Sunday, June 6, 2010
I have rented a 5x8 ft. U-haul trailer for 15 days, which I must drive through Canada and six states to get from Anchorage to New Orleans. Daily travel time is 8-10 hours, or 500-700 miles a day. With me are two cats, a dog, an ex-boyfriend, and what's left of my worldly possessions after a massive, extended garage sale. Fifteen days is the goal, but the extra luggage makes a shorter trip ideal.
Ready to leave Alaska after six unexpected years, in the spring I originally planned to move to Central or South America. But in an attempt to accommodate Josh, my boyfriend at the time, I proposed New Orleans and he accepted. And, as fate would have it, we broke up shortly before the date of departure. I opted to stick with the New Orleans plan regardless. At this point we are both a little out of sorts. He has quit his job and made plans to leave Alaska willingly, albeit prematurely, and I am moving to New Orleans and not Central or South America. Insistent on seeing me safely transplanted, he offers to drive down with me. I accept, and we attach a trailer to his two-door 1998 Grand Prix.
Pragmatics and companions preferences, both beast and human,
prevent us from camping. So it is a spendier, but swifter experience altogether. The three critters share the backseat while the humans take turns driving. We don't stay at our overnight
destination cities other than to walk around town, eat a late dinner, and make plans for the following day. Our sightseeing occurs as we go. We see buffalo, bears, Dall sheep, and moose on the highway. We stop for mountain lakes (my favorite) and allow ourselves the pleasure of gazing at the aqua-blue water.
To me the terrain through Canada is gentler than Alaska's--older, seemingly less rugged hills, and mountain lakes are more ubiquitous. The plains are, well, plain, but also beautiful with the
spectrum of colors reflected on flats of wheat. We treat ourselves occasionally with the odd tourist event here and there; a soak one evening at Liard Hot Springs in Canada, a trip to Graceland in Tennessee, a stop at a National Buffalo Museum in North Dakota, a meander in our route to see the arch in St. Louis.
We are slow but steady and keep a good pace. I feel like Jack Kerouac on the road, except plus two cats, a dog, a u-haul trailer, and an ex in tow; and minus the partying and random women.
Surprisingly, the ones faring the best are the cats, who spend most of the time sleeping curled up, either in one of their two kennels, or under my seat.
Milo-dog doesn't do too badly either, preferring to nap with his head on the console between the driver and front passenger seats.
The humans do alright as well, but long periods of peace are punctuated with sharp arguments inevitably resulting in tears, as to be expected for two people traveling together in a post mortem relationship.
And somehow we make it.
Of course my mind does the second-guessing, but my gut tells me leaving Alaska was right, and that everything will be alright. I am ready to make New Orleans my home.