the summer. We hope you enjoyed hearing about our adventures as much as we enjoyed sharing them. Like Corey says, however, there can be no road trip without a home to return to. And that is where we are now, happy to be with our friends and family. But it’s always fun to look back at where we have been.