Entirely too much time has passed since I posted last. I would have had more written before now but as you know, Matt has been a slacker. It was inevitable. I have held up my end of the bargain and Matty has been too busy (READ: Self-absorbed) to write his response to the last chapter of our epic cross-country saga. With that being said, I have decided to go on without him. ::sadface::
The remainder of this, what has become the final chapter of TFGIAFF will have to come solely from memory, my notes, and pure equivocation and obfuscation.
In all fairness, perhaps I should have foreseen that our fear of follow-through/penchant for laziness would make it damn near impossible to complete this task. As a matter of fact, in hindsight, Matty and I generally have the best of intentions and frequently end up with less than complete/desirable results. For example:
- The Fat Man’s Challenge
- Going to the Gym
- Losing Weight
- Fitting into our clothes from last week
You get the gist.
With that being said I must put this project under some kindling and set the bastard ablaze. I am now going to go through my seriously indecipherable notes and condense the remaining story of the two fat guys into the following half-assery…
When we left you last, Matty and I had made the decision to barrel on through to the good ol’ USA. I know I needed to feel my feet on American soil and Matt was quite ready to make me feel better/shut me up.
“So it’s settled,” I said. “We’re going to Grand Forks.”
“Great Falls,” Matt replied.
“Great Falls, John,”
“That’s what I said,” I protested. “Great Forks”.
“GREAT FALLS!” Skippy yelled. He was more than a little pissy at the prospect of adding several more hours of driving until we slept again. I simply looked at him, took as deep a breath as my lungs would allow, and stated, rather matter-of-factly (and through gritting teeth):
“I don’t care if we are going to Fuckstick, Michigan! I NEED OUT OF THIS COUNTRY.“
Fuckstick, Michigan does not, of course, exist. It did become a wonderful euphemism for any and all piss-poor ideas we were to concoct involving short cuts, foregoing sleep, and/or getting lost.
Seriously. This was the first Google image under “Fuckstick, Michigan”. I understand the first part…
We continued to drive south through Canada. At a gas stop we met a few nice people who needed a jump start. We figured we could use the travel karma so we jump them. Unfortunately, the jump didn’t stick and they were stranded. Matt asked one of the women for her phone number but she declined as he was a Verizon customer.
We continued onward toward Calgary, our next major city-stop. The conversation turned toward guilty pleasures.
We both have some.
Then we stopped in Calgary for gas. Matt took the Atlas into the bathroom. There were police at the McDonalds attached to the gas station. I nearly fell in the parking lot and a cop laughed at me.
We discussed what we would do for money. Apparently I will do just about anything for $5000. Matt has a higher threshold.
We make it to the border crossing. The border guard was a bit of a bitch and questioned Matt about being self-employed. He finally confessed he was unemployed and she asked us to move on to the inspection bay – where we were waved through.
Notes from Great Falls – day 1:
- We make it to hotel at 8:30 AM. They can check us in around noon.
- We go for breakfast while we wait. Matt falls asleep at table, fork in hand.
- We both fall asleep in the parking lot of the hotel while we wait. It was HOT in the sun.
- We check in. We sleep. Upon waking we discover the rooms smells like two fat guys who have been crammed in a car together for four days. We shower.
- We go to Wal-Mart and see the first people that are heavier than we are since Alaska. GOD BLESS THE USA!
- Matt loses his camera at 6:18 PM.
- I find Matt’s camera at 6:21 PM.
- We decide, begrudgingly, that we just can’t get down south to see Allie Brosh. Instead we discuss heading to Minneapolis – hereby known as “Fuckstick, Michigan”
- The first Blog chronicling the odyssey of two fat guys is written and posted.
Notes from Great Falls – day 2:
- The alarm goes off. And off. And off.
- We get up, and go. Fueling before leaving town. Quote “85.5 Octane? Is that even fucking legal?”
- Energy drinks and gas station ham sammiches for breakfast.
- Quote “Happy now? Your phone’s exploding in your hand!”
- We drive east.
Circle, MT! Land of Cowboys. More importantly, land of gems.
Gems are essentially tater tots. But they are flatter and more delicious. We had some at a diner.
- There are two sodas; “yeller” and “brown” (Mello Yello and Coke)
- Matt and I were admiring a bunch of pictures of furs and carcasses when we met “Trapper Joe”; A 300 year old mountain man who told us a story about the coyotes causing a ruckus back in 19-ot-8
- I lose my wallet and Matt has sex with the Proprietor of the Diner in order to pay our tab
- I find my wallet in my back pocket
Quotes from local men:
- “Hey Jim. Wash your shirt?”
- ::leans in:: “I got TWO of these!”
We drive to Minnesota.
NEXT: THE REMAINDER OF THIS LACKLUSTER TALE!
Our heroes have just left Fort. Nelson, BC. The plan is to make it from Fort Nelson, to Edmonton, AB. This is 14 hours worth of driving at best. Unfortunately, John had one hell of a night prior and has seriously doubts in his ability to exist; let alone drive.
I can’t breathe.
But Matty can sense I still feel like ass so he offers to drive. He also offers to buy me a coffee because I am ransacked and can’t even lean forward in my seat. Matt’s a nice guy….mostly.
We stop at the local grocery store to get a case of water, some staples (nutra-grain bars, granola, bread, peanut butter, hand sanitizer for any more outhouses at rest stops…), and some junk food. Walking around the store was no small feat, mind you. With each step I was pretty confident that I was about to keel over and meet my maker. But I did, in fact, make it out of there alive (as evidenced by this written account of events). We stocked the car with what we had purchased, and began on our merry way to Edmonton.
Almost immediately, I was asleep. The lack of rest and extra effort it took for me to survive the night before had taken its toll and I was done.
I don’t remember how long I slept for. But I can tell you this much, I woke up feeling only slightly rested.
“SSSSSNORKKKK. Whoa. How long have I been asleep?” I ask.
“A while, man” Matt replies. “You know you have missed some amazing scenery.”
“I’m sure. I just really needed some rest. I was a wreck” I say.
“Yeah” Matt says. “I found the soundtrack to British Columbia.”
“What’s that brah?” I ask, thinking he meant an album or radio station.
“SNORRRRE….HACK….PHLEGM” Matt pantomimes.
Isn’t Matt clever?
Satellites are great!
We made our way to Fort St. John and made another stop in civilization. We stopped at a gas station, stretched, and I bought me an energy drink for later. We decided we needed a more immediate pick-me-up and looked to Sally (the GPS) for coffee…which lead to me bitching a wee bit more about Tim Horton’s and their anti-Visa idiocy. Matt again sprung into coffee buying action – I am sure it was to shut me up.
