No matter what, no one can take the memories: Aftermath of 9/11

I owned a travel agency. It was a dream come true and my husband, Matthew, and I, loved traveling with loyal customers and friends to the outer-most parts of the earth. The horrible events of 9/11 took that dream away from me and changed my life forever.

Here is an excerpt from a journal I kept on our last trip. It was to Alaska over the first anniversary of that fateful day:

Riverside Lodge 2002

The adventure begins as we arrive in Fairbanks, Alaska, at about 10:00 a.m. We are bused to the Riverside Lodge, nestled in a secluded valley. Our room is breath-taking with a view of the river. We take a walk around the grounds where majestic birch and spruce trees line the paths. It’s a little cloudy today with sun breaks. The birch leaves are bright yellow, and when the sun sprays through them they become like shimmering gold, luminous and spectacular!

Alaska mountain rivers 2002

The river here is somewhat muddy and calm. Across the water from the lodge is a beautiful private home – a “heavenly” home, I’d say. I wonder what it’s like here in the wintertime. The pine and spruce are rather spindly indicating harsh and freezing weather. I imagine Alaska winters are not for sissies.

I lay on my log-framed bed, with an over-stuffed down comforter, trying to take a much-needed nap. But my mind just wanders to the travel agency. It has been such a difficult year. With terrorist threats continuing, the talk of war with Iraq and the Nation’s economy, we are poised for tough times… I’m afraid I am poised for very tough times. I don’t want to lose my business. I keep telling myself that there is no failure, only experiences that will lead me to a greater understanding of who I am and why I am. And that I already have what I need to know the answers and make things work out somehow. One thing is certain in this moment, I don’t know everything, and that’s okay.

Brave group of explorers 2002

I am on this trip with forty wonderfully “hell-bent” people. These folks were willing to travel, even on the first anniversary of 9/11! They are adventurers; they will not be shaken. I wish there were many more of them, and my business would be saved. But I appreciate their stamina, their undying commitment to the belief that no one will take away their right to travel.

Today we have many activities planned. The Stern Wheel Riverboat Tour and the Gold Rush Tour! We will pan for gold – I hope to get rich!

What an inspiring cruise down the Chena River! We came across a salmon smokehouse where Dixie, an Alaskan Native, showed us how she could fillet a salmon in 38 seconds! She explained how they hang the fish to dry under tents, and when ready they throw them to the sled dogs for a feast.

We stopped the boat right by the home, and training camp, of Sue, a woman who ran in the Iditarod. Her dogs raced to the shore as our boat passed – we waved to them, and they barked back. There was a connection of which no human words can express.

Alaska historical trapper cabin 2002

Next, we saw an authentic Native American village and we were able to pet the sled dogs. There were old cabins filled with stories of trappers and displaced dreams, and fabulous artifacts and works of art, including beadwork coats and dresses. Our friend, Dixie, was the creator of these exquisite garments and she had won many awards for her talent.

For a short distance on this cruise, we traveled the glacial waterway, Tanana River. When we sailed into this river, we could see the dramatic difference between the water and the glacial “milk” that filtered by. It was interesting and amazing how it didn’t mix together – the glacial milk just continued traveling its own path. I’m sure there is a powerful lesson in that!

Panning for gold 2002

This afternoon, we panned for gold. Each of us had a chance to pan and I was so afraid I would accidently empty my gold off into the water. I couldn’t get used to draining off the top layer of rocks and trusting that the gold was heavier and would sink to the bottom – desperate not to lose even a flake!

We rode on a small train around the mine, as our guide gave a talk on how it worked. Water sprayed and gushed down a long trough right in front of us. It was a lot of fun, and everyone came away with a little “yellow stuff” to take home. I bought a necklace charm and filled it with Matthew’s and my treasure, worth about $19 – but the charm cost $10. Oh, well, at least I came out ahead this time!

Scenic train to Denali 2002

Today we went to Denali Park, toward Mount McKinley and the Fairweather Mountain Range. The train was impressive and extremely comfortable. What a view along the way! We saw the Fairweather Mountains in full glory (an unusual sight we were told) and took some fabulous pictures. The wind was blowing, and it was very cold out on the platform. It was a photo op any photographer would die for, and Matthew was in “photo heaven.” This 3 ½ hour tour took me to another world.

Denali Park and Fairweather Range 2002

After the train, we went to Denali Lodge and rode school buses into the park. Becky, our guide, presented the history of the park and it was an incredible day! The photos we took said it all. From the yellow an orange tundra to the yellow and dark green forest, to the snowcapped, pink-tinged mountaintops – it was magnificent. Matthew’s camera shutter continued to click, and ten rolls later we were sure we got some awesome shots.

I must admit, where better to be, than in the heart of the Alaskan wilderness on the anniversary of 9/11.

Matthew and Jane Fitzpatrick 2002

Today we remember. It was this day, a year ago, that the world changed. It was the day that crushed my dream. This will probably be the last trip we will take as travel agency owners.

We spent the day in the rain, hiking seven miles around Byers Lake trail. WOW! We did not see an eagle, but we did watch mountain sheep and caribou traverse their terrain. And we saw a grizzly bear across the river. He had a golden coat and the sun danced on his wet back as he lumbered along. Just think, to him nothing in the world had changed…

UPDATE April 2003 –
My predictions played out. This was the last trip we were to lead. I struggled for a little longer with the agency, then closed my doors. I’ll never forget my travel experiences – no one and nothing can take away those memories. In fact, I have albums of photos and an entire cabinet filled with bells from around the globe.  And what followed was a whole new world of opportunities that I may not have experienced otherwise. Indeed, to reach for a life-long dream … to become a writer and try to make a difference through words.

