Saints o' the
day include St. Lawrence O'Toole, Dyfrig, Emmerich, and
Charles turns 51 today.
On this day
in 1889, intrepid reporter Nellie Bly embarked on a
round-the-world trip, succeeding, 72 days later, in
beating the record of Jules Verne's fictitious Phileas
Fogg. Ms. Bly, born in either 1867 or 1869 as Elizabeth
Cochran, was an investigative journalist who contributed
to the improvement of conditions for women in prisons and
insane asylums. In 1895, she married Robert Seamans, an
aged millionaire whom she had met only a week prior.
*** Haines Junction
The plan was
to drive straight through. I was going to be dropped off
at Haines and he was going to continue to Anchorage. By
dawn we were in Prince George heading east to get on the
Alaska Highway, which was already being covered with
I slept while my ride drove and he was supposed to sleep
while I drove, but my obvious inexperience with snow
driving, the relatively pristine condition of his
Cadillac, and his compulsion to backseat drive all
contributed to his staying awake for the entire trip. By
the time we arrived at Haines Junction, Yukon Territory,
we were barely speaking.
Now, on the map Haines looks very close to Haines
Junction. Haines is in Alaska and Haines Junction is in
Canada, and there is just a little itsy line between the
two. The catch is that the top of the little line is at
an elevation of maybe 8 or 9,000 feet and the bottom of
the line is at sea level. The line is really a 200 mile
switchback trail. The outlook for the Cadillac, were it
to attempt the trip to Haines, was very poor indeed. I
had to find another ride.
cheerfully unloaded me in front of the only open
business, a little restaurant, and as I watched him
pulling away (and as the dogs, shivering in the snow,
watched their warm backseat disappear), I had my first
attack of second thoughts.
Tying the dogs to a post, I went into the restaurant and
asked how I could get to Haines. They thought for a while
before responding that there was a bus in the summer. At
least I wouldn't be stuck there longer than eight months.
I had a cup of coffee and just waited. Finally, someone
took pity on me and acknowledged that his son would be
going to Haines in the afternoon. If I paid the gas, I
could go with him.
My new driver was about 19 and drove a hot pickup truck.
He had driven on snow and ice more than clear roads,
which was a good thing since I had seen my last clear
road back in British Columbia somewhere. There was so
much snow on the road (?) to Haines that the only way you
knew you were on a road at all was by the tall poles that
were stuck on either side of it...sort of a raised
shoulder-marker system. Everything was drifting snow,
right left, and straight ahead...and those poles. We
passed a tanker that had missed a turn and was hanging
half over a cliff.
I saw a ptarmigan, its brown feathers almost all replaced
by the winter white.