We went into Tim Horton’s (which was about 400 degrees Celsius –we were in Canada – inside) and got our beverages. We leaned against the car and Matt smoked a cigarette. Suddenly, Matt’s face lit up as if he was remembering something fantastic and magical. He opened the door, reached across two seats, and busted out the atlas.
Now I am not sure if I mentioned this before, but Matt was a huge fan of the atlas. His eyes lit up with passion every time he cracked the spine and opened to our current location. He smiled at the atlas. He kissed the atlas. He made sweet, sweet love to the atlas.
Ok, maybe not. But he did dote on it as if it were a lover.
In any event, I am not sure whose bright idea it was, but we decided to look at our route and, inevitably, decided that we were making good time. This led to discussions and ponderings, and grumblings from Matt because he was doing all the driving and, frankly, needed a nap. We talked and argued and finally arrived at what, to me, was a foregone conclusion.
We needed the hell out of Canada.
Instead of driving through Canada to North Dakota (the shortest route), our plans included dropping straight out of Canada and stopping in Montana to meet one of my favorite bloggers, Allie Brosh. Allie is a hoot and her stories and musings about her life and where she lives makes my life in Alaska seem urban and hip. She creates illustrations for many of her blogs at www.hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com (using MS Paint no less) and I have laughed myself close to urination many times while reading her quirky insights on life. I figured, “when will I ever be out this way again?” So Matt agreed to make a detour to South Western Montana.
We looked at the atlas.
“Well,” Matt began. “There is the border. It’s not really all that close and we would have to drive for several more hours.”
“Let’s do it.” I said.
“Now wait a minute. It’s going to add a lot of time to this leg of our trip” he said.
“Let’s do it.” I said.
“Dude, it’s going to add like 8 hours.” Matt continued.
“Let’s do it.” I said.
“Dude…” Matt began.
“Look. There’s one of my company’s hotels just over the border in Great Falls.” I said.
Matt just looked at me. Instead of arguing, he looked back to the atlas and sighed.
We were headed south.
We didn’t really talk much for a few hours. I rested some more and we listened to some music. I got really bored and decided it was time to mess with Matt.
Before we left, I purchased some international text messages so I could stay in touch with family. Of course I could never find a signal in B.C. and when I did it was fleeting at best. Matt made a huge deal about him having a signal most of the time and started to make fun of me relentlessly about Verizon’s superiority to AT&T. His ribbing was annoying (mostly because I missed my family and couldn’t reach them) and I decided it was high time to exact my revenge.
Cell signals were becoming stronger and more regular. I waited for the perfect moment and I shot Audra a text message asking her to send Matt some picture messages. She obliged. Several times. I forget the exact wording and pictures but Matt was furious.
“What the hell doesn’t she get about ‘international texts’ and me paying a higher rate while I am in Canada?” he asked.
“AND SHE KEEPS SENDING THEM!” he exclaimed.
“Maybe if you didn’t have a signal, like me, you wouldn’t have this problem” I said sardonically.
I loved every minute of it.
NEXT TIME: I’VE ALWAYS DEPENDED ON THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS, GUILTY PLEASURES, and, WE’RE GOING TO FUCKSTICK MICHIGAN!
Upon entering Whitehorse, our heroes are feeling good, feeding off excitement, and wanting coffee and a bagel. As they are leaving Whitehorse, they are left confused, tired, and wondering why Tim Horton’s has such a fucked-up credit card policy. Originally, they were to rest in Whitehorse:
Instead, they decided to be complete and utter morons and continue on to Fort Nelson:
Here’s John’s part of the story:
Sunday May 16 – Continued.
I’m out. I mean OUT. My huge head is plastered up against the window and Matt is driving. For all I know we are headed off a cliff toward oblivion. As long as I get to stay asleep, I don’t care.
I was dreaming of my wife. She was all alone in a dark room. I was coming to see her – running as fast as I could – but I was making no headway. She was calling my name…
SNRKKK! Wait…what was that? I blink wearily to bring my surroundings into focus. I look ahead. The road is straight ahead. The car is humming along. I look at Matt. He’s fine. Mandy is nowhere to be found. Hrm. Must have dreamt it…
Mandy is again calling out to me. I am looking for her but I can’t see anything in front of me. To the left and right is a blur of color, as if a small child smeared finger paint along the walls in concentric circles. I feel along the wall. The smeared paint creates ridges like a phonograph; thick like a Victrola Record. As I run my fingertips across the grooves, my wife’s voice reverberates up my arm and into my mind; like sonic Braille. She is telling me to keep watch.
SNNNNRKKK!! What the? Okay, I know I didn’t imagine that one. I look immediately to Matt who is looking straight ahead. His eyes are open, but whether or not he is awake is certainly debatable.
“Skip?” I ask.
“Yeah brah, I’m fine.”
“Oh, okay.” I respond.
Had I been more awake, I would have realized that Matt’s response of “Yeah, I’m fine” really indicated that he was not fine. For all he knew, I was going to ask him what the capital of British Columbia was (Victoria) or if he knew that he had the same birthday as Canada (July 1). Instead he answered the obvious question of “are you driving like a fuckstick?”
ZOMG! Here are some more quick Canadian fun facts!!!!!!!!:
-second largest country in the world (Russian Federation is the largest)
-capital city of Canada – Ottawa (Ontario)
-animal – the beaver
-motto – “From sea to sea”
-Canada has the world’s longest coastline.
-There are oceans on three sides – Pacific ( west), Atlantic ( east), Arctic (north).
-Nearly one-fourth of all the fresh water in the world is in Canada.
-Glaciers shaped the land and created many lakes (about 2 million lakes).
-Canada has one-tenth of the world’s forests.
WTF ZOMG BBQ!!! And now you know too much about Canada!!!.
I decided, against my better judgment, to fall asleep one more time. It was short lived.
“Dude!” I argued.
“I’m falling asleep!” he countered.
I really had no argument for that. We pulled over, stretched, and I took the wheel again.
Matt was asleep in moments. After about 10 minutes, I was ready to join him.
I would try and explain in words how I was feeling. But there is really no way to describe how sneaky and pant-soiling falling asleep while you are driving truly is. The following link may better explain it. Just imagine the good senator behind the wheel of a car awash with a sense of terror that he may kill himself and his passenger with each step-down slip into somnambulism.
Note the information at the very beginning of the video. It is important to Matt and me in a day or two:
It’s about 9 AM now and I am swerving and dodging imaginary animals and falling asleep and waking and swerving again. You see the pattern. I made the decision to pull over at the next rest stop to actually rest. There were a couple of motor homes already there, but the Focus, fat guys or not, can fit into almost any space.
