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Waking Up

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It’s ending. There’s no stopping reality that we’re about to get back into. In the last few seconds, like in a good dream, you try to hold on to bits and pieces.

Mike’s become something of a celebrity. When introduced, strangers give him a pat on the urn top, “Hello Mike. How are you?” He’s spoken of as if he’s there, because he’s there, He’s someone familiar to people we’ve met only seconds ago. Fondness for him grows out of what they see as a charming tribute. It’s like he’s being given another chance.

On becoming wonderfully detached:  On the road I thought about those I care about. But surprisingly, not that much. Lives are driven by attachments — people, obligations and little social duties along with some need to keep up with what’s going on in your neighborhood or in the world. Our neighborhood has been a van. We clear a place to sit for 10 hours a day. Our obligations were only to keep the wheels on the road to not go berserk over the frustrations of dirt and disorganization. It’s pretty simple living and there’s enough to see each day. We trust each other, we make each other laugh. We are our own community. There’s plenty to become attached to right there.

Seven men behaved remarkably well in close quarters.
Four young guys and three who are older than their own dads made the trip. The three of us had the advantage of temperament. With added years the fluids change and ambitions get diluted.  We’re harder to provoke these days. That aside, the young guys demonstrated incredible professionalism and forbearance. All are mature beyond their years. They must be old souls or some such nonsense.

Souvenirs and memories: Photos of strangers will remind me of great conversations that, although brief, told some of the stories of their lives: Tweazel and Peter, Linda,  Roger, Denny, Grant, a couple of Vince’s, Kurt, Fiddlin’ Willie,  the Ambassador, Darlene and Merven to name a few. There were two lessons –  how different these people are from me and how much we are the same. Nothing new there — any humanist will tell you that. But you need to get away from your own stuff long enough to see it.

An explanation of time:  On Aboriginal Day, at the celebration in the park, little kids, Inuit, Inuvialuit and Gwich’in, whose faces reflect migration a couple thousand years ago across ice and land from other continents, sail small kites and paper airplanes and  play tag among stacks of old tractor tires. Not a cell phone or video game is in sight. On the stage an elder with a microphone narrates in a didactic monotone the demonstration of Native dances and feats of strength and skill in an endless battle to stave off loss through assimilation.

Fading images

Doing a tv interview from a building made completely of corn.

Vic risking death in a Tucktoyaktuk ice hole and madness by dunking his head in hot springs.

Steve Dee meeting us coming out of the mountains and taking us on the two-dollar tour of Helena and then on to a fabulous party put together by his wife Kori at their  ranch.

Meeting 15 foreign ambassadors to Canada, in an airport - they applaud us after Vic tells them about our goofy quest.

Visits to a Catholic igloo and an Arctic mosque.

Dan negotiating down the price of already cheap hotel rooms and picture post cards.

Freezing our toes in the Arctic Ocean and pretending that’s a real frostbitten toe in the whiskey shots we swallow for a lark and a photo in Dawson City.

The most dramatic mountains you’ve ever seen sitting right beside the most pristine lakes and a sun that never goes down.

Fading… guess it’s time to wake up.

Thanks for following our journey,

Jim

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