My Dad and his Bucket List

This came to my mind last night again and I want to share this with you. It isn’t a story about an epic climbing trip or traveling to the far ends of the earth. This isn’t a story about a heroic adventure, or pushing the limits in some daring journey. This is a story about the little things in life. It’s a story about family. It’s a story about helping my dad check off one line from his bucket list.

This story started in August 2016 when my husband and I decided it was time to stop paying rent and start building a home. We found an old 1950’s dilapidated cracker box that we thought had endless “potential”. At least, I could see the potential. My husband, on the other hand, needed A LOT of convincing. The closing day finally came, and the work started immediately.

One little problem with the house led to another and by the end, we had nearly re-built the entire house from the ground up. We replaced most of the plumbing and most of the wiring. We tore walls down and replaced every window in the house. We refinished the floors and re-roofed the house. Nearly every free second of my life was consumed with working on our home.

It took four months just to get the main floor finished enough to move in. While we were working on the house, we lived in my parent’s basement. My dad was there every step of the way, teaching my husband and me how to wire outlets, and making sure I didn’t screw anything up (too badly). So we had it (almost) done by April 2017.

Ever since I was a kid, my dad took me fishing, hunting, and camping. He helped develop a passion for the outdoors in me and taught me to respect the land and all living creatures. Many times, while sitting on the shore of a lake, fishing for trout, we would talk about dream vacations and other outdoor adventures. Halibut fishing in Alaska was always near the top of the list for him, but it was always something that seemed too distant, something he would only ever dream about. As a present for helping build our home, my husband and I decided to fulfill this dream. No city hiking this time, but out to sea…

So on June 5th last year, my dad and I hopped a flight to Anchorage, rented a car, and started driving south. We ended up fishing for 3 days for both King Salmon and Halibut. Apparently, last year was one of the worst years in recorded history for Kings, and it ended up being the wrong time of year for Halibut. The bigger (female) halibut move into the area we fished, around July. And to top it all off, we accidentally happen to book the trip over a full moon, so the tides were extreme, meaning we had a very narrow window to fish every day during the brief slack tide because of the strong currents at all other times of the day. Pretty exhausting, though nothing compared to my other outdoor sports adventures.

After returning home, people kept asking how the trip was (it seems weird that a woman goes sea fishing with her dad, apparently), and I started responding, “well the weather wasn’t great, the fish weren’t there, and the flights were long…” But after reflecting on the whole trip, and the past few months of hard labor, I’ve decided that even though we didn’t catch any salmon, and the halibut we caught were all very small, it was still an incredible trip. We got to see a new part of the world. We got to get out of landlocked Montana and experienced some great ocean fishing. And most importantly, we got to spend some great, meaningful quality time together.

What I learned from the whole experience is that it doesn’t always take an extreme, epic, adventure to make for an incredible trip. Enjoy every minute of quality time you get to spend with family. Smile big in the face of adversity, and even when things don’t go as planned, and aren’t what you expect, Enjoy Life! It’s pretty cliché but something I can’t tell myself enough, “It’s the journey that matters, not the destination.” In the end, it’s not the big trips and adventures that will mean the most to me, it’s the little things, like time spent working on the plumbing with my dad.