Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Day 68/69: Northway & Tok... Alaska (The Last Frontier)
It has been a strange sensation these past two weeks, to walk out late at night and still have the sun in yours eyes. Like our northerly journey somehow brought the sun a little closer. Its a curse and blessing at times though. On one hand we can't fall asleep as early as we like, on the other, we can see bright as day the untouched expanses of wild nature that has come to define what we have now stepped into...Alaska...The Last Frontier.
We woke up on the morning of the 20th knowing full well that just 20 miles outside of Beaver Creek lay the border to Alaska. We were here, this was it, the homestretch. In less than a weeks time the goal that we set out to accomplish, the adventure that we had dreamed and planned would be fulfilled, our mission complete, our destination reached. And with this knowledge we ventured on, savoring every moment and every pedal through our final stretches of the Yukon. Again the human thoughts of accomplishment, and pride quickly showed through upon reaching that "Welcome to Alaska" sign. But among these vast vestiges of pride waving the Texas flag in front of the sign, we had encountered a man who was also on a journey of his own, with a route and reason that made even our own journey seem like a humble day trip. He was from Buenos Aires, Argentina and he told us that he had made a promise to his father before he died, that he would travel from the very tip of South America in Chile to the Northern most point in North America that he could reach by road which was Deadhorse, Alaska. He was a recent widower as well, He had started back in January and by the time he reached Alaska he had driven over 17,400 miles completely alone. At first driving didn't seem quite that big to us but than he told us that his doctors believe he had developed cancer and that he should probably seek treatment. You would never really know the kind of tragedy that man's life held if you just saw him, he was honestly one of the happiest people we've met on this trip. He wasn't being pushed on by any sort of developed cause, he had done so because of a promise he had made to his father, that he would live life in the way that his father dreamed it should have been lived, and even with his doctors consultations of possible cancer, the man continued on with his journey, even if that journey ended up costing him his own life in the end, it did not seem to faze him in the least.
But we are staying in a church in Tok, Alaska now after faring pretty well in a provided airport motel in Northway. The roads were rough and patchy which dusted our bikes pretty good. Though no flats today and me and Nathans bike still has yet to blow a tire or tube, even though it has twice the millage on it with almost twice the weight (not really ;), while the others have blown about four or five. Our bike is pretty impressive I'd say. And yet while we started our biking today we encountered our friend from the border yet again at the nearby convenience store. He had stayed in town that night even though he had a car and could have made 400 miles of his trip in a day had he wanted to, but he didn't. He was in no hurry.
Jack London once said: "The function of man is to live, not to exist. I will not waste my time trying to prolong it... I will use my time."
...and apparently so will our friend.
From the road,