Home > Dispatches > Daily Dispatches 2019 >Daily Dispatch #142

May 24, 2019: Outside Fort Nelson, Yukon Territory, Roadside Turnoff

What is the Meaning of Life?

This is the question that I’ve begun to ponder as I’m now on the verge of the twilight of my years. I know that I don’t have 40, 50, 60 good years left, as I once did. The end is in sight. I’m not going to be a well-respected writer or rider. Social media is also complicating my aspirations in that it’s changing the shape of how people perceive others. I’m being left in the dust and my water bottle is near empty.

But, I’m now on a non-generic road trip. Generic, the usual points of interest are waypoints. Laird Hot Springs, The Toad River Lodge, Muncho Lake, all are reassuringly familiar. Not much has changed in the five years since we last passed through this area. I continue to oww and ahh at the unspoiled Yukon and northern BC scenery. Today, the obligatory bison, black bear, and mountain goats were by the roadside. And there are the mountains, rugged, and the clouds, white against the blue sky. Today, though, the sun was an orange ball surrounded by a white brown haze. There is a fire going on somewhere.

We didn’t pick up enough hay at Watson Lake – couldn’t, it was too difficult to remove from the round bale. So we scanned the roadside, looking for a source. We finally saw, on our right, a big pasture with large Belgium horses. Pete immediately pulled in. We were greeted heartily by a large, congenial middle aged man and his wife. After we introduced ourselves the wife disappeared and three good sized teen age boys appeared.

Bison near Laird Hot Springs

Sheep near Summit Lake

The farmer said he didn’t have much hay but after we talked a bit (which is often the case) he said he could spare some. He, his two sons, Pete and I, walked over to a chain link fenced in area, the size of a small corral. Inside were a mare, an 11 day foal, and a gelding. The man then ordered the sons to assist us in filling our four hay bags and the hay closet in the rear of the trailer. We all then sprang into action.

It was as I was loading up the hay bags that I noticed that the hay was riddled with foxtail, a bristly weed that has sharp barbs and can cause abscesses in the horses’ digestive system. Oh oh, what to do? I decided to finish assisting in loading up and tell Pete once we were again on our way down the highway. I waited before telling Pete this because I knew what the guy would say which was “This hay is just fine. I feed it to my horses all the time.”

I told Pete and we stopped at the nearest pull off and immediately removed the horses’ hay bags. We did not want to dump it because it is an invasive species. So we had no choice but to keep going and again keep our eyes out for another hay source.

We finally came to a place with another pasture and a lot of oil type construction equipment. We pulled into the parking lot. No one was around, so we went uphill to a prefab house and knocked on the door. A man soon answered the door. He was older, shirtless, and had a big belly. His belt was unbuckled. I, who was standing by the side of the door, thought for a moment he was naked and that his belt was his, ahem, Johnson. He said no, he had no hay, and no one around had any hay. We tried to keep him talking, but this was in this instance not to our advantage because he began running off at the mouth about how there was no such thing as climate change, this is “just the point of view of environmentalists who are against development.”

We cut the conversation short, said thank you, and headed back downhill. On the way we saw a woman exiting the faded yellow construction building – I trotted over to her and asked if she knew of anyone who had hay. Helen, very soft spoken, said yes, she had friends who would be able to help us out.

She made a call and in minutes we followed her (in our vehicles) uphill. Her friends, a middle aged couple who own some draft horses, were a lovely pair who were incredibly helpful. They had hay to spare and helped us unload the questionable stuff (into a trailer headed to the dump) and load up the good stuff. The entire process took an hour. We also spent considerable time swapping stories. I didn’t get their names, but I gave them a hand drawn card and a copy of Raudi’s Story. I also told them if they ever came to Alaska that they’d have a place to stay. It was the best I could do, but clearly not good enough.

It was dusk when we left their place. We couldn’t find the Fort Nelson Rodeo Grounds, either that or what we thought used to be the grounds was now a holding area for oil equipment. We ended up pulling off the road and highlining the horses by a gravel pit. The area was gross so we again slept in the truck. Maybe tomorrow will be a more generic day.

Next; 143. 5/25/19: Another Day is Another Day


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