Via Basel: A Birthday Celebration in the Wilderness


On July 16th I was in the midst of a week long rafting adventure on the mighty Copper river in Alaska, which is fed from 26 glaciers and is about half a mile wide in some areas. In this wilderness, away from civilization and cellular reception, I was one of 13 gutsy travelers and 4 young and amazing guides. It was in that beautiful natural environment, among the imposing mountains, thundering waterfalls, fascinating glaciers, and abundant salmon that I celebrated Chris’s 40th Birthday.

In our pre-trip orientation the guides warned us about the unpredictable conditions we may confront. High water levels due to glaciers melting from a heat wave, choppy fast rapids, cold nights, and heavy rainfall among them. I had been on many outdoor adventures, but I have to admit to being concerned about the risks in this more than any previous one. Except for high winds, threatening clouds, and a couple of hours of rain the weather cooperated, the rapids were just challenging enough, and the flies a mere nuisance. I cannot help but believe that Chris was looking out for me and my companions to make sure nothing bad happened around his birthday. Thanks, Chris, for interceding with Mother Nature.

Back home from this most special and rewarding trip and after resting a few days, I headed for Chris’s home in Normal to mark the 9th anniversary of his escape to the other side, a ritual I have been repeating yearly on this date, 27th of July.

Along with Mandy, Kathleen, and all the EIL family, we are indebted to you Chris for creating this wonderful platform to bring various forms of art, poetry & literature to life for the many readers and viewers of this website, and also helping us in keeping your memory alive.

Basel Al-Aswad, father of EIL founder Christopher Al-Aswad, is a yogi trapped in an Orthopedic Surgeon’s body. His loves in life include reading, hiking, enjoying nature, meditation, and spending time with his large Iraqi family, and now, retired, he will have more time for that. And for the next adventure.