I’ve already relayed the extensive happenings of the first week of my time trekking Alaska and now it’s time to delve jerky-first into the remainder of my time in North America’s snowy gem. Prepare for moose, buffets, Braveheart, hippies, salty dawgs and a tiny pinch of romance.
Changing of the Guard
At the end of the first week it was time to bid a fond farewell to about a third of our crew as they had only signed up for one week with Trek America. We zipped to Anchorage to drop them off and to pick up a couple of new people who were joining us for the second week. In this new batch there was a German girl of roughly the same age as me. She had cropped auburn hair, piercing brown eyes and tanned skin.
When we arrived at our next camp-site I helped unload some baggage. As I lifted the German girl’s bag I noticed the name tag.
I loudly exclaimed. A British woman next to me looked up and our eyes locked quizzically.
Your name is Eva Bender?
I asked the German. She confirmed. Me and the British woman burst out in hysterical laughter. “Because it’s the same as the robot?”asked the girl. The woman and I looked at each other and, while choking back the chuckles, said “Yes, yes, the Futurama robot.”
For anyone not down with the lingo, “bender” is slang for “homosexual” in parts of the UK. I spent a lot of time talking to Eva and occasionally I had to stop myself from asking such foolish questions as “Are there many Benders in your family?”
Moose on the Prowl
We saw a ton of wildlife over the course of the two weeks but the most memorable encounter happened early in that second week. We were driving down the highway, minding our own business, when the car in front suddenly braked. We slowed down with it until traffic came to a stop. A moose was haphazardly strolling across the road. We all pushed our way to the windows of the minivan to catch a glimpse. It kept moving and eventually passed right by the van. That was the closest encounter I’ve ever had with a wild animal (except maybe for that with the bear cub by my car … but that’s another story.)
For a few nights we stayed in a place that I always refer to as a “Wilderness Lodge” but really I have no idea what its actual definition is. It was on the opposite side of a bay and we reached the place via a quick sea plane trip. The ride was bumpy and nauseating but very speedy and convenient. The lodge was a large wooden building with big windows that looked out over a pebble beach.
I also refer to this place as a “Hippie Commune” due to a number of factors. The first being the that in the garden area that separates the building from the beach, a number of mannequin dummies were standing out in the open, some with hats or make-up or Hawaiian lays. The inside of the lodge was also colourfully decorated and it seemed like everyone who lived/worked there wore tie-dye. Later in life I learned that real hippie communes are much different to what I saw here. Real ones are a lot less … clean.
We slept in canvas tents that were fixed into place and were big enough to fit two simple, single bed frames. As my tent-buddy had departed at the beginning of the second week the group now had an odd-numbered male/female ratio so I was the lucky guy who got a tent all to himself. The other fancy feature the lodge had was its delightfully decorated Out House, which not only contained numerous magazines but also had a big wicker basket to collect everyone’s used toilet paper. Lovely.
Our itinerary for the lodge included kayaking and mountain biking. Unfortunately, as we arrived the weather took a turn for the dark and stormy, and the kayaking was cancelled. There were plenty of things to do inside but I was geared up for action and was well aware that this could be my only visit to Alaska. I was told “well, you could go for a walk on the beach, I guess” by the owner (who, by the way, was the most radiantly beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes on) while everyone else settled into their soft sofa seats.
Undaunted by the grey skies and pounding rain I set out along the rocky beach, my only company the many gooey jellyfish slowly dying near the water’s edge. I reached an impasse after about twenty minutes and returned to the lodge. Still not satisfied, I inquired about the mountain bikes. “Well, you could ride along the road by the house, I guess” I was told with a slightly baffled look. I strapped on a helmet, zipped up my already dripping wet jacket and rode out on to the dirt road behind the house. I actually learned to ride a bike very late in life, around the age of sixteen, and thus I’ve never been a strong or confident bike rider. The road was rather hilly and traversing it was like going over the back of a giant snake. The rain was pinging off my plastic parka hood, the mud was being flung up my trouser legs and every few minutes I stopped, got off the bike and walked it up the next steep incline. Adventure, yay! And this time I didn’t even have the jellyfish to keep me company.
After an exhausting thirty minutes I trudged back to the lodge to find the rest of the crew chilling with beer and Monopoly. I gave up on my thrill-seeking and settled into a padded chair. Eva was sat near me. We talked about this and that. She was reading a book called Perfume. She’d started reading it at home but had lost the book somewhere along her travels and had decided to pick up an English copy so as to continue reading it. She struggled with some words and occasionally turned to me for clarification. I can’t remember what book I was reading. The room was warm. I felt comfortable and conversation flowed easily. Her shoulders were tense and tight from travelling.
That night, alone in my spacious canvas tent I laid awake for hours wishing she would come and join me. She didn’t.
Sorry to cut it short there but I’m afraid you’ll have to wait a few more days to read the conclusion of my time trekking Alaska. Like, follow and subscribe to make sure you don’t miss out the finale!
*These pictures were all taken by my friend Rudi. We’re not in contact now so I was unable to ask his permission to use these photos. Rudi, if you happen to read this and want me to take them down please just message me and I’d be happy to do it.