Saturday, September 7, 2013

Alaska Omnibus Part 11

Alaska Omnibus

Part 11

From our camp we walked towards glacier. We were 4 people. I, my friend Rajan and a young American couple.

A Glacier near our campsite
After meadow it was all mud and slush and as ice started we were on the firm ice of glacier. We all four kept going up and up, there was a maze of crevices, many were hundreds of feet deep slits in the ice. Some we jumped across and some we went around. Then this girl with us slipped and fell down in one that was about 10 feet deep. She was bruised and her ankle sprained. As she walked to a bit higher area of it, but that turned out soft snow and she sunk even further. Her husband panicked. Cell-phones do not work there.

We walked over this glacier
Now this girl was more than 15 feet deep. We all three removed our pants and shirts and made a rope. She climbed with that rope and as her hands were accessible we pulled her out. Now we were scared to go any further so we retraced our foot prints and walked towards meadow that was 2 kilometers away. Girl was bruised and sprained but was still able to walk. After the meadow, we found some dry wood and made tea on my homemade wood stove that requires only a fistful of wood chips to boil the water. We never carry milk so we drink black tea but anyway we were drinking ledum tea (wild rosemary) that grows all over in Alaskan bogs. Tea felt so good in those circumstances that we have to make it 3 times because at a time we could only make and serve 2 cups.

Near our campsite
So we returned to the campsite at 5PM. Day was sunny and it felt like noon. We walked around and scavenged wood that was not much available here because jungles were thin and trees were stunted. All we gathered were spruce needles and some wet bark. So we have to cook on the gas stove. We decided to take a walk on the main road.

Glacier view from our campsite. We walked to this glacier.
We walked several kilometers. Occasionally a bear, fox, wolf or badger crossed the road. I remembered a small coffee shop on the road so we kept walking. It turned out that coffee shop was about eight kilometers and we had coffee there and returned to our campsite. We were about to make food but this young couple invited us for dinner; they came here on an RV and had a fully equipped kitchen.
We went to sleep at 9PM whereas Alaskan sun was still on the zenith.

Near our campsite
We woke up next day and left early because we had to drive to Haines that was 1200 kilometers. We covered only half the distance that day because we made several stops to make tea and lunch etc. We spent night in the wilderness of Yukon, Canada.

Next day we arrived at Haines Junction at 3PM, From Haines Junction we left Alaska Highway and turned towards Haines. Haines Junction to Haines road is one of the most scenic roads in the world. It passes through the glaciers, snowy mountains and then it descends to Haines in a narrow ravine.

We arrived at Haines at 5PM. At the port we booked Ferry for Juneau for the next day at 11PM, Juneau is the capital of Alaska and a most scenic place in the world. We camped at Chilkat State Park in Haines. Ocean is at three sides of this park.

Haines Highway
Now again tress were huge and green and bald eagles were nesting on each trees. We picked our site next to the water, sea was so silent that many times I mistaken it with fresh water of a lake.

Many people were catching fishes here, everyone had bag full of salmon fish. It was already supper time and most campers were grilling salmon fish on the grills and everyone wondered about why we don’t eat this fish that is prized for its taste.

Glaciers, picture taken from Ferry
Wood was abundant in this park but it was mostly damp but finally it caught up fire. We had drinks and cooked food. We could see Alaska ferry making its trip. Ours this campsite was the most scenic campsites we ever visited. There were high mountains with huge glaciers on the one side and still ocean at the 3 sides and huge spruce trees.

From our camp
We caught Alaska Ferry (Alaska Marine Highway System) from Haines at 11AM. These ferries are bigger that a village and carry hundreds of cars, trucks, goods and passengers. These are very efficient and transportation arrangements are very fast paced. It was only 3 hours of journey so we didn’t book any stateroom on the boat.
This whole passage is in between the fjords. On the both side of the boat were lush green mountains full of snow at the top. We saw several glaciers emerging from the mountains and hanging upon the ocean. All cars and trucks stayed on the car decks below. We arrived at Juneau port at 2PM. Only way to come to Juneau is either by air or by boat. It is not connected with roads with Canada or USA. On its east side are impassible high mountains and glaciers.

