Road trips and hitchhikers
We drove to Healy for the kids high school soccer tournament. 12 hour drive. We are tired. It's raining. The fog hovering over the evergreen treetops heightens the sounds of hundreds of geese flying south in formation. Winter is coming.
Hunting season is open for bear, caribou and moose. We have a rifle on hand. We need meat in our freezers or we'll become vegan by January. Winter is coming.
We picked up a 1 ton pallet of compressed wood logs to see how well they burn in hope that we can extend our sleeping hours this winter and not have to get up every 2 hours to stoke the wood stove. The fireweed is short this year, indicating a low upcoming snowfall winter. The last of the fireweed blossoms have fallen, indicating first snowfall 6 weeks away. Winter is coming.
The leaves are changing from summer green to blazing hues of orange, red and gold. It's beautiful.
On our way down the mountain, we happened upon a hitchhiker. He stepped out of the woods, fully bearded wearing a red jacket and carrying a backpack. He had a handful of rosehips in one hand and waved us down with the other. We stopped to see if he needed help.
In broken English, he asked for a ride to Tok. There was no room inside the truck but we offered him a ride if he was willing to ride in the bed. He happily accepted and tossed his backpack over the rails and hopped into the bed. We gave him a chicken salad sandwich, juice and a blanket. It's a 4 hour rice to Tok on dirt and gravel roads. During our pit stops, we chatted with him and stretched our legs. He was visiting from Russia.
While driving I had wondered what his name was. I imagined it was something cool like Drago or Sasha. So I decided on our next stop, I'd find out.
We stopped in Chicken.
I asked him what his name was.
He replied, "I'm Pablo."
Hmmm. A Russian hitchhiker named Pablo. Interesting... He is a forester by trade and showed us pictures of himself with his chainsaw standing next to massive 4 feet across trees he'd dropped in his hometown of Kasak.
With the language barrier being greatly encumbered, he told us he had workers with him in the photos. These workers were in prison uniforms. Then he said he'd been at prison 9 years. Not sure if he was saying he'd BEEN in prison as a prisoner or if he'd worked with prisoners for that time. He asked why we lived in Eagle. I pointed to myself and said, "retired police." Then pointed to Nate and said, "retired military."
Pablo smiled, chuckled and shook his head side to side. He said, "Eagle is nice. Peaceful." Tactfully changing the subject.
Yes, Eagle is peaceful.
I asked him why he'd chose to visit Eagle Alaska. He said he had read Jack London's Call of the Wild and needed to see the giant Yukon River. We shared the fact that we had just returned from 2 months backpacking thru Argentina.
He asked, "why Argentina?"
I responded, "for adventure."
He replied, "ah, this I understand."
We dropped him off in Tok and parted ways with good wishes for safe travels and a solid handshake. Happy trails Pablo from Russia.