Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Trip to Alaska.

(The following is a write up of our trip to Alaska by one of my traveling companions, Evan. All artistic genius credit goes to him, I just copied and pasted because it was easier than writing this whole story out again myself. Also, I’ve added a few notes of my own, distinguished by parantheses and a “side note from Pinetree:” or “SNFP”.)

Day 1 - Underway

I woke at about 8 to finish packing my livelihood into one piece of luggage and a backpack. Not too hard to do I guess… 15 pair of underwear; 12 T-shirts; 5 dress shirts 10 pair of socks; 4 pair of jeans; 1 pair of black workpants.

After getting that squared away I had to pack the remainder of my belongings into a few boxes that could store in someone’s garage without taking too muck space. I finished that around 12 noon. Then met up with Burton, a guy I know through Los Hermanos who got the same gig . It was to be me, Burt and Pinetree driving to Alaska in a two door Saturn. We ran around taking care of last minute things. Then went to pack Pinetree’s stuff. Pinetree had consolidated his things down into a few pieces of luggage and a backpack but we didn’t have room for some of his camping gear so he packed in what he could into his suitcase. We got it all in and started to head out of town. At which point I realized I had left my birth certificate, Drivers license and social security card in the Xerox machine at the library (dumb dumb.) I went in and it wasn’t there… checked with the front desk… not there. She sent me to the …back desk and they had it there! The librarian gave me a look like ‘you lucky dumb ass!’

So we head out of town, stopping to fuel up at Costco. I ran in to try and buy an SD card for my digital camera but it was like $40 for a 2 gig (and I already had one in the mail from Hong Kong) so I figured I’d make do with the cameras internal memory until I could find a cheaper one (wal-mart has 1 gigers for like 14 bucks.)

Headed to Idaho. we stopped in some Idaho town to fill up again, it had one gas station/grocery store. Not that weird to me since I grew up in Podunk Oklahoma. But it was funny that the music playing in the store sounded like the score for Nappy D. We got to Boise around 10 and stayed with Burt's uncle Warren (not Jeffs). He had made us some nice minestrone soup. unfortunately I'm allergic to beans and it had beans in it. but I had some cereal and corn bread with honey. we slept like... dogs (at least I did, I got the floor).

Day 2 - Bad Luck.
Next day we headed out around 12 after visiting burtons grandma, she sent us on our way with some fruit and graham crackers . We had a pretty uneventful trip until we were about the middle of Oregon. Burton was driving. I spotted a cop in the median between the highway lanes and said “Burt, po-po” he didn’t realize what I had said till we were right on the cop. He slowed down (he had only be doing 5 over anyway) and we passed the cop doing the limit. I think its important to note that we were all in good spirits at this point and probably all had smiles on our faces, which, I think is the only explanation for what happened next. The cop pulled out of the median, we had two semis between us and him and they were doing a good job of staying side by side which kept him off our tails for a bit. Burt wasn’t sure if the cop had clocked us before he slowed down or not and Pinetree said he needed to pee. Se we decided to pull off at the next exit and try and loose him (and find a bathroom). We pulled off and the cop pulled off behind us. And tailed us for a couple of miles (there were no gas stations or anything for Pinetree). After tailing us for an eternity the cop finally turned on his lights. He asked us if we were aware that we had ’something hanging off your bumper.’ Burt told him he had been rear ended recently and hadn’t gotten it fixed. I must say that this point I was relieved ( unlike Pinetree who really REALLY needed to relieve himself). But then, the cop asked us if we had been drinking, and if we had been taking any illegal substances. Burt giggled at this because its absurdity
(to him) and said ‘uh…*giggle*. No…’ the cop then asks him to take off his glasses and tip his head back. Burt complied. Then he told him to close his eyes.. Burt shut his eyes kinda tight, on account that the sun was pretty bright and kinda bothering him. The cop told him not to squint just to relax, so he did. His eye lids were fluttering (again, the sun was pretty bright.) He said that was indicative or marijuana use. Asked if we would be okay with him searching the car. We said ‘sure, go ahead.’ he asked if we would be okay with a canine unit coming in to sniff our luggage. Sure. Go ahead. Pinetree asked if it was illegal to pee on the side of the road. Cop said it was. (whatever…) (side note from Pinetree: I was ready to just forego the side of the road and pee on the officer at this point. Have I mentioned I hate the police?) He took Burt’s ID and registration and went back to his car. When he came back he asked Burt to step out of the car and do a couple more tests. He told him to do the little close your eyes thing again, then had him stick his tongue out. He said that his green tongue was also indicative of smoking weed, asked him again if he had been using it, Burt explained that he had an Amp energy drink in the car if the officer wanted to look. The cop said “be honest with me, have you EVER in your life used marijuana?” Burt replied “no, never in my entire life have I ever used marijuana” he asked if either me or Pinetree had ever used it. “not to my knowledge” he asked him again if he would be okay with having his car searched by a canine unit. When Burt again said “go ahead” the cop told him he was okay to leave, and told him where the next gas station was.

