North to Alaska - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-23-2003, 01:35 PM   #1
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North to Alaska

So what you might ask? Well I'll tell you. A little over two years ago the doc told me I had an advanced cancer and he wanted to know what I wished to do about it. Nothing I told him. Cancer is as good a way as any to go. And so we let things run while we hit the road in Grandma's little small house.

You can share some of those trips on our web site at:

http://groups.msn.com/KenJamesPhotoAlbum/_...?pgmarket=en-ca

And oh did we see some sights! The prairies rolled by on the way to the Black Hills and I thought of the fortunes I'd squandered on wine women and song - the rest I just wasted. I never could sing worth a lick so I donít miss that much. We gawked up at the falls in Yosemite, and down into the chasm at Yellowstone. Stared over the rim in wonder at Bryce Canyon and marveled at the natural stone arches of Utah. We had seen it all. And then it came to me. No, you have not seen it all. You have not seen Alaska!

As a boy I sat spellbound in front of the campfire while an old-timer recited The Cremation Of Sam McGee, by Robert Service, from memory. I printed out that poem today and stuffed it into my camera case. I want to read those verses into the night on the marge of Lake Labarge ... and I will do so this trip!


The Cremation of Sam McGee
There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.
Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows.
Why he left his home in the South to roam 'round the Pole, God only knows.
He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell;
Though he'd often say in his homely way that he'd "sooner live in hell".
On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail.
Talk of your cold! through the parka's fold it stabbed like a driven nail.
If our eyes we'd close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn't see;
It wasn't much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee.
And that very night, as we lay packed tight in our robes beneath the snow,
And the dogs were fed, and the stars o'erhead were dancing heel and toe,
He turned to me, and "Cap," says he, "I'll cash in this trip, I guess;
And if I do, I'm asking that you won't refuse my last request."
Well, he seemed so low that I couldn't say no; then he says with a sort of moan:
"It's the cursed cold, and it's got right hold till I'm chilled clean through to the bone.
Yet 'tain't being dead -- it's my awful dread of the icy grave that pains;
So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you'll cremate my last remains."
A pal's last need is a thing to heed, so I swore I would not fail;
And we started on at the streak of dawn; but God! he looked ghastly pale.
He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day of his home in Tennessee;
And before nightfall a corpse was all that was left of Sam McGee.
There wasn't a breath in that land of death, and I hurried, horror-driven,
With a corpse half hid that I couldn't get rid, because of a promise given;
It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say:
"You may tax your brawn and brains,
But you promised true, and it's up to you to cremate those last remains."
Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code.
In the days to come, though my lips were dumb, in my heart how I cursed that load.
In the long, long night, by the lone firelight, while the huskies, round in a ring,
Howled out their woes to the homeless snows -- O God! how I loathed the thing.
And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow;
And on I went, though the dogs were spent and the grub was getting low;
The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, but I swore I would not give in;
And I'd often sing to the hateful thing, and it hearkened with a grin.
Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge, and a derelict there lay;
It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice it was called the "Alice May".
And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, and I looked at my frozen chum;
Then "Here," said I, with a sudden cry, "is my cre-ma-tor-eum."
Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, and I lit the boiler fire;
Some coal I found that was lying around, and I heaped the fuel higher;
The flames just soared, and the furnace roared -- such a blaze you seldom see;
And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I stuffed in Sam McGee.
Then I made a hike, for I didn't like to hear him sizzle so;
And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled, and the wind began to blow.
It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks, and I don't know why;
And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking down the sky.
I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear;
But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near;
I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: "I'll just take a peep inside.
I guess he's cooked, and it's time I looked"; . . . then the door I opened wide.
And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: "Please close that door.
It's fine in here, but I greatly fear you'll let in the cold and storm --
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it's the first time I've been warm."
There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

--- Robert Service
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Old 07-23-2003, 03:29 PM   #2
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Ken ... hook up and hit the road!
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Old 07-23-2003, 05:30 PM   #3
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All of us are gonna die...not all of us will see Alaska. Good for you! Have a great trip!
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Old 07-23-2003, 11:49 PM   #4
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Thanks folks! We're feedin' the huskies and loading the sleigh, we'll mush out of here Sunday morning to retrace the goldrush up through the Fraser Canyon of British Columbia and on up to mile "O" of the Alaska Highway at Dawson Creek. Then we'll spend a leisurely month taking in the scenery before returning via the Cassiar route.

We'll miss our daily dropins at this forum though:wave
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Old 07-23-2003, 11:58 PM   #5
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Have a wonderful trip, Ken & Di!

Nancy
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Old 07-24-2003, 07:46 AM   #6
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pictures ... we like pictures ... lots of pictures!
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Old 07-27-2003, 08:18 AM   #7
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Mush you huskies - we're off!
.................................

There's a land where the mountains are nameless,
And the rivers all run God knows where;
There are lives that are erring and aimless,
And deaths that just hang by a hair;
There are hardships that nobody reckons;
There are valleys unpeopled and still;
There's a land -- oh, it beckons and beckons,
And I want to go back -- and I will.

.......................................

See you all in September.
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