Matt and I got out, stretched, made the decision to sleep in the car, and switched seats; I in the passenger, he in the driver’s seat.
And we slept. Oh lord did we sleep. For almost three hours. It was epic.
When we awoke we had to use the restroom, naturally. We decided to brave the port-o-potties at this particular stop.
These were not unlike the small, green, houses of odiferous iniquity we encountered at the border save for one new feature; there was a HUGE hole in the wall of each one.
I am not sure what purpose the hole served. It was far too large to be a glory hole. And it was awfully low, almost to the floor, but off to the side. Finally the edges of the hole were jagged and obviously made by someone with a crude saw or a dull butter knife. This – dear reader – was a peep hole.
If you were sitting on the seat someone could jam their head in and you would never know. They would see everything. They would be able to watch you as you were at your most intimate. It was terrifying.
There were many stains on the toilet seat. There were also no paper seat covers which meant I needed to begin the arduous process of placing leaf after leaf of toilet tissue on the seat in order to properly protect myself.
“Dude?” I called out.
“You know how they say you can’t get the clap from a toilet seat?” I said. “I don’t think ‘they’ have ever tried to drop a deuce in B.C.”
As I began placing the squares (of which I could only tear from the roll one at a time) on the seat I noticed that, all around me on the door and walls, was the most vicious anti-American graffiti I had ever seen. I mean, I had seen SOME anti-American graffiti before – but this, this was bad. I wish I had recorded more of it but there are two phrases I don’t think I will ever forget. Written across the front of the toilet – “American Citizen Depository”. On the door – “Every time an American dies it frees up spase (sic) for three Canadians.”
Even Canada sees the US as an over indulgent bunch of fat bastards.
This was the precise moment that Matt and I realized there were much larger differences between Canada and the US that we had ever known. I will be the first to admit I always thought of Canada as a northern version of the US. But in hindsight, on this trip and up to this point, the people we encountered in Canada were friendly and, for the most part, fit. There just weren’t many large people.
Also, Canadians are willing to accept US currency anywhere DESPITE the fact that the US dollar is valued LESS than the Canadian dollar. Try handing a cashier in the US more than one Canadian quarter and you KNOW you’ll get an eye roll or a deep sigh and, at worst, rejection of “foreign” currency. More on this in another blog.
Once we were finished with our business, we loaded in the car and headed off toward Watson Lake. It appeared to be the next “Major” township on our way and we figured maybe we could fuel up and grab us a meal. I took this opportunity to exercise my ignorance and rant about the lack of running water/flush toilets at the rest stops.
“All I am saying” I began “is that there is water all around us! Look! River there, river here, river over the mountain…seriously, all rivers run to the sea. Do it the American way. Drop a pipe from the shitter to the river. Let the turds float downstream. Eventually, they will end up out to sea and BOOM – problem solved! No taxation without sanitation!”
Matt was in hysterics. He always loved it when I went on a farcical tirade. Because the topic was poop, it was that much more funny. Matt likes poop jokes.
We drove for a while and I noticed Matt looking into the side view mirror with real focus.
“What’s wrong buddy?” I asked.
“Did you adjust the side view mirrors when you took over driving?” I asked.
“Wait, you changed them?”
“Yeah I changed em!”
Matt adjusted the side view mirrors.
“AH! That’s so much better!”
“What? What the hell were you looking at?” I asked
“Lot’s of trees passing by. I figured it’s what was all around us so the mirrors were adjusted properly.”
“How are you passing people?” I laughed, hard.
“Luck” he responded.
I laughed until I coughed and gasped and I was pretty sure I would pass out.
We passed through Watson Lake, which was nice (if you didn’t blink and miss it), and stopped at a local joint for a burger. They had literally just bought the place from another owner and were busy renovating (on a Sunday!). They made a hand crafted, delicious, mound of grilled meat with some damn good fries. After talking about Alaska and the tourism industry with a few locals, we fueled up, grabbed me some candy bars, and were back on the road.
Our next stop was Liard Hot Springs. We were DYING to check out these hot springs and wanted to at least dip our feet in them for a little rejuvenation. I had heard of them before and Matt seemed REALLY excited about visiting them. With some serious Kilometers behind us since Watson Lake, we arrived. To find the springs. In a campsite. That we had to pay to enter.
We pulled into a rest stop across the street from the springs in order to rest and stretch. We were disappointed to say the least. At this point, I still had no phone signal and could not text my family to let them know I was okay. We went to a lodge next to the hot springs where there was a payphone that accepted credit cards. Finally! A taste of civilization! Here was my conversation to my wife in a nutshell:
“Hey Honey it’s me! I am using a credit card and paying $3.05 Canadian a minute so don’t say anything. We’re fine. I love you. Kiss the girls! Bye!”
I really hope it was her on the other end.
We crammed back into the Focus and started off in the direction of Fort Nelson. As we drove back past the hot springs we noticed people walking across the street from the campground to the rest area. Apparently, you could just WALK in without having to pay for a campsite. We had killed too much time and had no more to waste.
As we drove through some of the most beautiful scenery on this earth, I got a little tired, and then a little punchy. Matt and I were discussing something about god-knows-what and I got it in my head that men would really appreciate a hand-knit wool cradle by which to cover their scrotum in order to keep it warm in the winter. I decided to name my invention “Nutt Sox” and I was really excited about the prospect of starting a Nutt Sox empire. I was going to have different colors and fabric Nutt Sox made. I was going to have some that are elastic and form fitting and others that had a drawstring. I was even going to have Vince from Slapchop advertise em (“you’re gonna love my Nutt Sox”). Eventually, Matt agreed it was a good idea – which lead me to believe there was no merit to it – and so I dropped the whole idea.
There was a really topsy turvy part of B.C. that wound down through mountains. Matt was driving. There were frozen lakes at the bottom of some cliffs that were below some really tight turns. He may have neglected a turn or two until the very last minute. Out of safety for my sanity, I have repressed this part of the trip. I hope he remembers it and shares it with you.
We wound down into Fort Nelson. It was the first glimpse of REAL civilization we had seen in two days.
We pulled into a Super 8, figuring it would be affordable.
We tried another place called the Provincal that would HAVE to have been more affordable.
We finally ended up at the Shannon Motel.
Now I had operated a hotel that was older and had a motel set up in Alaska. I knew the rooms there were clean, despite the appearance of the hotel. I was willing to give this place the benefit of the doubt.