Juneau Tramway
There was a huge cruise ship standing on the Juneau port and bazaar was buzzing with the tourists it brought. Most of the cruise ship staffers were Indians. It was higher that 12 story building, we could look inside it; there were ball rooms with 30 feet high ceilings. Ship departed gracefully at 4PM. We stayed there to watch it move. It moved without generating any waves. It just moved laterally, very gracefully and then it shot forward silently and without disturbing any water.

Glaciers, picture taken from Ferry
After the cruise ship left, Juneau port market area went deserted and we drove on the Glacier highway towards wilderness. Road entered in the wilderness and we kept following it. It became a dirt pass and then ended near a river.

Salmon fishes were making a frantic run upstream to get back to their birth place to die. Bears were busy catching and eating the fishes. We ignored them and they ignored us.

Glaciers, picture taken from Ferry
Road went nowhere now and it ended at the base of mountains. Endless summer sunlight was melting the snows so everywhere were waterfalls crashing and land was shaking with the impact. Our car got stuck in the soft ground and it refused to move anyway. We gave up trying and made a camp there.
We walked to the river and watched the salmon fishes jumping and climbing the rocks and bears trying to catch them. Occasionally a fight broke out among bears but fish was plenty.

While we were having drinks we cooked our food, then a usual long walk before going to sleep. Drinks helped us to sleep under the thunder of water falls. One a while some ice wall fell in the sea and was an explosion.
Next day we took the ferry to Prince Rupert. It was an overnight ferry so we booked a stateroom. Prince Rupert area became visible about 2 hours before our boat was scheduled to arrive. Scenes were mesmerizing. There were lots of activities in the ocean. We saw whole goods trains loaded on the boats. Prince Rupert has huge lumber industry. Boats were taking saw dusts from the mills to power-plants those burn that dust. Sulfur was being loaded and unloaded in the ships. Whole area was lush green and sea was blue; it was a feast for the eyes.

Near Prince Rupert
We arrived at Prince Rupert at 10AM. Since we took the boat from USA and Prince Rupert is in Canada so there was Canadian immigration. Form Prince Rupert we drove for 2 long days to return to Vancouver at Rajan’s home.
Vancouver itself is so beautiful and someday I will invite you at another Omnibus to take you there.
Next day Rajan dropped me at Seattle Airport and I arrived in New Jersey at early morning after 6 hours flight.
This ended our Alaska Odyssey.
Omni bus arrived to its terminal.

Alaska Omnibus Part 10

We left Fairbanks and it started snowing. Anyway after Fairbanks to Anchorage was suppose to be all white showy and icy. However this is the most traveled part of Alaska because these are the only two major cities here with major airliners making scheduled flights.
Road is now slippery and temperature has dropped to uncomfortable zone in this mid June. Fairbanks to Anchorage is about 600 kilometers and Fairbanks to Denali is about 200 kilometers. Before Denali road becomes very scenic and mountainous. Denali National park is 6 million acres situated in the middle of Alaska and highest peak of North America Mount McKinley is situated here. After crossing the river comes a small scenic Denali village and then comes the entrance of park. First we had a cup of coffee at the restaurant and then we went to reception and that was full of people and all campsites accessible by cars were full.

From Fairbanks to Anchorage, Denali Area
However cars can only go upto 15 mile post. Or one must take a park shuttle bus that makes a 15 hours round trips. It drops off hikers at their desired point and they can return to the road and wait for the next bus. One must carry sleeping bag, tent and all the food for the duration of stay.
We decided not to visit the park because already we were spending our time in the wilderness so we moved on. Luckily snow was not falling anymore but it was very cold. In the evening we looked at the watch and it was 11PM. It looked like evening because sky was heavy with fog.

