Faced with an empty nest, a couple embarks on an epic voyage across land and sea, seeking the mythical blonde Kermode bear—and their truest selves
Kim Brown Seely and her husband had been damn good parents for more than twenty years. That was coming to an end as their youngest son was about to move across the country. The economy was in freefall and their jobs stagnant, so they impulsively decided to buy a big broken sailboat, learn how to sail it, and head up through the Salish Sea and the Inside Passage to an expanse of untamed wilderness in search of the elusive blonde Kermode bear that only lives in a secluded Northwest forest.
Wise and lyrical, this heartfelt memoir recounts their voyage of discovery into who they were as individuals and as a couple, unfolding amid the stunningly wild archipelago on the far edge of the continent.
In a debut memoir that tacks between sailing and parenting, travel writer Seely details a circuitous series of adventures that occasionally veers off course. She and her husband, Jeff, reevaluate their lives following career changes and health threats, and decide "we could live safe, small lives or try something totally new." That something new translates to "a ridiculous amount of boat" the purchase of Heron, a "fifty-four-foot money pit" neither knows how to sail. Driven by a quest Seely to spot the rare spirit bear in Canada's Great Bear Rain Forest, James to uncover an ancient longhouse in British Columbia the couple set sail from Seattle following their younger son's departure for college. They guide Heron northward in a trial-by-water journey, dodging rapids, exploring deepwater fjords, anchoring in remote coves and learning about First Nations culture in tribal villages threatened by pipeline development. Seely's travel writing is luminous, her prose mystical and revelatory "the exquisite solitude felt glorious... like a gift to myself, and I tried to memorize these moments... to keep all these things inside me" but in describing the empty nest, she relies on such clich s as feeling "punched in the gut." Regardless, Seely's nautical journey makes for an intimate, satisfying narrative.