by Jan 21, 2024

A Gift Lifetimes in the Making

Adventure of a Lifetime

2023 was the most adventurous year of my life. This blog is a reader’s digest version; the full length version is in the works. Strap in tight, it’s a wild ride.

January 2023 kicked off with me getting kicked out of the nest. Mom begged me to hit the road again, without her. We had been attached at the hip for over a year because of health issues that snatched her energy and driving privileges. She felt like she was holding me back. To be honest, I enjoyed being married to Mom.

My journey North began at a cabin in Appalachia with mountain views forever. I stored my Airstream in Dillard, Georgia while Mom, my brother and sister-in-law, two nieces, and I enjoyed a week of family adventures in the Blue Ridge Mountains. On May 19th my whole family hopped in my brother’s truck and headed south. I cried watching them leave, then drove to the storage lot to hook up my Airstream.

As soon as my tires hit the blacktop headed north, a guttural moan crawled out from my depths. I missed my Mom and family. I bawled my eyes out. That drive through North Carolina was more gut wrenching than any drive since my journey began. But just as the darkest part of night is just before dawn, I knew these emotions were part of my journey and to keep the course.

After a few days in North Carolina I meandered up to Tennessee, visited friends in western Virginia, continued to the Finger Lakes region of New York, and crossed the border into Canada on June 13th.

Carp, Ontario was my only destination for the summer. Thanks to an engineering internship in 2002, I knew two special people: Samir and Tania, who lived there. The three of us (and their two special girls) have been on quite a journey together over the last couple of decades. Because of travel restrictions, it had been four years since we were together. I rolled up to their house and back into their lives. It was a special time with the whole family.

My Family

When I arrived in Carp, I had no clue where I was headed next. Then something told me to go east, as far east as roads go, and then north, all the way to Labrador.

Journal Entry: July 12, 2023. 8:05am. Camping Lakeside off the Labrador Highway between Churchill Falls and Goose Bay, Labrador

I love the way the lake and breeze dance together to create a living painting of the trees and sky. A bee buzzes from bud to bud on bright pink flowers. I wonder if he realized the beauty and sacredness that is his home. I forget too. Then there are moments like this, when life hugs my heart, takes my cheeks in her palms, tips my face up, toward all of this, and says “Look, breathe, feel.” My brows furrow with awe, I take in the majesty of the entire work of art, down to the gnats buzzing around my face. A tear clings to the corner of my eye. I am in heaven.

A few days later I drove as far north as roads go on the Atlantic Coast, then parked my Truck and Airstream at the dock, and hopped on a 2.5 day ferry trip headed further north to Nain, the northernmost town on the Atlantic Coast of North America.

Journal Entry: July 19, 2023 10:00am Nain, Labrador

I sit, bundled up, at the high tide line on an arctic bay. The water’s surface is as smooth as glass. I am surrounded by glacial mountains with jagged obsidian cliffs.
Sea gulls flap their wings and jump from rock to rock. Birds of prey grace the sky, dive, crash against the sea, and plunge deep. Then flap and flap and flap until they heave up and out of the water’s grasp with their morning catch.
Yes, I am the bird of prey. I fly high and look deep. I see through, below the surface. I am fearless and take the dive. I break the laws of the world above and plunge beneath.
This is it. This is my divine request, to bring back tales of forgotten ways, from a place inside that begs to be set free. To find the words to bring to life the magnificence of all these stories alive inside.

Within days of writing this, I had an adventure beyond my wildest dreams. William, my friend and Inuit guide, took me another 150 miles north on the Labrador Sea in his little metal boat. I experienced beauty I’d never imagined.

Drinking iceberg water that’s been frozen for 10,000 years!

After several weeks in Labrador, my Airstream and I traveled south, across the Gulf of St. Lawrence, on a ferry to the island province of Newfoundland.

One of my most unique adventures in Newfoundland began in the town of Port au Choix. I backed my home up to a flat rocky beach. The next morning I sat on a red porch swing that hung on a homemade A-frame a few feet from the sea. It was 4:30 am, the sun wasn’t up, but the water and the sky melded into a pristine pastel masterpiece. I flinched at the startle of a “Good Morning” behind me. A fisherman out for a stroll sat down on a rock between my swing and the sea. We chatted until dawn and walked along the wharf at sunrise. I spent several days with Dean and his family, including a day and a half on his commercial fishing boat.

