For most of my life, I have gone wherever and whenever wilderness and adventure called. No part of the globe was too remote, no means of access too difficult. Material possessions mean nothing to me; I spend my available time and money on that which gives me joy: experiences and memories. These don’t wear out, don’t need replacing or updating, and since they take up only enough room in my little apartment to hold my outdoor equipment, there’s always room for more.
Since my husband passed away ten years ago, I’ve been to Patagonia, the Galapagos, Kilimanjaro, Botswana and Mongolia, to name only a few destinations. I’ve earned enough Aeroplan miles to be treated with extra courtesy in Business Class. And I have finally had to admit that I HATE FLYING! I hate it enough to stop crossing oceans and wandering around airports in the middle of the night waiting for a connecting flight. The forty-five hours it took to travel from a lodge in Namibia to my apartment in Edmonton last July was the last straw (the entire time was spent on planes and in airports).
Am I giving up on adventure? Not at all. The Canadian wilderness, especially the Arctic and the Rocky Mountains, offers all that I need. I’ve sort of been neglecting these places for the last few years, but no longer. In June I will do a two-week rafting trip on one of my favourite rivers, the Firth, that flows into the Beaufort Sea. This summer, there will be some serious backpacking in the Rockies. In September, I’m booked for a trip to the Pantanal in Brazil (have to use those Aeroplan miles), but that will be the final long flight. I’m considering cancelling and instead donating the miles to MSF.
Am I slowing down? Definitely. Last summer’s bungee jump at Victoria Falls notwithstanding, my 78 years are weighing on my joints. They would appreciate a little moderation.
So what do you do when there isn’t enough time for all the places you would like to visit, or do all the things you still want to do? When there are far more kilometres under your boots than lie ahead?
Two years ago, I sat down to write about an encounter I once had with a grizzly bear in Jasper National Park. But instead of using first person, I inserted a fictional character in the scene. And when I finished, I asked, “Where does she go from here?”
And thus an obsession was born. I have become a writer of fiction, riding on the wings of characters who are not bound by my limitations. My first novel, Frozen in Death, is about to come out. It is set in the place I know best: the Canadian Rockies. More about that in a later post.