the journey of river chickadee chapter four
by robin brown
30th, 2004. Day Three of My Journey from Fairbanks, Alaska to Asheville,
is the Evening of the third day. We have made it to Fort Nelson, British
Columbia. It is only -10º Fahrenheit this evening. It almost feels
pleasant! Today was a long day. We have fallen into a comfortable routine
and theres very little stress about it. We simply take care of
our selves, our vehicles, and our gear. Kootenai gives me something
to care for as well. She makes it fun by adding her puppy spirit to
all we do. Her bright eyes and cold nose show her affection for me,
and right now I feel that I receive much more than I give. A half hour
of frisbee in the dark parking lot of a hotel or truck stop in exchange
for puppy kisses and adorationits a pretty good deal.
day was spent rolling down the Alaska Highway, which isnt really
a highway. Most of the driving today was on a winding, hard, frozen,
snow-packed dirt road with chuck holes and ice flows. Yep, thats
the Alaska Highway in the winter. Our average speed was about 40 miles
per hour. I am grateful that it is winter and we dont have to
deal with the dust. The day was filled with the inspiring winter scenery
of mountains, tundra, rivers, animals and trees framed by brilliant
sunrise and sunset. In the morning and evening, without the light of
day, I have only what I can see in my headlights, snowy shoulders along
the road, the silhouette of trees and the shine of icy rivers and creeks.
Of course, up ahead are the tail lights of Uncle Pauls truck and
overhead is the bright starlit sky. This routine is very peaceful and
conducive to thinking. Id have to say it has a healing aspect
to it. Healing; yes, I have healing to do and that takes time. A good
friend of mine in Fairbanks gently reminded me before I left, In
order to begin something new, something else must end. These days
of driving are helping me realize all that has ended. The silence of
driving and the soothing feel of nature all around me are helping me
to say good-bye in my heart.
reached Liard Hot Springs today about mid day and took a break from
driving. With towels in hand, Uncle Paul and I eagerly clomped down
the board walk toward the pool. Liard is a natural hot spring that is
improved enough to provide an unheated dressing room, wood steps and
a nice gravely bottom to the pool, but not enough to cost anything to
swim. The trees arch over the pool, their frosty branches heavy from
the frozen moisture almost touching the water. In the dressing room
I peel off my parka, my light jacket, my snow pants, everything down
to my long johns. Im trying to decide just how much clothing I
need to keep on for the dash over to the pool. Im getting cold
fast and I finally opt for my fleece sweatshirt over my swim attire
and my bare feet inside my boots. Everything else gets stuffed in a
bag as I wonder how I will do it in reverse, when I retreat from the
pool. Ill worry about that later. The hot water stings my skin
but then begins to soak away the stiffness from my muscles. My hair
freezes stiff. We chat with three other bathers, and watch each of them
when they leave, studying their method of getting out of the pool, getting
something on the feet so they dont freeze and then dashing to
the dressing room which feels about 15 degrees colder than the air near
the pool. I finally went last, deciding to stand on the top step in
the pool and keep my feet in the warm water while drying and dressing
most of my body. Finally I step onto my towel and hop on one foot while
putting my sock on the other. Pants and boots last. With head wrapped
in a towel and covered by two hoods, I walk back to my truck, pleased
that I have retained some of the heat of the pool.
have seen a lot of animals today. The morning started out with a lone
coyote running down a snow machine trail along the road. I slowed the
truck and he trotted along, parallel to the road, giving us a good look.
Finally Kootenai could not contain herself and barked enough to alert
him and off he went into the woods. We saw a cow moose leading her calf
off into the brush and looking over her shoulder at us protectively.
Then later two buffalo were lying in the snow on the shoulder of the
road, the mist from their breath freezing on their hairy heads as they
chewed their cud. We stopped for a closer look and they continued chewing,
unperturbed. One of them dozed off into a nap with his eyes closed and
his nose in the snow, propping his heavy head upright. After that there
were two caribou. There were three beautiful bull elk and then two more
later on. We finally saw a whole herd of buffalo grazing and laying
around on the side of the road.
this I recorded on video and dear Uncle Paul patiently waited as I slowed
and stopped for each sighting. Youd think it was my first trip
to the Yukon! Kootenai began to figure it out. As soon as the truck
slowed and the camera came out, she knew the window would go down and
there would be some living creature to see. She would run to the window
in anticipation. I finally figured I had to roll down the passenger
window first so I would be able to video out my own window without her
ears in the picture!
on the day, I was mindful that all the animals we had seen today except
for the lone coyote had companions. We were created by nature to have
companionship. This was comforting to me and gave me hope for my own
companionship. Kootenai is wonderful but shes not my species!
Though I havent been divorced long, I have been lonely a long
time. I yearn for a best friend and hope this journey will lead to that
is not the only thing I hope for. Success in school and finding my lifes
work are the reasons I chose Asheville for a destination. I will be
attending the Center for Massage and Natural Health near Weaverville.
I want to work with people, help them in a very direct way. I also want
to learn to live with more health for myself. I believe that learning
massage will set me on this path. I finally put some music in my CD
player this evening. As the sun set on this third day, James Taylor
sings my theme song: Gone to Carolina in my Mind.
up in rural Montana. She lived for 18 years in Alaska. In January she
left job, ex-husband, friends and life as she knew it to move to North
Carolina to attend the Center for Massage and Natural Health in Weaverville,
NC. She and Kootenai, her one year-old Australian Shepherd, are adjusting
very well to life in the South. Kootenai recently got a shave to help
her stay cool and to help Robin adjust to dealing with ticks!