It’s an obsession, really. I talk to coworkers and monitor Facebook pages, looking for the best places to see bears. We drive unpaved roads and rural neighborhoods at a crawl, perhaps slower than we should, considering that Alaska is a place where people value their privacy. We scrutinize creeks where the salmon are starting to run and peer into the forest that lines the roads, hoping to glimpse the round, dark shape of a bear.
I experienced a great deal of anxiety while walking the Camino, and much of it was centered around getting lost. A part of me feared that we would disappear into the wilderness of northern Spain, licking the peanut dust off our empty snack bags to survive.
Never mind that Camino del Norte is not that wild; I was neurotic about having the right resources during our journey.
Before moving to Alaska, we spent two weeks bouncing around Texas, visiting family. That meant going from central to south Texas and then back again. We may be relocating to the biggest state in the Union, but Texas is no slouch, so this meant a lot of time on the road.
It was on one of those drives, on a rural stretch of U.S. Highway 183 from Refugio to Gonzales, that we had a very pleasant discovery—Goliad State Park and the Mission Espíritu Santo.