Friday, June 09, 2006

Just a Few Deep Breaths

We started out easy. We stopped at home for Halloween to let the kids trick-or-treat and to buy some things we thought we needed for the way up. I can't remember now what kids two and three were that year, but kid one was a vampire wearing a red bodice hand beaded all over the front with silver beads. We still have that darn thing - it's beautiful but it weighs a ton. It's sort of a visible representation of what happens when you go from %150 busy to having nothing at all to do. ( Well, that and being a person who gets a brilliant idea of something interesting to do and thinks 'sure I could hand bead that! Sure I could paint that eggshell with a single hair and pigment ground from raw mineral! That sounds like fun...')

I think we were both a little more nervous about driving off into the arctic nothing than we admitted to eachother. We went to REI, and by the time we came out we had enough cold-weather survival gear to stock a small igloo. We kept asking the store people if they thought we needed this item or that, explaining that we were really truly driving up the Alcan to Alaska. What we didn't stop to think was that they knew all about the products they sold, but didn't know any more than we did about the actual trip. So they fed our fears by ooohing and ahhhing and sort of gathering around to listen in on the edges while their coworkers solemnly said yes, we probably did need an emergency thermal blanket - heck we probably needed two.

We took the Saturn to the dealership, repeated the story, and came out with a product that turned out to be utterly useless (although a really cool idea... wonder if they ever perfected those things...) - a set of things like the next generation of chains for tires. They called them 'spiders' and they locked into the hubcaps and gave a sort of octopus hug to the tires with radiating arms. Great idea, but it meant you couldn't go very fast at all, and they were incredibly noisy. They took up a lot of room in the trunk as well, but made us feel like we were more prepared. On a whim we also got an engine heater installed (can't believe they had one in stock in New Mexico) and that turned out to be a great idea; saved the day more than once on the trip. Got lucky really.

We bought a huge comforter that we stuffed under the kids' feet in the back seat. We hadn't exactly needed one in New Mexico or Texas, so it filled a lack, and it would hopefully be insulation for them. In fact the entire back seat looked like a sort of cocoon with three small faces sort of rising up out of the muddle. These kids weren't going to freeze... although they might have heat stroke before we got out of the Southwest.

We drove from New Mexico to Colorado to visit my sister who was living in Boulder at the time. We were going as straight North as we could, heading through Wyoming and Montana for Edmonton. Her kids are all younger than mine, and I hadn't really seen them before so we played with them for a while, admired the brand new baby, and then... and then the plunge.

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