The Real Reward

I’ve had several days back home now to reacclimate after my Alaska adventure. I’ve been taking a break from social media and Facebook keeps reminding me that it has been a long time since anyone has heard from me. Sorry about that, Facebook. Here you go…

I’ve been using some of the down time to get caught up at work and around the house a bit, but most of my time has been spent – you guessed it – getting ready for my next adventure. For several years, I have wanted to return to the bristlecone pine forest in the White Mountains of southern California. I leave next week, so I’ve spent a ton of time recently preparing for this trip. It is not as extensive as my eclipse adventure last year, but next week’s adventure has many logistical, technical, and artistic challenges. More on that later!

In addition to these preparations, I’ve downloaded and backed-up all my Alaska images, washed my clothes (it took a while!), cleaned my gear (yikes!), and reflected on the rewards of my trip to Alaska. I’ll never forget the torrential rain in my tent, the helicopter rides, the amazing scenery, and my CIA (companions-in-adventure). These are just a few examples; time and space do not allow a comprehensive tally of the rewards gained on an adventure like Alaska. However, the real reward awaited me upon my return home: an appreciation of my loved ones, my friends, my family, my bed, my shower, and the life I have here in east Tennessee. Living without these everyday elements of my life for almost three weeks reminded me how special they are to me. It’s easy to lose sight of the everyday aspects of my existence that make my life special. The real reward of my adventures is the constant reminder of how lucky I am!

Sometimes I think my motivation to go traipsing off to places like Alaska is to force myself to do without. To force myself into situations that I could never encounter in the routine aspects of life. It is kind of like forced suffering. Only by doing without something do I truly appreciate its value. Kind of sad that it has to be that way, but it seems like a common thread for many of us homo sapiens. We don’t know how good something is until its gone. There must be a lyric to a song in there somewhere!

So, what’s the lesson? I’ll let you decide for yourself, but for me, it is this: keep pushing boundaries and keep testing limits. Continuously strive to improve and reinvent myself. This gives me a new awareness to reflect on the world and new senses with which to experience it. All while maintaining an appreciation for what I have. That is the real reward of adventure.

This shot is from an ice cave near the location where I hunkered down in the rain for 40 out of 48 hours. I was very happy to visit this cave during the 8 hours. I would love to have a person standing in the mouth of the cave to provide some scale to the image, but the conditions were a little questionable and I didn’t want to ask someone to go stand at the opening for fear of them breaking through the ice and into the underlying stream. Not good. So, you’ll have to take my word that the cave was about five feet tall. I know this because I’m six feet tall. You can figure out the rest. Enjoy!

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