Trip of a lifetime – part two
It wasn’t very long before the van became more of a shed than a home. They had been told to expect Alaska in the spring to be muddy, wet and unappealing. It was anything but. Unseasonably warm and quite stunningly beautiful they wild camped in the mind-bogglingly vast glacier field national park where the nights lit by starlight were even more beautiful than the daytime. The family camp expanded till the van was only used to sleep in when there were signs of bears being nearby. Josh had become bear poo expert in camp. The road trip stalled right there and both Jill and Quinn had never been happier. Until the winter months at least, the Alaskan tundra had become their home.
The inflatables only weighed four pounds each and were the size of a handbag when deflated. So far no punctures and they were easy to inflate. Initially, they had a foot pump but realised that with a little perseverance it was possibly simply to blow them up and this meant not having to carry the pump from the base camp – two days’ hike away – to the lake. To date, she always had the blue one, and he the red. Similarly, she carried Kai, and he took Josh. Just as they left most of their temporary camp in place when they left the shore-line, they would leave the kayaks, still inflated on the other side. In the year they had been living in the wilderness, they had never come across another human being so they did not worry that their belongings would be taken. They had once come across another camp and although apparently abandoned, they too did not take anything. They did use the shelter for an overnight stay though and hoped that should someone find their camp, they would feel free to do the same.
Once on the other side of the lake, it was a three-mile walk to the small town – the nearest populated habitat. They had visited three times so far to stock up on provisions and to telephone Cora to let the family know that they were fine and hadn’t been eaten by wolves or bears. Despite not seeing any other people when in camp, the small town of Hourecno welcomed them as if they were expected friends from their very first visit. Quinn remarked on the townspeople’s interest in their trip. Jill suggested it was less than interest and more likely to be patronising of an English family trying to find meaning in their lives while the towns young people were desperate to leave. Still, they were certainly friendly and helpful, and Jill was glad to have the opportunity for some unhealthy treats while they were there. Josh was growing so quickly he needed new shoes – again. He probably needed his hair cut too. In fact, they probably all did. They were starting to look like what Cora would call ‘new age travellers’. She reminded herself to visit the chemists in town for some child-friendly pain killers as Kai was now teething.
They carried the inflatables to the water’s edge. Quinn helped Jill get in first. As she carried Kai on her back, the craft was aft-heavy and if she wasn’t seated just right she got a lot of nose wag which made it harder to steer. It also meant that she could step in from dry land which meant she didn’t get a wet bum from water carried into the seat well on her shoes which was a bonus. When comfortable, he pushed her off and she floated into the glass still, crystal clear water. Next Josh was lifted into the red kayak and Quinn seated himself. Initially, the inflatables had been a challenge but it had not taken long to master and with a few paddles they were on their way.