(not the candy or the floating thing. The people who rescued me and my sister)

As some of you may know, I’m a big fan of thanking. Perhaps even overthanking (it was the topic of my last book).

Well, I’m working on a new Gratitude Project that I’m really excited about, and it’s one that I hope you might want to be involved with.

Namely: I’m on a quest to find and thank the five men who saved the lives of me and my sister. And I think I’m getting close, thanks to a team of helpful readers.

Here’s the story: Way back in 1988, my sister and I were in high school, and on a big family trip to Alaska. We had rented a kayak in the afternoon, just the two of us. We were paddling around one of America’s largest national parks (3.3 million acres).

We saw no other humans – just wilderness and the occasional seal poking up its nose through the water. After awhile we turned our kayak around to go back, but unbeknownst to us, the tide had changed. The channel we had paddled through had disappeared. We were baffled and lost in a vast bay (that led to the ocean). We kept paddling for hours and hours, too afraid to go on the bear-infested land. The sky got darker and the temperature dropped. We sang songs to keep our spirits up, including, appropriately, the Gilligan’s Island theme song.

We paddled on into the night. The park service told our terrified parents that we were likely seapt out into the ocean and probably dead. Drowned in the North Pacific. It still haunts me, what my parents went through.

But around midnight, we heard distant voices on the land. We started shouting and steered our kayak toward the voices.

It turned out to be a group of five men, out for a camping trip. I don’t remember much about them, except they were from the West Coast – California, Washington or Oregon.

They welcomed us. They fed us – they had already stored your food for the night a half a mile away to avoid the bears, but they happily went and fetched us something to eat. They lent us one of their tents.

In the morning, my parents rented a search seaplane and finally spotted us. My dad greeted us with a typically wry comment, something like “Did you get a good night’s sleep?” But he and my mom were understandably traumatized.

Anyway, my quest is to thank our saviors personally. If not for them, and extreme luck, my sister and I wouldn’t be here.

I started this search a few months ago, and thanks to an amazing group readers, some of them Alaska natives, we recently had a big breakthrough!

Chief Ranger Wendy Bredow dug up the case file from 1988. It gave the name of one of the five campers: Doug Rand. No other info on him besides his name.

So…if anyone knows a Doug Rand who might be the Douglas Rand who rescued us, please let me know.

Some clues:

–The campers were (I think) from the West Coast, either California or the Northwest.

–I’m guessing they would be in their 60s or 70s now.

By the way, the people I’ve met while conducting this search have been one of the few bright spots of the Quarantine Year. They are astoundingly kind, not to mention relentless Sherlocks, and have been emailing, calling, FBing in the quest to find the rescuers.

So I ask you, readers: If anyone knows of a Doug Rand who seems big-hearted and somewhat outdoorsy, please let me know! Or if anyone is a skilled Internet sleuth, please contact me.

Thank you!