Sunrise at the Warf: Port A Choix, NL

Sunrise at the Wharf- Port au Choix

Looking Back- Offshore of Quirpon, Newfounland

Journal Entry- August 6, 2023 Docked at the Wharf in Quirpon, Newfoundland

The boat is loaded with supplies and we are ready to go. Two fishermen boarded the captain’s deck.
“How’d ya meet?” Shane (the captain of a neighboring boat) asked Dean about me.
“Found her at d’ beach.”
Dean and Shane have strong Newfoundland accents, sort of an Irish/Scottish twang, and I can’t understand half of what they say.
“So she’s a mermaid!” Shane said, tipping his drink in my direction.
Everyone erupted in laughter, me too. I didn’t understand the rest, but I suspect that was for the best. This feels like a mix between a firehouse and an episode of Deadliest Catch.
From then on, my deck name was “Mermaid.”

Journal Entry – August 7, 2023 Offshore of Quirpon, Newfoundland.

The fishing boat experience has been interesting. We had mashed potatoes mixed with spam for dinner. The plates and silverware taste like soap. How does this even work? No running water, so no toilet, and a boat full of guys and smelly fish.
I’m letting go of the idea that I’d rather be somewhere else. I am here, now. In the midst of an experience of a lifetime that most never dream of having, I will take it all in… I will write a book about this one day!

Journal Entry August 14, 2023 Cape Blow Me Down, Newfoundland

We rarely experience nature in its natural state. Backyard gardens, park trails, and a picnic on mowed grass are nice, but raw nature has a different feel, an aliveness. It smells more earthy and wild. The forest is untamed. The night sky blooms with millions of stars. Most people think they know what a starry sky looks like. I did too! Get 100 miles away from manmade light, look up, be astonished, and wish for more. Nature lives. Nature communicates with experience. Nature does not discriminate.

Wild berries are small, soft, and delicate. They must be handled with care. I thought I knew how raspberries taste and feel. I had no clue. One bite and my mouth tingled and my taste buds were aroused in ways they’ve never been before.

The act of receiving berries from their plants is a lesson in patience. Only ripe berries want to be picked. I was stubborn and tugged too hard on a few. The whole berry and stem broke away with a snap. The plant bobbed back with a rustle of leaves. I heard it say “ouch!” I felt responsible for its pain, and ate its berry to not waste. It was tart, its meat crunchy. Not the experience I was keen to have. The wild berry patch taught me to ask if it was ready. Not with my words, with a gentle touch. If the berry was ready, it gave itself. Nature is my teacher.

Quiet Sea in the East Arm- Gros Morne NP

Quiet Sea in the East Arm- Gros Morne NP

Quiet Sea in the East Arm- Gros Morne NP

One of Two Places in the World where the Earth’s Mantle is Visible- The Tablelands in Gros Morne NP

Waterfall in a Glacier Lake, Gros Morne NP

On the Hike Back from the Crown Jewel: Gros Morne Summit

The next week, while deep in the forest in Gros Morne National Park, I had the worst mountain bike crash of my life. No cell service. I made it back to the campground in a couple of hours. There, a hiker corrected my significantly dislocated finger, I decided the rest of the injuries could heal on their own, and, headed to a traditional Newfoundland concert where a couple hundred people danced and sang.

A day later, I drove my home on wheels far out of town to relax and heal. Two days later I had Covid. It was one of the roughest weeks of my life. Here’s a taste of how that went:

Journal Entry August 22, 2023 Pilley’s Island, Newfoundland

Cliffs, ocean with islands in the distance. What a view. Rough seas outside and inside too.

I am exhausted. Dull and stabbing pain. My broken rib clicks when I breathe. Shallow breaths only. Fatigue out of this world. Headache. Both hamstrings ache like I’ve been shot. Dislocated finger on right hand makes the whole thing unusable. Left arm between shoulder and elbow is green, purple, and yellow, might be cracked too. Fever 102 now. Left hip green and yellow with a huge scab.
It’s day two of the sickness, I can only guess it’s COVID. I have to move, go back to a town. So drained. Too exhausted to eat. Can’t even sit up in bed. Thank god my body won’t allow a cough. I’d probably die if I coughed.
There was a point last night that I felt sorry for myself for about 30 seconds. I wanted to be taken care of. I wanted my mommy. Then I remembered how nature doesn’t feel sorry for itself. Nature does what it must with what it has. I am nature. This is what is happening. I will figure it out


Small town RV park with power is a 2 hour drive. I need to somehow get the trailer ready to drive, and then drive. Can’t stay here. Must get power, too tired to deal with cold, rain, and solar.