Jane L. Fitzpatrick
Sacajawea, The Windcatcher – Script
Moon Drake Series – Children’s Series, Five Scripts
Embrace the World with Love Words Series – Vol. 1
The Grass Maiden, Sacajawea – Children’s Book
Crabtree – Children’s Book
Kimama’s Wings – Children’s Script

Fairweather Mountain Range 2002

Keep Reaching for your Dream!

I have always had a dream to be a writer. I think it was formed because my mother read to me every night. But, when I was six years old, I was having such a hard time learning to read myself. In first grade, the school I attended taught reading by vocabulary. About mid-year we moved and the new school taught phonics. I became completely lost and embarrassed reading in front of the class.

Eventually, it began to make sense, but I think the hurdles I had to climb just made me appreciate words and their meanings. Through my desperate desire to understand, I realized I loved to write – mostly poetry at that time.

As a young woman, in 1972, I found myself in Spain for 3 ½ years. Television was not available and the only entertainment I had was reading. I read at least two used paperback books a week. This taught me so very much about story, context, content and structure – and it led me to something I didn’t expect.

In 1987, I was taking a two-year course in children’s literature. It was very focused and concise, and I loved it! One of the assignments was to develop a children’s book – which I called, Crabtree. We were to create the initial structure and a storyline, writing about 100 pages. After I graduated, I packed all my writing into boxes, and with my husband and kids we moved to Bozeman, Montana.

Little did I know, I was stepping into a new purpose, a powerful calling that would soon make sense to my life. It was then that I began my research and initial storyline for what was to become, Sacajawea, The Windcatcher.

From that point on… what followed was purely an awakening, a journey that would take many, many twists and turns. It was hard, crazy, mystical, wonderful and completely life changing. What I began to realize was that this very journey was a vital step for me to be able to reach my writing dream. For I needed a deeper understanding of Spirit as it related to me and the world.

When COVID hit, many things were put on hold, even our movement with Sacajawea.  I had always wanted to finish that “Crabtree” book, and this would be the perfect opportunity. I had revisited it a few times over the years, but now I believed I was ready. With the basic story of 100 pages, I began to push and pull the words into finally realizing the message they needed to bring.

The story talks about change, about adjusting, about things we cannot explain and about the importance of writing our own chapters in our lives and not letting someone else write them… It is about walking toward the light even through the darkness. If you have a young person in your life (ages 7-12), I invite you to share Crabtree with them. It will be published and available in early 2022.

We are given dreams for a reason! One thing I’ve learned, “If you have a dream written on your heart, there’s already a way to reach it! Keep Walking! Keep exploring the possibilities! Keep reaching!”

I Love you,


Sometimes we just cannot see…. we can’t see an answer, we can’t see a purpose, we can’t see our dream, and we question and wonder why. So many times we over think and we don’t realize we just have to get out-of-the-way.

For two years, while trying to get Sacajawea produced in LA, I came to realize I was actually there for a different reason. It was painful and lonely… it was life-changing.

“Awakening” is a compilation of thoughts and wonderings. Some of these words came to me as I slept… usually I was awakened around 3 AM. There was always a Sacajawea script laying on my bed; I wrote the words on the backs of the pages. This happened night after night.

What I came to remember through it all, is that life is not what we think in our minds… and that we are reverently and wonderfully made. 💖🥰❤

“The essence and words of this book came from Nature, from walking a path, from listening, from the sun and moon, the wind and waves, the clouds and birds, the shifting sand and rocky soil – the light and the dark.”

This is the first in a book series called, Embrace the World with Love Words, and the World will be Changed. AWAKENING

Watch for the Wonders

A couple of years ago, the Sacajawea production team had the most amazing experience along the Oregon coast. We went to film a teaser reel for Sacajawea, but it happened to be a complete snowstorm all up and down the coast – from California to Canada!

There was a moment of wondering what we should do… And then we got an answer from a cloud formation in the sky… Hands reaching with an angelic image reaching back. We knew we just had to have faith.

As happened, we proceeded onward and our faith was truly honored. The day was amazing with enormous waves, a bank of storm clouds all around us, and sunshine right above. There was a hole in the clouds assuring us that the blue sky was still there. It was an incredible lesson in perseverance.

Here is our original teaser reel, though we will be expanding it and making it even better. And, here are pictures of the clouds that called us to stay. See the photos from the books, “The Path” (Sacajawea collectible book series) and “Awakening,” the first book in a series of writings from this journey.

Always walk with confidence toward your dream, because you have the power of the Universe at your back when you believe it!

And, the Blind shall See…

If there’s one thing I’ve learned on Sacajawea’s illuminating and sometimes crazy path, it’s that our greatest purpose may not be what we think. Many times, when I thought I knew something… it turned out in a completely different way. And, there was always something to be learned about my dream, about my Calling…

One day, about 7 years ago, the words of scripture suddenly became real to me. It was when I was reading 1 Corin 2:14. I had read it many times before in my life, but this one time it was like a bright light switched on in the Universe! It was so relevant to my heart’s longing. The words that were given that day were: “…Spiritual things cannot be discerned in the mind.”

This explained so very much to me about our world, about getting out-of-the-way, and about the journey I was walking. It explained the transparent, and mystical truth around belief and faith.

I’ve said it before, and I will say it here again – we do not know everything, but indeed, everything is known. We just have to keep walking in truth, belief and faith. Then, our every need, our every crossroad, our every question will be answered and made known to us through spirit.

It is a lifetime process, and no one achieves it all the time, but when we understand that our mind is not where we “SEE,” then we have acknowledged a higher power at work within us.

God is Spirit IN us.
In Spirit and in Truth.

Pictures of my quest from the shores of the Pacific Ocean, to the great mountains, the National Parks, and other magnificent locations – with some of the people who believe (and there are so many more!). Thank you, everyone, I cherish you.