From Fairbanks to Anchorage, Denali Area
We went to 2 motels but since it was nighttime so nobody opened the door for us. We saw a large river where water was gushing from the mountains with great roar. There was no other flat spot to erect the tent but bank of the river was flat icy. We left the car and hid it behind a cluster of trees and bushes, walked down to river and arranged our camp on the ice. Cooked out dinner and repacked cooking gear in the car. As we were going to sleep in the tent, in our sleeping bags; we noticed that ice was full of little crawling worms but it was too late and we were very tired and cold and wanted to sleep badly. Our eyes were tired because of looking at everything white.
When we woke up in the morning around 7AM, day was clear and it was sunrise.

From Fairbanks to Anchorage, Denali Area
A nasty surprise hit us as we opened out tent. We were in the water. Our ice shelf broke away by gushing water and it slipped in the river. Actually it was slowly moving in the shallow roaring muddy water. It was also not tilted. Somehow I jumped in the freezing water and made it to bank. Rajan packed up tent, sleeping bags in a rush and threw everything one by one to me and luckily I caught everything. As we were packing everything in our car, that ice shelf completely turned and took a roll in the chocolate water with a crashing sound.

From Fairbanks to Anchorage, Denali Area
When we went to sleep it was evening like because of heavy sky but then it cleared up and sun melted more ice from the glacier in front of us and flood took away our ice shelf. We were lucky and another lesson learned in Alaska.
We hit the road again in the breathtaking scenes. Sunlight lit all the valleys and glaciers and created mesmerizing views. On the way we stopped to make tea next to a clear water river. Bank of river was shining with many crystals. I gathered many colorful transparent stones and these turned out Ruby Crystal, Crystal quartz, Amethysts and more colors. In 2 hours we were in the suburbs of Anchorage.

Whales in the sea near Anchorage
After another huge river that was fed from a glacier on the mountain in our front, we stopped in a McDonald and had pancakes and apple-pies.
Now the city of Anchorage started. It is a bustling city in these latitudes. Oil wealth and tourism runs this city. We drove to the downtown and took a room in a hotel because we both wanted a hot water bath first. We were in bad shape after wading in the muddy icy glacier melt.
We had a hot bath, shaved and took our clothes to a Laundromat in the street. At 2PM we walked in the downtown and saw the sign of Anchorage Museum so we entered in it.

Anchorage in winter
It was a very nice museum. Then we walked in the streets of Anchorage and walked to the sea shore. A crowd was gathered there and we got curious. They all were watching up the whales in the water and we too waited. Whales again came out of water and begun jumping and tail slapping. Some were emitting a fountain of water when exhaling. They stayed there for another half hour and then went away.
We returned in the downtown area and walked and then at night (still sunlight).

We ate our supper in an Indian restaurant and then more walk and finally we went to our room to sleep on the real bed and in a real heated room.
We woke up in the morning and prepared our return. Loaded the car and said good bye to happy town of Anchorage. This time we took a different route to get to Alaska Highway. We bye passed Fairbanks. This was Glenn Highway it meets Alaska Highway at Tok Junction; after 550 kilometers. This highway passes through wilderness. At 2 PM prepared our camp in Nelchina Park.

Denali View
We were again in the wolf and bear territory. Badgers were everywhere. We erected our tent by a lake full of swans. A large glacier was visible from our camp in South-East. That was not more than 2 miles from us. After we had tea and cooked lunch, we decided to take a walk on the glacier.
As we were walking in that direction, we chatted with a young couple; they asked us to wait for us and they will also go to glacier with us. We took a path and walked one mile in the jungle and then path cleared up and there was a ranch where someone was raising reindeers.
undefined After this ranch we crossed the river that was coming from this glacier on a wooden foot bridge that went to reindeer grazing meadow ending at the edge of the glacier. A man approached us, he cautioned us about the glacier that several people died in the cervices of the glacier. He was relieved to know that we were four people so to rescue anyone who falls in the crevice.

Alaska Omnibus Part 9

Alaska Omnibus

Water Airplane at the lake
Teddy offers us our previous campsite where he has not erected his tent yet but we invested a substantial time to setup our home here at this new place and it is a big nuisance to fold up the tent and everything again so we decline.
Fat girl comes on her motorized golf cart to collect the daily rent.
“Hey guys, last night food was yummy. Hope you won’t mind teaching me how to cook the eggplants in your Indian way like the last night. I bought eggplants from Haines Junction.”
Now Teddy is even happier and he leaves us singing.
And those eggplants we cooked were not even close to Indian way, but may be Mediterranean style but I don’t mention it to her.

