"Do not ship to Canada.", the stickers read.
It was 1982 and there was very little humor that summer, as was the case with most years of my life. It was filled with a lot of being yelled at. I remember the vice president coming into my staging area at 1 AM yelling at me because I was taking a break. I mostly remember the yelling. 14 years old and I was being forced to do 80+ hour weeks for the summer, most nights working past midnight, because the old man's company was going bankrupt again and he didn't have the money to pay for staff. I was too numb to know that I hated it. I just did what was asked of me. I did it all. Successfully but I paid a very heavy price for it. It was all against my will. That's been such a common theme in my life.
I also remember the stickers. One day a shipment of computer parts arrived. I was pulled from what I was doing to help move them. Each box had on it a long thin yellow sticker with black lettering which read:
Do Not Ship To Canada
That may have been the only time I laughed that whole summer. I guess maybe you had to be in my head at that moment, but I could just imagine these shippers coming and trying to randomly ship me to Canada because no one had told them not to. I took one of the stickers home with me and put it on the headboard of my bed, just in case those confused shippers showed up when I was asleep
Why not Canada?
"Maybe its my turn to leave.", I've been thinking now slightly more seriously. "Where would I go? Why would I go there? Have I gotten too old? I don't have that much life left. What would I do?"
I could sell everything, get the company sold, let Anatoly go and make the real money he can somewhere else, and have enough money myself to stay on the road for few years, if I didn't worry about retirement.
I could go live someplace else.
I could get my EU citizenship and live overseas.
I could wander and become software ronin.
I stand at a crossroads. All options before me. I guess this is freedom, freedom from Artificial Constraints, Obligations and Rules.
Freedom is a bit of a bitch.
It was nice here. Peaceful.
I didn't want to be on the bike. I didn't want to go in the direction I was going. I stopped in Jasper and got a hotel early. It's a nice but touristy town. It was warm.
I spent the vast majority of the next day writing trying still to capture what I thought, felt and had learned. I sat there in the hotel for over 8 hours trying to write so I could remember.
I hit the road well after 6pm.
Eventually I crossed into Alberta. Ian had suggested that I head down to Calgary instead of going to Edmonton so I could ride through the Columbia IceFields.
I stopped at the side of the road and saw what I initially thought were stakes pounded into the ground in this field. Using the zoom on the camera, they were more of the funny little critters. Dozens of them in this wide field down in a valley just standing around looking, all motionless as if frozen.
I stood there for a while wondering if the critters would move, but none of them did. They all stood perfectly motionless for as long as I watched.
The mountains here were steep and one could see the angle at which the mountains were pushed up. It was pretty striking.
There were more rivers. The camera did not capture the color right. These were aquamarine. Almost green.
There were glaciers. Lot's of glaciers.
I kept thinking how much fun it would have been to take her riding through this landscape.
This was the first glacier that looked like what I thought glaciers were supposed to look like. It was late otherwise I would have ridden down to see it up close.
There were striking valleys. Notice the road.
The mountains here were steep. Crazy steep and tall.
There were bears. A couple crossed the street in front of me.
And there were incredible lakes. I stopped at this one.
I marveled at this scene for a while when a KLR rider rolled up.
His name was Shawn (sp?). He was about to go into the second year of medical school meaning that the next 8 years of his life were going to be spoken for. He decided a mere couple of months earlier to do the ride up to Prudhoe Bay and back. We compared notes and shared stories.
Then he told me he learned to ride only two months earlier!
Ok, now that's impressive. Riding the Dalton Highway without experience would be very challenging. But he made it and was on his way back to Washington.
He kindly snapped a photo of me.
He was looking at his bike when he noticed that his oil filter cover bolts were coming loose. I said I would hang out in case there was some problem.
He tightened the bolts. I looked over the bike with him when I said, "Oh, that's not good!". One of his frame bolts was virtually out. We pulled the bolt out, cleaned the threads and put it back in for him. Those thumpers vibrate bolts loose. I've lost a few screws on my four cylinder bike on this ride.
I rode on. It was late and the sun actually set behind the mountains.
The next day I continued on to Calgary and descended out of the mountains onto a plain. I have been in mountains for weeks. It was a sad moment as I crossed this boundary.
I was going to put in some serious mileage today, but I chose to write instead. Rain on the horizon. I'll probably do a couple hundred miles, grab another hotel all the while thinking about what I've learned, trying to ask a question to each questions I've been given.