The room smelled of piss. Not human piss, mind you, but animal piss. Matt seemed to think that it was an “unused” smell. But I run hotels, and I know pet piss when I smell it. I was so tired I said to hell with it and decided to accept our fate. Matt and I offloaded and went to dinner where we would discuss finances (or the lack thereof) and the best route to take if I was going to meet one of my favorite bloggers. I am sure Matt will write more on this, but I won’t. There is the much more pressing problem of the night I was about to have.
Matt took a shower and I sat out watching Canadian TV on my bed. Within minutes, my breathing began to suffer. And I mean SUFFER. I couldn’t move. I was paralyzed. I thought I was having a panic attack. When Matt got out of the shower I asked him for two of my anti-anxiety meds and some water. He brought me a Styrofoam cup with water and the pills, which I promptly pounded. 2 hours this lasted. TWO HOURS. This was not your average panic attack. Eventually, I was able to lie down and go to sleep. It was approximately 12:30 AM.
Wake me up at 3 AM for attack number 2. 2 hours later I am asleep.
Wake me up at 7 AM for a shower and attack number 3. I forced myself into the shower, out of the shower, and onto the floor by my bed naked. Matt woke up and walked by. He had been sympathetic to this point and I really felt awful for him as he so wanted to help, and obviously couldn’t. I asked him to ignore my bare ass and he said he did, although I would have looked if I were in his position. He also helped me get dressed, packed, and out of the room and to the car. Upon reaching the car I realized I was COVERED in pet hair and dander. I wasn’t having Panic Attacks, I was having ASTHMA attacks; over and over and over. The only thought that came to mind was “Holy shit, I thought that was panic. I could have actually died”.
Here is what I looked like that morning:
I obviously had a rough night.
We left. Unfortunately for Matt, my night of asthmatic doom meant he was going to have to do most of the driving this day.
And thus the shift in time spent behind the wheel begins.
NEXT TIME: FORT ST. JOHN, TO LOVE AN ATLAS, and TEXTING IN CANADA – YOU AMERICANS JUST DON’T GET IT
Don’t forget to read Matt’s point of view at 2fatguysinafocus
APRIL 14th CONT…
When we last left our dynamic duo, they were speeding down Parks Hwy in Alaska, headed back to Wasilla in order to drop John off with his wife so they may spend a night together before the long journey east was to begin. Let’s listen in on them now…via text message.
J: Dude, I have an opportunity to spend a night alone with her. ALOOOONE!
M: Yeah, man, but I what the hell am I supposed to do? Where am I supposed to stay?
J: Stay at Rachel’s man!
M: Seriously, man?
J: Mighty Wingman – take one for the team.
M: Dude, this is your WIFE we are talking about and I don’t need to get Rachel away from her so you can bed her. This is NOT a wingman situation.
J: Fine, then take one for me.
M: DOOD SHE HAS 8 CATS and 17 DOGS! MY ALLERGIES! I’M GONNA DIE!
J: Fine. I didn’t think of that. Never mind. You can stay in the hotel with us. It’s just I haven’t seen Mandy in 35 nights…
M: Dood, I’ll get a Primatene and some Benadryl. And some underwear. It’ll be fine.
J: Are you sure?
M: Yeah man, I am sorry if I was being a selfish dick.
J: You weren’t man. And thanks…
So Mandy and I went out for the evening.
You don’t think you are getting any more information as to what we did than that out of me, do you?
Oh, okay, fine…
We played with jointed wooden dolls. Happy now?
In the morning Mandy and I played dolls a little while longer and left the hotel in order to pick up Matty from Rachel’s.
I knew it was time to say goodbye, perhaps forever, to my closest Alaskan friend. I wasn’t sure how to feel or how either of us would react.
I sent Matt a text and he accompanied Rachel outside so the four of us could say our goodbyes. After long hugs from Mandy and I, Rachel began to cry. I hated knowing that there was a strong possibility that she and I would never see each other again and I refused to leave on such a sad note. I cut in front of Matt who was headed in for his goodbye hug and said “No no no, Duma!” and hugged her tightly (I sometimes call Rachel “Duma”, “Flache”, or “Dumaflache” as she introduced me to the word – and I still find it hilarious). More tears flowed and eventually we let go. Matt finally got his hug and Mandy, Matt, and I piled into the Focus, started off, and left Rachel behind us.
Physically, the miles between us were increasing. Emotionally, she would be with us always.
Matt, Mandy, and I went out to breakfast and Matt and Mandy got the visitation time they were so craving. You see, Matt and Mandy visitations consist of Matt and Mandy making me feel like a moron by sharing insulting, embarrassing, stories about me. Although they vary in severity, there are several. As usual, I just drank my coffee and ate my food (omlette and pancakes with strawberries and, yes, syrup). We finished in short order and headed to Wasilla.
Upon arrival to Wasilla, I said goodbye to my in-laws (to whom I am forever in debt for taking care of my family before, during, and after we moved to and from Alaska) and Matt began the task of packing the Focus. Why Matt? Because he frigging LOVED it. I can not quite explain it, but I really do think he saw the whole experience as a game of Tetris. This was a man on a mission. He had boxes and bags, duffels and laptops, all stacked up neat and tight without wasting a single ounce of space. In the space of a few minutes the car was packed and we were ready to go.
I said goodbye to my girls, piled on in, and we were off.
The plan for night one was to make it to Whitehorse, YT. This leg was to look something like this:
Matt first befouled the Focus with his noxious gas here:
He had to stop for a potty break shortly thereafter.
He had to stop again here, here, and here.
Matt needs to limit his fiber intake.
We talked, marveled at the scenery, and laughed as we drove and in about 10 hours we made it to the Canadian border. We drove up to the customs window and handed over our documentation. They looked at us, look at our passports, looked back at us, looked at how wedged in amongst boxes and bags we were, noticed how our bulk made it appear as though we shared but one lap, and waved us on though; tears of laughter falling into the driver’s side window and onto my left pant leg.
We drove a few hundred meters (oh yeah baby, we be METRIC now) and stopped at a rest stop that we deemed to be offensive, yet necessary.
Unfortunately for us, it would contain the best looking outhouses we would see for quite some time.
After doing our business, it had begun to rain and was getting dark. We decided there was no time like the present to pound the 5 Hour Energy Shots we had picked up in Tok, AK, just before the border. After all, we had just lost an hour to Pacific Time and we needed to make haste.
JUST AFTER MIDNIGHT – APRIL 16
GOD DAMN IT! WE ARE READY FOR ANYTHING…
…Except for the frost heaves.