A Marsh
So we have party that night in the swooshing camp fire. We need not to scavenge wood from the forest because Janie brings us tons of leftover wood from other campsites on her golf cart. This time we make proper baingan bhurta. We first roast the baingans on the fire and then remove all the soft pulp. We fry onions, garlic and ginger paste, tomato puree and then add baingan pulp and let it cook for some time. Janie is watching it all with hungry eyes but wants to eat it prematurely but we prevent her in vein.
We are cooking while drinking.

Store at the Alaska Highway
Teddy takes just one drink and he gets drunk and begins stammering.
He asks to me, “Eddie, have you ever killed something in your life?”
Eddie (I) says while raising his (my) both hands, “What do you think, these hands are made of cotton candy?”
“Come come Eddie, tell me what you killed?”
“Couple of thousands of mosquitoes; just 2 days ago.”
Teddy roars into a laugh.
Fatso also takes a light drink and I and Rajan share the rest of the bottle and we are drunk.
Teddy and fatso eat all the baingan bhurta even before it is fully done and without any bread and we all are still hungry.

Abandoned cars in Wilderness
Teddy tells us the rest of his story. His wife died and he buried her, bought a newest model Jaguar and set off to Alaska. He drove 14000 kilometers so far to get here. His car broke down twice. Once it was the problem with engine; a piston ring blew. Then he hit a pothole near Dawson City while driving at 100 km/hr. Both towing and repairs cost him more than seventeen thousand dollars. He envied us that we were using a beaten down Toyota Corolla that already had more than 3 hundred thousand kilometers on the odometer. He only wished; had he brought some inexpensive car that he could have ditched in the wilderness and hitch hiked to the next place where he could have bought another used one.

A lake near Fairbanks
So we begin another round of cooking. Teddy brings us canned beans, avocado and breads. We make a grand tadka of beans and this time we put lots of spices to deter Teddy and Fatso but that proves ineffective, that too is gone.
They think it is the appetizer and real course of cooking will still have to begin. Anyway it is now nine o clock of night but it is like noon here in Alaska. We have nothing left except daal and rice. So we make daal again but this time I fill up the pressure cooker with water so it becomes soup. I also add Ledum in the daal; Fatso says that it is called wild rosemary in Alaska and they use it to marinate the meat as seasoning.
Result is a great daal-soup.

Boats in a lake
We only have only 3 pots, one pressure cooker, one small pot to make tea and one is small frying pan. So we wait for the daal to be cooked then we will use pressure cooker again for rice. After eating watery daal and rice, Tun Tun leaves us to have a proper supper of bear meat at her RV. She says she will be cooking the liver of the bear and we are invited us but we decline.

It is difficult to sleep in this sunlight at night so we take another hike in the serene mountains, lakes and rivers, and effect of liquor wanes out in walking in the cold air. We walk among the many huge muses and bisons, once a while we hear the howling of a wolf. Around midnight it appears that sun is about to set so we return to our tent and try to sleep. Finally it gets dark and we see the dance of northern lights in the sky. Sky fills up with colorful lights. Lights form and vanish and change colors at these latitudes.

We wake up in the morning to find that our kitchen wares are all in disarray because we forgot to lock everything in the boot of our car. Bears broke the plastic containers with sugar and tea etc. Teddy is gone, he had very long journey ahead. He was to go to Fairbanks and then to Purdue Bay, where Alaska oil pipe line originates from frozen seas. From there he was to charter a ski-plane to Nome and then return to Purdue Bay and then he was to come to Anchorage and then back 20,000 kilometers to Key West Florida. Teddy took the whole length of I-95 from Miami, entered in Canada after crossing St. Lawrence River near Montreal. From there he took Route 1 within the Canada to all the way to Alaska. Route one passes through the back of great lakes amidst the untouched pristine wilderness that spreads for thousands and thousands of miles. On our next trip to Alaska we did the same.

