Glacial Joy

The heavens opened with a gift that sent almost all of us on the Kenai roads off the road or we’d crash into one another or drive off a cliff. “Rainbow!” I yelped to Keesha and swerved off to the side of the road. “Wow.” Farther down the road I had to swerve again. “A full, double rainbow! Two of them!!” All the cars on the road had stopped to gape open-jawed at the beauty before us. “You can almost see the pot of gold,” one guy said. What a gift from Mother Earth as we drove to Seward.

In Seward, the campgrounds were all full which was just as well. Seward’s city campgrounds are bumper-to-bumper RV sites and nylon-to-nylon tent sites. I prefer more space. But I was crabby as I drove out of town thinking I’d backtrack to a Forest Service campground I’d seen as I drove into Seward.

While I was getting gas (which I do almost every station I see because you never know), I talked with the guy behind the counter about the camping situation. He thumbed toward a beat-up pick-up truck camper and said, “I’ve been on the road for seventeen years in that. You just drive up Exit Glacier Road. You’ll find a spot. Forest Service land has lots of turnouts to camp in.” “Thanks,” I told him. He added, “Hey, camp at the first turnout before the campground. You can live in those privies they’re so clean!”

He was right about the turnouts. But I drove the eight miles up to the campground anyhow. It was full. So I pulled into the first turnout before the campground as the guy suggested and joined three RVs and an SUV on the concrete. I don’t quite agree that one could live in the outhouse, but it was clean.

Before I left Homer, I’d rearranged the stuff in my car so I could sleep in the back if I wanted to or couldn’t set up a tent easily. This spot was my test. All I had to do was pull some stuff from the back and load it onto the front seats then place the sleeping pad down, roll out the sleeping bag and crawl in. It all worked just fine except for the crawl in part. I had to be a contortionist to get in the side door all hunched over and thread my way into my sleeping bag. Once in, I fell fast asleep with Keesha’s slow breathing softly lulling me into my dreams.

The next morning I woke to steamed-up windows and fog-covered mountains. I pried myself out of the sleeping bag and uncurled to stand on the blacktop. One by one, the RVs left. Soon only Keesha and I were left to watch the sun’s fingers caress the fog off the face of the glacier, brushing the white face with gold. I perched on the curb, hot tea in hand, and laughed. Here I was sitting on concrete, cooking my breakfast having just slept in my car and I couldn’t be more joyful!

My heart danced with the sun, holding hands with the glacier and I burst with a feeling of freedom. “I am free,” I shouted to the glacier. “I am free,” I called to the raven. “I am free,” I grinned at Keesha who grinned back and said, “Yes you are!” in her special canine language. “Even a crabby night and full campgrounds can lead to something magical.”

Note: This piece is from the summer I traveled with Keesha, my Siberian Husky, throughout the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Alaska.

[Photo credit Laura D’Ambrosio]


Subscribe to my newsletter and receive a free chapter, news, latest blogs, as well as updates on upcoming books.