All along the Yukon there are these road signs that are about 3 feet high, and rest on the ground. They look remarkably similar to Charlie Brown’s shirt, but are orange as opposed to yellow. Matt and I combined our IQ and, although meager, it allowed us the assumption that these signs indicated frost heaves or road bumps of some sort. Upon passing the first sign I did notice some dips (insert self-depreciating joke here), but nothing I couldn’t handle. We also eventually noticed that planed on the side of the road were small orange flags. These apparently, in conjunction with the signs, indicated the exact locations of the heaves. Armed with this new knowledge, we passed on for a dozen or so kilometers with no incident.
And then boredom set in. And as boredom is wont to do, boredom got me to thinking about obliterating it.
“Matt. I have an idea” I said.
“Oh yeah, what’s that?”
“Next time we see a sign, I want you to call out a number between one and three.”
“Um, why?” Matt said, hesitantly.
“Because I am going to count the flags that we pass and as we are about to pass the flag that corresponds with your number? I’m gonna floor it.”
“Are you a f$#@#& moron?” he asked.
“Yes. Yes I am.”
We both peered in the dark for the next sign. Like a watched pot, we passed kilometer after kilometer with no sign of…well, a sign. Eventually we began to talk of other things. We laughed for a while longer until from out of the gloom appeared the tell-tale road sign.
“MATT! CALL IT!!!” I yelled. Forgetting what I was talking about he just looked at me oddly. Suddenly, a light went off inside his skull.
The first flag passed in the murky night. I pressed the accelerator hard to the floor. We picked up speed, and fast. 50 KMH. Where was flag two? 65 KMH. We both looked for anything, breath held. 80 KMH. Still no flag. 100 KMH. Before I could wonder aloud if there was even a second flag, we were airborne.
In times of duress, the human mind often copes with stressful situations by increasing the pulse, causing sebaceous glands to work triple time, and causes hair to stand on end. My mind, at this moment, decided dredging up some random quotes was in order.
“Oh I Have Slipped
The Surly Bonds of Earth…
Put Out My Hand
And Touched the Face of God.”
-John Gillespie Magee
“What goeth up, must cometh down”
-Sir Issac Newton
After what seemed to be irrationally long, we landed, bottomed out – and hard. I swear to you there is a hole in the ass of my jeans where we made contact with the road. That’s how intense and jagged the roads are on the AlCan.
We were quiet. I listened for noises and felt for the familiar wobble of a flat tire. Nothing. I looked over at Matt who was sheet-white. I took a deep breath, regained composure, and began to laugh entirely too hard. Matt joined me shortly thereafter.
After a brief, relieved, stop in Hanes Junction for fuel (Sally, my GPS, had neglected to inform me that there was a fueling station in Hanes Junction and we were convinced we would be pushing the Focus into Whitehorse) we started again.
I took off down the town street, admittedly too quickly, and I caught a glimpse of a cop on a street corner. I slammed the brakes and passed by slowly.
I have an irrational fear of cops. Make em’ foreign cops in a Podunk Town and I was freaking out twice as hard. I was in a different country, driving for 4000 miles, and I certainly didn’t need a ticket this soon. I didn’t need to be stopped so we lose time. What if they take me down to the station for questioning? I mean, what if they want me to unpack the whole car so they can look? Jesus, I don’t think I can take…
“Cardboard.” Matt said.
I looked at him.
“That was a cardboard cut-out of a cop”.
I looked behind me in the side-view mirror. He was correct.
“Mother Fucker!” I exclaimed.
At one point we nearly hit a Moose. Matt freaked. I was used to it. I’ve been dodging the bastards for three years.
We finally made it to Whitehorse around 5 AM. We directed ourselves to Tim Horton’s for coffee and bagels in order to figure out where we were going to figure out where to bunk for the day.
After placing my order I was informed the woman was not going to accept my Visa card. I looked at her kind of funny and asked her if she was serious. She was.
“Do you have a debit card?” she asked.
“Yes!” I said, and swiped my card again.
“No, not a Visa debit card”.
I felt like Jamie Kennedy was going to jump out at any moment.
“Are you f#^$% serious?” I yelled.
I pulled out my Capital One Mastercard with all of $9 available on it and paid for my food. I had never heard of anything so ridiculous.
Matt got his food and we sat down.
Within minutes we realized that there was no hotel that would take us in that early in the morning, and if they did, we would have to leave by noon and it just didn’t seem worth it.
I remember being exhausted. I remember feeling defeated. I just don’t remember when we made the decision that we should continue driving to Fort Nelson, over 12 hours away. After consulting the Atlas, we piled back into the Focus (Matty in the Driver’s seat) and headed south. In about 5 minutes, I was out like a light.
NEXT TIME: NAPS, NO TELL HOTEL, AND BRITISH COLUMBIA: LAND OF THE PEEK-A-BOO PORT-A-POTTY
Don’t forget to visit Matt’s Blog at 2fatguysinafocus
Please forgive the delay in updating. As you will read over the next couple of days, we have been on pace/off pace, slept in the Ford Focus more than once, and met up with some old friends. I will be sure to update as much as I can as soon as possible. For now, let’s pick up where we left off, shall we?
April 14 – 3 AM-ish…I think
As I stated previously, I have no clue as to how we got back to the hotel from the Bake. I do remember being back at the hotel, however, and I was standing in the lobby one minute with Staci, Rachel, and Matt having quite the interesting discussion involving IUD’s, UTI’s, and STD’s – which was quite the TMI – and in the next minute I was entirely alone. I am pretty sure everyone told me where they were headed and what was going on, but to hell if I remembered.
At this point I don’t know my room number, I don’t remember who I am with, and I am unsure of how I got to where I am. And naturally, when drunk and confused in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness, you mustn’t choose to walk all over Christendom until you or someone you know remembers who you are…but when you are three sheets to the wind at the Chalets after a night at the Bake, that is exactly what you do.
I left the lobby by the front doors and ambled down raft road – a long a curving road that leads down to the employee community. I am pretty sure my mental process was affected in the following manner:
“I know where I am! I will jusht keep walking until I find someone who knows me! Yesh, that’s the ticket. Hey, isn’t that my boss’ house? Wait, do I STILL work here? Am I on call? Oh my god! I don’t even have my radio. Maybe I should go to the house and pick it up.”
It was at this point that I decided to head toward management housing by the river. After all, if I did indeed still work there (which I didn’t) I would be able to get to my bed (which it wasn’t) and get some sleep. Fortunately, I didn’t make it to my old apartment as I am sure the ensuing breaking and entering would have put a damper on the rest of my trip. Instead, I was distracted by a familiar site – the Belldocks.
I am pretty sure I greeted the docks as if they were an old friend. I think I hugged the dock floor and said “Hey, man!” and then may have kissed the wall. In any event, I was happy to see a familiar building. I sat down, back against the wall, and smiled.
