Saturday, August 4th, 2007
I achieved my goal reaching the border with the Yukon Territory, Canada on August 3rd. I had walked 389 miles.
In the Fairbanks barber shop the local men had gathered talking the language that only locals would know. The young man remarked” Yea’ you can’t keep that Caribou meat. It’s pretty good though it goes bad right away. I just jar mine its good for soup”
There was a lot of talk about the University of Fairbanks basketball team. “We need to recruit some big young people to come up here. Then we’ll have a fast game on the court. Our short guards will teach em”.
A guy reading “Guns and Ammo” magazine interrupts the basketball jibber saying ” with a 350 grain it pops right up above 270 yards when you are using a 400. Well just last week we flew into a camp. This guy was really sore like his shoulder had been broken. That 300 knocked him. I don’t know why you’re buying a gun way out here you couldn’t shoot.
Then the young man again ” I won’t be able to drive a cement rruck much longer. The seasons near over. For the winter I’d really like to find me a cabin way out there in the middle of nowhere. That would be nice”
Friday, August 3rd, 2007
The blister had come up the day before. After walking 10 miles this morning the pain intensified. As an old hand in managing foot blisters I was well aware that they could end the race for even the best athletes. Calm, in pan, and with a plan I decided to leave the road and drive 80 miles to Watson Lake. Fortunately, I found a store and bought two pairs of walking shoes. The new shows would take the pressure off of the blister. As insurance I cut out part of the toe area of the new shoes to further reduce the irritation. No, I wasn’t ready to quit! It required the rest of the day to return to where I had left of on the road but was confident I would overcome the injury.
Dennis, the owner of the Rancheria Motel told me a Japanese man pulling a supply cart had come along the road in the dead of winter He was headed on foot and alone to Siberia. “A woman pulling a smaller cart which also served as her bed also came through last year. Then she left to run in the Boston Marathon.”
I was impressed by these tough barons of the road. I continued on my journey doing it my way.
Tuesday, July 31st, 2007
OK sometimes I admit I am afraid being alone on the road. Mornings are loneliest before the campers and RV’s caravan into the sunrise. In the early chill I stuff a large can of pepper spray in one pocket of my wind breaker. In the other I’m armed with a sonic signal device which is supposed to ward off wolves and other canine and I hope snakes. [Although that hasn’t been verified]
Now for Moose. These are big critters many with antlers as big as a sturdy kitchen chair. I always stop to marvel them, three or four times a day. Here is my safety routine â€“ if I am alert enough to see the Moose before she is actually beside me, I stop, wave my arms wildly, shake my bear bells vigorously and sing a few bars of “splish splash I was taken a bathâ€¦” So far the routine has been effective enough to send these beautiful beasts careening sideways into pine groves. If the routine ever fails well I guess my comedy days are over.
Monday, July 30th, 2007
Wow what beauty Alaska. From the tree barren tundra, up the rocky Continental Divide, wobbling through spooky pine forests, across muddy, angry and sucked dry rivers, alongside sun bouncing lakes, into road bends of dirt and gravel, neither paved or asphalt slick, Alaska guides me to feel, smell and even sleep with her without even asking why. And the Alaskans are always there, Iâ€™m sure aware, that there is a lonely walker shuffling through their space. OK Iâ€™m hooked, but after strolling 800 miles in Alaskaâ€™s hold donâ€™t I have a right to feel so bold?
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Sunday, July 29th, 2007
When Americans say “this is a one horse town” we really don’t care how many horses are actually living in the place. I know that within a ten mile radius of the town of Tok there are a lot of moose. They have sped in front of me many times. “One horse”, or in this case “one moose” implies small, with not much going on. Such is Tok, Alaska. [Pronounced like coke]
Tok is a highway cross roads spot, not really a town. Motels, a few restaurants and some gas stations dot the small perimeter. It was a construction camp during the 1943 building of the Alaska Highway. Yet real people live her. I don’t know how they survive the â€“ 67 degree temperatures, at times, in the winter. Their motto must be “love it or leave it”. And for that I respect everyone who resides here.
Saturday, July 28th, 2007
An atlati is an antler tipped dart, also attached to a spear, used by local hunters 12,000 years ago who crossed here from Asia on a land bridge. This was my last observation at a rest stop along the highway. So I called my daughter Melissa and told her I would get her an atlati for Christmas, if the archeologists could find one.
Some days you are just worn out. After waling 24 miles I went to bed.
Friday, July 27th, 2007
Leaving Delta Junction the Alaska Highway is relatively flat. I get into a good race walking rhythm and roll on and on.
Fifteen miles along pine trees hug the two lane highway. I am conscious of bears and have an oversized can of pepper spray ready. A big moose munching on road size grass plows into the woods as I shuffle by. The bears don’t show themselves probably because I am signing Rock N Roll songs hidden in my miniature iPod.
If you must grow old please do it in the U.S.A.
I am having steak in a traveler’s restaurant where I am surrounded by seniors. They are from all over the western “lower 48”. The license plates on their campers and huge RV’s can’t escape detection even from a weary wobbler. These good folks are all graying, balding, flabby, and generally feeble. Each are living their own daily adventures fueled by a life time commitment to saving their money and unyielding faith in the American social security system. God bless America!
Thursday, July 26th, 2007
Just outside of Delta Junction I pass a lot of farms. You really don’t know they are there if you fly by in a car along the Alaska Highway.
“Right now we’re grown barley, oats, wheat, grass seed and hay. Why hay is fetchen $19 a bail. That’s good business They got a lot of horses in Fairbanks and they all need hay”, the rugged, weary looking, farmer had told me. “I got some livestock too. Why one fella is raising llamas.”
Armed with these data to consume my thoughts I plug onward. The Alaska Highway started for me at mile marker 1422. For others this is the end of the highway which starts in Dawson City, Yukon Territory, Canada. And I am really enjoying walking among the “toolies”, the local name for wildflowers.
Wednesday, July 25th, 2007
Grizzlies stake out Bison
“Go to the left down the dirt road and you will see Bison. Watch out for the bears! Grizzlies come up here to eat in the farmers fields”, the retired farmer told me as he put some beer in an old paper sack at the run down shack which served as a country store and taxidermy museum.
“They call em plains bison but we got rocky mountain elk and wild boars too.”
Along the road there was a sausage factory. “Our reindeer sausage is very tasty. All of our meat comes from the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. They experiment by giving them different feeds. Then when they’re dead they do tests on the meat. Yea, a lot of our customers are tourists “, the owner informed me.
Tuesday, July 24th, 2007
“The way to get away from a moose is to run round a tree. Moose can’t turn like we do. They kind of go sideways”, advised an Alaska restaurant employee when I told him I saw two more moose today.
The first sign of injury came up today. My left calf, and muscle behind the heel, is showing some pain and fatigue. I stopped for four hours rest [after walking 19.6 miles, however]