Wednesday, June 21, 2006

My Alaskan Journey

Well... I'll start off with the reason. My dad's a dental hygenist, and Alaska pays them more than the other states, on average. He flew up, he flew back to Omaha.... Now, I'm here for the summer. The interesting part? We drove. that's right. Three thousand four hundred miles of American and Canadian highway. Let the tale begin: We started off trying to fix a miss in the engine of my dad's 1980-something Honda Accord... it kinda worked. We do a lot of that. Last summer, no kidding, my dad and I rebuilt the engine on that thing. On a hot summer day, it's not...... fun- to rebuild twenty-year-old engines outside.... but as you may later see, "fun" is not really what my dad is about. If you know him well, you may agree. Andrew Hammond has helped us with that project, and he can tell you how it feels...
So. We couldn't completely fix the engine miss, but we had to head off anyway. All morning on 6/7/06, we packed that car so efficiently it's hard to imagine. I got some of my music to listen to on the drive, four Enya CDs and the AOE soundrack (the only music I have performed be Microsoft employees)... I asked what kind of music we'd listen to before I did, see, and the response I got was that we had plenty of sermons to listen to.... We drive up through the dakotas and we hear a radio station for which our good friend Paul Rehm was the manager. We tried to call his cell. No luck. Anyway, we continued past Sioux City, switching drivers every few hundred miles or so.... it was insanely flat and boring land, but the clouds were pretty. So we reach the Canadian border the following morning... pretty early, too... you know, when its all cold and everything... We had a lot of ID and stuff, but we lacked the following :passport, visa, dad's birth certificate (which my mom tells me wasn't given to him because his mom didn't want him to marry his wife/my mom) So we received an interesting line from the Canadian customs agent: "You do realize you're entering a foreign country, right?" No really! I thought Saskatchewan was a state! 'Course, you don't SAY that, but.....
We drive across Canada... and then past Edmonton things got interesting. My mom called us on my dad's cell. I talked a little while. "Do you have anything important to tell us? Anything interesting going on down there in Omaha?" So she wanted to talk to my dad. With his being so impaired we see our first deer in Canada, I do believe. Up close. *beware- TMI risk* It was pregnant, we had deer fur all over the side of our car, and some deer blood and stuff... our hood was jammed down, as were our headlights, we temporarily lost a blinker... let's see... ah yes. *end TMI* So here's the deal with cars and our family. We have one rather new car. We go through old cars every other year it seems... we had that van (I think Andrew helped with that one) we still have my olds.... Kevin Grey gave us this Honda... there's a story there. Here it is.
Kevin's outside of the system (good for him) but that means he can't get loans. He needed one, and my dad has been purposely building his credit rating for many years. My dad let him borrow some money, and as a token of good will, he gives us this car. See, he had two of them, and he took one and did its body up good as new (that's what he does)..... he did the wrong one. We essentially spent our summer transplanting the internal "organs" of one Honda into the other. Here, a while later, we put it in for more bodywork... drgang land vehicles.
Well, anyway, as we drove through the mountains, which was quite fun at high speeds, but don't remind my mom of that, there were signs for many different types of animals to watch out for. I'm completely serious here. There were signs for: caribou, deer(a few km too late, I fear), moose, mountain goats/sheep, wild horses, bison/buffalo... I think that was it. It made me feel like it would have been a great joke to make a sign for some random other lifeform and put it at the end of the mountain pass both ways. Here are some of the ideas we came up with:
Borg next 15 km: prepare to be assimilated. (Andrew Hammond and myself on one of our random long phonecalls where he's otherwise bored out of his scull...)
Rhinos next 3 km or some other African animal, you know.. (the first idea)
I don't know what else you could do.... if it's not a real animal, I guess it doesn't fit in with the same scenario, but such signs could be great jokes... I liked the borg one because you can imagine what a simplified black drawing of a borg would look like on a road sign ;)
Ah yes. There were these people with "Alaska bound" scrawled on their rear windshield with window paint... Through the mountains, I was officially dissalowed from attempting to keep up with them... They hit a deer too, and it took out their AC... Speaking of which, even way up there, it was insanely hot the entire trip! Evidently, the lakes just thawed days before we were up there... man! (We never even bother trying to keep up with our auto AC systems- just roll down them windows.) Ah, the mosquitos. (random note: probably from spanish "mosca"= fly)
They are man eaters. I mean, you get up where we were and the nights are about the same length, except the mosquitos determine when they start instead of the sun :) Really though, up near Tok, where we camped (for free of course) I woke up like at 4 Am and it wasn't really that dark. Insane. From then on... oh yes! Our annual Criminal encounter! Ok.
My dad was looking for free lodging the entire trip, mainly campgrounds, right? We pull off the highway late at night on a random Canadian road and find a field with an abandoned truck. We've had a truck stolen ourselves (much more on that later, I lead an interesting life) with similar results. They steal the truck, they pull a bunch of random parts, then they dump it somewhere. So my dad looks at this probably stolen truck and says something to the effect of "How nice! Let's set up camp right next to it- it should be able to protect us from charging moose!" To which I replied something to the effect of, "I don't feel comfortable maintaining such close proximity to a vehicle which we can suspect to have been stolen from a random person at some recent pont in time and abandoned here be nefarious criminals who may soon revisit the site" Of course, we then set up camp. and wouldn't you know it... A bunch of young adults pull into the field in a truck towing a small car with brocken windows, and proceed to unload its contents before our eyes. I'm dead serious. And glad to not be dead, period. See, guns are illegal in Canada, but so is the thievery of small cars, I'm pretty sure, so you never know what to expect. We pretended not to care while frantically attempring to call the police on our cell phones. Annnndd..... you guessed it! No coverage. So these dudes pretend not to notice us, get done, drive a ways away behind the trees, and shut off their engine. We waited for a few hours, and decided to just go to sleep. We slept in the car, despite that we had the tent all set up between it and the stolen truck. In the morning, we drove to a power plant or something and told the police what we knew over the phone. We had captured a few liscence plate numbers and such, vehicle descriptions, of course... I think that's it for the journey, basically...

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