The Adventure Began Two Years Ago!

Indeed, it was two years ago yesterday that my buddy Sarge and I pulled out of the driveway at the rental dive I’d called ‘home’ for two years and started a 4200 mile plus drive to Talkeetna, Alaska.  This marked the culmination of a sixteen year old dream and was one of the most amazing experiences of my – at that time – 59 years.  I’d been prepping for this trip from the time we visited Talkeetna in April of 2013 to locate and purchase a house; even with all this time there were still some harrowing events.  I ended up with a U-Haul van which was too small for my household and we sacrificed a day swapping it for a 26 footer.  Then the local ‘Two Men & A Truck’ outfit sent a team of guys to my place charged only with packing my household but not loading it.  I was not pleased and contacted the office; after much grief I managed to get them to confirm they would send out a new team the next day to actually pack the van.  However, when the team arrived they’d been told they were just to pack my household and only had three hours before another job.  I went ballistic, reamed the outfit and forced them to supply me a team to load the van the next day which was a Saturday but I refused to pay the premium for their efforts.  They managed to do a really crappy job and Sarge and I had to repack maybe a third of the van.  By Saturday evening I was exhausted and angry but looking forward to getting stated.

We left early Sunday (07/29) morning and started the adventure.  I drove my Escape with some stuff, my two canine companions (Anana and Qanuk) and my female Seal Point Siamese (Circe).  After weeks of checking routes, reviewing lodging and services and similar we elected to drive north through Michigan and cross into Canada at Sault Ste. Marie; while this ultimately worked out we did lose two hours getting through Canadian customs.  We drove for almost 12 hours but made it to Marathon, Ontario on the eastern edge of Lake Superior.  From this point onward we averaged around 445 miles/day and needed nine and a half days to finally reach Talkeetna in the early afternoon of day 10.  To be honest the days on the Alaska Highway rarely totaled more than 300 miles driving due to road conditions, the U-Haul van’s issues with the Rocky Mountains and traffic.  If memory serves I believe we averaged maybe 650 miles a day (11 hours driving time) while in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and portions of Alberta but this really dropped off in British Columbia and The Yukon Territories.  The toughest sections were the Alaskan Highway over the Rockies and the last 100 miles of the same road before we crossed into Alaska.

A heartbreaking event occurred during a stop over in Fort St. John, British Columbia which I still feel today.  We found a motel, unloaded the four legged companions and were relaxing for the evening.  Somehow during trips out the door my Siamese managed to slip out.  The next morning I couldn’t find her in the room and was just heartbroken.  As it was 06:30 I couldn’t walk the halls calling her name out loud but I did walk all the hallways looking for her.  I checked with the front desk but no one had seen her.  After spending 90 minutes searching I could do no more mainly because we were on a tight time schedule.  I left the front desk with my cell number, Alaskan address, former vet’s phone number and a picture and sadly started driving.  I never heard a word and to this day I don’t know what happened to her.  I know she hated riding in the car and I’m sure after five days she was fed up and decided to slip out.  As she was a beautiful feline with a wonderful personality I can only hope someone found her and gave her a warm, comfortable home.  I miss her to this day and just writing this is difficult for me!

I’ve included a few images from this trip of a lifetime.  I’d love to do it again but without time constraints and with a trailer or  similar for the dogs.  Maybe I will make this happen…

Crossing the Mackinaw Bridge into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Crossing the Mackinaw Bridge into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Eastern edge of Lake Superior a bit north of Marathon, Ontario

Eastern edge of Lake Superior a bit north of Marathon, Ontario

Amazing distances in Manitoba, Canada

Amazing distances in Manitoba, Canada

Gorgeous views in the Canadian Rockies

Gorgeous views in the Canadian Rockies

Big Sky in British Columbia, Canada!

Big Sky in British Columbia, Canada!

Yukon Territories buffalo taking a sand bath

Yukon Territories buffalo taking a sand bath

Anana looking out the Escape's window in The Yukon Territories, Canada

Anana looking out the Escape’s window in The Yukon Territories, Canada

Awesome peaks in Kluane Provincial Park located in The Yukon Territories

Awesome peaks in Kluane Provincial Park located in The Yukon Territories

Heading into Destruction Bay in The Yukon Territories, Canda

Heading into Destruction Bay in The Yukon Territories, Canada

The Alaska Highway turns ugly in The Yukon Territories, Canada!

The Alaska Highway turns ugly in The Yukon Territories, Canada!

Gorgeous sunrise in Glennallen, Alaska

Gorgeous sunrise in Glennallen, Alaska

Gorgeous scenery on AK 1 (Glenn Highway) west of Glennallen, AK

Gorgeous scenery on AK 1 (Glenn Highway) west of Glennallen, AK

Inevitable delays on the Alaskan Highway!

Inevitable delays on the Alaskan Highway!

My much beloved Circe; I so miss her..!!

My much beloved Circe; I so miss her..!!

