My summer for 2012:
I went back to Anchorage AK in the beginning of July and stayed till the 27th, dog-sitting and house-sitting. I also did a little bit of training and fit in some hiking. I spent time with the Gardner’s dogs and Mr. H’s Border Collie, Pete. River of course flew up with me and quite enjoyed pack time with her furry friends. I was able to catch up with a few friends, my awesome bodyworker and some co-workers. Sighted a few more moose, eagles and other northern wildlife. While Reuben didn’t quite enjoy the time apart as much, I didn’t feel too lonely even though most of my days were spent with a bunch of dogs in a nice big house outside of town. But then… that’s my idea of relaxing. Don’t get me wrong, I did miss Reuben, but seeing as how Alaska is one of my favorite places and dogs make great companions I was enjoying my time too.
River and I flew back to Seattle, unpacked and repacked, loaded the car and less than 24 hours later Reuben and I snagged River (who was a little traveled out) to begin the drive east. We made it to Yellowstone in the late night hours; found a free place to stop the car outside of the Park till morning to grab a little shut eye (yes we slept in the car). Drove about half of the park, even got to see Old Faithful blow and some of the wildlife (that wasn’t very wild) before getting back on route due east again that afternoon. We took tons of pictures! I will upload them as a picture post soon.
The drive through Wyoming was fantastic with the sights and landscape. We stopped for a few hours in Nebraska before the early morning heat made it impossible to sleep anymore (yes we slept in the car again) and hit the highway. Reuben and I mostly ate out of our cooler and River of course had her dog food. We grabbed a cheap hotel on the border of Illinois and Kentucky after overshooting on one of the roads. The Black Dragon pulled into the Farm in Tennessee on Tues the 31st of July. Reuben met the ‘family’ and things went fair to smooth. Spent some quality time with the younger kids and a little bit with the boys. Lorien was attached to my hip, as she should be when I am in town *smile*. I put Reuben up on a horse, sadly the camera he grabbed to document this feat didn’t have a SIM card in it so I have no photos to share.. Reuben said he enjoyed it so much that a second time is ensured (and this time we’ll make sure the SIM card is in!).
I took Reuben to Citico Creek and Bald River Falls since those are old time hangouts from long ago in Joannie history. On the 4th of Aug we got the car packed once again after picking up some more gear to head north towards New Jersey; we overnighted in Maryland with Reuben’s super sweet sister and her family. Sadly, River had to stay behind at the Farm in Tennessee. On Sunday the 5th we rolled into Camp at The Tracker School which is set up in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. Reuben’s class, Standard is where it all starts; survival skills, primitive skills, and how to never not be at home in the woods. I took my Standard a few years ago and still haven’t begun to master what I learned. Tom Brown Jr. is the founder and main instructor. (I’ve mentioned Tom before, and how I got into his programs is explained in the ‘Author’ page on my blog). I hung out and helped out (some light volunteering) while Reuben had his eyes opened anew. Was a hot and rather damp week (bit of rain) but nice to take a breather for me before my class started the following week. Reuben’s class ended that Saturday, we went with my friends Matt & Carmen whom work at Tracker to the beach – Reuben’s first experience of the Atlantic! (Editor’s note: He’d actually visited the Atlantic ocean once before.) *Joannie’s note: He’d never set foot in the Atlantic and it was the Chesapeake Bay…
Sunday I drove Reuben to the Philly airport (so much fun navigating traffic on the East Coast..) as his time was up, and work in Seattle was calling him back. I started my class at Tracker that afternoon (the 12th of Aug), and for the next week was immersed in Philosophy that didn’t really seem like Philosophy (very little sitting and no debating – intense learning). A whole post will have to be dedicated to my Philosophy class, but for now, it blows any book or college class I’ve ever had contact with out of this world. Upon the end of class I stayed on unplanned for the next program, a 100-person Vision Quest, which was not a Tracker class but a branch program called Earth-Heart run at the Tracker camp. Tom used to run Vision Quests along with his many other classes and then passed the tools and responsibility to then-student Malcolm Ringwalt, who founded Earth-Heart and has been running Quests and other similar courses ever since. Malcolm is the cool calm water to Tom’s intense inferno fire in the realm of teaching. Malcolm is also Tom’s right hand man in all the Philosophy courses, which is how I found out about and then came to the decision to stay on for the 100-person quest! A 10-day class that opened my eyes and brought my entire life into context; an entire post will soon be written just about my quest – but for now, you’ll just have believe me when I say that it is one of the most powerful things anyone could ever do for themselves.
