Through our deft management of credit cards, we have amassed a pretty impressive amount of Marriott points. Last night we were hoping to cash some of them. But Fairbanks is as popular as it is expensive and the one Marriott property here was sold out. Seedy looking motels by the side of the road go for $100 a night and something like a Super Eight can go for $200. So we did what we do best and camped.
The Chena River Rec Area is an island of trees bordered by busy roads and strip malls. There is also a nearby runway so all night we were serenaded by trucks and odd assortment of bush planes and commercial jets. We could smell but not see the river and for the first time this trip the mosquitoes were out in full force. They really liked the damp area near the fire so Corey and I sipped our wine a good ten yards away while Henna read in the tent. It rained during the night which made the insects worse in the morning.
We were packed and in our car by eight and at a good diner before nine. In Tok we caught a nail in a wheel and were lucky to have it plugged a few miles later. Maybe 600 miles and several opinions later we decided to get new tires and I am writing you now from a tire shop. One of the people working here is from Bridgeport. He moved her in ’99 and when I asked him if he ever missed Chicago he said no and alluded to all the violence he hears about on television. He did not believe me when I tell him that Jefferson Park (a nearby neighborhood with about the same population as Fairbanks) probably has a lower crime rate than his adopted city. A very quick google search suggests I may be right.
A little while later I met another former south sider also working in the same tire shop. He moved to Fairbanks ten years ago with his sister who was in the military. A very dignified and personable man, he has lived all over the U.S. and loves the mountains. But he has yet to visit Denali National Park or anywhere else outside of Fairbanks. When I asked him why he told me he has a bad sense of direction. He seemed surprised when I told him that there is only one road leading to the park meaning it would be impossible for him to get lost.
So I sit typing away while Corey and Henna both read in the car. We hoped to be on the road by ten. It is past noon and we are still waiting for the tires to come from across town. And we also need to visit the Verizon store in order to fix Corey’s phone. We hope to get to Chicken, Alaska tonight. The place is supposedly called Chicken because the first residents spotted a bunch of Ptarmigan but could not agree on how to pronounce them. So they went with what they taste like. Right now this seems to sum up the state.
(note: shortly after writing that Corey told me she was taking a walk and then the tires came in and our car went up on the lift. In a panic I raced to the car afraid that Henna was still inside, oblivious to the car being serviced. She was not in the car and is assumedly with Corey on her walk).