Besides Wylie Coyote for his unending resilience, a hero of mine has always been Barney Fife. The Don Knott’s character from the Andy Griffith Show made frequent judgments about others sometimes affirming, “He’s a nut!” The real “nut” on the program was Fife himself. He was always doing crazy things from which extrication was only via help from Andy and other friends. Shifting gears just slightly from the small to the big screen, a favorite film of mine is the Jimmy Stewart biography of Charles Lindberg’s solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in the Spirit of St. Louis. While other pilots were pairing up to make the perilous never-before-attained flight over more than 3,000 miles of frigid water, Lindy chose to go it alone...though a fly seemed to accompany him part of the way through Canada (at least in the movie).
So call me a nut…I am driving the Alaska Highway (the ALCAN) from Columbia, Tennessee, to Alaska with my ultimate goal of sticking my hand into the Arctic Ocean just north of Deadhorse (no, I’m not nuts enough to jump bodily into those freezing waters). Though I hope to keep all four car tires firmly wheeling on Mother Earth, I will be making the 4,500-mile trek Charles Lindberg style…solo.
So why would any 62-year-old professor contemplate this type of undertaking (not to be confused with undertaker whose services I hope not to need during this journey)? In a word, ADVENTURE! Ever since my wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with an 11-day Alaska Inside Passage cruise, I have dreamed of exploring the mainland of that last-frontier state by driving the Alaska Highway from Dawson Creek, British Columbia, to its culmination in Fairbanks, Alaska. That cruise was 15 years ago, and I’m not getting any younger. During the last year I have read from numerous Internet Websites and The Milepost: the Bible of North Country Travel, all about the amazing scenery and wildlife that stand ready to be photographed in our nation’s northernmost state. I’ve heard that the large critters (bears of all colors and kinds, caribou, moose, musk ox, elk, big horn sheep, mountain goats, eagles, whales, and salmon the size of whales) take turns posing by the roadside allowing tourists like me to get up close and personal with a zoom lens from the safety of a mobile metal shell-on-wheels. The animals must have a union much like they do in Yellowstone and Teton National Parks and Custer State Park, three places where the large mammals are obviously organized to offer photo opportunities.
I hope to blog, Facebook, and even submit articles for publication in the Daily Herald. In addition to my favorite travel snacks, I will be road tripping with my laptop, GPS, and digital camera (with video capabilities, of course). When I choose to sleep, I will be doing that in the back seat of my Nissan Sentra or in the many much-cheaper-than-motels hostels along the way. I may even wind up emulating Robert Frost’s famous challenge, “Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one less traveled by…and that has made all the difference.” We’ll see…sigh!
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