Out and About

Imagine life without traffic jams. Or life without the need for a car…

Aspen stand on the way to the Porcupine River

The closest we get to a traffic jam happens when all the teenagers chase each other on their snow-gos at evening time. Each morning at 7:30 a.m. we leave home to walk half a mile to work and I have yet to see anybody in a vehicle other than the fuel oil truck occasionally making an early morning delivery. You could fall in love with a world as technologically uncomplicated as this. And no, I don’t miss cars!

But I wouldn’t mind having a snow-go or a four wheeler to move about and see some of the country. Last weekend’s trip to the confluence of the Porcupine and Black rivers has got me thinking about that. Some of the pictures below are new, and others you may have seen in an email. Linda and Carol, two of our new friends, were our guides. They rode Linda’s snow-go and pulled Lindsay and I behind them in a sled. That is some fun! We rode right down at ground level surrounded by banks of snow rushing by and listened to the sound of the runners cutting a powdery trail. Occasionally we would fly over a fallen spruce blocking the trail. Somebody cuts the limbs off these and the snow fills in around the fallen trunk so that it resembles a speed bump. Of course Linda and Carol could see what was coming but Lindsay and I had no idea until we were tossed into the air and back onto our sled. Ouch! I couldn’t hear Linda and Carol laughing at us, but I know they were. 🙂

Down where the rivers come together we stood on a bluff hgh above the Porcupine. Black spruce towered over us and cast their slender shadows far over the river ice. Interspersed among them were birch and aspen and willow and other deciduous trees I didn’t recognize. the flora is much more abundant and varied than I expected.

The farsighted Linda brought along hot chocolate and as we were enjoying our drinks at the end of the trail, out from the woods popped Nancy, native Alaskan and school board president, to see if we were all right. The snow can be deep here and on two occasions we did almost get stuck.  Nancy was out hauling wood. Every native has a portion of the forest from which they gather deadwood for their fireplaces. Many people heat their homes exclusively with gathered wood. The land which a native Alaskan gathers from isn’t theirs by right of purchase nor is it fenced off or protected from “poachers.” It doesn’t need to be; natives view the land as something they are privileged to borrow for a time, but which belongs to future generations or the tribe or to nature, I’m not sure which. Everybody somehow knows their part of the woods and respects that of their neighbors. Non-natives can buy wood or gather their own with a permit.

We are traveling along headed back to town at a pretty fast clip and I am holding the camera up and guess-shooting over the top of Lindsay’s ruff. Not bad for guesswork!

Linda and Carol decided to make an impromptu stop at the local liquor store to pick up a little Tequila. We were all planning to enjoy a Mexican food dinner together after our outing, and well, what is Mexican food without a Margarita? Lindsay and I were waiting outside the bar, still tucked into our lowly toboggan when this friendly man pulled up and hopped off his snow-go, headed for the store. He couldn’t take his eyes of us all cozy in our caboose, and well, he just started laughing and couldn’t stop. No self-respecting adult around here would be caught dead riding in a sled – only children and groceries do that – so I immediately understood the levity of our situation and decided the best course of action would be to acknowledge that we did indeed look rather funny. I waved good-naturedly at him and said “we’re waiting for them to bring out our Margaritas.” He laughed big-time then and said, “good luck with that!” and headed toward his oasis, shaking his head back and forth in amused wonderment and laughing all the way.

PS: The Mexican food was wonderful and all homemade!


2 thoughts on “Out and About

  1. You know who is reading this, “me” has no idea about life there… Of course it sounds so beautiful and so interesting to me. Especially having no traffic and car… And the silence of the snow… When I read you, when I watch your photographs everything seems to me like a dream. Wonderful post, as always, you should write a book or you should make all these experiences a book with your photographs… Maybe you did, I would like to know. Thank you dear Dave, white or snow leaves its signature to everywhere in this land… I see this. With my love, nia

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