This is the final installment on my series on my 1979 motorcycle trip: I hope I haven’t drug it out too much and bored you! If I have, I hope you’ll at least look at the pictures and read the conclusion of this post. In it I try to find the moral of the story and find meaning in it all.
Up till now it has been a pretty standard motorcycle touring trip, but this week is somewhat unique because in 1979 very few motorcycles drove the Alaska Highway. Back then riding it on a bike really was an adventure because it was a wild road. None of it was paved and when it rained it turned into a quagmire of mud and when it didn’t rain every time you ran into an on-coming car or truck it was like a Sahara dust-storm with rocks thrown at you for good measure. I’ve driven the Alcan many times and the thing that stands out about the old days is how many banked curves there were. The road was built in 1942 for military convoys to take supplies to Russia during WWII. It was a quick and dirty job built with the sole idea of getting military trucks to Fairbanks, AK fast where the supplies would be flown to Russia. It was basically the exact same road in 1979 when I rode it.
Today, the Alcan is paved almost the entire way and the worst of the banked curves and winding portions have been straightened and yet there are hundreds of motorcycles running it for the “adventure” of it. The truth is there really is no adventure to it at all. Fall is the rainy season and back then, when it rained it stopped being a dirt road and became a mud road. Today it’s not much different than any paved country road.
While I didn’t run into a lot of rain, I did run into some so you can see in the pictures the bike got plenty muddy! But as soon as I got onto the dirt north of Dawson City BC, I ran into end-of-season construction. It was a horrible mess!! I literally was driving 10 MPH through this nasty mud and after about 50 miles of it I was done! I told myself if I didn’t get out of it in the next 5 miles I would admit defeat, turn around, drive south to Prince Rupert, BC and put the bike on the Alaska Maritime Ferry and take it home in shame! Fortunately, I did come to the end of it and so I kept heading north and luckily there was almost no more construction.
What I did run into was cold… and snow! October in the Yukon and Northern Alaska is winter, and it was just settling in as I passed through. I remember putting on every piece of clothing I had and still shivering as I drove along!! It was cold! And at the end of every day I had to stop early, set up my tent in the dark and crawl into it to finally get warm in my -10 degree down sleeping bag!
Finally I was almost home to Anchorage and winter finally came roaring in! Just as I was driving in near Eagle River the skies opened up and it started to snow! I slowly crawled home to my moms house. I took the photo below the next morning after I woke up. BRRRRRR!
I gotta admit it, there were some very unpleasant and low moments on that trip–most of them having to do with cold, snow and really bad roads, but here is the bottom line, I wouldn’t trade my memories of that time for anything in the world! Weirdly, the worse my memories are, the more I treasure them! Of course there are many more incredibly wonderful memories than bad ones, and I love them just as much, but, have you ever noticed that when you get together with friends and swap stories it’s always the times of hardship that you re-tell with the most gusto and the biggest smiles! Humans are designed to thrive at their best when they are overcoming adversity and discomfort. It’s such a terrible shame that we have virtually eliminated them for our modern lives. We aren’t fully human without them.
As I look back on my life, I never regret any of the adventurous things I’ve done, but I do very much regret all the empty years without any life or adventure in them–what a waste of breathe they were. A few years after this trip I sold the bike, got married and started a career. All adventure and passion disappeared from my life and I fell into a pattern of monotony, drudgery and tedium, all in preparation of the mythical “golden years” when I could finally be happy.
Some will say, “But you took care of your family, and raised your kids. That’s most important.” And I’d agree with that except for one thing, I raised them all wrong! I raised them to be sheep and not to be wolves. My life was the worst possible example I could possibly have set for them: Be a sheep; follow the herd; obey your masters.
Instead of a childhood full of nature, fun and adventures, I left them with a childhood full of Nintendos, toys and years of be-a-sheep brainwashing. You might say, “But you could have taken them camping on your vacations.” Right, 51 weeks of being sheep-slaves and 1 week of being wolves. Pathetic. But I was too worn out and depressed from my miserable life to do even that.
That is something I would do very differently if I could go back now and start over. My life and my children’s lives would be as fully alive and awake humans, not as walking, dead-inside sheep.