That was just plain old fashioned harassment. The guy was clearly bored out of his mind. Saw three guys having a good time and thought “ I could wait for someone to speed, but that’s probably not going to happen, it hasn’t yet at least… or I could go stop those guys … easy enough…. they have a broken bumper… and I’m sure there’s a couple of secondary offences I can get them on… seatbelts… registration… insurance. Yeah. Lets do that! (he said all of this to the little devil on his left shoulder.)
Upon discovering that we are 100 percent legit motorists he figures (in his head so we couldn’t hear him)
“so you have all your ducks in a row do you? Well let’s just see about that… I’ve seen happy campers in my day, and I’ve seen campers that are TOO happy. And there’s the slightest chance that you have enlisted the aid of a little helper, if you know what I mean… which, if you could hear my thoughts, you probably would”
And he sets about trying to find any little discrepancy in our mannerisms and behaviors that would give the slightest reason for suspicion. “well” he says in his brain “ this driver guy is certainly giggly, and he probably doesn’t react well to bright light… I’ll have him stare at the sun!” he continues and then he gets a little more frustrated, “this guy has to have at least TRIED drugs at one point in his life…”

Anyway, you get the point. He thinks like a child who loves playing cops and robbers. He also reminds me of a beast I once knew that was the most tenacious of tentacled sea dwellers. He just wouldn’t let go. He met his end at the point of a harpoon… directly between the eyes. As I am sure that cop will.

Part 3 Day Two cont‘d - “Drive on, Driver.”

After the whole racist cop incident we got back underway. We were getting pretty far along, we had crossed into Washington and all was well except for Burt’s whiny punk music. I found some me time and decided to spend it sleeping. (kinda hard to do when you’re packed in like a prized specimen of the perfect race, with a lot of luggage instead of bubble wrap or packing popcorn (since that stuff is a choking hazard and all, and we’re talking a LIVING specimen) but I dozed off soon enough.

Not long enough though, It seems. I had barely nestled in to a pile of money, women and cotton candy when I was awakened by what sounded like air escaping instantaneously from a circular rubber tube molded around small reinforcing wire and nylon mesh. And my instincts proved true. It was in fact air escaping and it was in fact a circular rubber air retaining device as I described… a tire. The front left one to be exact.

Burt pulled over (to the right side of the road, as is proper) and as luck would have it we were right by a rest stop. If good luck had been on the ball he(she?) would have let bad luck take over just a little earlier where we could have made it actually INTO the rest stop instead of on the other side of a long tall chain link fence… but whatever, (s)he’s luck… and really didn’t owe us any favors and I‘d say she was at least considerate enough to take a break when s(he) did.

