Home > Trip > Dispatches > Daily Dispatches 2013 > Daily Dispatch #189

September 30, 2013: Winter Camping

We woke up this morning to snow on the ground, two inches, wet, heavy stuff. It reminded me of the time in which I was bicycling through the Yukon and woke up and opened to door of my Sierra Designs Starflight tent and noted that, overnight, it had snowed 4-5 inches.

Pete wanted to eat out. I said no, just to be arbitrary. So we ate our oatmeal breakfast in the shelter. Last night we ate dinner in it, and also got a woodstove fire going. I must say that the Yukon has the best campgrounds; shelters and an ample supply of wood. If only all were this way. . . .

The drive to Beaver Creek and the border crossing was slow. There was

snow in the air, slush on the road. Tires made a slosh, sloosh sound. Pete, when asked, said the road was slippery. As I looked out at the landscape, now gray, I realized that we really had pushed hard on the weather window. Ya takes your chances, that is for sure.

By the time we pulled into the customs station, we were, to say in the least, bedraggled. We hadn’t showered in over a week, and hadn’t gotten haircuts in over three months. I wanted to explain to the customs officials that we’d been camping, most recently spending nights in the back of the man truck, but knew this was a moot point. They see our type all the time. And as they believe, stories obscure the truth.

The truth be known-- we were assisted by a plump, slow moving woman with a wraparound birthmark under her chin. Assisted is not the right word, but I’m going to use it anyways. She told us to park the truck and come into the station; my hope was that she might invite us in for scones and tea. This, of course, was not the case. It’s never the case. I suspect that in customs school they advise people, especially women, to be taciturn and discourage any and all forms of socialization. In addition, they must undergo insensitivity training. It should be the opposite. It’s not like the majority are gun toting psychopaths harboring fugitives and illegal arms in our trailers.

Pete and I are now experienced border crossers. Our unwritten rule of thumb is don’t converse with customs agents. Rather, be quiet and simply answer any and all questions politely and to the best of our knowledge.

It seems to me that each and every agent wants something different, or focuses on something different every time we attempt to toe the line. This time we were supposedly lacking our federal veterinary paperwork. The agent flipped through all our pages, then announced that she could not find this. Pete politely pointed to the embossed stamp at the top of one of the pages. The woman went “uhh huhh” and then schlepped all our paperwork over to the copier, where she began making photocopies. She was slow, so this seemed to take forever. In the meantime, I scanned the walls for something to read or focus on. There was nothing except an empty frame under the Obama photo. Yes, Vice President Joe Biden was missing. “What gives?” I mumbled. Fortunately no one heard me.

The woman finally lumbered back to the counter and after again sorting and laying out pages, sighed, and picked up the stapler. I then relaxed, for I know that the stapler’s appearance means that everything is okay. Click, click, click. Done, she pushed the paperwork over to our side of the table, and in a quasi-cheerful voice said, “Welcome home!” I bit my tongue and refrained from what I most wanted to say, which was “Why didn’t you say this when we walked in the door?”

We trudged outside, and checked in on the horses, who were happily eating their hay. No worries with them. We then got back in the truck. Ryder had begun chewing on the Montana Gazetteer. No worries there either, for we would not be returning to Montana in the near foreseeable future.

We continued on, stopping in Tok to pick up some lunch food. We ate sandwiches outside the visitor’s center, which was closed. By now, the sun was visible. There was a light drizzle, but nothing we could not deal with. Done, we headed back in the direction of home, to the land of spindly black spruce, closed rest areas, and shot out road signs.

We camped next to the Little Nelchina River, in the primitive campsite area. Nice, to have an outhouse, and a place for high-lining. As I told Pete, when your needs are simple, it is easier to be pleased. We were now just a mere two hours from home. I told the horses this, and added that they’d soon be back in their own paddock. “Promises, promises,” Signy said.

Next: 190: 9/2/13: Boundaries