Missing…… A 70 year old curmudgeon with a intermittent limp, selectively deaf and usually heard to be mumbling to himself. If you see this man please do not approach him, especially in the early mornings and if he is eating dinner never…. never interrupt him, but please contact well other than myself I do not know who would want to know where he is.
In looking back at the postings since the beginning of the year it is sadly obvious that the majority of these articles had a more personal bent. The normal interval of political satire interspersed with random offbeat or interesting social postings had definitely been put on hold. I do have a solid basis for that dry spell based on the fact that I had no internet with witch to read, in depth, the news of the world.
But in all honesty I still had my constant companion the radio and did hear every dumb political incident and international disaster. Many times, over those months, I stopped what I was doing and scribbled notes for a posting, though they were never to see the light of day because I was too wrapped up in my own personal struggle with my upcoming departure from Alaska.
I do feel I have short changed many of you who visited my cyber-home for interesting tales of Alaska or that old curmudgeon’s view of the continuing total idiocy that we call politics and the national insanity of Political correctness. I do however understand that there were many who enjoyed my sharing the psychological turmoil of the move and the actual road trip. So one can only hope, with a refreshed internet connection, I can win back the hearts and minds of those who have gone astray in search of that curmudgeon on other blogs.
To those who have walked my cyber-roadway
and waited for many months
I fondly use the words of Mr. Nicholson
The sun had been up many hours as I had my last look at Fairbanks through the rear view mirror. I would have left earlier were it not for those who I never new cared so much and wanted one last hug or a chance to say goodbye. In some ways it reminded me of when I said goodbye to my parents when I was in the Army and left for the far East, it was that wrenching pull of emptiness one feels in their gut and can only be healed by time.
For those that have asked some stats are:
The trip took 5 ½ days and covered 4085 miles, if you add in the drive from my cabin to Fairbanks. Average speed as recorded by my Garmin was 60 and actual moving time was 68 hours. With 14 stops to get gas for a total cost of $626. Gas was more expensive in Canada but was offset in the lower forty-eight because the average driving speed was much faster. I only slept in my truck two nights, because I quickly found that a 70 year old man with gout problems does not sleep as well in cramped contorted conditions as he did when he was 50.
My stops were:
The first night in a parking lot across from the airport in Whitehorse YK.
The second stop was a hotel in Ft. Nelson BC
The third stop was again the parking lot of a truck stop in Calgary, Alberta
The fourth night was a hotel in Cheyenne, WY
The fifth night was again a hotel in Oklahoma City, OK
The sixth night was a bed my son had set up for me in my apartment in Little Elm, Texas
Thoughts and emotions along the way…..
This is hard for me to put into words because I have driven most of these roads a number of times before, but always with the knowledge I would return to Alaska. Passing by the many impressive sights that I have come to know and love was cause for renewed wonder and contentment, but also tinged with that hollow feeling that would pervade the entire trip.
Of course the first day and a half as the Alcan meandered through mountains, over streams and along hundreds of lakes I felt a oneness with the passing complex of unfathomable beauty. It brought to mind the possibility that this very same oneness, with the wilderness, may explain how I survived alone in my cabin for so many years. Some people need the edge of a fast passed ‘connected’ lifestyle, but others feel more comfortable with that laid back, ‘I’ll get to it tomorrow’ life. Then there are those few who sense that only when they are miles from anyone and are sharing the sights, sounds and smells of only nature that they are where they belong.
So because I fit into that later category once I neared Ft. Nelson on the Alcan the drive became more of an endurance run than a scenic road trip. And of course befitting that change of mood my first and only automotive consternation happened. Though only day two of my journey I was feeling drained and when a red light started to flicker on the instrument panel I assumed the worse. It was late and being tired I decided to address the light in the morning but suffice it to say it did not make for a restful sleep. By morning and with my caffeine level at normal I realized the team at ‘Jiffy Lube’ forgot to reset the ‘maintenance required’ light and a worry became nothing but a grumble about the idiots at Jiffy Lube.
The rest of the journey was thankfully uneventful, and except for some nice mountain panoramas in Montana and Wyoming, truly boring. Near the end of my drive outside Oklahoma City I realized that I had only 200 or so miles left and didn’t feel that tired so I decided to go for it. I thought I would make Frisco, outside of Dallas, by about 2 or 3 AM and would park in front of my son’s home. But a slow drizzle combined with road construction and my old eyes forced me to stop. I finally made it to my new abode around noon the next day.
A new chapter of my life has begun
one with grandchildren
and modern conveniences
every morning when I wake
I go to the window
and look for that vast expanse of wilderness
I once called home.
It was the rain that killed me, no not a hard driving one or one that when the wind blew it rained sideways but a light rain interspersed with splashes from passing big rigs. I had a good day of travel, leaving Cheyenne Wyoming early in the morning and as darkness closed in on me I was just entering the outskirts of Oklahoma city with the Garmin reading a less than 200 miles to go. Earlier I had switched over to drinking coffee as I thought I could make it to Dallas and park in front of my son’s house to surprise him when he looked out his window. But with a combination of fate (the rain) and old age (bad night vision) I pulled in to the next exit and found a place to sleep.
