The Open Coast
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than those you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the wind in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” — Mark Twain
4:03A on April 5th. The sun was still waiting below a distant horizon as I drove through endless empty fields. It had been nearly 14 years since we (my father and I) opened a business together. A lot of life happened in those years. The birth of three beautiful children. The rise and fall of a business. My father being slowly taken from us by Parkinson’s disease. Joys and heartache.
Over the past year I felt a stirring. Life had taken major detours over the past 15 years. I had the opportunity to pursue a calling but the demands of my business were not in alignment with the needs of my growing family. I was working 6-7 days a week (when not travelling) and the business was not going well. Derailed by a weak economy and failure to adjust to the market, we closed the business. When presented with the opportunity for a senior management position in the construction industry, I moved on from my dream and spent 4 years going down a very different road. What I learned and the skills I gained during those years would prove invaluable. Yet deep inside, I knew this industry was not where I wanted to spend the next decade of my career. My family also needed a change. To be closer to natural places connect with each other outdoors.
The change led us west. After flirting with a job near Lake Tahoe, a new and (scary) exciting opportunity presented itself. Alaska. A place that I’d visited many times and had come to love. The Last Frontier and a land of opportunity. Opportunity for me to work in my chosen profession for Alaska Travel Adventures, a stable company with room for career growth. Opportunity for Harmony to re-enter the teaching profession. Opportunity for our family to live and play together in the mountains and on the ocean. Opportunities to live a more simple and natural lifestyle. Opportunities for our children down the line. The opportunity to place ourselves in His will for our life.
Change is good and change is hard. We wouldn’t be moving to the next town or even the next state. We would move to Ketchikan, Alaska. Separated from the lower 48 by a country. Separated from continental North America by the ocean. You can’t drive to Ketchikan, it’s on an island. We’d be leaving dear friends, close-knit family and a house that we’d lovingly restored over the past decade.
Orange and pink hues appeared as I drove east. I’d said good-byes to friends and family. I’d said good-bye to Harmony and the kids as I went in advance of the family move in August. The events of the past twenty years flashed to mind in the midst of this life-changing moment. I choked back tears and focused on what was ahead. The open coast of Alaska.
I am an ocean paddling sea kayaker. I’ve always loved kayaking on open coastlines. Working with the elements. Drawing from all my knowledge, skill and experience to make the right call. It’s upon open coastlines where the ocean gets real. A place where regardless of one’s qualifications they must humble themselves in awe of something far greater.
Beyond the challenges they present, open coastlines are full of possibilities. The Open Coast Blog chronicles our life in Alaska. Our adventures and misadventures. The quote “The wind and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators” resonates deep within. I’ve pushed into the wind and been pushed back by waves. I’ve also experienced being in the flow and on a downwind run. Follow along as we attempt to navigate a life in alignment, on the open coast.