Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Location: United States

Saturday, December 17, 2005

"Boy, a month in Europe with Elaine. That guy's coming home in a body bag." - Kramer, Seinfeld

The Boy ponders the meaning of life, and why he doesn't have M&M's

My family and my in-laws are fairly thoughtless.

They could very easily all move next door to each other so it would be convenient for when we came to visit, but, no. They’re selfish enough that they won’t relocate hundreds of miles so that when we visit every 14 months, we wouldn’t have to drive.

The selfishness of some people.

We took off from Ebenezer’s house on a beautiful Monday morning. Now, driving in Alaska I’ve noticed several things:

  1. Speeding isn’t against the law, it’s stupid in Alaska. We may be (someday) building wonderful, flat bridges to nowhere, but our roads right now make Pamela Anderson look flat. Going 75 miles per hour on them is ludicrous in most cases. On our trip, however, I noticed that there are things such as smooth roads. None of them are in Alaska.
  2. Cops are generally there to help you in Alaska. While driving across the state line, within the first sixty miles into the new state, we saw about eight Troopers on the road, pulling over folks and handing out tickets like people would want them. Obviously the Troopers were interested in money traffic safety.
  3. There are extraordinary limitations on where you can go in Alaska, since all of our highways are numbered in single digits. Driving down in the states I felt we could go anywhere. Fairbanks, by contrast, is much like living on an island . . . you can go somewhere else, but there’s a lot of effort involved.

The trip was as long as it could be. There is a stretch of highway (about 10,000 miles long), however, where the only things one can get on the radio are Jesus, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Rush. And not the cool Geddy Lee Rush, but the Limbaugh Rush.

Now, the fun part of this trip was that we were in a rental car. We rented from Enterprise (their slogan is the vaguely threatening “We’ll Pick You Up And There’s Not A Thing You Can Do About It”) and got the unlimited mileage package. Unlimited mileage is nice, since it seemed like we did little else but drive. The car was a compact, so The Mrs., The Boy, and The New Boy and I experienced lots of family bonding time. It actually got to the point were The New Boy started throwing a fit when we’d get ready to get into the car – he was done traveling. Fortunately, I’ve got like 200 lbs on The New Boy (he’s only like 180 days old) and combat training from my time in the Punic Wars, so he can rarely get the drop on me.

When we finally got to my in-law’s house, they promptly left. My father-in-law had to have his red blood cells waxed or something. So, we’d flown from Alaska, driven nigh a thousand miles, and The Mrs.’ mom and dad took a powder on us. That was okay, though, we’d rest and decompress.

That was not to be.

Being Alaskan and unused to the company of others, The Boy came down with some strange virus on the airplane so we got him a Norton Utility update at the doctor’s office. The doctor in question was 110 miles. 110 miles one way. More driving. We finally did get to the local zoo, and let The Boy run wild and scare the animals (no lions, tigers or bears, but there was a surly badger and some non-poo flinging monkeys).

The Boy runs toward a large pumpkin house. You can plainly see that it has been roped off because it does not meet current building codes, primarily because the stem wasn't installed by a licensed stemfitter.

We were one of two families there. The Boy, while playing, decided that the pressure on certain internal organs was a bit much. The Mrs. started shrieking as he pulled down his pants and prepared to contribute to the watering of the local park’s plant life. I managed to convince him that perhaps the park restroom would be a better place than the park tree.

Somehow, we did finally get to see nearly everyone, and had a bonfire two days before we left. A wonderful evening in the 50’s, complete with roasted hot dogs and toasted marshmallows.

The night before we left, however, the weather took a change for the worse. It went from sunny to having a golf ball sized hail and a tornado touch down about five miles from the in-law’s place. Okay, we thought, the weather won’t be a factor from here on out.

The next morning we began our drive back to the airport. I figured if we made good time we’d hit it in about 14 hours of driving. Well, twenty miles from the in-laws, we hit the ice storm. Two hundred miles from the in-laws, we hit the blizzard, avoiding the snow clogged Interstate that was shut down, stranding hundreds.

The next morning we took the (blessed!) day flight. We dropped our car off, having added nearly 2500 miles to its odometer and a hint of baby drool smell to the upholstery.

As we touched down in Anchorage, I could hear The Mrs. sigh contentedly and hear her say “Thank heaven we’re home.” I felt the same way. I’ve talked to other folks who live up here, and most of us have that feeling, that what we left behind in the lower 48, no matter how dear, is more than compensated by what Alaska does as it grows inside you.

The Chairman of the Board, Denali, welcomes us back home. Go ahead and click on it for larger picture goodness.

Another hour (we actually flew to Fairbanks on the same plane that we flew to Anchorage on, but they made us get off because it was a different flight number – logic, airline style) and we were finally home.


There is a difference being Outside. There’s so much more out there. In a sense that’s good. There are few material items that you might want that you can’t get with a drive of a few hours from almost any point in the lower 48. Unless you’re in Wyoming. The number of activities that you can do is exponentially larger. Unless you’re in Utah. In Fairbanks, though, I get a sense of inner peace that I don’t get so much while Outside, less hustle and bustle, perhaps a bit more meaning.

I’m sorry. I’m mistaken. That wasn’t inner peace, after all. Just the second beer.


Blogger Woofwoof said...

How come you go Outside every 14 months and made it so interesting. And I live there and don't feel half the excitement you get on your trip.

6:40 PM  
Blogger Eric Miller said...

The second beer, and the third, and the fourth, etc...

5:16 AM  
Blogger Newman said...

I wanted to write and say thank you for the great writing!

Can I ask a favor? I’m trying to help establish the blogger community in Alaska - I lived there in the 90s and sort of ‘care take’ an old web site - http://www.alaskagold.com .

If you would, please link your location and Blog address at http://www.frappr.com/alaskanbloggers . It’s a map of Alaska and I hope to collect the locations of a bunch of Alaskan Bloggers. You might find others who are blogging, and others might find you.


8:35 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

Great, less than 24 hours until I hop on a plane Outside and I have to read your account of it.

Well, at least our two families only live 60 miles apart, so we'll have slightly less traveling to do. I still plan to wear a beaver-fur hat home. Maybe with bunny boots.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Jill Homer said...

Hey! I object to the stereotype that there's nothing to do in Utah. Why, just the other day, the other sister wives and I went out to the wardhouse to watch our stories when Bessie (that's LaTonya's cow) barged into the chapel and mowed down all of the folding chairs! Ha ha ha. Too much fun for one lifetime.

6:34 PM  
Blogger John said...

The answer to that one is simple: just be more like me!

I see that (even though the name isn't familiar) we know each other . . . (hic)

Thanks! I'll head there today.

Travel safe. Wow - 60 miles. They must love you. Unlike my family.

You can't snow me . . . I've been to Utah. I did avoid the cops at BYU (barely) once. I had a caffeine-containing beverage. I'm naughty.

7:20 PM  
Blogger Duck Hunter said...

certainly they live closer than a 14 hour drive to an airport. I suggest you pay a bit more next time and land at the closer airport.

8:25 PM  
Blogger Artist Dianne Roberson Hendrix said...

I will not be dragged outside again to the east coast. Love it here. My site and work are at www.diannehendrix.com I enjoyed your writing.

8:37 AM  

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