Trip of a lifetime – part one
Kai eagerly searched for his mother’s breast. Although the air was crisp and sharp, Jill was snug and content in her thick down sleeping bag. She would need to stop feeding him soon, but for now, as Kai suckled greedily she allowed herself a moment of tranquility: It wasn’t a life for everyone and indeed when they first announced their decision both families were aghast. Her Mother had pulled her to one side to ask if she was in her right mind. Quinn had looked so beautiful that day – masculine, rugged and handsome. He explained the plan carefully – they were going to sell their house, put belongings into storage and go exploring the wilderness in a camper van for a couple of years.
‘But Kai is still a baby and Josh only four! How on earth will you cope?’
Quinn’s mum was perhaps the most difficult to appease. Jill knew she had never really bonded with her but Josh adored her and she adored both he and Kai right back. Jill knew her angry tone covered up the profound anxiety she felt at losing her grand-babies.
‘It will be fine Cora, think of how much they will learn and the fun they will have – and of course, you can meet up with us along the way.’
In reality, Cora was only saying out loud what Jill herself had thought endlessly about but Quinn’s boundless enthusiasm for the project was infectious, and so here she now was, under the tree tethered tarpaulin listening to Kai’s gentle snuffles alongside the awakening dawn. He could be impetuous – she was the more cautious of the two – but somehow they balanced each other out perfectly. He was right about the trip. It was an adventure.
‘So Josh, why do we dig a deep hole?’
Quinn had always been clear that their adventure must be one of living with the environment, not taking from it. He was keen that the children developed both respect and love for nature and he was proving to be a fantastic teacher. Jill was so proud to hear Josh explaining that it was important to leave no trace in the wilderness and grateful to hear that Josh understood its importance in keeping wild animals away from camp. Their close encounter with the magnificent and terrifying – but fortunately not hungry – Grizzly bear was one she was not keen to repeat.
Alaska was supposed to be their first stopover on a year-long trip which was to take them on route to Canada and then through to the US down to Uruguay. Only, it didn’t happen like that. They collected the van bought on the internet. It was small and a bit more scruffy than expected but comfortable. They collected the provisions also ordered in advance and got straight on the road. ‘The wilderness’ had been their destination. It thrilled them both that coming from Sussex in the UK they had absolutely no idea what a wilderness really was.
‘What if one of us gets ill?’
Jill was the one who thought about the problems while Quinn saw the opportunities.
‘It will be fine, stop worrying – this is an adventure!’