I have to say that those Garmin’s things preform remarkably well. It never crashed or gave me wrong directions… however at times when I ignored the turns that it told me to make because I wanted to stay on the last interstate it did beep quite a bit. ‘Hal’ my Garmin kept re-routing me as I traveled down the interstate, just waiting for this dumb human to follow its directions.
Long story short I arrived at my new abode just as my son pulled in…. timing huh? My son must have been relieved my journey was over, because he gave me on hell of a bear hug. The rest of the day was taken up with unloading the 40 to 50 boxes loaded into my truck. I of course had to stop many times but my son just plowed ahead and did the yeoman’s portion of the work. At times just sitting there watching him made me tired, and do you think he stopped when the truck was empty…. no he jumped right in and started to unpack the boxes! By dinner time I finally had to ask him to stop, not only because the road trip was finally catching up with me but he would be missed at home for the family dinner.
Oh and the apartment… Anthony had days earlier set up a bed and desk and brought over tons of things I would need, so a heart felt thank you goes out to a man that already balances the world on his shoulders for going the extra mile for his dad.
In a normal situation like coming home from grocery shopping we have no trouble emptying the bags and storing whatever we bought. However moving from a cabin one considered a home for life to an apartment and facing 40 or so boxes to empty and organize, can at times make one wish for a quick death.
For all of you my faithful readers I need to mention that as of today I still do not have an internet connection set up in my apartment, but Anthony and I are working on it, so photography and frequent posting still must wait. I am also having a bit of a problem with my phone, (one that worked once a week in Alaska does not like to work well on a daily basis in Texas), so if you want to reach out please text me and never fear I will figure a way to re-connect with you.
The road trip took 68 hours of driving
the 4052 miles
but it was more a journey from
the un-spoiled freedom of living in the wilderness
a civilization I never thought I would live in again
but with your support and
Gods help I will adapt.
With 5 days and almost 3,000 miles behind me, to say I am in rough shape is an understatement. After two nights of ‘trying’ to sleep in the drivers seat of my pick up, I am staying in a hotel (Cheyenne, CO) and though tired I thought you may want to hear from me.
The drive was spectacular until I got to Ft. Nelson BC, then it turned into just a driving challenge. Even today while traversing the majestic hills of Wyoming and Montana they paled those I drove by almost daily in Alaska. Tonight I sit comfortably showered as I attempt to write this posting on a computer (PC) with an operating system over a decade old….(ie frustrating)
I have the will but not the strength to write a full description of what the trip was like, I will write in depth once I get to Texas and get set up. Suffice it to say I have had everything from engine lights going off, to strange smells and noises when doing 75 for extended periods of time and from Caribou and bear blocking the road to anxiety over where the next fuel stop is. Yes I know all common events for road trips, but remember the last time I made this journey I was 10 years younger and enjoyed each new challenge.
So to all my family and friends I say
thanks for your readership and that
once again God has proven to me
many times during this trip
that we must just put our trust in him.
Anthony here again with the news that Pete has passed the halfway point.
He called in today from Shelby Montana. (the big dot just south of the Canadian border)
It’s all downhill from here!
I wanted to update everyone here on how Dad is doing.
This is his son (and technical support) chiming in to let everyone know that Pete headed out from Fairbanks Tuesday morning.
“Next stop… Texas” he said.
and then he proceeded to stop at Sam’s Club to gas up the truck– cause there’s always one more thing that needs doing before getting to the things you are actually trying to do.
….This posting is made exactly 6 days before I leave Alaska. I posted it today because I must take down the antenna and pack the radio gear used for my Winlink email. I will not be able to access my Winlink email from today until I am set up in Texas around May 20th. I may have access to my yahoo account before then so if you needed to reach out to me I would try at: firstname.lastname@example.org
It is as if Alaska knew I would be leaving this morning because for some reason here at my cabin there was still, in many places, snow covering the ground. It was a kind of last look at a country that I will no doubt never see again.
There was of course that last walk around through a home I had lived in for fourteen years. Pausing here and there when some memory rose to the surface, this was one of the last hard steps I have to take before heading South.
Thousands of memories were born here, from moose walking down my drive to greet me as I walked outside to my first radio contact as an amateur radio operator. The years of friendship with Rose the woman who owns the homestead and her daughter Kara sitting in the mornings talking over coffee. Or the years of watching Kara’s children, Paul and Sam grow to adulthood and for one even a marriage in the home we built for Kara.
Then there are my neighbors who filled hundreds of hours with their un-judging friendship. From Chet my closest neighbor who took the time to spend endless nights sitting and discussing everything from politics to religion, to Joe and his wife Nancy who operate the Arctic circle trading post a couple miles down the hill. During the summer when the store was open I would be there many mornings for coffee and conversation and at the same time observing the many tourists that ventured this far North.
…or the Bushwacker’s, Vicky and Jean who have lived in this area for quite a long time before I showed up who built their home from the ground up like we did with only a little outside help. Lastly their is Richard, a Vietnam veteran, who shuns civilization but if you are fortunate enough to become his friend will display his warmth and comradeship that exists beneath a war troubled surface.
As I close my door for the last time I am quite apprehensive that I will never be a part of a group of people like this who have chosen to live a hard but rewarding life in America’s Last frontier.
With sadness and a touch of fear
I close the door on this chapter of my life,
because I can but wonder
what I will encounter
down this new road of my life
This posting is made possible through Winlink
the ham radio emergency email system.