Many of our friends have experienced great difficulties this past year, suggesting that we must make each new day count for something, and enjoy it to the fullest. Those to whom I’m referring know who they are, and Janie and I wish them only the very best.
Fortunately, all the children in our extended family seem to be doing well, and are toughing out these difficult economic times. Finding or sustaining jobs has at times been challenging, and one of our children spent months in a remote Alaskan settlement making excellent wages as a lead carpenter. Another has taken on a job as bus drivers while the others have continued on in such fields as teaching, counseling, Real Estate sales or in the various trades. Janie and I are equally proud of them all and hope their luck continues and then flourishes.
Much of our year has been spent on the road and it began with a departure on a snowy winter day from our home near Bigfork, Montana, then a series of prolonged stops, the first of which was Death Valley. Other prolonged camps included ones in Padre Island, and Chiricahua.
From the Southwest we towed our Airstream to the Natchez Trace and spent time with my good friend Ed Anderson and his delightful family — where we cooked up a Plumb Southern cuisine. From the Natchez Trace we made a long drive to the Northeast and visited Janie’s children and grandchildren. Certainly, that was a most powerful highlight for us both. We visited with my sister, Nancy, and my brother-in-law, Forrest. They’ve just been blessed with a grandchildren. Good job Joel and Becca!
We then scurried back home in May and spent several months preparing for our trip to Alaska, where I had a number of assignments, one to cover the World Eskimo Indian Olympics. While there we also managed to see old friends, mostly those who live in far flung Native villages. We particularly enjoyed seeing Trimble Gilbert and Kenneth and Caroline Frank, all of Arctic Village. We enjoyed seeing Ernie Peter of Old Crow and remember the many kindnesses all showed us when we worked in their various villages.
Whie in Fairbanks, we enjoyed a boat trip with Karen of the Fairbanks Department of Tourism and her husband Willie, and then a trip over the Top of the World Highway with a memorable stop in Chicken, Alaska. Top of the World concludes in the historic mining town of Dawson City, where we learned more about one of my heros, Robert Service, who wrote Cremation of Sam Sam McGee. From Dawson we drove to Skagway, learned about powers of Yukon Jack with Adam and Sue. We met Buckwheat and enjoyed his professional renditions of Robert Service poetry.
And now we’re back at Peg Leg, having just recently spent time with photographer friend Rich Charpentier in Prescott, Arizona, which is where I photographed the Court House building, all decorated with brilliantly colored lights. What was particularly moving about this historic old town is that a lavishly Christmas Tree stood all decked out in garlands of color — and the combination of the decorated tree and the Courthouse reminded us we are all part of the family of man and that most in this family prefer to interact with cheer and feelings of well being toward one another.
We hope this year has been a good one for you and would like to take this small space to wish all a very Merry Christmas.
Bert and Janie Gildart
THIS TIME THREE YEARS AGO: