We crested the hill just before our driveway in the backwoods of Alaska after six months traveling in the lower 48 and my girls jumped from the truck nearly before we could come to a stop.
“Let us out to run,” they said, these teenage girls we’d dragged to the big city to see another life. And not far behind, our three boys leapt to the ground and beat foot down our long and winding driveway home.
We pulled in behind them, my husband and I, in the truck we’d just driven well over 15,000 miles, and watched their faces light up at the site of our little cabin in the woods. The heaping firewood pile still ready for a winter we’d not seen; fencing fallen where a bear crawled over in search of feed and fodder; the view, oh the view, right where we had left it on the edge of what is ours; and the cabin we’d built with our hands, sweat and faith.
Our boys grabbed their bikes while the girls pulled on work boots and said, “What’s first?” knowing there was work to be done after such a time of rest.
Six months we traveled from Alaska, down through Canada, Washington, Oregon, California both north and south, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, back into California, up the west coast and back up to Alaska again. We showed our kids a world they didn’t know existed and gave them but a small taste of what’s out there, hopefully gifting them a curiosity for more to come as they grown and live and teach their own children. No regrets. It was fantastic.
But really, when all was done and we made our way home, empty pockets and irreplaceable memories, we watched their face more lit up then they’d been at Disneyland and realized we’d taken our children from the woods…and tried our best to ruin them.
We came home to frozen water pipes, batteries dead as can be, dust coating everything and a big mess where we’d rushed out of here last Fall in a frenzy to escape the cold. We’ve managed to thaw the water and determine our four batteries need replaced. At $400 each, we’ll be living in the dark for a while since we spent our last pennies on the way home picking up our new Honda generator. Two extension cords run our well pump and our coffee maker, and who needs more than that?
We went right to work on the sawmill making siding for the generator shed, practice for the cabin we hope to finish this summer. We sent the husband back to work, kicking and screaming, and while he’s gone we’ll continue to build, visit with friends we’ve missed, and try to remember what life was like on the Gulf of Mexico where the dolphins replaced moose and walks on the beach were a little warmer than here at home.
“It’s good to be back,” said Robin one eve as we chopped veggies in the dark kitchen. “I mean, even though the water and power don’t work, it’s good to be here, in our kitchen.”
“I missed it,” agreed Anthony as we pounded in nails the next day.
“The slave labor?” I joked.
“No,” he said. “Being able to DO things.”
“We just spent six months DOING things, I reminded him.”
“True,” he said. “But I didn’t have my hammer with me.”