The tire was ripped like this months Mr. Beefcake centerfold in Playgirl (that what the mechanic said at least, I’ll take his word for it.) So we figured airing it up again wasn’t enough… we needed something a little less ruined to replace it with. That’s when we decided that a spare tire would be the best plan, and so we got out the one that was in the trunk. Pinetree did most of the work, I’ll admit. (I was hesitant to touch the tire that would be likened to a nude man within a couple of hours. Although that must have been a subconscious reasoning for not touching it, as I didn’t yet know the mechanic had gotten this months issue.) (side note from Pinetree: Ha! So Evan knows about the whole gay thing, just to put that in perspective...Burton has no clue though)

We went to put on the small, not so showy or ripped replacement (which will probably never be featured in an adult women’s magazine) but alas, it was kinda…. flaccid. It needed to be aired up and we lacked the lung power to do it ourselves. that’s when we decided that we needed something or someone else to do it for us. We asked a couple of truckers if they could do it ( I thought they might since their trucks are equipped with air brakes and I thought there was a good chance that they had an adapter to use for tires. But no luck. I checked out from the group to use the stinker. And I feel it is necessary at this point to tell you that I was SICKLY! After… a while… I rejoined my compadres who were trying to get ahold of their insurance providers to see if they offered roadside assistance. But they didn’t. The other guys wanted to see about maybe hitchin’ a ride into town to get someone to tow us and I was like What?! Why not just get them to air up the tire. And then I realized that that’s what they were actually wanting to do. But I maintained that we still had a good chance of finding a trucker with a typical crude composure and a typical trucker T shirt... like with a woman wearing next to nothing and doing something totally unladylike… and above it usually some name like Harley Davidson (which sounds to me like a pretty white trash name… pretty fitting for an airbrushed whore who has no more decency than to sprawl out all over a motorcycle in a torn up T-shirt that would serve better to mop up a smoothie from the kitchen floor. Or maybe even some spring water or canola oil... Like tuna comes in, sometimes that makes quite a mess on the floor… at least in my experience.)

About this time Good Luck clocked in again and picked up where he left off. He didn’t miss a beat. He obliged on the whole trucker scenario (even down to the T shirt, but I didn’t notice it, Burton did.) He was on the phone with none other than “a pair of double D’s” so we had to wait a little while. But then he got right to it and used his brake lines to air the spare up to 60 PSI (as per manufacturer recommendation).

We slapped it on and we were on our way! (when I say slapped I don‘t literally mean slapped, but more in a sort of a general way that just conveys that we did in fact act with some sort of verb or action that securely fastened the tire to the hub… I just said Slapped to save myself from describing the process.)

We made it to Cle Elum, a little biddy town with a service station that had a dog passed out on the floor in front of the counter. The lady on the other side of the counter referred us to a shell station that does tires. We mozy’d on down. He said he had a used tire for $40 or a new one for a hundred or more. We opted for the used one. And had him throw a tire rotation into the $10 labor fee. $50 bucks got us rolling again. And we made it the rest of the way into Seattle with minimal hassle. (which was cool… and I managed a crappy picture of the Space Needle at night… but I think I lost it) Once we found where we were going to stay.

Day 3 - Seattle

So we woke up around 9 (AM, that is) and decided to get some breakfast and see the sights. We stayed the night at Burton’s sisters online friend Jason’s house…. Yeah. He was pretty cool. I didn’t sleep so well because I was still feeling SICK. We headed out and grabbed McDonalds. I got a sprite. We drove around the place… lots of up and down and side to side. I got queasy and puked in a trashcan. And let me just say, I started feeling better immediately. We parked in the convention center and walked around. We ended up at the space needle (which was right up the street from where we stayed, at my buddy Jason’s place (Jason is actually an acquaintance of Burt’s sister, but I like to think we’re buds.)) Pretty sweet little spot. It started raining while we were up there, but it subsided a little by the time we left. We walked around and down and up and across. We went to REI headquarters and I got me a nice sleeping bag. And as it turns out an extra stuff sack for it (Which proved fortuitous later… more on that later). We dropped off some stuff at the car and went to the underground market. At which point I began feeling more sickly than ever. My bones felt like they were frosted with ice. And my tummy hurt. I sat down and told the boys they could walk around… after a while Burt came back and sat with me and then Pinetree came back from the comic book store. (side note from Pinetree: I was getting a book and a few single issues of Smurf’s favorite comic, Astro City at the comic book store. We had just had a discussion with our friend Kaylene on Earth Day (Earth Day 2006 pictured below. NOT part of the Alaska trip)about characters in media that we thought we related to in one way or another, and Smurf said he related to this character, The Confessor, from the Astro City comics the most of any. So, Smurf being one of my best pals, I was intrigued by this Confessor character and wanted to read about him. When I saw the comic book store in Seattle, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to do some research. I also bought some of the comics Smurf is missing. I’ve since read all the comics I bought and I seriously love them. I love superheroes. Anyways, enough of this side note.) We went home and I slept for a while. Burt and Jason ordered a pizza and we played Settlers of Katan. It’s an alright game. I kinda like it. (another side note from Pinetree: Pinetree does NOT like Settlers of Catan. At this point, he was off eating dinner at a homo diner on Broadway Street and hanging out with some pals he knew who had moved to Seattle…but Evan and Burton don’t know this)

