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Chit Chat: 'Hooked by its beauty'

Geneva resident shares Alaskan experience

Published: Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 5:00 a.m. CDT

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There are many among us who struggle daily to find a sense of purpose and a clear direction in life. We may wonder what road we should travel down next. But not Jim Robertson of Geneva. He’s found his special place in life, and now his mission is to share it with others.

It was more than 20 years ago when a friend invited Robertson, who then owned a storage-solutions company, to join a group traveling to Alaska. He may have been a city boy from the South Side of Chicago, but he always enjoyed the outdoors and being in nature.

“I got off the plane in Anchorage, turned around and saw the Chugach Mountains,” Robertson said. “I was immediately taken by this place, hooked by its beauty and power. It’s just magical.”

He’s been sharing that magic for the last five years as a professional Alaskan adventure guide and a certified life coach with his company, More to Your Life.

Robertson leads his own eight- or nine-day tours in and around Valdez, Alaska, with small groups looking to truly experience the place.

The trips, offered from June 15 to Sept. 15, can be modified according to what people most want to see and do, but Robertson’s typical tour usually includes hiking on glaciers, whitewater rafting, kayaking trips, camping, looking for bears, and reeling in some massive fish.

The trips are not for people who want to do a drive-by or see Alaska while cruising along on a ship – it’s for those who want to reach out and touch it, Robertson said.

“I watch these older folks come in on the buses,” said Robertson. “It’s like they’re finally getting to Alaska. But by the time they get here, they can’t do anything.”

That’s why his company motto is – If not now, when?

Jim Fowler of St. Charles booked a trip with sons Dustin and Simon, daughter Randi, and his brother Mike Fowler, along with his daughter, Alexis.

“King salmon fishing was the bomb!” Jim Fowler wrote in an email about the trip. “Many of the fish were over 30 pounds, and Randi got the monster catch of 42 pounds.”

Jim Fowler also enjoyed the other-worldly experience of kayaking into Prince William Sound among the floating icebergs.

Alexis Fowler loved sharing stories and dinners and desserts around the fire while camping in the Alaskan wilderness.

“We could not have asked for better guides, chefs and accommodations on our trip, which absolutely was one of the best adventures and vacations that any of us had ever been on,” she said.

Above all, Robertson wants to get people outdoors to share his appreciation and profound respect for the transformative power of nature.

“Nature is perfect,” he said. “It has no agenda, no jealousy; it has no drive to be rich or use people. It’s indifferent to your presence and will do whatever it’s going to do. I think, personally, anybody who goes up to Alaska comes back different in some way.”

For the Fowlers, the Alaska adventure was one they’ll never forget – not only because of what they saw and did.

“The most important highlight of our trip was being there as a family, taking in this magnificent experience and breathtaking views together,” Jim Fowler said. 

More to Your Life Alaska adventures

Robertson recalls many wild experiences during his travels to Alaska. He learned the ropes by camping in the snow, kayaking and watching the whales with professional guides. He’s spent time with a master Tlingit Indian wood carver, working on an ancient war canoe. He’s also lost a set of car keys he dropped overboard somewhere on the bottom of Prince William Sound, he said.

Trip participant Alexis Fowler remains impressed by Robertson’s passion for Alaska, his knowledge of the area and the overall quality of the trip he put together for her family – from the food and lodging to the excellent guides and outfitters.

“Ultimately, our trip was the perfect mix of everything we Midwesterners had hoped for – fishing, kayaking, eating, bunking in beautiful  B-and-Bs, learning about the culture and environment of Alaska and strengthening family bonds,” she said.

“My goal is just to introduce people to a very powerful, totally different place than they’re ever likely to get to –  Alaska is truly the last frontier," said Robertson, who knows people get their “reality” from shows such as "Survivor” on TV.

But, as he puts it, “How much in the wilderness can you really be when there’s a camera crew there?"

Book your trip

Robertson currently is booking tours for this summer. Check out his website, www.moretoyourlife.com, or call 630-841-0925 for more information and photography from his previous adventure trips.

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