I pulled over to stop for gas in Dillon Montana,
I crawl into Great Falls and arrange a motel that looks like something out of a B-Class horror movie. The bed I am sitting on arches inward slightly and I am exasperated at these last eight hours of events although I am aware that since my departure from Anchorage on September 1 all has been a little crazy. Actually since mid-August all has been a little crazy. I sigh, close my eyes and take a mental rewind back for a week or two.
Emily and I wrapped up our trip and I turned around to work crew on a camping trip of 24 singles and solos (read: 21 tents to assemble and dissemble) and 29 people to cook for. Myself and Matt were crew of this apocalypse and took our job seriously- we set up and took down tents in the rain (three times) made enough food for 29 people twice a day (we ran out almost every night) and slept in the back of a Ford 350 van. The first few nights we politely tip toed around each other and made attempt to hit the sack early. By night three we were both sleeping in our clothes we had worn, sweat and cooked in all day because we were too tired to change. Two adults both over 5'9 fit nicely inside a Ford 350 van with no back seats as we slept long side the van on sleeping sheets. I fell asleep one night sitting up and Matt passed out on his beer. And so goes the tiredness we felt.
It is rare to have more than 5 hours of sleep a night on most camp trips. We’d finish dishes at 12, and be up at 5 to put on coffee (which we’d also always run out of), cook breakfast, clean up breakfast, do the breakfast dishes, make appetizers, make dinner, serve dinner, clean camp, clean dishes, repeat. By the time camp moved to Denali I felt like I was seeing double.
We did have one night off, the fourth night of the trip everyone goes to eat at a local pizza joint in Denali. Matt and I headed out with the leaders, Kevin and Ashely, along with 24 rowdy drunk and single people. Matt and I bowed out at 10:30pm (one and a half beer and tiredness= very sleepy) and went back to the Nest. We climbed into bed and about a half an hour later I had to go to the bathroom REAL BAD. By now it is dropping well into the zero/ frost range at night so getting out of bed for a bathroom break is even less appealing than before (not like climbing out of a tent to pee is ever anyone’s favorite thing). The campground was so dark and I couldn’t find my headlamp- it was cold, late and I was too tired to make my body work. I stumbled out of the van and tried to orientate myself-which direction are the outhouses?- and was completely puzzled. I decided to make use of the complete darkness to have a quick pee in the woods. I walked away from the van, used the loo with a view, but as I stood up to turn back around towards the van, I whacked my shin on something. Puzzled, I stopped and felt around me. OMG. I just realized. I peed in our kitchen. We had packed up almost everything but the “secret spot in the woods” I chose was actually just our make shift kitchen. Realizing my error and being too horrified to speak, I decided to laugh. I actually laughed until I cried and went back to The Nest to wake up Matt and tell him the story. Luckily, he thought it was pretty funny too.
Finishing camping and heading into three days of warehouse work, we packed up the entire Alaska operation, including the house we lived in, and hit the road the morning of September one. Driving The Alcan was "interesting" (which I remember from Grade 7 english is a poor way to describe anything) certainly scenic and vast in its beauty. During my mandatory one hour periods of silence (self-imposed) I have thought over everything from my season in Alaska to my over-all career life, why flip flops are named as such, why could I not wear orange in a wedding dress, who decided dandelions were a weed anyways, and why can't cant you easily tear electric tape with your teeth? The silence has given me time to brood, time to think, time to laugh and sing and cry and just be alone in the car. The decompression has been swift and much needed.
As I near Salt Lake, sitting in dumpsville hotel, I am reminded of something a new friend just told me. I cried one morning, thinking of leaving Alaska, ending the summer, starting a fall, and all the changes ahead. My head and heart hurt unreasonably and Anchorage responded by dumping rain all over me while I went running in the morning.
"All Good Things come to an end," Tyler said simply.
"And then more Good Things replace them."