Rain and Responsibility

The past couple of evenings I’ve been able to lie awake in my bed and listen to the sound of rain tapping on the metal roof. I’ve always loved this sound but I really enjoy it now because of the metal roof; it truly brings out the sometimes steady and other times not so steady drum of the rain drops. Given the dearth of precipitation this past year the soothing sound of rain drops striking the roof are truly appreciated. But there is even more to love about this sound as it signals an easing of the drought conditions in this area and is assisting the firefighters in their heroic efforts to control the wildfires of Alaska. Although it truly took a while Mother Nature has finally seen fit to bathe this area in some much needed moisture!

Across the past two days I’ve reported 0.94” of rain to CoCoRaHS (Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow network) and while July is the third wettest month of the year in Talkeetna we now have 2.41” of precipitation. Given we’re just 18 days into the month and showing 2.41” we’re 67% of the way to the normal rainfall total with 13 days remaining so with a bit of luck we might make the average rainfall total for July. If this happens it will be the first month in 2015 that we’ve reached or exceeded the monthly rainfall amount.

Sadly this is a bit late for the victims of the fires in June and early July and comes on the heels of more information released about the inexcusable stupidity and utter disregard for safety displayed by the perpetrator of the Sockeye Fire, one Greg Imig, along with Amy Dewitt whom both live in Anchorage. No, they have yet to be arraigned but Imig reportedly confessed to burning trash on that fateful Sunday morning which quickly escaped his control and began what would become the Sockeye Fire. The couple claimed they called 911 when the fire was already out of containment but they gave no location or their names. In addition, they apparently left in huge hurry leaving a chainsaw, gas cans and jack pads for a motorhome behind. Spent fireworks were found at the scene but they are not believed to be the primary source of the fire.

But there is more to this story that provides damning evidence regarding the utter negligence of this duo. Imig was apparently an on-air meteorologist at one time; given the conditions that Sunday morning any rational person would have recognized the utter stupidity of having open fires but a meteorologist should most definitely have known better. There were Red Flag warnings all over the state and any sensible person would have realized the immediate danger of any open flames. Yet this individual decided to ignore common sense and all the warning and burn open brush piles..?!?! Because of this pair’s rank idiocy 55 dwellings were destroyed, many more damaged, an uncounted number of animals threatened and some apparently killed, hundreds of acres of boreal forest incinerated, multiple forced evacuations were implemented and hundreds of firefighters risked their lives spending days fighting a completely unnecessary fire.

Because we are a country of laws, or were before the recent administrations decided they know better than our founders, this must be allowed to play out in our court system. Somehow I have a feeling the real pain for these incomprehensibly stupid people will come in the form of the soon to be filed civil actions. This is how our system works and we need to allow it to take over and proceed. Assuming this pair is to blame, and with Imig’s confession of guilt it seems a given, they should feel the full weight of the legal judgments against them.

All of us wonder why someone would undertake such dangerous actions in the wake of so many warnings; it just seems incomprehensible. Sadly, I fear this is yet another example of the PC driven solipsism that seems to be sweeping the world. So many people are so powerfully inculcated to just live within their own heads and serve only their own interests and needs; we’re becoming a culture that almost refuses to look outside ourselves. In such a scenario if one wanted to ‘enjoy’ burning trash and debris then just do it; such individuals never even consider the potential consequences of their actions except as it might affect themselves. Perhaps if our numbers were just tiny fractions of what they are currently we could get by with such a mindset but this is not the case. Human beings tend to live in groups and as such it becomes necessary to not just think about one’s own needs but to think also about the good of the group. Yes, this does require more effort, at least until one trains one’s self to automatically figure the group’s needs and safety into one’s mental calculus, but it is necessary for people to exist in close proximity and especially in large numbers. Yet paradoxically, as we continue to increase our numbers, a large portion of us put ourselves ahead of all others and continue to be focused upon just our own wants and desires. This trend is not something that is wise yet somehow we have generations of folks who follow its path; often to the detriment of their fellow human beings.

Perhaps we are reaching a tipping point of sorts when we must all sit back, take a deep breath and look into ourselves with as much objectivity as possible and ask; “Am I really concerned about the needs and safety of my fellow human beings?” After all, in the end we are all the same and in this together. Personally I’ve found I have no choice but to accept assistance from others and this only increases as we age. Maybe it is time to really evaluate just how much empathy we have for our fellow human beings? Living in Alaska one of the things I truly admire is what I call ‘the fierce sense of freedom and independence’ so pre-eminent in so many of the people. But along with this comes the undeniable acceptance that at times we all need a hand. Alaskans in general manage to balance this so very well; we cherish our independence and freedoms but we are also among the first to offer assistance to those truly in need. In this sense the lower48 and, indeed, the rest of the world could learn a bit from those of us who call ‘The Great Land’ our home.

Close up of burned Boreal Forest

Close up of burned Boreal Forest