follow the flow
a travel journal and photography journey
When we missed the ferry we were supposed to catch from Prince Rupert to Juneau, we decided to wait to get the next one 3 days later. And when we somehow couldn’t book that ferry online, and there was no space left when we arrived at the ferry terminal early the morning-of to book it, Terence and I looked at each other, knowingly. If the door doesn’t open, it’s not your door, I thought. We looked at the driving time from Prince Rupert to Juneau. 1 day, 2 hours. Let’s. Fuckin. Do it.
It was June 17th, and the idea of being in Alaska by the Summer Solstice had been planted in our brains early on in our journeys. But it was clear in this moment that something wasn’t right, and we needed to release the grip on our plans a bit. I was sad, but I was hopeful.
We arrived in Whitehorse, YT the next evening. And as we were driving through the little city, though it was a gloomy day, Terence and I said to each other there’s something that feels good about this place… though we didn’t know what, yet.
The next morning we were enjoying the sunshine by this little lake spot we had found, and felt properly nourished by the full days rest. We were gearing up to do another full day drive towards Alaska, when a man pulled his car up next to us. He said he worked for the city—he finds the places that have a lot of abandoned trash, and then plans a playful gathering where there is a BBQ and a community clean up. There wasn’t much trash where we were, but he stayed and chatted anyway.
Within about 5 minutes, he, Terence and I were talking about psychedelics, travel stories, and great biking trails in the area. His name was Pierre, and he swiftly invited us to go on a bike ride with him and his wife, Stella, to park our van in his driveway and sleep there if we wanted, to do laundry, or shower, or anything else we needed. Wow, that is so generous of you! we said. Hey, I was a traveler once too, he said. He seemed discouraged that we were planning to leave so soon—he had made a friend, and we felt the same way.
When he left a little while later, after an exchange of phone numbers, Terence and I both knew what we were going to do. We were going to stay an extra day, and see what fruit this connection bears. We had to. It honestly felt like the universe was reaching out a hand to guide us to where we really needed to be. I felt a relaxation in my body after this exchange, as though I were calmly floating in the current of a cool stream. I’m so grateful that something had shifted in Terence and I a few days earlier, after we missed the ferry—our sensitivities heightened and our barriers softened, to feel such a delicate and delightful gesture from the unknown.
The next day we enjoyed the sunshine, we ate delicious food from this friggen amazing and teeny tiny market that had all of my favorite things (cacao nibs, avocado chips, free-range meat, coconut bliss, organic fruits and vegetables, bulk nuts and seeds, yummmmmm), we met up with Pierre and met his kids and his wife, we biked (and I fell and got a really impressive bruise but hey, I’m alive!), we talked while lazing on comfy couches about couples therapy, yoga, and experiences with medicines, and then had a deep and long nights rest.
When we left the next morning, after saying goodbye to our new friends and promising to let them know when we would be coming back through, we didn’t know exactly where we would be by that night. It was the Summer Solstice, and after all our ideas, excitements, and plans of being in our fantasy land of Big Wild Alaska, celebrating in Anchorage or Juneau or Girdwood, instead we were on the road, on our way to a place called Dawson City. A place which Pierre had told us was a worthwhile place to visit…little did we know what we were in for as the cool current of the universe ushered us forward…
Dawson City, for those that haven’t visited, is a tiny town that was established during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896. It’s a really fun and quirky town, with frontier-style buildings that have been preserved, and roads kept naturally un-paved, keeping the feeling of being in the early 1900s while living modern lives. We rolled into the town around 11:30pm. The sun was still so high and it was fascinating and discombobulating to our senses. There weren’t any Solstice celebrations happening in Dawson that we could see other than bars that were open and people drinking in the streets, which really isn’t our scene. So we used our iOverlander app to find a wild-camping spot, and decided to call it a night.
As we drove up this mountain range right behind Dawson, we began seeing cars, big rigs, people, dogs. Then instruments, beers, cameras, and 360 views of Dawson and beyond. We drove straight ahead and into a parking spot perfectly suited for the van, with shocked looks on our faces. Within minutes of arriving, somebody says to Terence g-day mate, how-ya-goin? in that quintessential Auzzie way which T and I know so well. T swings his head around to respond with well g-day, how you goin? His name was Donald, his friend was Mark, their friend was Jess, and their friends were now us.
What followed was nothing short of the best and most unexpected adventure of our van trip so far. We had found ourselves on top of a mountain, with live music, new friends, and a full panoramic view of the Solstice Sun only dipping below the horizon for a total of 2 hours, leaving the sky bright all night with pink and yellow hues. We snuggled in with these kind and rambunctious few on the roof-deck of Delilah, with pillows and the comforter from our bed, sipping on hot drinks, eating cherries, and laughing all through the night (or shall I say, day), radiating in the strange beauty of this deep night sun.
We're in Anchorage now. Yes, we made it to Alaska, and are about to go for a four day hike and camp journey. But we got here when we were supposed to. And I'm so glad we didn't get here a moment sooner.