We went to bed. And upon awakening we packed our stuff and headed out. I had to stop and grab some pepto bismol. We crossed the US/Canadian border and talked Borat with the customs officer. He was pretty chill. Made terrorist jokes about us and stuff. It was special.

We got to Vancouver and decided to park and look around. So we did. We looked around a grocery store, they had hella cheese. And some of it was exposed completely, mold and seepage and whatnot. Kinda sick.

We were stopped by a homeless man who asked us for money. We told him that we were American and had no Canadian money he said “that’s okay I can use an American quarter” but we told him ‘we don’t carry cash’. but we really did and I feel that we lost a little bit of our treasure up in heaven for holding out on him.

Vancouver was okay nothing really cool stood out to me. (SNFP: I really loved Vancouver, I thought it was an awesome city that I could perhaps live in someday) Mostly I was sick again and didn’t enjoy myself that much. We ate at an American style restaurant that was PRICEY. Oh that reminds me. We went to a FMV or something and I thought I’d buy an SD card. Remember how I wanted to get a cheap one instead of paying 40 bucks for a 2 GB? Yeah, try 45 US dollars for a 1 GB. Such BULLCRAP. That money could have gotten me a 3 pack of 1 GB in the U.S. of A.

Anyway, I went ahead and bought one and took some pictures. We got lost on our way back to the car and ended up in the ethnic part of town in fear for our lives. The locals had wings and coo’d a lot. And they had the weirdest writing on their signs. See Pictures. (SNFP: Sorry, I don’t know what pictures he is talking about)

that’s enough about Vancouver. Suffice it to say that we made our way back to the car and got our collective butt out.

Day 3 - the Long 99/Unknown Territory

I’d like to start this one off with a verse of scripture and a spiritual thought.

Okay forget the scripture and lets scratch the spiritual part of the thought, I would like to quote a line from my boys Nappy Roots.

So rough it was, downright wrong, I tell ya
Nobody never gave us nothin but tough time, and made us somethin
Different stretch of road, new somethin to see
Every state on the map, a different somethin to eat

After we crossed the Border we realized that we were somewhere south of hell when we saw that everything was in Kilometers and Liters, And CANADIAN dollars. There were also tons of Asians (that’s just a side note, it didn’t have anything to do with hell). At first we were kinda excited to see that gas was something like $1.26 and then we realized that that was per liter or cup or ounce or what have you. Anyway. I’m going to take a moment to expose a Canadian conspiracy….

See, over there, they take our mile (yours and mine) and HACK it into one and 6/10ths kilometers. “Why would they do this?” (That’s your line) Because they DWELL in confusion! Also they have conditioned the Canadian Commoner into feeling that it really means something. Like, for instance, a Canadian commoner might say something like this… *ahem* “oh say, der… we’re aboot to hit 100 KM/h! that’s really something, der eh?” but, in fact, it is not something. Because they are actually only going 60 American miles per hour (they left the hour alone, but I’m sure it will soon be corrupted by their skewed perception of reality.) Hence, by slowing down traffic through Canadia, they retain passers-through for longer forcing them to spend their valuable, uncanadian currency in Canada! It also keeps Canada going slower than the rest of the world, which explains why Canada is so far behind the times. Scientists predict that eventually Canada will collide with Russia, because its moving to slowly to keep up. Luckily Russia isn’t going much faster, which puts the estimated time of collision (EToC) some 20 years down the road. (that’s only 5 years away for the rest of us, though.)

