Chasing the Moon (Fairbanks, Part 1)

We woke up early this morning.  5:30…ish. In the fluster of early morning we found our way to 6:45 quickly.  The 6+ hour drive to Fairbanks started with a fwap! fwap! FWAP! FWAP!

“Is that your tire?!” asked Natalie, as she paused the ipod. “Lebanese Girl’ came to a saddening silence, until I too heard the sound. I wiggled the wheel, testing for any unusual instability. Nothing.

“No,… I’ll pull over anyway.” I said.
When I dropped below 60mph the sound stopped, as strangely as it started. Searching for a lit parking lot anywhere outside of the city of Anchorage appeared to be unlikely as I drove into the late morning darkness. Finally stopping at the entrance to an nondescript industrial facility, I got out and retrieved the wisely-included headlamp, which Natalie placed in out ‘to-bring’ pile the night before.

After $800 of repairs on the Jetta earlier that month I felt a sinking in my stomach as I shined the light under the car.  Luckily, a few lost screws on my skid plate was the only damage.  It had come loose in the back – the wind, squeezing between the road and the underbody had fought with the hanging skid plate for space, and as a result the skid plate got a few teeth knocked out…

I had Natalie pass me a rock and I smashed one remaining loose screw back into its slot in true Macgyver fashion.  My hand, numbed by the cold, we got back in the car and drove off, back to the purple guiding line of my iPhone.  My ‘Macgyver-ness’ left in a techno-hurry.

We drove for hours… hours…., encountering only a handful of cars, a few winter-ghost towns and a mine or two. By New England standards we would have crossed through several states by now, yet remained inside but a single borough of Alaska. I wondered about the cost-benefit, or more specifically the cost-use of the road for Alaskans.

Climbing mountains, following ridges and descending into valleys, the expanse of Denali State and National Park was impressive to say the least.

We drove past hills and through fjords, but we did not drive around mountains.  They passed like the moon; slowly, barely noticeable.  Their enormity growing more apparent through heir steadfastness as we traveled. At times I felt like a child watching the moon follow our car home on a clear dark night – the mountain skating over the ground, snow white and reflecting the sun back at me to expose its grandeur in dark contrast to the sky.  A two dimensional pyramid of confusingly large proportions and distances – In retrospect, should it be viewed from on far, I should thin it to be a more believable wedge of cheese than the moon….

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