Sunday, May 5, 2013

Al-Can Adventures Part 16: The Logbook, Found

Moving is a dirty, exhausting, frustrating process under the best of conditions.  Don't get me wrong--I used to get excited over the prospect of moving.  That was, however, before I accumulated stuff.  Back when all of my memorabilia was safely tucked away in Mom's attic.  I had uniforms and a trunk full of stuff, and some books.  Back then, moving consisted of a few trips to the car to fill it up, and then a drive.

Now, it consists of hours of packing stuff carefully, followed by loading it carefully, followed by unpacking it carefully.  I keep swearing that the next time I move I'll be able to afford a company to do everything including pouring me a bourbon while they load, but that hasn't happened yet.

All that said, it's kind of exciting when, in the process of preparing for a move, you come across something special that you'd forgotten you had.  That happened recently.  I was fishing through my tools, sorting through which ones I'd never use again (very few) and which ones I needed to keep (nearly all), when Heide came across a little blue spiral notepad with my handwriting in it.  She asked me what it was.

Heh.  She shouldn't have done that.  I ended up with my nose glued to that little blue notebook for the next hour or so.

It was, you see, the logbook I kept on my fourth trip down the Al-Can.  As I've said before, we've usually taken the Alaska Highway at the greatest possible rate of speed/urgency.  The first time we were racing the first major snowfall of the year.  The second time we were racing to get down to California to support a family member who'd lost somebody significant.  The third time we were racing to get the hell away from California.  On none of those trips did we do any significant record-keeping or picture-taking; it's pretty much just all my memories that tell me how badly each of those trips sucked.

I've often said I have a memory like a steel trap: rusty and illegal in many states (I'd give that joke a proper citation if I had any idea who said it first).

That, of course, is why I kept a log on the fourth time through.  In its little pages of goodness I kept track of how much fuel we used, how many miles we traveled each day, and what we went through in each incident.  Talk about cool stuff to uncover now, 14 years later.

That journey, by the way, ended up being one really tough trip.  It didn't start that way.  It actually began as a planned journey down to Colorado to work on my graduate degree in physics.  I'd been teaching, by that point, for a few wonderful years, some of which was at the career college level.  With only a baccalaureate degree, though, there was a limit to what I could do in the field, and with the college upgrading the credentials it offered to the baccalaureate level it looked like I would hit that limit pretty soon without a masters degree.  Thus, I decided I would further my education in physics.  Staying in Alaska required me to relocate to Fairbanks to do so, but Colorado State University had some interesting stuff going on, and so I applied and was accepted for a graduate assistant-ship (where they pay your tuition and then also pay you a salary, in exchange for teaching time).

You'll recall the horribad experience I had with the trailer on the first trip up (if not, here's where I detail it).  Believe it or not, that trailer lasted a little while longer, but we got rid of it well before the trip to Colorado.  We bought a new one, though, this one actually on springs and built as a bigger box that doubled as a work shed.

That new trailer caused us no end of heartache all the way down. 

This post is already headed toward a length known as too long, so I'll just promise to incorporate the gems contained within the blue spiral notebook of goodness into future posts.


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