I again visited the land of cotton candy, loose change and women for an hour or so. We started into some pretty green and snowy mountains. Burt’s exceptional driving kept us between the lines for the most part. We drove and drove. And then stopped in Lillooet, BC (which here and hereafter means British Columbia, or Canada) and camped. I was pretty much still in the depths of sickness, but the camp host gave us a key to the bathrooms (there and thereafter called “washrooms” or “Water closets”) (SNFP: We really only heard “washrooms”) So I survived the night.

Day 4 - More Mountainous Road. (And long stretches of not so mountainous but by no means desert-like road.)
Next morning was when I took over driving. We got all packed up and headed out, stopped off to pay the camp fee, 22 demented dollars (that’s kinda like funny money, except there’s not really anything funny in Canada.) I feel its necessary for me to give credit to my friend Burton at this point. He had been the sole driver thus far, which was well over 1000 miles of road. But I took over. So enough about him.

I drove for a while or two, about 8 hours worth. We stopped at a DQ somewhere near the start of the day and ate food. And drove on, And nothing happened. That is, until I got really sick and drove like a mad man to the wee town of Chetwynd, BC. I was in no condition to drive after that, (remember when you feel sorry for me that is day 3 of my horrible illness, with no end in sight.) I bought some Imodium AD ($7.36 #$@% dollars) and we continued. This time with Pinetree behind the wheel.

I don’t know if Pinetree has driven a stick before, but he only killed the car once. He dumped the clutch quite a bit along the way but I think that subsided after a while. (SNFP: Pinetree had driven stick before. Pinetree’s first car was a stcik, but it had been a while and he had to get used to it again. Also, Pinetree drove his first car into a city bus) .He drove through the most mundane stretch of road ever witnessed by passers through such as ourselves.
He got antzie I guess and upped his speed to about 86 MPH or 138 CMU’s (herein and hereafter known as Canadian measuring units) What happened next has been classified as too to be depicted by mere words. And I’m sorry to say that in all the confusion I was unable to find time to snap a photo.

PINETREE GOT TICKETED! (SNFP: I swear there is an international popo conspiracy against me) Damned mountie caught up with us somehow. And he held nothing back… well he kinda knocked the price of the ticket down some but still… let me just say here **** the R.C.M.P.
Pinetree was pretty bummed and said he was pretty much done with the whole car driving scene. (SNFP: Mostly I just couldn’t afford another ticket…I still need to figure out how to pay this one somehow…in Canadian funds no less.) Burt took over and drove us into a what would be the last vague indication of civilization that we would witness for a long time… long.

More later! Will a higher power Deliver our heroes from certain peril!? The climax is yet to… happen.
And so, Until next time…

Day 4 - The Adventure Begins!

We came to the town of Fort Nels-- wait, wait! let me back up… So, we were about 50 miles out of Fort Nelson when we realized that we were DANGEROUSLY low on gas. Our minds were rushing with anticipation ‘ Will we make it to Fort Nelson?! (we didn’t know.) “Will we die in this netherworld!?” (I’m not sure who asked this question, I was delirious in my illness and couldn’t muster the energy to find out. Looking back it seems kind of an absurd question… but far be it from me to pass judgment.) Will I never get the chance to deny my kids something they really want, as is traditional for parents to do?! ( I actually cried to think of this one, Burt will deny it but he was welling up, too.) We were thoroughly stricken with terror. Palms sweating, we watched anxiously as the fuel gauge dipped ever closer to the black void below the E (which represents the word Execrable.) I have to interject at this point, I simply can’t permit you to experience all the anxiety that we had to endure. Just so you know, we made it to Fort Nelson without so much as a sputter. So yeah, we got gas. Stopped at Boston Pizza. I had a lemon water (I was still deathly Ill, but the recent, taxing and stressful experience left me a bit parched… and due to my illness I was losing fluids…a lot.)

