Here are the reflections I had in Washington regarding Alaska when I stopped at a hill that overlooked a river.  When Nina, Jamie, Chris, and me shared where we are from, the question came up: where do all the used Mercedes in Orange County go?  Chris, the guide, is originally from the South Bay area of Los Angeles and revealed why he left.  He doesn’t like plastic.  Plastic personalities, plastic in boobs, and using plastic to pay for things.  He also took shots at the weather girls of Southern California. There is the normal weather girl, and then there is the extreme weather girl who reports during “storm watch 8,000.”  Jamie quickly quipped, “Then the extreme weather girl must be the one with the natural boobs.”

There is nothing plastic about Alaska.  It’s natural—including the people.  The national dress code is a Carhartt quilt lined bib overall.  On a hot day like we had, that’s it.  No t-shirt.  But the obligatory ball cap tops the outfit.  Alaska is home to the misfits, Chris said.  But I would like to think Alaska is home to the naturals.  The ones who refuse to adapt a false persona for the sake of conformity.  If they have to be called misfits, let’s at least call them the cool misfits.  They reject the plastic nature of places like Orange County and feel life is better spent being one with nature.

Jamie, one of the two others who joined this trip, is an outdoorsman.  His day job you ask?  (because that is the question we all shamefully ask to quickly try and pigeonhole someone) a soldier in the Canadian military.  When I shared why I am on the trip, raising funds and awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project, he educated me on the fact that the Wounded Warrior Project helps Canadian families as well.  I didn’t know this.  One of his better friends who was recently discharged from the Canadian military is receiving assistance from the Wounded Warrior Project.  Learning that the WWP helps any soldier involved in the Persian Gulf conflict and meeting someone who knows someone directly impacted by WWP made the Alaska leg even more special.

Also providing serendipity to Alaska was Nina.  Just read her comments to my initial blog regarding Alaska.  The girl is smart.   The girl loves learning.  The girl is courageous.  After all, she’s in Alaska because she is taking an intensive 6-day sailing course so she can sail from her native New York to Hawaii.  I can only hope that a future invite is included, but I will ensure that I keep the plan to meet Nina in New York.  She said everyone competes in New York to see who can be the busiest, so knowing that I am “on the calendar” makes it obligatory that I keep the appointment.  But it wont feel a an obligation at all!  I don’t know too many people that I can talk about Nora Ephron, David Foster Wallace, Truman Capote, Lauren Hillenbrand, and others I forget we discussed.  And Nina’s passion for learning and sharing these learning experiences has rekindled my own passion for learning and teaching.  See you in New York, Nina, so we can continue the conversation.



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