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From Mars to Middle Earth, Lund settles into Canada

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POSTED June 10, 2009 2:05 a.m.
For a split second I was on Mars.

There were noises. I was in some sort of cocoon, simultaneously hot and cold.

I was in my tent, in the back of my truck 25 miles north of the Washington border.

Things like that happen when you spend over 11 hours driving over a 13-hour period with only a few stops for gas and to poke rivers with hooks.

My trip to Alaska started as one would expect.

There was the usual excitement followed by the realization that traversing 1,817 miles at an average rate of 70 miles per hour would take a couple minutes.  

I stopped to fish before I departed California and realized I had forgotten not only my California fishing license but also a sleeping bag, something that might be considered important since this journey was a lightly-planned trek over four days with no hotels researched.

I also managed to over pack. I filled the cab of my truck with everything down to an electronic toothbrush that I wouldn’t be able to use, because oddly enough the rocks next to the river didn’t have any outlets.

I punished myself for bringing an electric toothbrush and forgetting the sleeping bag by not buying a replacement. The one I have that’s sitting neatly in the corner of my closet is an extra long Marmot brand beauty. A temporary bag would be a waste.  

Shortly after crossing into Oregon, I bought a day license from a pharmacy that was named Guns and Drugs and packed more heat than Plaxico Burress could dream of.

I fished the Rogue as a break, then continued north passing through the rest of the state with only a stop to be refueled by a gas station attendant that happily charged me 20 more cents than the gas station I drove past two miles further down the freeway.

Being I had no reservations, plans, or clue where I was going to call home for the night, I started looking for campsites once I crossed the Columbia River and the sun became like an orange Skittle slowly losing its color in water.

After a couple trips down roads I was sure led to Middle Earth, I found a nice set up next to a full, lazily flowing river. Headlamp on, I worked quickly to set up my tent in the back of my truck. There is no real advantage to having the tent in the truck bed. It is simply due to the fact that I have wanted a truck since I was a fetus, and now that I have one, I am going to use it.

With no sleeping bag, I put on warm clothes and had another layer standing by for the inevitable midnight wake ups. Before I could plot the next day I was asleep, and thus began the napping intervals that lasted the majority of the night and culminated with the deepest sleep just before I woke up for good, on Mars.

Eyes stinging too bad for contacts, I rode my bike to the cafe for some nourishment and ended up befriending a fellow teacher. He and his basketball team were staying at the campsite while they played in the tournament.

“Saves money this way,” he said.

I agreed and immediately wanted to take my team camping in Nome before the season so they stop complaining about it being cold after practice. I fished that river until my fly simply fell off the leader and I merged back to travel mode.

Day 2: The excitement turned to pensive wonder.

I had coffee with a classmate I hadn’t seen since graduation 10 years ago, then met up with close family friends, one of which was recovering from a head-on with a deer that was traveling north in a southbound lane and abruptly turned suicidal and collided with the motorcycle.

 Eight broken ribs, a ruptured spleen and catastrophically damaged knee later, he came to, and was later found by passersby.

He, his wife and I covered just about everything in the two hours including the play he set up to beat us in the regional championship game my freshman year, and of course, my dad and the prognosis.

They advised me on some things to look for once I crossed into Canada, including a different place to cross to avoid long lines.

I waited in line for 7 minutes and 47 seconds before it was my turn to have the customs guy check my passport and fire a half dozen questions, the subsequent query seemingly coming before I had completed the previous.

It took about 30 minutes of using the kilometer aid on the speedometer before I saw what I had come for. Furry mountains sloped up from an impossibly mean river. I followed this until the vegetation took on a high desert look, surprising me a bit only because I hadn’t given central British Columbia much thought.

I stopped taking pictures, because there comes a point when they just won’t do.

Desperate for a good night’s sleep, I checked in to the Desert Inn hotel in Cache Creek, British Columbia.

I decided it’s pretty much the same here, except Yahoo! Canada, the radio eagerly reports the elections in Nova Scotia, the occasional French station, a unique idea of what constitutes the “best of the 80s, 90s and today” and at 9:20 it was still light enough to J-walk across the street to a Shell station and pick up some provisions since I had forgotten to eat dinner.

To contact Jeff Lund, e-mail aklund21@gmail.com.
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