We hit the road and Burt took the wheel. He drove us pretty much into the heart of the unknown. He and Pinetree woke me up to see the northern lights (erora boryalus). I didn’t really get a good look at them, the windows were pretty frosted over. They were pretty much gone after 5 minutes. I went back to bed and awoke to the most bone chilling sound in the world for 3 transnationalists to hear when miles from the nearest settlement!

Read on to hear what happens next! Was the sound crunching bones!? Was it death gurgles? Maybe the sound of a thousand angry canucks moving in for the kill… stay tuned to learn the truth!

Okay then, I wont keep you waiting. The sound was excruciating to the trained ear of a mechanic. The sound had nothing in fact to do with crunching bones. Or death gurgles. It may as well have been a thousand angry Canadians, but there were NONE around. It was a metallic scraping… it sounded kind of like if you were to take an internal combustion engine and deplete the lubrication system while it is operating. And that, my readers, is exactly what had happened the very internal combustion engine that was beneath the hood of the car we were driving. (Burt was driving. Hence, Burt is to blame.) He acted like it surprised him and said something totally transparent like “oh shucks! That doesn’t sound good.” but we all knew it was what he wanted. He pulled over and killed the car…. At this point we were NOT getting anywhere at all. I wouldn’t stand for it. But we really had no choice . Burt tried to ditch us and make off on his own.. But, again, I saw right through it and wouldn’t stand for it. He said he was going to “just walk to the last gas station… about 23 miles back.”

We made him stay put. I took the opportunity to relieve myself on the side of the road (and was ecstatic with the results). We put the hood up and turned on the flashers and tried to sleep. I woke up every time a car passed (don’t get me wrong, its not like there was a lot of traffic…) but most didn’t stop. A trucker stopped and offered to give one of us a ride to the next gas station in the opposite direction. But we courteously declined (I had nothing to do with it, Burt was doing the talking. Being in the back seat, it was just my job to wake him up when people stopped… that was no small chore.) After a while some people stopped and gave us a quart of oil.. We put it in (I had nothing to do with it, Burt did all the pouring…. Being in the back seat and all I couldn’t very well get out for such a small chore.) He hopped back in the car and went to start it but it wouldn’t turn over. Burt said it was bad news and I tried to be optimistic about it. I thought what with all the hours of flashers being on that there was the minutest of chances that it had drained the battery to low to turn the engine over. Burt put the hood back up. And eventually this kindly couple with a camper trailer stopped and tried to give us a jump, Didn’t work.

He offered to “tow-start” us. I guess that’s how lazy people push start a car. He stung a tow rope from their camper to our car and I put it in second gear… turned the key to run and what not and he started pulling.

After about 30 feet the wheels locked up and he was literally dragging the car. (I knew this was bad news, read on to see what happens.) Since that wasn’t working out he offered to tow us into the next town (which turned out to only be about 10 miles away… Watson Lake, BC. look it up.) So, Pinetree hopped in the cab with the kindly smoker couple and their dog. And me and Burt jumped in the car and the towing began. After about 2 miles the tow strap broke. We moseyed over to the shoulder but the smoker couple kept driving without so much as a hint of noticing their lost cargo. I started gathering my stuff together out of the car and what not. Burt went and pee’d on the other side of the road. I Yodeled some. That was fun. ( A word of caution: Be sure to note your surroundings when preparing to yodel. If there is any chance that your yodeling may cause an avalanche, or a severe beating, refrain from yodeling.) We waited for a while and it didn’t seem like our would-be rescuers were going to come back. I noted that there was the slightest chance that they had eaten our comrade, Pinetree. Or were, even as we discussed it, torturing him as strangers often do to innocent, unfortunate travelers. WE figured that this was more than a slight chance after all. Burt said he was glad I was on the road trip because of my high spirits when the going got rough (at this point it is safe to say that the going had gotten rough)

Burt was pretty much placid as well. I guess we both fail to see the point of dwelling on the negative and letting it affect your mentality. It’s so much better to try and stay positive, or at least to find some distraction from the negative when there’s nothing to be done about it. That’s exactly what the case was here… nothing to do but to wait for our would-be good Samaritans to discover they lost their payload and then hope they came back. But in the mean time, why not laugh at the absurdity of how long it was taking them? And so we did just that.

