there were many goals and plans for this trip. one of them was for me to pee in the yukon river. you see, there’s this old alaskan legend that to become a sourdough and no longer be of cheechako status, one must kiss an eskimo, eat muktuk, and pee in the yukon river. funny thing is, one hardly hears this any longer, the assignment of being either cheechako or sourdough. it meant a lot to me, though, because i feel i am a sourdough, having lived in the last frontier 32 years, but being black-or-white in my thinking, i knew in my heart i needed to fulfill all three legendary requirements in order to change rank. because it matters to me. i peed in the yukon. on the north shore of the yukon, which means i actually crossed the yukon on that rickety wooden bridge that scares mister jones so badly yet all the haul road truckers drive their 18-wheelers across the bridge. year ’round. and do i care that some of them probably saw me pee’ing in the yukon? not at all. they probably thought yeah, there‘s another cheechako turning into a sourdough.
then came the arctic circle. not much to see there except some markers and signs and many tourists posing. a group of sightseers actually carried a strip of red carpet and lay’d it out where i suppose they must’ve thought the line of the arctic circle was, each one hopping from one end of the rug to the other. how funny.
next. we drove over atigun pass. i have always longed to see atigun pass. it is the only pass in the brooks range that is crossed by a road. mister jones has carried many a rock home to me from atigun pass. this time i was able to gather my own small boulders from here. [“just one more….“] we meandered down into the valley of atigun river and took a break there, letting the dogs run and the cat saunter on leash. i gathered rocks and dipped my toes into the icy cold water.
onward we drove into tundra. the amazing thing about this change of land is the change of trees. smaller. more like bushes and shrubs. and then, none. wide open spaces, big sky country. rambling channel-changing rivers. there ain’t much in the way of anything at all out there in the land of no trees. we drove past pump stations for the alaska pipeline. we drove past other tourists and we drove past hunting rigs. we saw the biggest most beautiful golden grizzly ambling across open territory. and two falcons. six swans. and about three thousand marmots. [not really but it seemed like it. they were everywhere.]
we made it about <- this far -> from deadhorse. [i hold up my thumb-and-fingertip showing people about a half-inch space – “we were this far from deadhorse.”] we made it up the hill of ice cut [mister jones loves to call it icy cut] and drove just past into the area of happy valley. there we stopped for pooches to run and the cat to pull mister jones around with the leash and for me to gather a couple rusty old things that were probably part of a drilling rig operation. we would have driven on into deadhorse, but going as far as we did go was just because we wanted to go just a little further and just a little further. we talked about not having animal food or our own change of clothing etc and we knew we would not be able to rent a room for the night having our pets with us, so we opted to head back to coldfoot where we had secured our rollee home. home sweet home.
rollee home’ing is a good life, as long as one remembers to stop the truck, open the door and hop out, stretch one’s legs every hour or so……