Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Proving that Alaska is not an Island...

An idea is born. In a nutshell, it is this: in 10 or 12 years, in the year 2018 or 2020, Jeff and I will lead our family on an adventure lasting 3 to 4 months and covering many continents and countries.

But let me start at the beginning. (And no, not like the beginning of a Michener novel.) In high school, I was a good student in nearly every subject - but definitely not in geography. During my junior year, while studying a map of the world [instead of just our familiar US map] I had an "ah-ha" moment, a sudden burst of new knowledge that finally integrated itself with old schema, a piece of the puzzle that finally fit. "You mean Alaska is not an island?!!" I asked my classmates and incredulous teacher. Think, for a moment, of how they draw US maps. Alaska is always in its own little box, right next to the box of the Hawaiian ISLANDS. I'd never noticed that it connected to Canada until that time in my junior year!

While I have seen many of the greatest attractions and amazing wonders of the United States, I have not traveled outside the country much at all. Jeff and I have dreamed of traveling abroad, but it always seems like one of those way-to0-distant future things. Until now. I read an article in Wondertime magazine about a family who saved money for more than a decade and then took one year off to tour the world. They saw 28 countries in 52 weeks - an amazing and unforgettable adventure. Inspired by their story, Jeff and I have agreed that we want our own tour of the world, with our children, albeit on a smaller scale.

We had earmarked an investment we made two years ago for "something big" in the future, not really having any idea what that might be. We've renamed that earmarked investment to "Proving Alaska is Not an Island Tour". We'll set yearly goals of what we'd like to save, depending on what our budget allows. As the time draws closer and we start planning where we will go, we'll look into opportunities like me teaching at Semester at Sea, or Jeff doing the nurse's equivalent of Doctors Without Borders. We'll look at a trip with the Sierra Club, which offers international, family, service-based trips.

One of the parts of the magazine article that stuck out to me was this: the family described that there was no way they could not go on the trip without losing face, because they had told so many people about it, talked about it for so long, and the trip became a veritable family mantra that it would have been impossible not to do it.

So if you hear Aidan muttering the Carter mantra, "Alaska is not an island...," maybe he's just plunked a few extra pennies into his piggy bank....

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