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"Carrie, Explore!"

My mother read a book to me when I was nine years old called A Walk Across America. A true story about a man named Peter Jenkins and his dog, Cooper who walked from the eastern side of the United States to the west coast of America. The book made an impact on me, I loved the stories of the people that Peter met while walking through the country. The ones he would stop and live with on the road. I loved his friendship with his dog, and the loyalty that Copper showed on the adventure, and how he kept Peter safe and warm in the middle of the freezing, cold winter. The author, Peter Jenkins, became National Geographic famous during the course of his travels. His photography and story telling paint a beautiful picture of the hard working and loyal people of the United States. I found myself feeling as if I were on the journey with him when my mother would read from the pages of his book. I never forgot some of the stories. They were fixed in my heart forever.

When Peter Jenkins released his book about Alaska, I was an adult. I didn't take to reading it right away and threw it in a closet instead. I was excited about it, since I had been to Alaska once when I was fourteen. However, I was a busy adult by then and did not have "extra reading time." I forgot about it for a long long time.

Fast-forward 15 plus years, and we were in the middle of packing in preparation to move from Ohio to Arizona and I still had this book about Alaska. And in the midst of trying to de-clutter my life for this GIANT move across the country, I thought, "I'll never read this, maybe I should pass it along?" So I was about to do just that.

I pondered it for a moment. Then I remembered that my dad got the book for me, all those years ago. He even had it autographed for me. So, I remember opening the book right there, looking inside to read the inscription before I decided to get rid of it. As I opened the book, a decal fell out, landing at my feet. I reached down and picked it up. It was rectangular in shape, about as large as my hand and it had a beautiful landscape on it. Blue and white snow covered mountains were all along the top and a large body of deep, blue water at the bottom. There was a space below the water where Peter, the author, had signed,

"Carrie, Explore! - Peter Jenkins 2005."

A smile grew across my face. I did not remember the decal that was inside, but it must have been there for all that time. Once I read the words "Carrie, Explore!" I knew it was part of my inspiration now. To go, to find adventure and to explore! My spirit has been so ready.

I kept the book, of course. I put the decal on my guitar, right under the strings, so I can see the command, to go and explore. Moving out west has been a fantastic opportunity to begin learning about the other side of America. I think that my entire family was ready for this adventure. Ready to get out and see the West. A vastly different world than the eastern side of the country. So far, we love it. So far, we are enjoying exploring more and more. It wasn't necessarily because of that book, or the decal that created the inspiration...but it sure was another push in the right direction...thank you Peter Jenkins...for capturing all that you did and for sharing your passion to explore!

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