I was thinking about roads this morning. And maps. Pictures of roads on a page and how I used to spend a lot of time looking at maps and dreaming of those places on the map where the spaces between the roads out number roads themselves. The places on the map where once the legend “here be dragon’s” would have been writ large.
Unlike my brothers who were drawn to the places on the map where roads go everywhere, I went the opposite direction. I thought I wanted as few roads as possible.
Now that I am here, where the streets have no names, I wonder if this is really what I wanted. See, living where there aren’t many roads introduces a number of interesting challenges, as anyone who lives here knows. Simple things, like getting building materials to a job site can be a Herculean task when the only ways to transport them are by air, water, or over routes that only exist for part of the year.
But I’m not saying anything that you don’t already know. What I’m trying to get to, though, is the adjustment it takes to go from somewhere where you can literally find a road to anywhere, to somewhere where most places are not on the road system. It takes a while for the road mentality to wear off.
Like exploring by bike. One of the ways I used to get to know a place was to ride its back roads. Gravel or old two lane highways. I’d ride them all and gain a better sense of where I was.
Alaska is different. Many routes are only available during the winter, when it takes serious planning to ensure a successful trip. Particularly when self-propelling. As such, I’ve explored only the tiniest fraction of my world.
Each year sees me exploring more and more places, but it also seems like each year presents more time drains as well. But the cool thing is that, even as I have more demands, I also grow more confident in my outdoors skills and am more willing to take calculated risks.
Eventually I’ll explore all that I’ve wanted too. More importantly, though, I’ll start to align my reality with the fantasy I had for so long about the romance of living where roads were few, far between, and full of frost heaves where driving above 70mph is only advisable for the suicidal or those who are trying to ruin suspensions.
Read more from Phil B. on his blog, Multimodal Alaska Adventures.