The Story Behind Return by Air By Tracey Jerald
16 Jun 2020
By Tracey Jerald
Blessed with the adventure of a lifetime last fall, I was invited to be a part of a book signing taking place aboard an Alaskan cruise. This trip was not only a chance to connect with readers who I had formed relationships with online, it was a bucket list trip for my husband and me.
Our first stop was Ketchikan, Alaska. The minute we got off the boat, I was charmed by the seaside port of call. We were immediately entranced by the totem poles telling stories about the Tlingit and Haida Native Alaskan cultures as well as the breathtaking views offered from the piers along the western coast of Revillagigedo Island.
We signed up for a tour package that permitted time to explore on our own, devour Dungeness crab (a particular favorite of mine), and enjoy what was being touted onboard as the infamous Lumberjack Show. Even our cabin steward couldn’t do more than give a secretive smile when we asked about it. All he said was, “It has to be experienced.”
So, we went. And boy, did we experience something we’d never forget! Though, that might have something to do with the ninety-plus pictures I took.
Surrounded by a bunch of individuals who were voyaging with us, we whooped it up in the audience as four male athletes competed in teams of two for glory, for pride, and most of all, bragging rights. Adding to the larger-than-life event, was a Master of Ceremonies who was a character unto himself that deserved a standup routine.
It was Team USA versus Team Canada, with each challenge becoming more increasingly difficult. And each time someone won, the winning Lumberjack would bound into the audience to present a gift to the fan who cheered the loudest.
And next to me was my amazing husband leaning over and murmuring, “I can see the wheels turning in your head.” Of course, they were. He just had no idea where my mind was carrying me.
But I knew, as our Lumberjack on Team Canada winked for my camera as he ran by.
After the show, the Lumberjacks were gracious enough to take pictures with everyone who wanted one. I flushed as one of my readers ousted me as an author. Immediately, the guys asked if they could be in a book someday. Little did they know…
One leaned forward and asked, “Can I be a little taller? Maybe a bit broader?” He may never know it, but he is in Return by Air’s sequel, Return by Land.
I didn’t base the Glacier Adventure Series, Return by Air, or the subsequent books, off of the Lumberjacks, per se. I created it from was the conversation I had with those four men: they’re sense of humor, respect for one another, and the apparent friendship between them as they joked with each other. There’s a brotherhood that exists between them few likely would understand.
But they were young men with a life to lead.
As I turned away to find my husband (and the Dungeness crab mentioned above), my eye caught that of the Master of Ceremonies. A man, who, when he had my attention, smiled so broadly, it split his beard in two. He winked, and I knew without reading the bios in the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show calendar clutched in my hand, who was the heart and soul of this crew.
As if I was plunged into the freezing glacier water, bits and pieces of the story started coming together.
A brotherhood of friendship started years ago because of a job and never let go…
Return by Air is the first story in the Glacier Adventure Series. It’s about lifelong friendship. It’s about falling in love when you’re older and wise enough to appreciate it.
And I don’t just mean with your soulmate.
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