Short Stories
Entry No. 1 Week of June 07, 2004

0 Miles Traveled

My arrival to Fairbanks was finally here. I still felt like I had so much to do- read emails, contact people about events to get involved in, work on the pamphlets, and still pick up some last minute gear. Nevertheless, I wound up reading a wonderful book called The Alchemist. In the book, they talk of Personal Legends and omens that you'll find along the way to help you reach your Personal Legend. The fact that I started this book, and read it in its entirety in the same day, was my first omen as I was starting my own Personal Legend. Uncle Jim picked me up from the Airport and took me back to Vailview Drive- The Kohler home. We caught up a bit, and Jim showed me around the house, how to use the computer, and where everything was as he was off to work early the next day and Aunt Mary was in Idaho helping cousin Becky through a very onerous back surgery. The only thing he couldn't help me out with were the cats' names. They weren't kittens, they've been around for a while. I later confirmed with Aunt Mare, that the black cat was BC for Black Cat and the White Cat was WC for White Cat. Witty. It was 12 am June 7th, the sun was shining and I put my complimentary US AIR night goggles on for a comfy 8 hour snooze.
By the next day, I was well oriented around the house, mainly stuck to the computer, working on the pamphlet that I would be giving out. Jim picked me up for lunch at the Chowder House and then skipped out of work for a bit to show me some sports stores in Fairbanks. For dinner, Jim made a fantastic Halibut casserole and some Coronas that I got from the garage fridge which were next to the bait bag of salmon eggs.

The next night, before picking up Mary and Becky from the airport, we stopped over at Keith's place, Uncle Jim and Aunt Mary's friend. Keith makes his own beer, he's a musher(1), and he won't commit to a girlfriend. Not a good catch in most 'ladies' eyes but a good guy nonetheless.

Over the next few days, as Mare and Beck settled into to Beck's routine for recuperation from the surgery, I seam-sealed my tent, bought some gear at the bike shop, and rode around town to get used to the weight. As I was reviewing my gear, I showed Uncle Jim my 45 degree sleeping bag that fit in my one hand. He laughed and went into the storage closet and proceeded to show me his -40 degree bag. There was quite a difference in weight to say the least! Winter camping here was no joke.

Throughout the next few days, Uncle Jim and Aunt Mare endured my tardiness, my fatal attraction to the computer, many phone calls, and my confiscation of the garage and ironing area downstairs. They fed me the most wonderful meals which I loved because it was all fish and game that uncle Jim caught so there were no chemicals or toxins from farmed fish or processed meats.

It was a difficult goodbye and as Visgils (my mother and Aunt Mare's Maiden name) do, we both cried and I cried harder knowing that Aunt Mare would cry some more after opening this month's phone bill.
(1) Musher - Many Alaskans are dog mushers and have at least 8 to 10 dogs they care for and use as transportation and recreation in the winter.

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The Bike     the stuff I am taking with me     Fairbanks summer home     Muskox
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