Eventually they came back. Pinetree and the Samaritan’s wife asked us “how far did we make it before the tow rope broke?” to which there was no real reply, since we were no more than 10 yards from the breaking point. Burt answered “oh, about from where we started to about…. Right here.” Now I appreciated the humor behind this little joke, but some did not. (SNFP: Namely Pinetree. Let me explain. I really did want to know how far we made it. I was the one who got to keep getting under the car and tying the tow rope to it, so I was wondering if we even had enough rope to make it, (my knots stayed every time, the strain from the pull was just to much on the middle of the rope and it kept breaking.) and the road all looked the same. It was straight and long with skinny trees thickly packed on either side. Back to Evan now…) And I can understand that, but there was a point to the answer… the point was something like “We only know what happened from there to here. And we have no better means of estimating that than you have.” but the question was repeated and the answer didn’t change much.
Like I said, I can see where this rubbed Pinetree the wrong way, and maybe we should have fought the urge to be smartasses about it and ventured a guesstimation, because sometimes people will persist until they get the answer they want even if its irrelevant, but I didn’t feel it merited the energy since the point was moot. (SNFP: I pretty much felt the same way at this point and had rolled my eyes at Burt (who was still giggling to himself over how funny he was) and gotten over it long since)

After 2 more broken ties and retries we made it all the way into town. The last break happened right as we were pulling into the diner/car shop so me and Burton hopped out and pushed it the rest of the way. The goodly people went on their way, Pinetree sent them off with an expression of our gratitude and a good “God bless!” (SNFP: for some reason that just seemed appropriate for these people. You would understand if you had spent the last 45 minutes in their car with them chatting and petting their dog) and we went into the diner to wait for the mechanic. He showed up after about 10 minutes and we went out for the official diagnosis. And it goes like this. “She’s seized. She’s done. She’s Finished. And she’s got nothing left in her” he popped the hood and pointed to the engine block.. Or rather a hole therein “that’s your engine, der. And she’s busted up.” one of the connecting rods had gone right through the cylinder wall and that pretty much all there is to it. And like the mechanic said, she’s finished.

Pretty much I had made this assumption when we tried “tow starting” the car. And that’s why I started gathering my stuff together when we were temporarily abandoned. I had made up my mind (and you would have, too.) to hitch-hike out of there. It was really the only option we had. We discussed it a little in low voices (there was no one around ((maybe a ninja or something, but no one that I could see.)) but it just felt like a good time to talk in low voices.) We voted to leave the Piece of crap where it sat, eat some breakfast and make a final decision. We went into the diner and had a bite. I got the omelet. Burt had to tell the guy that we would be back for the car at the end of the summer. We figured he wasn’t to keen on the idea of us using his parking lot for a junkyard, and wouldn’t let us go until it was taken care of unless we told him we’d be back for it. We did just that, (the telling him we’d be back, not the actually being back… which I don’t think will happen.) we gave him the spare key to it and got his business card.

We went out and started consolidating our stuff into a reasonable load (none of it ended up being reasonable, but we couldn’t very well leave it behind) I didn’t end up having to shed anything, I had packed really light from the start and had some room to spare in my luggage so I took on some of the community wares… a tarp, a map, some DVD-R’s and other various items. Pinetree had to shuck his bedding (he hung onto his sleeping bag, but left his pillow and blanket). He also left a little camera bag sized piece of luggage with unnecessary clothes and what not. Burt had to leave the most stuff, if you figure in the car. But he left A LOT of CD’s and stuff behind.

