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Back to the U.S.

I found out that my doctor passed away, which was very upsetting. I went for a hike to reflect. The next day, I took the ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles and returned to the U.S.

Days 101-102

In the morning, I made phone calls to set up healthcare appointments during my time in Los Angeles, like my six-month teeth cleaning. I also needed a mammogram, so I called my OBGYN. The girl who answered the phone told me that Dr. Kelvie passed away.

I couldn’t believe it. I sat there on the phone in complete shock. Dr. Kelvie was healthy and fit. She appeared to be in her 50s but looked even younger. I believe she had children in middle school. When I was there in March for a mammogram, she was out of the office on medical leave, so I saw a different doctor in the office. I had no idea that Dr. Kelvie’s medical leave was for a life-threatening condition.

Stunned, I asked the girl if she could tell me what happened. I had been seeing Dr. Kelvie for ten years. The girl told me, “I’m not 100% sure, but she had a brain hemorrhage and died.” I apologized to the girl because I couldn’t focus on why I had called in the first place.

Once I got off the phone, I couldn’t stop thinking about Dr. Kelvie. I remember when I was in my early 30s, she told me, “You should really think about having children. You’re married, you have stable jobs, and you have a condo. You’re also getting older. You’re in your early 30s, and I see patients all the time who thought they could wait until they were 40 because they see all of these celebrities that age and pregnant. But I’m telling you, most of the time, those celebrities had medical help to get pregnant. I see patients all the time who are struggling to get pregnant because they waited too long.”

Dr. Kelvie tried to convince me it was a good time to have a child and how she’d be delighted to be my doctor during the pregnancy and delivery. I never ended up pregnant, but I’ll never forget that conversation. I was so sad to learn of her passing. I sat there and cried, thinking of her children that were left behind. She worked so hard to become a doctor and was great at it. It was a reminder that life is incredibly short. We all have a limited amount of time on earth, and we need to make sure it’s a life worth living.

I felt I needed to get out of the house, so I found a hike nearby to Mill Hill. I got my backpack and walked about a mile to the entrance. There wasn’t anybody around. The fallen, dead leaves reminded me that it was officially autumn.

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As I climbed the small mountain, I saw a blue bag stuffed and tied up. It looked like a dead body, and my adrenaline starting pumping. Did somebody dump a body here? Do I call the police? I decided to get closer and see what I could find. As I poked around, I saw it was a bag full of leaves. Relieved and slightly embarrassed, I continued up the mountain.

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I reached the top and was treated with amazing views! I could see 360 degrees in the clear blue sky. In the distance, I could see Victoria and the ocean. Below me were the suburbs where I was staying.

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The rolling green hills surrounded the area. It was a clear day, but it was incredibly windy. I put my jacket on and walked around the top. I sat on a bench and enjoyed the view until I was too cold and needed to hike back down.

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I went back to the Airbnb and ate some leftover food I had in the mini-fridge. I paid some bills and watched Netflix before I went to bed.

The next morning, I checked out of the Airbnb and drove through morning rush-hour traffic to get to the ferry. I was taking it from Victoria to Port Angeles, Washington. I had to arrive 90 minutes before boarding because I would have to go through customs. Of course, I had some veggies and apples in my cooler.

The security guy walked up to my car window as I was parked in line. He asked why I had been in Canada, and I enthusiastically told him I drove the Alaska highway. I figured if I were excited and friendly, maybe they would stop drilling me so much. It worked, and the guy started asking me what it was like. He asked if I had any food, and I told him I only had a sandwich that I planned on eating on the ship. He gave me the ticket and said I needed to go inside and show them my passport.

On the way inside, I threw my veggies and apples away just so there wouldn’t be any problems. I was cleared and got back inside my car to wait to board. When I drove my car onto the ferry, they squeezed us in like sardines, and I could barely get out of my car.

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I went upstairs and worked to update my blog while I ate in the cafe for the 90-minute ferry ride. All of a sudden, I received a presidential alert on my phone. The US was testing it to make sure it worked. In case of an emergency, the President has the power to send an alert to notify citizens. It’s a pretty good system and I was happy that I received the alert.

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When we arrived in Port Angeles, Washington, I went through customs in my car and got through pretty easily. My phone wasn’t providing directions because we were in a remote area. I called my mom and asked her to help me navigate, so I knew where I was going. I made it to the main road and lost connection with her.

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After a couple of hours driving, my AT&T service was still not working so I pulled over at a Starbucks. It was “police day” so there were police everywhere and of course, free donuts. It was nice to see the police and community interacting together in a positive way. One officer in a Starbucks apron walked over and gave me a donut sample. I used the WiFi and uploaded my blog. I also used it to make sure I had directions to my next destination: Hood River, Oregon.

I had to turn my phone off and on several times after I left Starbucks to get it to work. It was about a five-hour drive to Hood River. During the drive, I noticed the wrinkles on my hand. Maybe it was the cooler, dry air, but they didn’t look like my hands. They looked old and tired. It’s a strange realization when you do not recognize yourself.

I arrived at Hood River in time for dinner. I was staying the night with my friend, Tracey. Once I put my bags down, Tracey, her husband Farron, and I went to dinner at a Chinese restaurant. It was so much fun talking about my Canada and Alaska adventures and hearing about her new retired life in Hood River.

We talked some more before bed. It was great to see a friend again and have someone relate to having a whole new life. It was also helpful to have someone to talk with about how I was feeling about things like my doctor passing away. Sometimes the road can be isolating, but friends seem to pop into my life when I need them the most.

Thanks for reading! Hit the Like button or leave a comment below!

Post Edited By: Mandy Strider
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9 Responses

  1. Tracy was a great doctor and touched the lives of many women and their families over the years. She left behind two beautiful daughters, now adults, who are very successful and well adjusted. I knew her both from her professional side and her personal side. i can say that she was a sensitive, intelligent, determined, loving and beautiful woman who is missed everyday by her daughters and me, her friend, lover, confidant and husband for 37 years.

    Her daughters and I were by her side when she passed April 22, 2018. She still lives on within our family’s hearts and our daughters DNA.

    1. She delivered my twin boys 28 years ago . She was so young when I think back. I was always confident though. I saw her in the San Pedro office. I don’t think she was there long. I thought she was so beautiful. What a beautiful life.

  2. I just found out today that Dr Kelvie passed away. I’m in total shock. I can’t stop crying I loved her so much. She was an amazing and beautiful person. She delivered my son he’s now 18 years old. May her beautiful soul RIP. 😭🙏🏾

  3. No one has bought life. We are a piece in the universe and if we do not enjoy what we have at hand, we can leave in April and close our eyes. The photos that accompany, are very good. Illustrate your story conveniently. I enjoy reading your writings.

  4. Some days I am so grateful we only live one day at a time. I am sorry your doctor passed away unexpectedly. Death reminds us hows temporal life really is. Friends are integral for our sanity. I’m glad you gave good ones.

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Throughout her wild 3-week journey backpacking 220+ miles in the California Sierra Mountains, Christy encountered freezing temperatures, pelting hail storms, and losing her way, but found trail family, incredible views, and experiences that would change her life forever. Hiking up and over ten different mountain passes gave Christy a lot of time to think about why her nine-year marriage was falling apart, gave her the chance to truly embody her individualism, time to make new friends, and the strength she would need on and off the trail. Her life could never again be the same.
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