Affirmation: I am a Bold Adventuress!
When Geraldine Lucas was 58 years old she became the first woman to climb the Grand Teton. She retired as a teacher in the east and packed herself up and established a homestead in Wyoming in what is now the Grand Tetons National Park. In the beginning she didn't even have electricity or running water! It appears from the stories I was told while traveling through the area that women were very influential in the development of this state and in its governing.
The brave, adventurous spirit must continue to thrive in this part of the world because wherever Sandy and I traveled in Wyoming we found people with an amazing sense of adventure.
Pink's name tag had "Taiwan" printed under her name. She was a waitress in Yellowstone National Park. I was in awe. She was there just for the summer. "You are so brave." I commented. "No" she said in very broken English "I came here with my classmate." "How many?" I asked. "One." she answered. Wherever we went the name tags told us from where the seasonal employees came. They were from faraway places like China, Ecuador, Russia, and of course, they were also from different parts of the United States. I wanted to know if they were enjoying their experience and almost all of them told me they were having a wonderful time. One young woman said she couldn't believe someone was paying her to show people the beauty of Yellowstone. This same young woman had spent a few of her free days hiking and tenting in the park with another gal, just them and their bear spray! Another young man said it was his 4th summer. "What's not to like? I'm getting paid and in my free time I get to hike and fish all summer."
When my husband and I talk about the opportunities presented to us as young people we recognize that we simply had no knowledge of the kind of experiences that might have been available then, that are available to people today, all people.
We met some of the coolest adults while traveling through the National Parks. Did you know people of all ages work as seasonal workers in the parks? And, the most fascinating part, for me, is everyone I spoke with was having a wonderful time. It was the 14th year of service for one of the seasonal rangers we met. The first time I met an older adult who worked in the parks was in Yosemite. Sandy and I went to a Sunday service in the tiny church in the park. At one point we were encouraged to greet the other people attending the service and to chat with each other. One woman we greeted told us she and her husband were seasonal workers. They had sold their home and all of its contents, bought an RV and each year since, they had chosen a different park to work in during the summer. My eyes were as big as quarters as I listened. My husband looked shocked. I think he was afraid I was going to head home and begin the process of becoming a National Park gypsy.
One of our guides shared with us the story of how he met his wife. It was July in Alaska and he was doing research, out in the wild all by himself. He was a professor of geology at one of the universities up there and in the summers he trekked through the wilderness for weeks on end collecting samples. The weather turned unusually cold and it began to snow. He was concerned about getting back to civilization when he heard voices off in the distance. He could see through his binoculars that three people were huddled around a fire with a raft pulled up onto the shore. As he was looking through his binoculars, one of the women on the river trip was looking through her binoculars; their eyes met and it was love at first sight. They had been married 14 years at the time of his story. He said his friends were right when they told him it would be "a snowy day in July" before he met someone who would marry him. He went onto say she saved him in more ways than one. He wasn't sure he would have made it out of the wilderness if he hadn't met up with them and their raft. His wife to be and two friends had been dropped off at the top of a seldom traveled river with a pickup date and time scheduled for two weeks later. It was quite a daring thing to do but it wasn't her first trek into the unknown. As a young single mother she had gone to live with friends, saved all her money and had taken her 12 year old son on a 2 year trek around the world in a van.
Who are these people? It's all I can think to ask when I meet these adventurous spirits. It's all I can think to ask when I read and hear about the pioneers of the past. I believe there's a fine line between bravery and stupidity. Sometimes I think the only way to know which side of the line one is on, is afterwards, by the results of one's actions. If you enter into a dangerous situation and you come through unscathed or stronger for it, you might be considered brave. If you don't come through, you'll probably be considered stupid. But, don't all pioneers begin their journeys on paths unknown and untested? Where would we be without people willing to step way outside of their comfort zones?
In the Grand Tetons we also had the opportunity to watch several para-gliders come off one of the mountains and soar above us as they came to land at our feet. It was mesmerizing to watch. I was ready to give it a try, next time, but once again, the question arose, "Who are these people?" Who was the first one to step off the mountain with a parachute attached to them? Were they brave or were they dumb? Does it matter? If no one is willing to go out and see and try that which is new, there would be no growth. Think of all we would be missing today?
I for one am grateful for the spirit that takes people to places unknown. I am grateful for those in our society who are willing to challenge themselves so that those of us who are not as adventurous or as spirited, get to follow in their footsteps, get to see and enjoy and experience things we might never have had the opportunity to experience except that they paved the way for us. They are our forefathers and our foremothers and they are those who are still with us, the students and seasonal workers of our parks and perhaps those amazing people within our circles who also help us broaden our horizons because of their bravery and courage.
This, for me, is the blessing of travel. I get to see the world differently than I would have had I stayed home in my cozy little world. I get to meet people and hear stories I'd never have met or heard if I were afraid to venture outside of my comfort zone. It's true, I wasn't the to first step off the mountain and try to soar; I am not the one living in a tent and listening for bears; I'm not the one rafting down an unknown river or even taking a new job in an unfamiliar location but I am the one enjoying the fruits of all these pioneers because I am the one, perhaps a lot like you, that did travel to unknown places both out in the world and then, even more importantly, inside to within, to my heart and to my spirit to discover that maybe there have been at least a few times in my life and maybe more, when I could answer, "I am one of those people."