The seed was planted early on…

It’s back to school week!! I don’t even have children (thank god) and I am excited. A couple of my nieces are in kindergarten, one is in grade THREE and my nephew is in pre-school… where did the time go?

IMG_7017I’ve said many times I grew up a little differently than most kids. My parents divorced (for the better, they are now good friends) when I was about 5 and I moved with my mom to this tiny town and eventually moved to an even tinier place called Keats Island. I would take a small boat over to town to attend school, day in and day out. It made for random stories that I look back on fondly. I could even say I miss island life. Being from a coastal city, I remember our gym classes weren’t the “norm”… we would actually have to go outside and RUN 2km each class. We had this forest that wrapped around our school and we would run daily. We would go on snowboarding trips, beach days and even big treks to the big city (Vancouver) for a day of rock climbing.

In about grade 5 or 6 (I can’t remember I had the same teacher both years) we would have Greenpeace come in and talk to our class about the importance of the environment and my teacher would explain to us the meaning of respecting nature and all living things. Ms. Russell was her name. She knew I lived on an island and, more often than not, I would have some weird story about the commute to school. She would do roll call and right before we started class she would ask me about my ride in. Some days there was nothing to report, others, like in the fall or spring, I would tell the class stories of riding the tiny little 20 passenger ferry when pods of orcas would come right up to the windows and peer in the boat. I would talk about the dolphins that played in the wake or that one time the ferry caught on fire (under my mom’s and my seat) or when the ferry hit a “dead head” log sticking out of the water and I went flying the length of the boat, thinking I broke my wrist… see? Different/weird upbringing. I wouldn’t have changed it for the world now that I look back on it.

Trust your JourneyShe would be teaching us geography in class and asking us the capitals of countries and I would jump out of my seat to answer, eagerly waving my arm in the air. Normally I was a pretty quiet kid, but my obsession with traveling started in that class, in Ms. Russell’s class! I would dream of these far away places in other countries; the languages they would speak, the food I could try. I felt, even in Grade 5/6, I needed to see the world. I have only had ONE dream in my life that I hope to accomplish before my time is up and that is to travel to Nepal and set my eyes on Mt. Everest. I didn’t say climb it… I would like to just see it. 🙂

Ms. Russell took us on our first ever climbing experience to Cliffhanger Climbing in Vancouver. (I can’t believe I remember this far back!) I remember my instructor, a shorter girl with spiky hair who many, many years later both her and I learned we knew each other way back when. We became friends and played in a band together and toured North America. (Small world, eh?) Ms. Russell taught me to reach for the stars, to go forth and see the world and experience new things. The best education was to see the world and experience everything it could offer.

She told us of this place she used to kayak on vacation, it was called the “Bay of Fundy” in Nova Scotia. I’ve never been but you bet your ass that place has been on my list of places to see since I was 10 years old.

lookout at Canyonlands National Park
Lookout at Canyonlands National Park.

Ms. Russell, thank you for inspiring me to see and feel the world, to experience it on my own and with others. The best education you can give yourself is to immerse yourself in what you are truly passionate about. I am passionate about travel (we already knew this). I now get to travel the world, taking photos and collecting tattoos along the way!

I’m considering writing that book you always told me I should write. I hope you are well. 🙂

– Devon.

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Jessie.

Jessie from Beclabito.

Jade & I were on our first road trip together back in 2009, we packed up the car and took off for 2 weeks. One morning we woke up in Shiprock, New Mexico on our way to White Sands National Monument, following the map, it led us to a highway that didn’t exist, so we pulled over in a church parking lot and got out the old map to re-check our route. While we were looking at the map an older lady walked over from the other side of the parking lot and asked if we were lost, we said not really just trying to figure out where we were going. She said we wanted to get to Alamogordo and she pointed us in the right direction. She then told us her name, Jessie, and she needed a ride back home from church. Both Jade and I have NEVER picked up a hitch hiker but we looked at each other and said what the hell. This woman was easily 90 yrs old. We moved the cooler and a few things around in the back seat and she hopped in. We happened to be going the same way as she was. We got to talking about where she was from and her family, we passed the tiny village she was born and raised in, it was all boarded up and deserted. She told us about her son who lived in Tuba City and we should stop in and see him, they would love the company. She recounted many stories about Shiprock, the actual rock itself. Some truly fascinating tales about the surrounding area, and her grandmother’s ranch near the base of the rock.

What we thought was going to be a quick 10 minute drive home turned into a 2 hour drive down this long, winding dirt road. We ended up in Beclabito, almost on the Arizona border, and totally out of the area we wanted to be in. Where, seemingly, out of no where popped up a gas station. Jessie tells us we can drop her off, she can walk from there. She thanks us kindly for the ride, blesses us and our trip with a little Navajo saying and leaves the car. By then I am trying to get my camera out because Jade and I had been videoing EVERYTHING on our trip. I get the camera working, point the camera outside of the car where Jessie is slowly walking to the door, and we clearly see her. But when we played the video back in the car she was no where to be found on the camera.

Was Jessie really there in the car?? We ended up being on the correct road, in the right direction because of Jessie, we learned greatly from this Navajo lady but WTF happened??

Jade says I am crazy, she was really there and has no explanation for the no show on my camera. I, on the other hand, tend to think that Jessie didn’t happen. Was it a Navajo spirit realizing we were lost in the land and needing direction out? OR am I to believe that we picked up some random hitch hiker?…

– Devon