To me folks this a word that still lights up every circuit in my body. My mind rushes with images of snowy mountain tops, rugged blue, blue seas, vast unseen, untamed wilderness, images of bears and eagles, moose, and wolves, walrus and thundering herds of caribou. All of this my wondering eyes have seen, along with its more gentle beauties like the brilliant colored lupine and fields of fireweed or snowy arctic cotton.
It is the dress of the commercial fisherman in his Helly Hanson’s brown rubber boots and knit hat. The lumberjack in his Carhardt’s with the red suspenders and flannel Pendelton shirt. The colorful dance costumes of the Haida, Tlingkit, Inuit, Yupik, and Athabaskan. Those brave hunter/nomads who first tread this beauty.
Rivers abundant with rich red salmon, oceans of giant King crab and barndoor Halibut. It is the free spirit of free people. (May you never lose that nor take it for granted). It is the legends I have known as friends. Col. Norman Vaughn the great antarctic explorer and master of sled dogs. The joyful face of Susan Butcher. The unstoppable Joe Redington senior and, his longtime friend on the trail Dick Mackey father of a fine line of champion mushers including his son Lance Mackey, one of the toughest men I know.
I knew when I first looked out on the Kachemak bay from the crest that I found my home. The search was over and now I was proudly an Alaskan. Alaska has been wonderful to me and I owe our state a great debt of gratitude. To all of you. To the land. I thank you all. There is so much more I would like to say but nothing I write would be big enough to encompass my feelings for our state.
You will just have to take the body of my life’s work and maybe one of those songs will touch you in the way this land has touched me.Though my body leaves this world I leave a piece of my spirit with Alaska as I take a piece of Alaska’s spirit with me.
Thank you Alaska and may God Bless and keep you all!
Upon going through Jim’s phone I came across this final message Jim wrote to all of you in his own beautiful words. Thank you for loving him and embracing his music and love of Alaska. There is no one like a Hobo Jim fan. Here is to all of you.
May God Bless you all,