Why Alaska?

Posted by dating a older man on Jun 6, 2013 in Alaska 2013 | Comments Off on Why Alaska?

My friend Richard called a few days ago with a question that has caused me some difficulty in formulating a cogent answer. “Why Alaska?” he asked, then added “and if you are insistent on doing this, why go in that little yellow airplane when you have a perfectly usable Bonanza that is twice as fast and much more comfortable?” I also know there are other friends and family who probably have the same thoughts although they have been kind enough not to confront me with their likely opinion that this is a really bad idea and I must have lost my mind? In some way, I agree with the sentiment that if you have to ask, I probably won’t be able to give you an answer that makes much sense, but I’m motivated to try. As I considered the possibility of flying the Super Cub all the way to Alaska, I tried to balance the excitement of this “trip of a lifetime” with the reality of risk, cost, time away from family and work while wondering if I had the skill, knowledge and judgement  necessary. The tipping point came when Lou Furlong explained that a group of pilots would be travelling together and that several of them are very experienced Alaska veterans. deep survival

I had also just read a fascinating book, which should be required reading for anyone interested in any sort of an adventure. In it, Lawrence Gonzales discusses his own motivation for flying aerobatics at low altitude. He describes a friend and fellow pilot who died in the crash of her Pitts Biplane and whose friends lamented the unnecessary risks she took. But, I had a friend who lived a careful, conservative life, avoiding risk as much as possible, only to die in weeks from cancer. We all need to realize that to live at all carries a substantial risk. Gonzales points out that in one year, 640 people died choking on food and 320 drowned in their tubs. In a way, we are all flying low level aerobatics upside down, so we may as well turn on the smoke and have some fun.

This does not mean we shouldn’t take precautions. Nor does it mean being foolish or careless. After all, it’s easy to get yourself dead. All it takes is some lack of preparedness coupled with some bad luck. Here is Lawerance again..”The perfect adventure shouldn’t be that much more hazardous in a real sense than ordinary life, for that invisible rope that holds us here can always break.” Knowing this, we can choose to live intensely. “According to Gonzales, he believes in the Gutter Theory of Life. It goes like this: You don’t want to be lying in the gutter, having been run down by a bus, the last bit of your life ebbing away, and be thinking, ” I should have taken that rafting trip…”

surviving uncertaintyFor another perspective, I recommend the writings of Lane Wallace who used to write a column for Flying magazine. She published a book about surviving uncertainty and taking a hero’s journey. Lane endured a terrible car crash that almost killed her. She went on to give up a promising corporate career to pursue life as an author. She basically agrees with Gonzales, saying that we all face challenges and crises in our lives from injury, health, financial and relationships. It is how we meet them that matters and it is in part, how we define our lives. She promotes the concept of being willing to tackle the unknown and to enjoy the uncertainty that comes with it. Check out her website at www.lanewallace.com.

On a much lighter note, I have also begun reading “Coming Into the Country” by John McPhee. Although I am only a few pages into his book, it is like sipping a fine wine. His descriptions of Alaska and the people who live there are unforgettable. McPhee paints with prose that captures the rich tapestry of the Alaska wilderness. I highly recommend all of the books to you.coming into the country

Many of you have wished me Godspeed and fair winds on this journey. Some have offered suggestions which I have duly entertained. My buddy Dirk had some sage advice, suggesting I not wear my Texas Longhorns tee shirt to Colorado but instead consider buying one that said “Canadians Suck!” With friends like that, how could this not be an amazing experience. Welcome Aboard!




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