Monday, July 23, 2018

Campbell, James (Braving It: A Father, a Daughter, and an Unforgettable Journey Into the Alaskan Wild)

I was a bit skeptical when my mom gave me this book. I mean, sure, sure, it isn't a vanity press publication and the topic is certainly intriguing - a father and his teenage daughter take a couple trips to the Alaskan wilderness to be awed and inspired. My skepticism centered more on whether there would be any take-aways that were relevant to my own experience.

This isn't a tale of survival, to be clear. Campbell and his daughter have relatives and friends in Alaska, so this was never about surviving on their own. But it is a tale of the result of struggle - whether it is helping your cousin build a new cabin so far away from anything resembling a hamlet that you have to wait on the weather to have supplies flown in, or, using canoes instead of rafts on a wildly varying river that flows north to the Arctic Ocean. It's no surprise that it's cold in summer or the bugs are terrible or it can be hard to maintain a sense of humor on all days. Those parts were alternately interesting or fun to read. The best part of the story, though, is that it does an excellent job of explaining the grandeur of a place like the Alaskan wilderness, for those of us who may never have the opportunity to go on such arduous adventures but who are nevertheless intrigued by the unknown.

The only thing I thought was odd was that in the acknowledgements at the end, he does not thank the daughter he took the trip with. Certainly, there are many times in the book when he extolls her virtues, but that's different from thanking your travel partner. It is distinctly odd to acknowledge your other daughters and wife, instead. (I read the acknowledgments twice, to be sure I hadn't missed anything!)

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