Not your average travel blog
The drive south on the Dalton Highway was infinitely more interesting and enjoyable than heading north. Not only was the mosquito population higher toward the north end of the road – not past the sublime and lush north slope as it descends towards the chilling ocean – but the smoke had cleared from the Brooks Range and the old mountains displayed themselves like attractive mature nudists on a beach. You shouldn’t stare, but you throw on your sunglasses, pretend you’re reading a book and covertly, help yourself.
Although aged and seemingly weathered, (I’m not talking about my copilot this time) there’s something wise and grandfatherly about the Brooks. When I visited The Grand Tetons last year (a relatively young mountain range) it was clear they still had some growing up to do. They tossed the weather around like it was a raggedy old bike in Amsterdam – not knowing who had stolen it or where it had gone. In the Tetons, if you took a drink from your water bottle and looked up, the view would be different from when you started drinking, much like if you had to keep an eye on a toddler running around your garden, throwing mud around, shouting at the flowers, and like my friend’s children, removing their clothes. The Brooks staked their position in the north country early. They are defiant, deliberate, invested and steadfast. They don’t carry much altitude or hype, but their retired and deserved stubbornness shows they’re not giving up their seat. They responsibly carry the pipeline on its first few hundred miles, something I wouldn’t trust the Tetons to do. They move the weather just as much, but like carved and respected pieces on a chess board, and not like a toddler’s plastic play truck, which inevitably ends up in his mouth or in the toilet…or in most cases, both. Played with the conviction of two revered pensioners who know each other’s strategy; just as glorious, just as capable, deservedly respected and revered, the Brooks Range are the Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart of chess-playing mountains; Sat under a formidable sky, moving each piece after careful deliberation.
Apart from the uninhabited views and the inspiring beauty of the changing landscape, the 500 mile drive back to Fairbanks didn’t throw up many surprises. Wildlife was dormant or on holiday even though the weather was quite summery. KP and I quickly covered ground as we lost ourselves, discussing our opinions on religion and relationship dynamics. The drive south in our fuel hungry reliant seemed short, and we find ourselves back at Sourdough Sam’s and at the car wash. Refuelling with a breakfast in one hand and a jet hose in the other, the crusty mud splattered all along her underparts is tougher to remove than stale Wheetabix, left on the edge of the bowl from the day before. You could build a house with that stuff! The filthy, four wheeled sooty grunter is sparkling again (fish lovers might like that reference), and we’re feeling just as content after a second shower in a week!
Tomorrow, all with clean undercarriages, we will head further south…towards Denali.
NB. There area lot more photos of the north in my Image folders as well as videos on my YouTube channel