Whether sifting through sand, or scrambling over a rocky shore, it's about finding treasures in every day. 

Finding My Feet

I couldn't see them - those stout but somewhat bent foundations that are my platform for walking and running. Worse yet, I couldn't feel my feet. Not physically, of course, but symbolically. I needed to find what would carry me forward in a meaningful way, so I jumped into the truck, took it on the ferry to Prince Rupert, B.C., and then drove for thousands of miles. I was in search of connection and direction; traveling to find my feet.

I searched with family and I searched with friends. We went to some very exotic locations right in our home country. We saw the amazing sculptures that time, water, and weather created in Bryce Canyon, Utah.

Hoodoos in Bryce Canyon, Utah

The Bryce Canyon formations are immense. There are tiny specks in this photo that are people! Detail of the center section in the next photo. And yes, those white patches are snow.

People walking on trails in Bryce Canyon, Utah. This photo is the small center section of the photo above it.

Was I going the right direction? I got snowed on in Utah. Getting colder.

We saw the Grand Canyon from the south rim on the Arizona side. The north rim road was still closed due to snow.

The Grand Canyon from the south rim.

I got hailed on in Arizona. Getting colder.

Since we were on the subject of big canyons we visited Zion National Park in Utah. Big and Beautiful!

It was a treat to visit some of the beautiful redrock formations of the Southwest.

Hey! There's my truck! It looks so small.

We went up through Nevada and the Humboldt State Game Refuge. The big, open plateaus covered with sage brush were pretty, but devoid of big critters. We found the antelope later in southcentral Oregon. They were happily sampling greenery at farms and ranches.  I fell in love with the textures of an old farm house near the western edge of the Humboldt State Game Refuge.

Oh, and I got snowed on in Nevada, too. Getting colder.

That's Nevada snow. In April.  Photo by Kathy Munsel.

Silver Falls State Park in Oregon. There are people walking on the trail that goes behind the falls.

There was lots of bigness on my journey. The biggest bigness was the people. The Alaska license plate on my truck started lots of great conversations, and I got to meet someone who works to change communities so that low income people are treated better. I met another person who cares about her job as a dental hygienist enough that she reminded us to floss, and she is so sweet and fun that I just wanted to spend all day visiting with her.

Along the way my near and dear ones lifted me up in so many ways. They even stuck up for me when people gave me a hard time. Yeah, like blowing a cork on the bad guys bigtime. They reminded me how much of my foundation is family and friends. Getting warmer.

In the Great Northwest we saw a big, pretty waterfall that you can walk behind in Silver Falls State Park, Oregon. I explored around Oregon a little, and somewhere around Bend I got snowed on. Getting colder.

I drove on big freeways where the interchanges were stacked four high and many lanes wide, where you need to know what lane to be in WAY before the signs tell you or else the traffic will be backed up for your exit and it will be too late to get over three lanes, and then you are stuck driving with no place to stop just like a long, run-on sentence. The noise was big, and as long as the whole day. I don't have any photos of the cities and freeways for you, and most of you know what that looks like anyway. I didn't find my feet in the city.

Coming into Ketchikan on the Alaska Marine Highways ferry "Taku". The green ferry "Stikine" in the photo goes to Hollis on Prince of Wales Island.

After five thousand miles I drove another thousand through Canada to meet the ferry and come back to Alaska. Yes, it snowed at one point in British Columbia. It was the beginning of May.

Back in Alaska I was trying to connect up with Lisa at the Hollis school. She had invited me to talk with the students about writing and maybe do a project. I'm not a teacher or a professional writer (yes, I'll keep working on it), but decided to have go at it. Besides, Hollis is on Prince of Wales Island, and any reason to go to P.O.W. is a good one.

The Hollis school is inspiring. I slid into amazed silence as Lisa showed me around. It is not a big, fancy, multimillion dollar structure. It is a small school with 17 students and a huge heart. The heart part comes through everywhere that you look, and especially when you look into the faces of the staff, students, and volunteers. Pictures and stories on them in a few days, my dears, because they are doing some really cool stuff.

Students in Hollis, Alaska taking a canning class with Sarah from the UAF Extension Service. They canned smoked salmon, pickled carrots, and made kale chips!

A dormant sensation glowed just a little: my creativity trying to light it's way out of the dark. Getting warmer.

I went out into my favorite stinging nettle patch and harvested nettles to make nettle soup. Little brown birds sang small, pretty songs while I was picking those tender spring greens, and the sun reached down through the bushes and nettles and grass to lay a warm hand on my feet.

Getting way warmer.

Fiddlehead ferns dancing out of the ground.

The big things are wonderful and thrilling, but the small things are often the biggest in my life. Eating the first salmonberry of the season, a sunny conversation with a new friend,  the beauty of a sea anemone. Tiny things in the overall scheme of things, but they are a big part of what makes me tick.

I'm back from a hiatus and here to share some small bits of Southeast Alaska with you... and I have a request. Let me know if you appreciate the posts. I'm not on the social networking sites, so please leave a comment or send a message on the Contact page. It'll help me know that I am going in the right direction - getting warmer - just like when we were kids playing the colder-warmer game to find the hidden prize.

Thank you.

 Wishing you a warm and sunny path,

Alaska Beachcomber