Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Day 4: God, Do I Need a Pedicure!!!!

But that is miniscule by comparison to some other developments throughout the day.

We left the wheat and hayfields behind and picked up the Alaska Highway at Dawson Creek. By afternoon we could see the Rockies in the distance, and by late evening were winding through rugged mountains covered in tall spruce and golden-green birch just beginning to turn color. The dividing line on the highway pretty much disappeared, and we had to watch out for large, dim-witted mammals on the road (two sheep, three elk, two photographers).

Joe was having trouble with his debit card today. Apparently his bank in Chicago thought his card had been stolen because he'd made so many transactions within the last several days, many of them in Canada, and bank personnel, ever vigilant for signs of card theft, apparently blocked the use of his card while we were trying to gas up the truck.

We called his bank this morning from Grande Prairie, Alberta, and the problem seemed resolved, that is until later this afternoon in British Columbia when yet another gas purchase was refused. I called them back when we were back on the Al-Can and just then happened to be stopped at a construction roadblock. I had to talk to the flagger on the road simultaneously with the bank person on the phone, pass the phone to Joe AND periodically interrupt him to tell him what the construction person was telling me while he was explaining his situation to the bank.

But we made it to Toad River Lodge, a beautiful small bed and breakfast off the Al-Can which also had a diner where we had a couple of cheeseburgers for dinner. Joe drove 490 miles single-handed today, and we opened a bottle of French Pinot Noir when we got to our little cabin overlooking a large, shallow lake. We are 1100 miles away from Fairbanks.

Just a few minutes ago I went outside to see if I could see the stars. A three quarter moon is shining over the lake, recalling for me a summer evening at Kankakee State Park when thousands of fireflies sparkled over the water and bullfrogs' voices filled the night air. Here it is silent, but the moon reflected in the dark water ringed by dark shapes of mountains seems so primeval.

I looked up and saw some stars, a familiar shape, especially to Alaskans: the Big Dipper, in the Northern sky. Earlier this summer I told Alaska that I'd fallen in love with her after spending two and a half months on her North Slope. Seeing the Big Dipper tonight makes my foolish heart wonder---does she feel the same?

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