Here's What I Think About That

Epic Journeys

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I spent a number of years as an early morning commuter into the city. Slipping into the stream with all the others in such a regular pattern, I noticed many of the same drivers in the same cars day after day. Some recognized me too. We acknowledged each other with a nod or a knowing smile. I sometimes wondered about the kind of work they did or what their lives were like. These were people I saw like clockwork on weekday mornings, but I would never know anything more about them.

If all I knew of the Key Peninsula were the driveways and mailboxes dotting the highway between work and home, it would barely scratch the surface of beginning to understand something of the people who live here. If I didn’t know any better, I might be tempted to think of the KP as merely a bedroom community neighbor to other bigger, better, and more expensive places to live.

But stories emerge month after month that reveal the depth of talent, skill and experience of the fascinating characters and unique personalities that make the Key Peninsula what it really is: Extraordinary.

One prime example is this month’s front page: Associate Editor Ted Olinger’s “Wauna Man Goes Solo Around the World — Again” is an unforgettable story that transcends the pursuit of adventure and goes deep into the heart of the power of doing.

This is the story of dreams, and we saw an opportunity to use visual art to help communicate the unique nature of this inspiring story.

Erden Eruç of Wauna is a man of courage and resilience, a true world champion. He’s the kind of person who deserves hero treatment and whose achievements we thought would be best conveyed by the thoughtful strokes of a paintbrush in the hands of a skilled artist.

There are faster methods to produce images, but certainly none more fitting.

I called local artist Chris Bronstad and swore him to secrecy before reading Olinger’s article to him aloud. He too was instantly captivated by the astonishing story, and said he would be honored to contribute in any way he could.

We didn’t have much time and showed him the selfie Eruç provided for publication. One look and Bronstad launched into describing the strength of the image from an artist’s perspective. “This is a wonderful photo to work from. I think I can do it,” he said. “Let me play around with it a little and I’ll let you know for sure.”

What Bronstad looks forward to most of all now, having finished the painting, is being able to read the article again as many times as he likes. “There is so much story there I could hardly begin to take it all in.”

And with that, you have the backstory on the front page.

In our own epic journey, there is far more reason for hope than despair when it comes to bringing COVID-19 to heel. Vaccinations have ramped up with increased supply and delivery into arms. All of the people I’ve spoken with who are fully vaccinated said they were impressed by the speed and efficiency of the system after navigating the early challenges of scheduling an appointment.

The Key Peninsula’s COVID-19 case rate is most likely lower than any other region in the county, but the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department tells us they can’t say for sure because not everyone has been tested and we may have a lower testing rate than surrounding areas.

Continued vigilance by masking up in public, washing hands frequently, and maintaining appropriate social distancing will see us through until enough people are vaccinated. But we’re still months away from finally beating this thing.

For the first time in over a year a friend and I rode to the grocery store together in the same car. We may as well have been 16-year-old girls again. It felt fantastic to do something normal. One thing we agreed on is our plan to wear masks in public next winter, even if we are no longer required to do so. Cold and flu season this year was practically nonexistent. If given the choice between risking a simple cold or the seasonal flu, we decided for ourselves at least that masks are here to stay.

I’m ready to begin considering what a new normal might look like. And that in itself, feels very good.


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