Home > Dispatches > Daily Dispatches 2014 > Daily Dispatch #208

July 31, 2014: Road Trip

Yesterday we packed it up and headed to Fairbanks, in part because Pete and I both needed a break from the ongoing routine. We wanted to visit with friends. And I wanted to meet with James Engelhardt, the University of Alaska Press acquisitions editor. We didn’t have much time to prepare for this great adventure. It was sort of like Bilbo Baggins’s having to pack it up and embark on his Lord of the Rings adventure. Used to be that I didn’t think much about embarking upon an adventure before setting out on it. Now it seems like this is a pre-requisite for embarking upon an adventure.

We returned to Cloudberry Lane where I “landed” in 1985, shortly after finishing a bicycle trip in Fairbanks. I immediately took to cabin life. The cabin was situated on property that was owned by Sean McGuire and his family. Life there can only be described as being “semi-communal.” The denizens had their own places, but were of like mind – politically and ecologically active. There was indeed a strong sense of community amongst all the Cloudberry Road residents back then.

One couple, Bill and Nancy Fuller, lived on adjoining property. Pete (who moved in with me in 1986) and I became good friends with the pair. We kept in touch after we left in 1989, and resumed the friendship in 2003, after our return to Alaska.

Bill died in July, 2007. He was then in his 80s. His wife Nancy, his daughter Emily, and his two grandchildren, Jarrett and Jasmine, survived him. Nancy, now 89, has been spending her winters with her family in Katy, Texas and her summers at her Cloudberry Road place. She can no longer do this. So she’s going to sell the property and perhaps make a permanent move to Katy.

During the course of our visit, the entire family was packing up and moving out stuff. It did not seem to me that there was any logic behind the group’s organizational skills, though I could be wrong. I ended up taking on the long-term role of archivist. Emily was going to toss Bill’s journals when I intervened. I later retreated in Bill’s study and retrieved photos, books, letters, journals, and personal memorabilia. I then told everyone present that I’d keep this material safe until someone in the family expressed an interest in having it.

I will go through it slowly, and in time I’ll sort it out. Bill, I think, would be pleased that I took on this task.

There were many amazing coincidences, coincidence being an unexpected happenstance. One was that in the later afternoon Pete appeared with something that I’d been looking for some time – that is Bill’s Swiss Army Knife. After Bill’s death I even went into his study looking for it. I wanted it because I knew that it was something Bill had carried with him for many years. I saw that Pete had it, and literally grabbed it out of his hands. Odd, to have wanted this very item and to now have it in hand.

I’m okay with being Bill’s archivist. And I might consider being Bill’s biographer. I felt a kinship with Bill – artist, actor, poet, musician. And perhaps a complicated soul. In going through his papers, I might get to know him better. Right now I don’t know why this is important – but it is.

Next: 209. 8/1/14: Onward and Upward with the Arts