I've had a real mix of weather on this last leg from Juneau to Haines. It started in fog as I tried to negotiate the tidelands of the Mendenhall Bar for 2 hours, followed by beautiful sunshine the rest of the day. Then 2 days of cloud, rain, and 15-20 knot winds that, luckily were at my back. I did alter my route somewhat to stay out of the biggest seas, and I'm glad I did have alternate routes to turn to. Then today the winds died to nothing, and I had a beautiful paddle into Haines with spectacular views of steep mountain ranges and glaciers in every direction. Even the camping on this stretch has been good and the sites plentiful. Nice change from earlier in the trip.
With the end of the trip in sight, I find myself thinking about what this trip has meant for me. And, as usual, I don't have a good answer. If only I had found god, or denounced god, or renounced my evil ways, or something grand. But no, I'm still me, and I doubt Carlie or anyone else will recognize a change in me. But I will value my family, friends and strangers more, and, of course, the creature comforts of house and home. And I will be proud to have covered the distance I did, just as a cyclist would be, having ridden from coast to coast. There's something about connecting the whole length that gives the trip significance to me.
Some have said this would be a life-changing trip, and in some small ways, I suppose it has been. But what is more surprising to me is how little I feel any different from before the trip. I think it's healthy for anyone to spend a few days alone, to understand who that person is apart from spouse, kids, friends, job, etc. But for me to do a solo trip of this length, I expected more insight, I guess. I found instead that the person I am out here, alone, on a long adventure, is not so different from the person I am at home (except for the talking to myself). And there's a certain consolation in that. The person you've known, and I've known, is pretty much the person I am. To some of you, I'm sure that may sound obvious, but with all the noise in our lives, it's not always a given. So to those of you who were hoping for an improvement in my character, give it up!
One thing I have to give credit to is my body--it hasn't let me down. No tendinitis, no debilitating arthritis or blisters, no saddle sores, no sicknesses or anything. Sometimes I wonder if my body will outlive me, but probably not. Some of you younger ones may not be able to understand that one's body is not something to take for granted. It does indeed start breaking down in time.
Anyway, I suppose what a trip like this does is reinforce the universal truths. And for me, the most important one is the value of love and friendship. So raise a glass with me to a journey almost complete and to the family and friends that make our lives so worthwhile.