Road near Denali
We have no sugar or tea now so we walk to the elderly couple campers and ask them for some sugar and coffee powder; they give us gladly. Nothing else is left to prepare breakfast so we pack up our car and leave behind the wilderness for the further expanse of wilderness that is spread for thousands of miles around us.

View before Whitehorse
We arrive at Haines Junction at 9AM and there we have breakfast in a restaurant, we but some provisions from a small supermarket there and then leave towards Fairbanks in Alaska (USA) that is still 800 kilometers. We drive 350 kilometers and enter in USA without any event. We stop at several lakes but we are always apprehensive that car may not start again but it starts after we cooled starter with water. At one place car stall after a long climb and our water bottle is empty so we let the engine cool down for a while and then we aim our own water on the starter and it too works.

Alaska Highway near
At USA border, there is a huge 18 wheeler truck parked pending inspections. Insignia of Khalsa is printed in the back. We are cleared to go but then officer asks us if we mind helping someone who speaks our language. We agree and park our car.
Mr. Harjit Singh, 5 feet tall, a fat Sikh wearing a yellow turban, a Khalsa Khanda (half sword) hanging from his waist greets us with a smile.
“You can call me Khalsa,” he says.
He knows only Punjabi and is hauling a load of oil rigging machinery to Purdue Bay at the arctics. We become his translator with immigration officers and everything goes smooth. In 25 minutes he too is cleared to proceed into USA. He slowly hauls away his huge rig.
After some distance we see a cafe and stop there to have a coffee. A plump girl who appears Punjabi is running this small cafe. I try to start conversation with her in Punjabi but then I realize that she is not Punjabi because she is not understanding what I said to her. Same thing happens with Rajan then we concluded that the girl is Hispanic. As we are sipping our coffee outside and looking at the snowy mountains, Khalsa’s truck also arrives and he cames out from his huge truck.
He is barely 5 feet tall and walks magisterially like a bear.
He waves us and goes in and buys a coffee and joins us.
“That girl looks Punjabi,” he says.
“Well we tried Punjabi but it turns out she is not Punjabi after all.”
“I also tried but I think she is Punjabi.”
“I don’t think so.”
“Want to bet 10 dollars,” Harjit asked.
“OK, man. You will lose.”
Khalsa enters in the cafe and we follow him. He asks the girl in Punjabi is she has fresh milk for the coffee, but girl shows no symptoms that she understood what he said.
Then Khalsa uses some juiciest derogatory Punjabi abuses at that girl.
Now this girl explodes and in return she stars shouting abuses in Punjabi … “You dogs from some place in Punjab ….”
We cannot not stop our laugh and ran out, behind us Khalsa also came running out because this girl was threatening to call the police.
Khalsa didn’t take 10 bucks from us. He gives us 4 aaloo parothas that he himself cooked in Calgary.
This Punjabi girl was also ashamed of her Indian Origin.
Khalsa arrived in Canada after Operation Blue Star. He gunned down several (he said, at least 20) Biharies day wagers in Punjab. He was against all the people who come to Punjab to find work. He was proud of what he did but when I asked him that Punjabi people are all over world so others should also kill Punjabi people there that includes Canada and USA. He had no reply for that. He only regretted that he only killed about 20 bhaiyas with AK-47, he would and should have killed many more. He arrived in Canada on bogus passport and visa because in those days passports were hand written and visas were just colored stamps. Cleaver people found trick to duplicate both. He applied for Political Asylum in Canada and was granted. When India government presented proofs of his crimes, his Asylum status was revoked and was under appeals. His HAZMAT (Hazard Mateirals) driving license was itself a visa to USA and Mexico if he is accompanied with a legitimate truckloads across the border.
After 100 kilometers in USA, we see a huge bush fires in the north and airplanes are sprinkling up water and some red powder to quench the fires. We spend some time and watch it from the height of our road. Airplanes put down that fire in 2 hours. We are hungry and we have parothas given to us by Mr. Khalsa but after listening to his story and prejudices we don’t even want to touch that polythene bag. I throw it away lifting with a wood. There we take a small diversion in a jungle path and make our lunch.