We started off down the road. We got about 30 yards out and I stopped for a rest. Soon enough, Joanne and her dog came by and asked “what are you guys DOING!?” to which we replied the obvious, “Hitchhiking… to Alaska.” Burt feels that I should add here that he always depends on the kindness of strangers, and he was not left wanting. She told us to throw our stuff in the truck and pile into the cab. She asked us what our game plan was “umm find a ride to Alaska” “well ask me questions! Maybe I can answer them” I don’t think we really knew any good questions pertaining to the trip so we ended up talking about her and her dog (here remaining unnamed, it didn‘t speak (yet another disappointment Canada had to offer)). She took us down to the last petrol station in town, Tags Fuel Station. I promptly went in and asked for a piece of paper.
I wrote Alaska and held it up to help people understand our hopeless situation.

And this is where Evan’s writing ends…..

I’ll pick up the slack here and give you the short and skinny of it. We held our thumbs out for a while and got really lucky. A man by the name of Emmit (pictured below) picked us up. He was driving a bus for Princess Cruise Lines that he had to get up to Fairbanks within the next two days. He wasn’t supposed to pick up passengers, but he made an exception for us. We gladly threw our stuff in the bus and rode with him for the rest of the day. We stopped at a motel that night in a small town close to the Alaskan border because Emmit was tired. Actually, Emmit went to one motel and we went to another motel across town (about 2 blocks) that was thirty bucks cheaper. At that point we were unsure of whether or not Emmit would give us a ride all the way in to Alaska or not, so we set an alarm to go off at 5 am the next morning to be sure we would catch him on the way out. We only got about 6 hours of sleep, but it was a good thing because Emmit was about to roll out of town right when we met him back at his bus around 5:30.

He drove us to the Canadian/American border and made us get out and walk across it on our own because he didn’t want to declare any passengers. I thought this was very silly, but we complied because beggars can’t be choosers. We successfully passed the American customs office on foot and met Emmit on the American side of the border where he picked us up and drove us a few more hours to Tok, Alaska, where the road diverged; Fairbanks (where he was going) one way and Anchorage (where we were headed) the other. This was as far along our route as Emmit could take us. In all he had driven us over 700 miles, and we were very grateful.

Back to hitchhiking. We tried hitchhiking for a few hours that Sunday morning. In between we even caught a portion of mass at the Holy Rosary Catholic Church, one of perhaps 10 buildings in Tok Alaska. Hitchhiking is tough in Tok. In any given hour, maybe 10 cars go by the freeway (a few more than once), and in the several hours we sat there with our thumbs out, no one picked us up. We started exploring other options sometime in the afternoon. We found out from a lady in the bar/grocery store that a weekly shuttle came through Tok and took passengers to Anchorage, and that much to our good fortune, Sunday was the day that it came through! We quickly abandoned out hitchhiking strategy and hopped on the shuttle outside of the Grumpy Grizzly Café at 3:00 PM Alaska Standard Time. We were going to make it to Anchorage!

And this is the man we got to sit behind and make conversation with the whole way:

After several cigarette breaks at tiny road stops in Alaska, we made it to Anchorage around 9 or 10 PM. The driver was even kind enough to drop us off at the local hostel downtown, where we stayed for two nights before finding an apartment.

We are now living in a tiny little one-bedroom apartment. A couple other LDS guys expressed an interest in living with us. We were fine with that as it drives rent down considerably, and it’s really not bad either because we have no furniture other than a bunch of air mattresses we purchased upon arrival and our suitcases.

For the last two weeks we have been subjected to cheesy corporate training meetings in the Westmark Hotel in Anchorage. We’ve also been cleaning and prepping the train cars at the rail yard for the coming tourist season.

Tonight will be my first time working on an actual moving train. The company sponsors a charity even for the Children’s Miracle Network where wealthy people pay $250 a plate to ride a train to Seward Alaska before the tourist season begins. It’s a good cause, helpful training, and I get paid :)

I’d give you all my impressions and some pictures of Alaska thus far, but I’ll have to save those for another post. This one is already enormous.