Flash forward to 7:30 AM and its frigging cold. I need to get back up the hill to the main lobby because I again remember where my room is, and I am sure I will find Matt, Rachel and a bed with a blanket. The conundrum here is the hill. Even when I worked at the resort I am sure I walked up it only once or twice, and I had to stop and rest two or three times back then. I was certainly in no better shape now (quite the opposite) and I was fairly certain I was not going to make it.
But wait! There is a guest shuttle system! And, though I was forbidden to ride it back in the day, this time – I WAS A GUEST! I made my way over to a shuttle stop and waited. After a few minutes I was greeted by Bob, one of the best damned people I have ever had the pleasure to work with. Bob escorted me to the top of the hill and I walked to my room.
I did not know what to expect upon opening the door. I knew Matt and Rachel were probably in the room – but judging by my night they could have been sleeping in a Grizzly Den with a Moose carcass for all I knew. I thrust the key into the door lock and opened it slowly. I tiptoed into the bedroom and found Matt and Rachel, fully dressed and fully unconscious. I wish I had taken a picture, but more so I wished I had started the voice recorder on my phone. More interesting than the visual scene laid out before me was the much more interesting matter of the AURAL events taking place.
I snore. Hell, I have woken myself up at times. But the din coming from these two was epic. If average snoring is called “sawing wood”, this was easily “deforestation”. I brought my face closer to them so I could try and figure out who the louder of the two was, but in doing so startled Rachel awake which in turn made Matt jump. I fell back on another bed and laughed. This whole scene was too much.
After talking for a few minutes, we all got ready for the remainder of the day. Rachel combed out her long hair, while Matt put on some cologne. I was brushing my teeth and discovered my gag reflex, which is already touchy at best, was on red alert and with one slip of the toothbrush, I gagged violently.
“Hey Bro?” Matt said. “Are you brushing your trachea?”
There are times in life when the absurdity of a situation makes you laugh. Then there are times when the absurdity of a situation coupled with a one-liner from a friend makes you laugh like an asylum fugitive – which just so happened to be my involuntary response. I laughed hard, loud, and high. I would imagine that with toothpaste froth running down my lips and past my chin I must have sounded and looked like a rabid hyena – and I couldn’t stop.
But oh how I wished I could.
After I finished gagging and spreading flecks of foamy minty freshness, we packed up and left the room.
Leaving was more of a bittersweet moment for me than I anticipated as I was and am sure I will never be back to Denali. I took one last look off the deck down to the Nenana River below. When I left in 2008 I stopped thinking back upon this place. Now, I am sure I will never forget it.
On the way out of the hotel, Rachel purchased some souvenirs, fought with the gift shop staff, and threatened an employee with never visiting the resort again.
Meanwhile, Matt and I took a picture with some moldy stuffed sheep.
Rachel, Matt and I made our way to Rose’s Diner in Healy for some breakfast. While watching the final Atlantis Space Shuttle Launch, the breakfast conversation went something like this:
M: Superman has super sperm.
R: Of course!
M: How can he have sex though? Wouldn’t his sperm shoot right THROUGH a woman?
J: Kryptonite Condoms.
R: Wouldn’t that kill Superman?
J: No, it would only weaken his sperm.
M: Wouldn’t it weaken his erection?
J: Probably a little, but he is the man of steel. I am sure he could take on some flaccidity and no one would notice.
R: Lois Lane would notice…
During eating I received some pissed off text messages from Haylie as to how shitty it was that we all left and didn’t say good bye. As she was on her way to the train depot in Healy, not far from the diner, it was then decided that we would meet her and say adios. Upon discussing it, we realized that had Haylie not pulled the Bake Sneak (i.e. left without alerting anyone) the night before we WOULD have had a chance to say good bye. After meandering to the depot the three of us met Haylie and, on Matt’s cue, simultaneously chanted:
“Fuck YOU for not saying goodbye!”
It was pretty tight.
The train finally came and there were hugs all around. The Chalet crew greeted the guests with a wave
And I stuck around to greet the guests on the train with the “Moose Wave”.
We decided to head into Denali National Park to check the scenery/wildlife one more time.
We drove all the way to Savage River and eventually had to make a rest room stop.
Now I am not quite sure why the outhouses in the park are designed this way, but the chimney does not act as a draw in order to remove stale/fouled air as much as it is a method by which to blow cold Alaskan winds directly into your colon. After an unpleasant several minutes of genital wind chill I was yodeling. When the ordeal was finally over, Rachel didn’t quite believe that I would be screaming for something so seemingly mundane, so I challenged her to try it out. Not one to turn down a challenge, she did.
She called it “invigorating”.
Then again, she doesn’t have a scrotum.
We made our way back to the entrance of the park and took the standard “National Park Sign Picture” and headed back to Wasilla.
On the long drive back to the Valley, we talked some more, laughed some more, and had a generally good time – until I introduced Matt and Rachel to Lonely Island’s song “Like a Boss”. Then the insanity was on a whole ‘nutha level.
Look it up.
Random shouts of “Promote Synergy”, “Eat a Bagel”, and “Shit on Debra’s Desk” peppered the 4 hour drive; each time causing someone to spit a drink or near pass out due to uncontrollable laughter. This would not be the last time we hear or discuss this song on the road. Not by a long shot.
NEXT TIME: DATE NIGHT, YUKON HOPPING, and, “WHAT KIND OF ASSHOLES PULL AN ALL-NIGHTER WHILE DRIVING”
*Folks have been curious what happened after Madelyn’s police incident. Well, we decided to leave her behind on the streets of Anchorage. I mean, really – who needs a shy, screaming, three year-old weighing them down as they are trying to prepare for vehicular relocation across two countries?
I kid. Obviously. But you’d be surprised at the number of people who A) thought she really was asked to leave the hotel, and B) thought I was a mean, mean man for saying Lily was the cute one and insinuating that Maddy was somehow just a nuisance and nothing more. People, Madelyn is wonderful and beautiful and smart. But she is also MY daughter. If she doesn’t develop a thick skin soon…well, there is just no saving her, now is there?
When we checked in at 1 AM and I found out the hotel room in Anchorage was a suite, I was excited! This meant that there was a main bedroom with its own door that closed to the rest of the room as well as two fold out sofas in the living room that could accommodate three people. I hadn’t seen my wife in weeks so the thought of being able to cuddle up next to her for the first time in forever was intoxicating. Until, again…
Nanner nanner boo-boo!
