Archive for July 28th, 2009

Celebration of Life, Nature and Technology

This is a more philosophical note…

When an acquaintance of my wife heard about my adventure plan, he said something like this: “Sounds like an extreme case of midlife crisis – why couldn’t he just have bought a Corvette?” Once I pondered this statement, it occured to me that I’d much rather call it a celebration of life. Life is to be in motion. Life is to be active. I love life, and I love to be active. Yes, there is physical discomfort involved in a trip like this: Sweat, heat, dust, cold, rain, hunger, thirst, fatigue… But our bodies have evolved to be active and move around. So climbing or riding 6-8 hours every day isn’t something unhealthy, it actually has many positive side-effects: You sleep like a baby, you can eat anything you want and burn all your body fat. (In fact I’m having trouble keeping my body weight up. Next time at a rest stop, compare the physique of a long-distance touring biker with that of a Harley rider – notice the difference?) And I guess I won’t be visiting the doctor for cardio-vascular issues anytime soon… A few years ago I wrote about Why I ride on my homepage – the same applies to the mountains – the psychology concept of “Flow” has a lot to do with it.

Another aspect of celebrating life is wildlife: In this wilderness up here in Alaska, Yukon and British Columbia there is lots of it. No domesticated animals, but wild ones. The bear, bison or moose along the roadside, the eagle soaring overhead, the muskox and caribou in the distance. Not in a zoo behind bars, but right out there same as you! Where else can you still see this?

The Kluane Icefields from high up on Mount Logan

This leads to thoughts about the grandeur of nature in general. Climbing high above the Kluane Icefields or riding for days and days through the boreal forest and seeing untouched wilderness to the horizon as far as the eye can see. The elements of snow and ice, sun and rain, wind and dust, sounds and smells. One day near Jake’s Corner (South of Teslin) I was riding along and suddenly had this intense smell of fresh strawberries! I stopped and noticed lots of wild strawberries along the road! (Wouldn’t eat them if they’re this close to the road, though.) Or the smells of summer in the Peace River valley, blossoming flowers, fresh-cut grass, dry hay – we just don’t experience this much anymore in our A/C controlled and often deprived world …

At the Peace River Overlook

Last but not least I often think about much of the technology that either enables or enhances this trip. 2 generations ago there was no Alaska Highway (built in 1942 during WWII). 1 generation ago there was no Dalton Highway (built in 1973 for the Trans-Alaska pipeline). Most of the gear was much more primitive and heavy-weight. 15 years ago there was no Internet, much less free wireless access to it from almost any little town or RV park. 10 years ago there was no Google to store and share Blogs and images. 5 years ago there was no iPhone with built-in WiFi, GPS, phone, email, etc. There was no SPOT satellite tracker to track progress automatically and near real-time. There was no high-definition all digital video recorder the size of a cigarette pack and no YouTube to share the videos instantly worldwide. All of this seems very ordinary and obvious, but I think it is not. Chances are I couldn’t have done this trip 2 generations ago for many reasons, and you wouldn’t be reading about it in this format 1 generation ago. Exciting times, indeed! What adventures will our kids embark on?

4 comments July 28th, 2009


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