Glacier Bay, Alaska
(author’s note: this story parallels “DADS”. Please leave a comment as to which you like better)
Finding a secure place to put my foot became more challenging. Sandy soil gave way and I had to consciously think to pick up my feet. Step high, step big. Darn Parkinson’s. It was not going to spoil this.
Charlie was nearby, and Luke was ahead of us, walking with the young female fishing guide the Inn had recommended for the last adventure before we were to leave Gustavus, and the Glacier Bay area of southeastern Alaska.
My dad. He walked by me, passing slow me on the trail.
He had been gone for 7 years now, but I felt his presence as strong as the day I last saw him. December 14, 2014. The last day I held his hand and stroked his forehead. The day he passed away.
Charlie, I said. Dad is here.
Of course he is. This place was heaven to him.
I just felt him, he walked by me.
Ahead, Natalie paused, she stepped off to the side of the trail, her eyes trained on a spot where the river was wide and shallow. She had many years experience spotting wildlife, even though she was just 23. She scanned the riverbank, searching for something. We caught up to her and Luke.
My dad came here, Natalie, alot. Two, sometimes three times a year. He stayed at the Gustavus Inn. A week at a time.
Its closed now. They owners are trying to sell it.
He came so often he left his rain gear and his boots here. I wonder if he walked along this river.
My parents came to the Gustavus Inn every summer. That’s funny. They left their rain gear here too. When I was 15 I started work as a guide. I wonder if I ever met your dad.
He was just here I almost said out loud. I should have introduced him. To meet a pretty young guide would have been the highlight of his trip.
She stepped back on the trail. We continued our walk along the riverbank and back to the small parking lot where we had met Natalie earlier.
The van that had dropped us off was waiting. We took some photos and I climbed in the front passenger seat. Our driver was Michelle, one of the family that owned the Bear Track Inn where we were lodged. She wanted to know all about Natalie and if we would recommend her to other guests.
As we drove away, I looked to the left and saw a white lodge, the Gustavus Inn. So this is where dad had stayed on many of his fishing trips to Glacier Bay. I had never seen it in person but recognized it immediately from descriptions and photos. An older fellow with baggy jeans, wet to the knees and a faded red crew neck sweatshirt sat down on the porch’s rocking chair. He pulled one boot off and as he dumped water out of it he looked up and out at the road. I lost sight of him and the lodge as the van gained speed on the blacktopped road.
Of course my dad would be here. Glacier Bay is a fisherman’s heaven.