Maddy, who was used to going to bed around 8 every night and who had not seen Matt since she was 10 months old, really was not in the right frame of mind to be sharing a room with whom she perceived to be some strange bearded man who, because of the lengthy travel, smelled vaguely of jet fuel and B.O. Lily, who professed to “miss me soooooo much” also was not happy that she would not be sleeping in the same room as I because she wanted to be near me as I slept (which is a mystery to me since I tend to sound like a Chevy Suburban sans muffler while I slumber). On the same token, I don’t think Matt was thrilled with the idea of sleeping in the same room with Maddy based on her penchant for uncontrolled night terrors and shrieking whilst she flailed around in the dark like a blind epileptic.
Long story short? This is what happened…
….save for the liquor, active-wear, and complete strangers. Maybe this better exemplifies what happened:
Yeah. That white arrow is pointing to me. As far as for the fact that there are 4 people in my family and there is an extra fish at the bottom of the above “bed”, your guess is as good as mine. We did crack a window… could have been anyone who climbed in, really. Meanwhile Matt slept alone in the living room. So much for snuggle time with the wife.
One of my closest Anchorage friends, Rachel, was having car trouble and because I am a good friend (i.e. SUCKER) I agreed to pick her up at her house and drop her off at work at 7 AM on this fine morning of the 13th. Why I thought landing in Anchorage at 12:12 AM, checking into a hotel at 1 AM, and then getting up at 6 AM to be a Good Samaritan was a bright idea is anyone’s guess. But, as I am trying to help others in an effort to regain a little faith in humanity, I was up and dressed and out the door. I made it out to my car, started it, and almost immediately received a text from Rachel:
“You can be late if you want.”
Now some of you may be thinking “Awwwwwwww – she knew you were in late and was letting you rest!” Those of you that KNOW Rachel know what she really meant is “ZOMG! I am running SO fahking LATE!!!!1!!11!” Needless to say, I called Rachel to let her know I was already on my way which led to her finding another way to work. I wouldn’t have minded if it weren’t for that whole “12 hours smooshed into a plane seat” thing as well as the incredible east to west jet lag. But Rachel is a peach, so I let it go until I was sufficiently awake enough to plot my revenge.
Upon returning to my hotel room, I discovered that Matt was awake as well (presumably due to jet lag) so we decided to go to let my family sleep a little more and proceed to the lobby to grab some coffee. Matt was obviously still excited, despite his lack of sleep. I was sleepy and obviously annoyed with his chipper demeanor.
After wrestling with both children to get dressed and collect all their belongings, we decided the Denny’s was the place to go for breakfast. After a short drive (with Matt still being the focal point of Maddy’s world in that adorable “Who the F&%# are you?!” manner) we arrived and filed into the restaurant. I got the chocolate chip pancakes – extra syrup. This was apparently amusing to my wife as there is apparently some magic age cut-off for ordering pancakes with candy in them. Matt was pretty tickled that I asked for syrup in addition to the already diabeetus-inducing flapjacks. My theory? With this trip imminent and having already decided that we were going to blog about our adventures as two fat guys in a teensy car on a road trip I needed to maintain my weight, if not add a couple of pounds. I mean, “Two Guys: One fat and One Starting to Have Pants that Fit Comfortably and within Socially Acceptable Standards in a Ford Focus” just does not have the same ring to it.
We left Denny’s for Wal-Mart and picked up some supplies. I was mostly concerned about having replacement headlamps and a tire patch kit at the ready should we need them. After dropping about $30 on said items, Mandy pointed out to me that I had already bought these things and they were in the trunk of the car already. As a matter of fact, she apparently had mentioned this in the check-out line as well as once in the parking lot before we entered the store.
I really wish she would speak a little more loudly.
From Wal-Mart we went to pick up Rachel at work as Matt, Rachel, and I were going to Denali so I may show Matt just how beautiful Alaska can be. We gathered in Rachel’s now functioning Jeep, drove to Middle Way Café in Anchorage so I could have my last ever Southwestern on Sourdough and drove north.
The drive to Denali is approximately 5 hours so we killed time by listening to some music and talking a little, while Matt and Rachel got to know each other. All in all it was your standard conversation – Kids, work, why Lady Gaga sucks, calling cashiers at Dairy Queen the “c” word when they forget your sprinkles – you know, standard fare. There were also many pictures taken. As I am sure Matt will post them ALL I will only include the one that has me in it:
Me and Dumaflache
As we drove toward Denali, Rachel and I tried to point out the mountain to Matt. It was overcast, so we couldn’t see too much. But we tried.
“There’s Denali Bro.” I said.
“You mean McKinley.” Matt replied.
“Well, we call it Denali. It is the native word for the mountain. It means ‘great one’. I forget in which language.” Rachel said.
“NO! I LIVE IN AMERICA AND WE CALL IT MT. MCKINLEY! DO NOT TELL ME TO CHANGE WHAT I CALL SOMETHING THAT MY GOVERNMENT NAMED LONG AFTER IT WAS PURCHASED RIGHT OUT FROM UNDERNEATH THE INDIGINOUS ALASKANS! GOD, COUNTRY, MOM, APPLE PIE, ROCK, FLAG, AND EAGLE!!!!!!!” Matt replied*.
*In all fairness, I cannot remember what Matt said. The above is a complete and total embellishment of the words used, but I am pretty sure the sentiment is there.
After a couple more hours we arrived at the McKinley Chalet; a resort in Denali at which I had once worked. My former boss was kind enough to comp me a room so I may say my goodbyes to Denali and the life I once had there while showing my friends the splendors of Denali National Park. I was briefly reunited with Staci, Haylie, and Colin – people I consider friends even though we spent only a short amount of time together one summer long ago. We made some chit chat and cursory plans to go to the Salmon Bake later in the evening.
For those of you wondering, the Salmon Bake is a restaurant that becomes quite the boozey hang out after hours. Not only that, but they don’t close until 5 AM. Our goal was to “close the bake” – preferably without puking or death.
Rachel, Matt, and I decided to pre-drink in the hotel room and began some Sailor Jerry and Diet – probably much more than was necessary. So much, in fact, that I actually do not remember ANY of the conversations we had in the actual hotel room. But I do remember being alone on the couch in the sitting room for quite a while. Before long, Staci and Haylie showed at the door, ready to head up to the Bake.
Haylie to the left of me, Stacy to the right. Here I am in the middle…and I’m already fahkin hammahed.
Eventually we make it up to the Bake and we drink. And catch up. And drink some more. I introduced Matt and Rachel to the ever popular “Duck Fart” – a shot made from a bunch of god-knows-what but it sure tastes good going down. Staci bought me my final “Blue McKinley” – a frozen margarita made with some god awful amount of tequila that can sufficiently tranquilize an elephant. I was stumble-bum and obnoxious in short order and I got it in my head that the booze gods wanted me to steal all the posters from the walls in the bathrooms and so I did – one by one – and stuffed them in my pockets.
