The road through Alaska is very long and remote. 2,000 km of bumpy gravel road separates Edmonton from Whitehorse and it all feels longer in my old '86 Toyota. But it's worth every gall of oil that drinks, because it takes me to places I never thought I would go.
By Jeff Spackman
After an afternoon alone on the road, I was finally ready to socialize, so I picked up Jeramie, a hitchhiker from the east. His beard was bigger than mine and I could admit that he was better than me at taking care of it. His sign said, “Every lift counts”. As we drove, we started talking - not to say "shouting" over the sound of the engine - about the places we had been and the things we had seen. We talked about our families, where we came from and how we saw life. He was traveling fairly light, but he still brought with him the 2 canes of maple syrup his mother had given him to remind him of his home.
Looking back, I'm in awe of Jeramie's ability to step forward and trust the unknown. He didn't know where his next lift was, or if the temperature was going to stay on his side. He believed in himself and in others. He is convinced that he lives like this, because he is not afraid of death.
We quickly became friends. I think it's hard not to connect with a person with such a passion for life. Everything is contagious with him. On our first night, we found a place to camp, close to a lake in northern British Columbia. It was nice to be able to chat in silence, without the diesel engine interrupting us. We were setting up camp on the water's edge when we saw the Northern Lights across the lake. We talked for hours, as streaks of green and purple light danced above our heads. I took a few photos, and they are in my favorite of the Northern Lights.
We hit the road again and the weather wasn't on our side, but we stopped often to explore the surroundings. We finally arrived in Whitehorse and this is where our paths parted. It was a long drive and we were both tired. Just before leaving, he rummaged in his bag and handed me something. I didn't expect anything from him. It was a big cane of maple syrup.