Often, when I talk about my childhood, I find it easier to make generalizations regarding the extraordinary level of adventure it involved. “I pretty much grew up in an airplane,” for example, is something I find myself saying, for brevity’s sake. But really, I also grew up in a sea kayak – and I don’t mean leisurely day trips in warm weather. I’m talking about week-long, overnight kayak camping trips in the wild, rugged wilderness of Alaska. Icebergs, cold rain, and vicious mosquitos were a small price to pay for the chance to live and breathe in the raw, untainted wilderness of Prince William Sound. My dad, you see, was a sea kayak instructor for NOLS in his younger days – in fact, he proposed to my mom on an island in the Alaskan wilderness in the middle of a sea kayak trip. Needless to say, these kayak expeditions have always been a huge part of our family’s culture – for the entirety of my life. Some of my first travel memories are of sleeping in the front of a kayak in Baja, cooking fresh-caught salmon over a fire with my cousins, or singing for hours on end as we made vast crossings of giant bays in Alaska, trying to out-paddle the approaching wind.
Setting up camp, circa 2004.
As crazy as it may sound, these trips have simply been a fact of life for as long as I can remember. I find that I enjoy them more and more as I get older, and am able to participate in planning, setting up camp, preparing meals, etc. While I was inexplicably terrified of the ocean as I child, I now love it – and especially the expedition lifestyle. A legendary kayak trip with friends and family in Lofoten a few years ago still stands out as one of the best trips of my life. Last summer, with continuous access to kayak gear at the lodge I worked at, I was able to embark on solo trips for the first time, and independent overnights for multiple days. I now think of it as one of the most awesome ways to travel – it’s cheap, adventurous, exhilarating, incredibly fun, and the quality of wilderness contact is just unparalleled.
Today, spring break begins, and while I admire all my dedicated classmates who are staying here to work – I’M GETTING OUT OF HERE! We’re off to Baja, the glorious desert coastline of Mexico, for the first warm-weather kayak trip in about 12 years. I am so excited I can hardly stand it. To celebrate, here’s a glorious photographic montage of past kayak expeditions.
Paddling in Price William Sound, Alaska, either 2003 or 2004:
This may not be a kayak photo, but this man is coming on our trip, and that is awesome:
The legendary Lofoten trip, Norway 2010:
And some personal adventures last summer:
First solo crossing!
I can’t wait to go. I can’t wait to live outside again, to pace our days with the rise and the set of the sun, the flow of the currents, the changing of the tide. To live and breathe the fresh ocean air, to fall asleep with salt on my skin and sand in my sleeping bag. To be in transit. To spend a whole week without a cell phone, without a computer, without classes. I’m out of here. See you later!