I met 3 wonderful ladies during the quest that I have become intensely close friends with. For now I’ll refer to them as my ‘element sisters’ and will expand on the events that brought us together in (you guessed it..) another post. Upon the last day, one of my element sisters who lives in Quebec, had a ride all lined up to meet her husband at the border but it fell through. So many other people were needing rides to the north that I offered her the use of my car (and I) so that she wouldn’t have to suffer a bus ride. So we packed up and headed north on Tuesday the 28th of Aug. I had a wonderful dinner with she and her husband, after which they put me up in a hotel for the night (because my passport is expired I couldn’t go to their place in Canada (sigh)). The next morning bright and early I headed back south to visit the family on the eastern shore of Maryland before going even further south back to the Farm to pick up River and have some more time with my family. I was also able to see amazing friend Amy in NJ as I drove through, which was a nice surprise as she had been out of town. I stayed two nights in Ocean City, Maryland; saw some family and the Phillips; slept a few hours in Arlington with another of my aunt & her family; and then finally pulled back into Madisonville, TN, on September 1st.
Originally I planned to stay for 4 or 5 days, then head west with a stop through Colorado to visit some friends. With everyone being back in school it was hard to get quality time with my siblings and friends so the time was being stretched. I also was invited to Alabama to visit a very interesting lady’s farm. One of my elemental sisters told me to contact Mrs. Colin and when I did I was invited down to meet her horses. Saturday afternoon while I was in Knoxville with Jeremy (brother #3) and Lorien I got the call that my Grammy Gail (Grandmother Roissier – Mom’s mom and my last living grandparent) had died suddenly. I had just seen Grammy Gail over the Holidays along with her Dachshund Rosie (originally Mom’s dog) when they flew – as in just the two of them – to Alaska to visit River and I and my Aunt Suzi in Bethel. A little shocked and very saddened, I decided to keep my appointment with Mrs. Colin for Sunday morning and then work out the route west. My visit to Alabama was quite nice and I was invited back to meet Mr. Colin on Tuesday morning (yup, another post). I cancelled all my plans with the friends in Colorado, River and I headed west to Phoenix, Arizona, on Tuesday the 11th in the afternoon after my Alabama stop.
The service for my Grandmother was on Friday and I had a late start on my roughly 1900 mile drive west, so I knuckled down and watched the state lines pass us by. More sleeping in the car, more eating out of the cooler (I actually never ate anything but what I had with me for the those two and half days). I arrived in Sun City, Arizona (outside of Phoenix) late Thursday, and was able to be there for my aunts and attend my late Grandmother’s service.
* I’ll post some more related info to my Grandmother on my Mom’s page on the blog.
Sunday the 16th, River and I, along with Rosie and Aunt Suzi, headed north. Reuben and I decided to take Rosie in (because he is cool like that), and my Aunt Suzi didn’t have a flight set so I mentioned that she could always ride with me to Seattle and then catch a plan there to Bethel, AK if she would like. And that, folks, is how I scored a super nice hotel in Las Vegas! Was a really nice break and got to see some of Sin City. From there it was straight north through the high Nevada desert until Idaho. I drove through the night and we arrived in smoky Seattle (there are wildfires in the East and the smoke tends to accumulate in the greater Seattle area) Tuesday morning, the 18th of September. Suzi’s flight left on Wednesday afternoon, giving her a chance to rest and for us to hang out a little bit.
Damn, just giving a quick overview with no pictures is freaking long! The pictures for the various adventures will be forth coming along with the ‘other’ posts. I just wanted to give a overview of ‘my summer insanity’.
Note, that my poor Black Dragon has driven this summer excursion alone.. 9497 miles (or if you include the not so little side routes over 10,000 miles!!!) We had the breaks done and fluids changed before we left Seattle, it got a little work done in TN and some fluid type tune ups along the way. Otherwise minus some puffing it drove amazing J
Rosie is settling in well, River is glad to be bug free and Reuben is to put in a friend’s term ‘over the moon’ to have me back.
I’m tired, and basically just being lazy for the next little bit. Something my bills don’t agree with but I seem to really need.