Alaska, near Denali
Now area is rugged with low rolling hills. It is all permafrost and bogs. Trees are even smaller and stunted. Time and again we are seeing herds of Reindeer and Caribou. Foxes and wolves are all over. Muses were in the bogs, swans and geese in the lakes. Salmon fishes in the cascading rivers, woodland bison on the grassy slopes.

Lake by the campsite
At night while it is still noon like; we stop at a gold mining village and buy provisions and then camp in the wilderness.
Next day as we arrive near Fairbanks, we pass the City of North Pole by a very scenic river. The biggest attraction here is a gift shop named Santa Claus House, the modern-day incarnation of a trading post established in the town’s early days.
While the real North Pole is inaccessible so many travelers discovered this town as an ideal way to finally visit the home of Santa Claus. This revelation made this small town in Alaska a must visit during the holidays causing the town to create more and more Santa Claus themed attractions. Prior to Christmas each year, the USPS post office in North Pole receives hundreds of thousands of letters to Santa Claus, and thousands more from people wanting the town’s postmark on their Christmas greeting cards to their families. It advertises the ZIP code 99705 as the ZIP code of Santa.
We arrive in Fairbanks at noon there we have pizza at Pizza Hut and from a telephone directory there we find a NAPA auto parts store that is not far away. They have the car starter that we want for $60 but we must trade-in the old starter. So I replace the starter at the curb and car is now perfect again.

Lake by the campsite
We drive in the streets of Fairbanks. It is a scenic city with a pretty river and views of the mountains. Northern lights Aurora fireworks dances are visible here at each night. After our days in wilderness, city is not much appealing to us now and we again want to return to wilderness so we drive towards Denali National Park.

Snow starts falling and temperature is dropping.
After some miles snow is getting thicker on the road surface.

Alaska Omnibus Part 8

We are in Yukon, Canada. Near Haines Junction.
We are camping in the wilderness of Kluane National Park.

Birch Trees
Well, since a dead bear is in our neighborhood and probably they are going to butcher it soon. Eagles, ravens, crows and vultures are already gathering around us so we decide to get the hell put of there.
I tell to Teddy, “Hey Teddy, you can take our spot and we will move to some other spot.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes Sir.”
We pick another spot far away and pack up our car again and drive up there. We set up our tent and kitchen.

Near Denali
On the wood fire we make egg bhurzee and then make tea. On our camping, since we have limited pots and limited provisions so we make simplest of the things.
Another thing that we have learned on our long driving trips, that if we wrap up some vegetables, potatoes etc in an aluminum foil, with a little cooking oil and attach this foil at the exhaust manifold with the help of some wire etc. Things get cooked up very well in a couple of hundred of kilometers of car running. Then all we need is some chat masala and salt. Or we can lightly fry it at a campsite or day use picnic area for further enhancement of taste. This works excellent and we did this cooking several times in Alaska. We experimented with many things and all came up fairly well. We made aaloo gobi, arbi, bhindi, baingans etc. etc. on our running car exhaust manifold.

Near Denali
I again got drifted from our Alaska story. So we have a hearty breakfast and then go out for a very long walk in the wilderness. I always keep a small backpack with a small wood burning stove, a small can sized pot to make just 2 cups of tea, tea bags and sugar etc. I made this wood burning stove with an empty coffee can and works well. With a handful of twigs we can make 2 cups of tea. It is a joy to have a hot tea in this cold tundra. This also serves as an excuse to stay at a place for a while. When we stop then our mind too stops for a while.

Near Anchorage
We walk by the lake and thundering rivers surrounded by snowy peaks. Cold air was whistling. To our west were the endless peaks, at their other side they converge down into a huge glacier and it slams into the Pacific Ocean in Alaska Panhandle in between Skagway and Haines. Trees are dark colored, mostly spruce and birch and stunted due to the stressful cold climate that stays in below freezing for the most of the winters. These trees are not robust as their cousins in the south. Dense forests and tundra bushes are still in abundant because of long sunlight hours of the summers.

