New Beginnings and Horizons

As far as trips and outdoor adventures go, this past summer was very tame. Dry conditions made way for plenty of fire activity around the state and with it, the ensuing smoke.  Smoke filled the Tanana Valley from early June to about mid July, many days making Fairbanks the worst town on the planet with regards to air quality. We tried to make the most of whatever smoke free days were present, but otherwise contented ourselves in our garden and short walks around the neighborhood.

Breathing in wildfire smoke is very unhealthy for the average person but even more so for at risk members of the community, such as pregnant women. Alana was pregnant throughout the summer carrying our first child and daughter, as such we tried even further to limit our activities, not wishing to cause any harm to the baby’s development.

Through this period, I did a lot of fantasizing about going hiking and going on trips elsewhere. I read a ton too, reading books like, “All the Wild that Remains,” which further stoked ideas of big trips. That book in particular fueled the desire for a road trip around the west. The summer prior, we had bought a 13’ Scamp travel trailer. The original intention was to fix it up, then sell it for a profit later on. The fixing up happened slowly, taking a backseat to work on our garden and house, but in the meantime it served as a guest quarters for any visiting friends and family. There was no reason we couldn’t use the Scamp ourselves, embarking on a grand tour of the west. I floated the idea to Alana and over the summer it coalesced into more concrete terms and a trip was born.

The idea would be to head down to the desert, specifically central to southern Utah and Northern Arizona. Spending days at a time in areas like the San Rafael Swell, Capitol Reef, Zion, North Rim of the Grand Canyon and southern Canyonlands area.  We would try to drive as minimally as possible once in Utah and spend a couple months or so there prior to heading to Chicago to visit my family for Christmas.

In late July, I ended up applying for a 3 month intensive woodworking class at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking. The class, Foundations of Woodworking, is project based, focusing on the use of traditional joinery methods with the exclusive use of hand tools. A month later I was accepted. Since initially coming across Dick Proenekke, I have desired to build furniture and things out of wood, but lacked direction and a mentor. Through this I will hopefully find both. Our winter was forming together quickly. The course begins in January, meaning we would now be planning to be gone for the bulk of the winter. It will be the first winter I’ll miss in Alaska since moving to the state full time in 2015.

On September 26, we welcomed little Enedina Marie Adilia McClure into the world. She arrived 10 days after her due date, delivered via an unplanned c-section after an arduous labor experience. Alana was very strong throughout the whole process and I was ecstatic to have them both healthy and on the mend following the operation. Day by day, Alana grew stronger. The first day back she couldn’t walk the length of our driveway without assistance and by the third week she was med free and walking as far as she pleased. We spent each day with little ‘Din, enjoying the beginnings of our new period as a family and integrating her into our world.

With Alana recovering and ‘Din settling in, we began making preparations for our trip. Packing all the things we would need for 5 months on the road (oh so many clothes and diapers) and battening up the hatches at our home. On November 2nd, we set off. Car and scamp loaded, with Alana, ‘Din, our dog Taiga and myself in tow. Southward ho!

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