My time in Tok (first town up from the Yukon border on the Alcan Highway,) revolved around not much… I gloried in staying in an RV the first night when I was exhausted from the road and the next day I had a meal out, went to the library and read under my mosquito net. The second night Selk and I slept in a Teardrop trailer, a little box really.
The country on from Yukon was probably fantastic, with little lakes and lots of wildness but I didn’t really register it as beautiful until I started out on the road south-west toward Valdez. Now mountains are cropping up and the road isn’t so straight, in fact there is a lot of roadwork and gravel patches but nothing to prepare me for Slana.
Slana community is one of the two land entrances into the Wrangell-St. Elias mountain range and National Park. Where I’d made reservations was miles off that paved road on a doubtful gravel road in vast country where a couple have carved out a life for 33 years, quite beyond my imagining since this area gets to minus 50 degrees and has many feet of snow. Right now though it is idyllic with two greenhouses brimming with flowers and food, a sweeping lawn and tidy cabin house.
My cabin is beyond vision and shouting distance from the main house or anything else human. It’s about the size of my old cabin on Pine Creek and uses kerosene lamps and an outdoor shitter just like I had there… more than 36 years ago. For 70$ I’m here for two nights.
The silence has built in around me so that my ears ring a little. The tall skinny spruce trees rock a little in the wind—good, less mosquitos for when I go out next. I tried some of the wild blueberries but they weren’t so tasty… (remembering crystal clear Carp Lake where we swam and paddled in B.C. grazing on them and they were so delicious.)
I am glad to stop moving through a continuous postcard- To have a chance to see wildlife after hundreds of miles in the wildest part of the world and seeing none but giant ravens. Already what looks like a Goshawk has flown over, giving me joy since I’m reading a fascinating book about them by Helen Macdonald called, H is for Hawk. And even if I see no wildlife to just not be next to a road carrying endless travelers one direction or the other is enough. To just BE grounded for a little while in Alaska. (I’d thought earlier about how the imminent drop in temperature and rain coming would throw me into a panic of wood cutting if I lived here. I’d also thought about the First Nations people living and moving through the density of the woods and brush in all seasons when bear and wolves were in balance with all the other creatures that filled the capacity of these great lands. Those thoughts fill me with imagining.)
I have no skill set that helps me now. No great love or talent that sustains me. I am just going to be here.
And so I have… I’ve wandered the land but not really seen other than beaver, grouse and moose or caribou tracks. It started raining heavily a couple of hours ago and that makes the cabin even more cozy… there’s a faint cloud from the oil lamp and the sky is as dark as an Alaskan summer night.
I’ve had a lot of time to think but not much of what I thought needs replaying. I’m fairly used to solitude after these last almost three years but I still carry a taint of restlessness. I slow down and open up my sensing to accept my options and am grateful to have a day without any outside world input. There is innocence in solitude but also room for fabrication and private drama. I have had some flapping about the weaknesses that come with age. Mainly I’ve just been present to my space and the crawl of time as the thirsty plants outside sponge up this needed rain and the gray sheet of Alaskan darkness settles early over this small patch of Alaska.
The next day in Glennallen I found that my debit card won’t work due to a fraud alert. Great. It’s raining and I have 35 dollars. Luckily I got to Mendeltna Creek Lodge and got in a bunk house (alone) for 10 bucks a night. The owner’s husband is away and so Mabel and I have been doing everything together. I got to card while she spun, do yoga with her, harvest food, go in the hot tub, have a home cooked (all grown on the land) meal.
It’s satisfied some of my barely acknowledged people craving.
Tomorrow I’ll try to sort it out with the bank. At least I’ll have a fully charged car when everyone else is waiting at the pumps (and it was a pump in Tok that triggered the fraud alert…) Hopefully Mabel and I will stay friends and I’ll get to go on to Valdez.
It’s always a hello and goodbye to each bite of Alaska I take.