Before Fairbanks
We cross many rivers at many dangerous places and we are wet because of slipping several times in icy waters. These rivers were too high for the salmon fishes to get up to here and all bears were busy catching fishes at the downstream. Long hours of sunshine in winter make the ice melt and so rivers roar here. This ice is replenished in the winter when sunlight is almost zero. At this latitudes summer is a one long day here and winter is a one long night here and animals go to hibernate. Bears dig burrow in the snow and there they go for a long several months sleep. Of-course they gain 100 kilos of weight in summers by eating salmon fishes and that weight they shed off when they go to sleep. When they wake up in May, they are very hungry and dangerous.

Birch trees
We burn a fire in the forest, plenty of spruce needles and cones to burn. We warm ourselves and also dry our clothes, shoes and socks in the fire. In this cold sitting by the fire gets very addictive but we build up courage and put out the fire with the water because it is illegal to have unattended fire.

A brook
After walking for hours on the zigzag trails in the mountains we lose track of the markers and then decide to return so not to get lost. Our path is spongy and mossy because of moss on the permafrost. At a place we gather Ledum (Marsh Tea) growing in the bog, a herd of muse is present in the bog but they mind their own business and ignore us completely. A strange thing about muse is that it is a huge animal but their droppings are tiny; even smaller than goat’s droppings.
We are walking in the Kluane National Park and Reserve (Yukon, Canada)

Glacier near our campsite
I make a mush of ledum on a rock with a stone. We gather many dry tree cones and make a fire in my little wood burning stove and it is bright and smokeless and we make tea and drink it while sitting at a rock by the lake. There is no other presence of man or its noise. We wash the stove and pot and pack it back in the polythene and follow the same trail to return. After a couple of hit or miss markers we find the trail and then the river we followed here. From far away we see our campsite and make our return at 3PM and we are very hungry. We cross the river and enter in our campsite and see that the dead bear is gone, Teddy and his car is also not present but his tent and gear is there. Vast campsite is almost empty; we only see an elderly couple making coffee on a little propane stove, they arrived on their little RV. They are goofy and friendly and ask us about the trails around us. They offer us coffee and we accept it, lady makes coffee for us.

Lake where we camped
We have no bread, but only rice and some daal, one onion, canned ginger and garlic pastes and tomato puree. So make a wood fire on the camp grill and begin preparing lentil and rice. While Rajan is tendering the food, I go to the central facilities to take a hot water bath. They have coin operated hot showers and I insert 4 quarters one by one and have a decent bath. Rajan goes to take a bath upon my return because it is illegal to leave unattended fires and one must stay near the fire.

In the Park
Food is ready and superb while we are eating, Teddy comes to our site.
“Hey! Eddied and Freddie, my main men. Howdy!”
“Shalom. Where is the bear?”
He greets us back excitedly, “Shaaa-Looom! Well, this girl called her brother and he and his buddy came here and took away the bear. He will drop off its head to a taxidermist in Whitehorse. I paid them on the phone and they will prepare the trophy and ship it to me in Florida.”
“So what’s cooking?”
“You can join us? It’s all vegetarian.”
“Is it Kosher? Did you use any butter or diary things?”
“No butter or diary, only rice, lentil, corn oil and spices.”

Alaska Highway after Fairbanks
Teddy is a strict Jew and he accepts our food but initially eats with great caution, sorting rice grains with his spoon as if he may find some bug in it but then he begins devouring it. He claims that it is the most delicious food he ever had on this journey.
He says, “I have a very good friend from India, his name is Chamanlal Charlie.”
“Wow! So you are not new to Indians.”
“Oh no, not at all, I have many Indian buddies. I love Indian Cuisines.”
We ask him if he will join us for dinner and he readily agrees.
“Well folks, is there anything I can do for you guys; or do I owe you anything for this great lunch and following dinner.”
We tell him that he does not owe us anything. He gives us the news that he has a bottle of Jack Daniels that he will bring at supper time. This is a good news because our bottle was finished last night.

After Haines Junction
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