Last night Tofu and I were in the empty campground In Tok. After publishing my blog I realized I had forgotten to tell you something important. Just a few miles before Tok. A herd of 20-30 Caribou crossed the road in front of me! I saw them a ways off, and so kept slowing down, and grabbing for my iPad (camera), and as I finally got ready to shoot…well shoot, they were off the road and in the bushes.
Also, after posting last night Tofu and I were sitting in my camp chair, having a text conversation with daughter Emily, when SWOOSH! A giant raven buzzed us. Tofu and I both ducked. The raven disappeared, and I reported the latest incident to Emily.
About 9:30pm, we crawled into bed, and as it was still daylight, I put on a sleeping mask.It worked just fine. Slept well, woke early, and we hit the road early. A couple hours later, we pulled into a turnout, exercised our legs and I took this photo to remind you the white capped mountains are always present.
By the way, what has happened to the Rest Stops? And what is happening to the weather?
Oh but before the weather gets worse, here’s a raven update. Ten miles out from Tok, three raven were gathered on the left side of the road, doing I don’t know what. A few miles up the road I see three more raven. These raised up in the air and as a group started flying northwest (my direction). Yes, that’s six raven and I never saw another the rest of the day. Yes, but the day isn’t over, is it. Currently it is 4pm Anchorage time.
Well the snow kept falling and was starting to build up. Hey! There’s a Rest Stop! The first and only one I will see the rest of the day.
I decided not to risk the trip through the slush. As I hadn’t seen anyone on the road for quite a while, you know what I did, don’t you? Tofu indicated that she was not interested in being Snow-Fu today.
The weather started improving and then I saw some caribou! I was sure to get a good shot. They were standing on the left side of the road. I slowed to a stop, got out the iPad and just as I was prepared to take the photo, this car went whizzing by, and all I got was this…
There’s a word that starts with “A” and ends with “e” that I may have uttered. Really this A…e saw me stopped. He stunned not only me, but the wildlife as he blew by. I have no trouble identifying the driver as a male.
And then the weather got worse; I mean much, much worse.
You’ll notice there are no fresh tracks on the left lane. I’m wondering, “No traffic coming through?” Yes, I did catch up with another driver in my lane. By this time there was no question about passing. It felt good to have company, and I didn’t mind the other driver leading the way.
Let’s take a brief break from the building blizzard, to remember that road game I was playing yesterday. Today Whack-A-Hole became Wack-A-Snow-Hole.
I’m telling you the tracks became packed. The head car and the mini-van were rocking and rolling at about 30 miles per hour. I hoped the head car would keep going. If we were to put on chains it would be in the lane. There was nowhere to get off the road; at least six inches had built up. And then here comes an enormous pickup traveling toward us, with his emergency lights flashing. My head car kept moving forward, and I followed a bit. But then I saw that the pickup had stopped in its lane. So I stopped, backed up and got window-to-window with this old guy (older than me for sure. He had chains on. He asked me “How far have you been traveling like this?”
I said, “I don’t know. I haven’t been looking at the odometer. I’m just focused on staying on the road”.
“Would you guess it’ll get better for me in ten miles?”
“I would guess 15 or 20 miles. How about me?”
“It will probably get better for you in about 10 miles. Thanks for stopping” And off he roared.
I focused on catching up with the car that had left me behind. It didn’t take long. I think the old guy hadn’t figured in the possibility that the storm was getting worse behind him or before him. So, I just kept hoping we could keep moving forward. And we did and eventually the snow subsided.
I’m going to go on a brief rant. I will begin by singing “Oh Canada”. They really do some things right and I’m not talking about health insurance (though you know I could). I’m talking about Rest Stops. All the way through thousands of miles of wilderness country about every 100 kilometers there is a turnout and some very well maintained pit toilets. Traveling the long lonesome these places are a reliable place of rest. Add to this about every 50 kilometers there is a turnout with these amazing litter barrels. Hence, an immaculate roadway. You must know where this is going. After all the hours and tensions of the blizzard I was in desperate need of an outhouse. There were many little blue signs (each one bringing hope). But most of them were “Adopt-A-Highway” signs or photo op signs. Finally I gave up hope on the Rest Stop idea, took one of the turn-outs. Got on the back side of the car, unzipped, remembered to put my back to the wind, and let it fly. I walked over to the snow and took this photo to show you what happens to litter along the highway in Alaska
End of rant. Litter aside, Alaska is Spectacular! I guess I need 3 coffee table books.
I got some clarity on something today. Lynnie would have really hated a lot of this day. I’m glad she wasn’t with me going through the snow storm. Truth is there are a lot of things about this adventure that she would not want to have experienced. She would have loved the mountains of course. But my enthusiasm for the road and the adventure was never who she was. Lynnie was like those Hobbits, who loved to be at home, preparing the next meal and tending her garden. I can see her there now, on her butt buddy, weeding the flower bed.
Another final word on clarity. I was looking at the road ahead and marveling (once again) at the clouds, when for a moment, I realized there’s a mountain in that cloud. You can almost see it. I came to quick stop and tried to catch the mountain before it turned back into a cloud. You can see from the photo is that I didn’t fully succeed. Let me just report that you can see just a tiny bit of an enormous mountain hidden by an even bigger cloud that you cannot even see. Sometimes getting clarity is almost impossible in a world where clouds turn into mountains and then become clouds again
Tofu is being very patient with me. It’s well past her dinner time. But she is deeply grateful that we are in a motel in Anchorage, instead of being swooped by raven. In the morning I’ll be at church with Paul and Dave. I’ll send your love to them.
As tomorrow is the Lord’s Day I’m not sure I’ll be writing. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Goodnight and Love, John