I made it to the park, backed in a spot, unhooked, collapsed. Didn’t even register or pay. This was the only time I plugged into power in five months.

“I figured ya’d check in before ya left,” the park manager said when I called him on my second day. Thank goodness Newfoudland people are beyond nice.

I didn’t eat for many days; my smallest pants fell off. I’d never felt so depleted. My heart raced if I just sat up in bed. I realized I had pneumonia caused by not coughing, not moving, and taking only shallow breaths. I thought my body might die. The nearness of death made me much more aware of life. No regrets. No fear. Eyes closed in complete peace, I listened to birds sing outside my window and was curious, even excited, to have the experience of crossing over.

In the middle of the night, I woke up soaked. My fever broke. For a week or so after that, all my emotions lived at the surface, an experience I’d never had before.

Five days later I drove into nature again. I’m not meant for RV parks an wanted to be in the wild, by the sea. I enjoyed salt air, thunderous crashing of waves into cliffs, and out of this world ocean views while my body took another two weeks to recover.

Quiet Sea in the East Arm- Gros Morne NP

The View from my Bedroom Window- Sleepy Cove– Recovery Spot #1

Sunset in Sleepy Cove- Recovery Spot #1

Quiet Sea in the East Arm- Gros Morne NP

Boondocking on Cape Bonavista- Recovery Spot #2

Quiet Sea in the East Arm- Gros Morne NP

Sap on a Pine-cone- Sherwink Trail

Sea Stacks on the Sherwink Trail

Hiking in a Blueberry Buffet

I was in Newfoundland for almost eight weeks, until hurricane Lee came barreling toward the Maritimes. I hopped a last minute 17 hour ferry to the mainland, Nova Scotia, before the storm hit.

Once in Nova Scotia, I hunkered down in the driveway of two new friends I met the month before, Karen and Stephen. We enjoyed dinner by candle light as the hurricane blew through. I lived in their yard and fell into their lives for four precious days.

After the hurricane cleared, I ferried to Prince Edward Island, then to New Brunswick and crossed the border into Maine on September 28th. The next month was a flurry of fall colors and friend visits all over New England, and an impromptu flight to Oregon (while my truck and trailer rested up for a week in New Jersey). After that, I bee-lined it south for a serendipitous five days in a national forest in Virginia, and then the final leg to Florida for Thanksgiving.

This blog is just a taste of all the incredible happenings and learnings this past year. I’m writing the full length version now, and boy is it juicy.

This year, more than anything, I witnessed the depth of resilience in myself, humanity and nature, and remembered the natural resilience alive in each of us. Life is rarely wht it seems. Beyond beliefs, opinions, judgements and labels, there is peace. And in that peace lies the potential for magical happenings, beyond anything our minds can imagine.

Sunrise at Cape Blow Me Down- Where the Appalachian Mountains Meet the Sea

Me with an Iceberg in the Labrador Sea 🙂

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2023 Stats and Fun Facts:

Four favorite places visited in 2022:
Hebron, Labrador – A spectacular journey north to a culturally rich, rugged, and stunning place
Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland
Bay of Fundy National Park, New Brunswick
Everywhere in Newfoundland! I will be back!

A few favorite books this year:
The Perfection of the Morning: An Apprenticeship in Nature, Sharon Butala
Anne of Green Gables, Lucy M. Montgomery
Luminous Life: How the Science of Light Unlocks the Art of Living, J. Liberman and J. Oschman

2023 Facts and Stats:
-Visited 17 states in the US and 6 provinces in Canada
-Visited 17 of Canada’s National Parks and National Historic Sites
-Total steps taken: 3,064,987
-I rode my bicycle just over 2000 miles
-Drank 10,000 year old water off of two different icebergs in the Labrador Sea
-Total spent on campground fees: $587 (not bad for rent for the year!)
-Total spent on fuel: $4,197
-Total Miles Traveled: 21,931 (This includes driving, a cross country flight, biking and hiking)
-Drove 195 miles of dirt and gravel roads while towing my Airstream.
-I traveled more than 80 total hours on at least seven separate ferry crossings
-Spent countless nights cloaked in nature
-Made many new friends
-Had lots of wonderful visits with old friends


Kristy Halvorsen

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