The rest of the bake experience is kind of a blur. The physical act of leaving the bake has been erased from memory. And as far as what ensued after leaving the lobby of the hotel – well, I will need to piece that together in my next entry.
NEXT TIME: THE BELLDOCKS, ASS WINDS, AND DEBRA’S DESK
Be sure to read 2 Fat Guys in a Focus for Matt’s Point of view.
I have been living in Alaska since 2007. Now, I am moving back to Massachusetts. Truth be told, I have been living in Massachusetts for a few weeks; starting work, getting acclimated. But now the time had come for me to collect my family and make the final transition.
The nagging question? How does one get a vehicle from Alaska to Massachusetts most efficiently and affordably? Also, how does one transport the few material possessions he wants to keep? To ship a car costs an arm and a leg, and to mail anything from Alaska requires collateral and a second mortgage. The only viable solution? You drive.
But you can’t drive alone. There too many variables and twists and turns. You can’t bring the family because you need the room for your personal belongings. What is a man to do?
Call upon his best friend of 20 years, of course.
I called Matty Carr and asked him to come along on my journey. After some discussion, the purchase of a ticket, and clarification on passport procedures at the Canadian border crossing, we decided it was best if he were to come up a couple of days early to see my family and assist in packing and planning. This also would give us a chance to take a day and go check out some of the sights Alaska has to offer.
After a hearty lunch and some good conversation, Rob – a peer and friend- dropped me off at Logan International airport. It was there that Matty and I began the journey of a lifetime!
We arrived in Anchorage quite late and met up with my family whom I have not seen in several weeks. My daughters were spry and alert and laughing with Matty as Mandy and I embraced and gazed into each other’s eyes in a silent symphony of love. We loaded the car and headed to the hotel…
Okay I’ve got to stop.
The above is pure bullshit. Matt and I have agreed to blog our experience on this trip. I am trying to stay positive, but I know what is really happening right now, real time, and I can’t turn it into some happy go lucky positivism crap.
If you happened upon this blog hoping to hear how our experiences are chock full of wisdom nuggets on how frigging wonderful a cross country journey is for your friendship or how you can stay away from your family for 5 weeks and not notice some changes in them/you or how two fat guys can sit comfortably in airplane seats and compact cars, then maybe you should go read “Chicken Soup for the Delusional Soul”. This is going to be a raw, real, visceral look at what a complete pain in the ass it is to move 4700 miles across two countries when you are two fat guys in an over-stuffed Ford Focus.
Check out Matt’s point of view at 2 Fat Guys in a Focus2fatguysinafocus.wordpress.com
So let me begin again.
I got to the airport and met Matt. He was literally bouncing and beaming and obviously quite excited about our impending journey. Me? I am more the paranoid type and just kept on mentally replaying what it was that I needed and didn’t have or would need in the event that X happened which would lead to event Y which would finally culminate in Z; also known as “my untimely painful death in the wilderness of the Yukon.” Matt has always been a believer in the power of positive thinking and has frequently inferred that I am a pessimist. What I am, ladies and gents, is a realist. I really believe that everyone and everything is out to get my ass.
After checking our luggage and passing through security, Matt and I walked to our terminal and stopped at Dunk’s for an iced coffee. He was still talking about the excitement involved in the monumental undertaking that was to be this road trip. As he bounced around and continued to gush like a faulty fire plug I had noticed that he had used the word “outstanding” as a stand-alone sentence on at least 4 occasions. This was a new addition to the Matty lexicon and I decided to inquire as to when and where he picked it up.
“I’ve been saying that? A lot?” he said. “I don’t know where I got it from.”
Me and Matty Circa Sept 2009
Because I believe that every time I pass through security at an airport I will end up with a gloved, lubed, hand wrist deep inside me, I like to get to the airport early. Not once have I been issued a body cavity search and so inevitably I end up at my gate while the folks on the flight before me are still waiting to board. This generally leaves nowhere to sit and even less places to plug in a cell phone – which is exactly what I needed to do. However, this time there were seats enough for both Matt and I and they had built in electrical outlets. For once, luck was on my side. I decided to kill some time and call AT&T to purchase some international text messages so I could text my wife as we drove through the Canadian countryside. Meanwhile, Matt called Verizon to find out what his rates would be as we traveled abroad. Matt finished his call and we had succeeded in killing exactly 7 minutes. Only 112 to go. I fucking hate airports.
We eventually boarded the plane, approached our seats, sat down and buckled in only to be immediately smacked with the reality that, due to our excessive girth, our bodies had merged into one gelatinous mass and we had become one portly-jiggle organism for the duration of the flight – a flight that was to last 7 hours.
It felt like 14.
We landed in Portland for our layover and went hunting around the terminal for some food. Of course, everything was closed; well, almost closed. I convinced the girl (i.e. berated and insulted her) at the sandwich shop to make me a wrap. What she prepared for me was a bean sprout and oriental dressing monstrosity which I devoured. I wasn’t about to give her the satisfaction of throwing it away. Matt, who was positive and kind to the girl, was given what appeared to be the holy grail of ham sammiches. It had been 9 hours and he was already grating on my nerves. Fortunately the Hudson News was still open and we both got ice cream sandwiches and some snacks and boarded our flight for Anchorage.
As Matt and I prepared once again to become an amalgam of gristle and discomfort, the flight attendant offered the girl sitting in the window seat of our row the opportunity to move. I don’t know what possessed her to make the offer. Maybe it was how uncomfortable Matt and I looked. Maybe it was the fact that we were spilling over into each other’s seats while we shoveled ice cream sandwiches into our gullets. Perhaps the pilot was concerned that with three people in our row the plane would list to the left. In any event, the girl on the inside opted to make the switch and Matt and I now had some room to stretch. We also both needed a nap. Riding moving sidewalks all around an airport really takes a toll on the old, unused, cardio vascular system.
We land in Anchorage, gathered our luggage, and met my family. I missed them so. Unfortunately, Maddy, my youngest, didn’t miss shit – and was vocal about it.
Eventually she was police-escorted from the hotel for being a loud-mouthed little twit. At least I still had Lily. She’s the cute one anyway (cause she looks like me).
After setting up our beds, we crashed and slept the sleep of the just. Technically, we slept the sleep of the just 3 hours. This, unfortunately, set the tone for the first leg of our trip.
NEXT TIME: Denali vs. McKinley – Reunited – and the Bake Mistake.