September 2nd 1981

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 1
Hank’s rig

Despite the fact that we wore all our clothes, and then some, and there were 3 of us packed into a small tent, we froze.  I felt very sorry for myself all night, thinking I was the only one being affected, but apparently we were all in the same boat.  Finally warmed up at 5 or so when the sun came up – Val tells me her feet stayed cold even then – + then fell asleep till 10, when John got up + shot into town, late for an appointment.  Val + I got up, + by the time we packed up + had breakfast, John was back.  We all packed up, + then walked back into town together, them more or less wasted time, shopping etc, before John said goodbye – he was heading back to Skagway.  Val + I had hoped to go further north up to Dawson City, but the cold weather was making us have serious second thoughts.  We thought of trying the airport for an air-ride, we looked at various notice-boards to check out rides, we tried to hire a car, but in the end we reluctantly decided that we weren’t equipped to camp out so far north, + didn’t have the money to afford hotels, buses, etc.

Once again we walked out of town, back past the camp-site.  Shortly beyond that we got a short but useful lift out to the highway, + then after a while a 30 mile ride which took us right into the middle of nowhere.  It really was pretty unpleasant – very lonely, and lots of unpleasant flies, but we managed to stay moderately cheerful by reading, messing about, + marking each car that passed with a small stone along the side of the road.  About two and a half hours and exactly 52 cars had passed, and we were resigned to an unpleasant night out, when a big camper, with a pick-up in tow, stopped for us.  It was being driven by Hank, a big guy who wore a cowboy hat, denims, + cowboy boots.  He was taking the whole rig down to Florida, + could drop us off at Dawson Creek, 900 miles away.  Incredible.  We were slightly nervous about the sleeping arrangement, but there was not the slightest problem on that score – he had a big bed above the cab, we had a big bed at the back of the camper.  At about 10.30 he stopped, we had some coffee from his flask, then bed.  Thanks God.  (He even had a heater.)

And for the second day running, just as things were starting to look bleak, salvation.  But at least we were heading south now, good sense having finally prevailed; the frozen north needs to be treated with a certain respect, and trying to tackle it without money, equipment, experience or common sense, was not doing that.

  1. Pamela J Blair

    I ran into the cold problem in so many places! It was the reason I didn’t drive on to India, through Afghanistan and Pakistan. We had a propane heater, but when it ran out of propane we figured it was time to drive south, so we went down through Iran to the Persian Gulf, then back up north and west into Iraq. I think the coldest I was was in Syria. That’s when we looked for cheap hotels. On another leg of my trip, after almost a whole day of hitching north from Thessaloniki with no luck (I didn’t count the cars), the other hitcher and I landed a ride in a VW Westphalian that took us to the coast of Yugoslavia, near Dubrovnik, where we stayed for a week, diving off the flat rocks there into the Adriatic, and playing bridge into the night. As a traveler, there were advantages to having a van, and other advantages to hitching. But I wouldn’t have wanted to hitch in the cold!

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