Now that I have my book in hand, I look back to how this endeavor became possible. Hindsight is a great teacher. My detailed, time-labored daily journals were the key to my book. The first needed element was the adventure itself–something important enough to fill a journal of noteworthy purpose. Next came the tools and those were the journals, because without them there would be no book. When I began my adventures I did not ever dream that those journals would turn into 12 chapters of my first published book: Outstanding Feats by an Ordinary Woman.
I began writing and keeping a journal when I graduated from college, and I had what I considered the adventure of a lifetime. It was important enough to write down the facts and feelings of my day-to-day adventures. It was 1966, the day after I received my college diploma, and I had a one way bus ticket from northern Maine to Washington, DC to begin the longest, greatest adventure of my life. I felt really great and prepared for life. I had accepted my first teaching assignment in a college community in central Maine. I had worked hard and graduated, and this was my first vacation and my first trip outside of Maine. The trip was a graduation present of sorts. I was the first person in our family to graduate from college. Relatives had planned a trip to the west coast, and I was invited to join them.
They lived outside of DC and, John, the husband, had changed jobs in the Department of Education, which allowed time for a long vacation. When he returned, he would be employed in another administrative position. Ruth, his wife, was a stay at home mom, and they had three children and a dog. The day after I arrived by bus, we loaded their well used station wagon with a tent, camping gear, and a suitcase of city clothes, which we rarely wore. All of this went on top of the car. The rest was packed in between us, and we happily took to the roads, the state, and national parks in 38 states.
I was so naïve then. I didn’t even have a driver’s license. I still have that treasured journal of details and fun filled days of that trip which lasted three months.
From that trip forward, I carried a journal on all my trips and high adventures throughout the world. My journals are carried in my backpack or with me. When I have a few minutes to spare, I fill in time, events, details, feelings, and descriptions as I see them unfold before my eyes. When I am on a mountain, I write in my tent inside my sleeping bag with only my headlight to assist me while the wind whips outside and the snow or rain and all the elements are very real and close at hand. Each of the journals used for my book is very different, as each adventure was so different and unusual. There are more journals, of course, too many for one project, but the facts, time, dates, people I met, nature encountered are all there for the future’s sake. Someday I may have time to sit down and really enjoy reading those journals again for old time sake.