A brief conversation this afternoon with a co-worker wearing a Dawson City Music Festival sweatshirt has lead to me to click through all the photos from our trip along the Alaskan Highway in 2008 this evening.
I find myself wondering if Muncho Lake in BC is as still as it was that day when we stopped, the reflection of sky and mountain so mirror-like I was compelled to throw in a stone to make sure it rippled.
I looked at the photo of the Liard Hot Springs and remembered the herd of bison along the side of the road leading to it, how a few of the bigger males stopped grazing to watch us pass by and just how incredibly huge these beasts are when seen from ten feet away.
I thought about the dots on the map, dots that would be small towns on any other map but there on the Alaska Highway are only roadside way stations with gas and food and lodging. I found myself thinking about all the ones that had closed and the ones that looked like they were closing soon. I remembered the older couple who ran the one in Fireside BC, watching their dream slip away as the tourist money dried up, and hoped they were still there even though the For Sale notice on the website from 2010 makes me think that perhaps they’re not.
I want to ride the Haines Highway again, to experience it without the anxiety and fear that clawed at me that day. I want to find that spot, that one desolate place with only a thin ribbon of frost-heaved asphalt to say that man was ever there, where everything is immense and implacable, where I finally felt so small and tired and scared that there was nothing else to do but to push back against it, to say to the anxiety, enough.
I want to go back to Dawson City, and stay in a Gold Rush cabin again, to see the ship graveyard where beached century-old paddle wheelers slowly disintegrate.
And there are places that I didn’t see that I still feel I need to. Our motorcycles were not suitable for the Dempster Highway; we were not able to make it to the Arctic Circle even though we were less than 300 miles from it. I want to visit Keno City and Denali Park and see the Tombstone Mountains. I want to visit the Hammer Museum in Haines, not just ride past it.
Keith called it a once-in-a-lifetime trip. I need to convince him it wasn’t.