Coffee and Treats.
Sometimes I wonder why we ditched our sleeping mats as I roll over on the hard wood floor. Laying completely straight and on my back, being comfortable is a treat of the past.
The morning began rather late due to the long ride. Dirk, Shane and I began to pack and make our way out of the cabin, talking and reflecting on the luck we all ran into. Being sure to remember the ladder was not mounted to the wall, I tossed my gear down and cautiously took each step. Looking up, I turned the light off and the door soon closed behind me. The Fairbanks Cabin I dubbed it, looking back to catch sight of it in the daylight. A double story log cabin perched on a hill, lost in the forest and over looking thousands of trees that made up the mountains in the distance. Originally a dry cabin, extension chords from an unknown source now powered the network of switches and power strips. A hide away, a place to relax.
Jumping back into the truck, we headed into town to grab some breakfast. Going from eating four times a day and thousands of calories to just about nothing is a shock to the system. At this point in the transition I began to feel crazed, looked forward to any gas station or food stand on the side of the road and almost emptying my wallet of its contents. We pulled into what seemed to be the only gas station on the edge of town and I was delighted to see Grandma’s stand.
Grandma was her name, serving home-made pastries and the town’s best coffee, we didn’t even give her time to get back to the counter before we started our orders. As we waited for her to pour our coffee on this cold morning, I couldn’t help but play with the alligator heads that decorated the stand. All the way from Florida she stated, pointing at the sharp teeth. A smirk on my face, I reply and we began to talk about good old Florida. It seems to be a conversation starter up in Alaska, a state lucky enough not to have snakes and venomous spiders. Not even venomous plants like poison ivy and oak grow in the bush like we have back in Florida. Truly the safest hiking region with regards to that, on the other hand though, most of the animals and elements of the northwest can easily kill a man.
After a warm up with the coffee and a giant face sized cinnamon roll, we started back into town. Shane showed us around as he drove, pointing and explaining some of the history of the area. Cresting the hill, Fairbanks appeared under the smoke-like fog that hung in the trees. The smell of burning wood crept through the vents as we rounded the hill and drifted down the 10% grade. With the come of summer, fires run through the forest, refreshing and clearing the land for new growth. A regular event that the community prepares for, but never over reacts and or shows much interest in. Pulling past the University campus, we arrived at our new spot, the end of our journey with Shane. How we managed to be so lucky and catch a ride with him, I don’t know, but a new friend came out of the deal.
The next hours would linger by as we sat in the college coffee shop. Writing and reviewing the past days became my task, picking the brain for every detail that I can recall. I grabbed some coffee and got to work, sneaking a brownie too. I hate being behind, late. Just the thought of catching up on work is enough to discourage me, putting it off again. Dirk also jumped into a mess of emails , trying to better plan our next move. Either couch surfing or cheap campsites are our only choices. Nearing the end of this journey and having faced so many challenges… a process of desensitizing took place. Now that sleeping anywhere is no concern, the concept of paying-to-sleep became a topic of agitation and annoyance.
My break over, I returned from the gas station across the street. Picking up a hot dog and a soda pop, they were non-existent by the time I reached for the coffee shop door. As I entered, I caught eye with dirk as his smirk grew large and erupted into a laugh. “We got another couch to surf for the night,” he said. The stress with finding a place to sleep in Fairbanks vanished and the work that hours can contest to, paid off. We gathered our belongings, and headed out front to wait for our hosts. Erica and Damian then pulled up, a young couple with much enthusiasm to help, they showed us a good time. Into the city and down to the river, we ate and had good conversation. The typical length of time needed to drop guards and feel relaxed soon hit us as everyone started to laugh. Jokes and stories filled the night as we moved from the restaurant to the apartment.
The night then grew late as I laid down facing the window. The northern summer is something I will soon miss, the ever lasting twilight that merged dawn with dusk.