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Inspection (or) There and Back Again

I had to take the school bus in to Fairbanks today for its bi-annual inspection and oil change. And so far it’s been the most remarkable experience. I knew last night that I’d have to get up by five-thirty to be on the road by six to make my appointment for ten. But that didn’t keep me and Stephanie from staying up ‘til past midnight watching too many episodes from an old Survivor series on DVD. Curse you Netflix! After the tribes merged, we finally shook off the stupor and started to get ready: Stephanie for bed, me for the next day’s drive. It’s past time to change the tires on our Toyota Tacoma from the winter snow to summer gravel, but I don’t have an extra set of rims, just the tires. And rather than drive the Toyota in to the ‘Banks just to swap tires, I jacked the whole thing up, removed all four tires, wheels and all, and set the Toyota back down on whatever scrap wood and cinder blocks I could find. So now we’ve got the redneck thing going on over at the Rozell place.  

This descent into an impoverished rural stereotype took place at about one in the morning. And it has occurred to me a few times in the last few months: When will I stop staying up half the night working on some little project or other? As a single or at least childless person in my twenties, I always thought it was acceptable enough to stay up into the wee hours. But with marriage, real jobs, children, and the onset of old age (I’m Thirtysomething. Can you believe that? Thirtysomething!), I figured that I’d stop all that. Hmm. Maybe when I’m forty.

The drive in this morning was nice and fortunately uneventful. Fresh snow remained on the tops of both Eagle Summit and Twelve Mile Summit from recent snowfall. Every time I drive past those places now, I think about my planned hike. Only a month away. The hike I think I’m woefully unprepared for. I’d planned to do more walking. More hiking with an excessively weighted pack in preparation. But all I’ve done is watch a few more episodes of Survivor and annoy my wife by talking about the hike too much.  

It was cloudy all the way from Circle to Fairbanks this morning. It started to rain slightly about eighty miles from Fairbanks, and then  started snowing in earnest for the last fifty miles. Big fat wet flakes. I arrived at my appointment for the bus inspection only about twenty minutes late. The ancient repair shop in an industrial part of town to which I have taken it is normally closed on Saturday, but the proprietor, a real Alaskan old-timer, was kind enough to make special arrangements for me to bring the bus in today.  

As I stood leaning against the door frame of the repair shop’s cluttered and dusty office, waiting for Mr. Ancient to write up a work order, I looked around: fake wood paneling on every wall, torn vinyl furniture, stacks of yellowing paper, heavy dust collecting on all surfaces, the oldest VCR I’ve ever seen, cheesy framed pictures of Alaskana. The place looked like it was past middle age in 1980.  There was also a tattered map of Fairbanks that looked like it must have been twenty years old. I looked at the map more closely and saw that it was dated 1990. So not so old at all, really. Wait… (a moment of mental math) that map is seventeen years old! When did 1990 become seventeen years ago?

After the work order was written, I gave the bus key to Mr. Ancient and told him I’d be back in a few hours. He asked me if I needed a car, and I told him I was prepared to walk. I was prepared to walk five or ten miles, easy. Then he offered to let me take his car. His personal car. A late eighties Ford Bronco. I was floored. I told him no, it wasn’t necessary, but he insisted. I couldn’t believe it. He even gave me a recommendation for a good place to have a greasy breakfast. How many mechanics will do that for a first time customer? There is no shortage of friendly people in Fairbanks.

Now I’m full of greasy breakfast, sitting in the ancient waiting room of this ancient auto garage, waiting for friendly Mr. Ancient to inspect my school bus and mount and balance my Toyota tires for our truck sitting in the yard on blocks in Circle. I have a few small errands to run before I pick up one of my students at the airport who is returning from a week in Washington D.C. From there we’ll head back home. Up the Steese once again. To my eternally youthful wife. To my growing boys. And my rapidly aging Toyota on blocks.  

Addendum: It’s now twenty after one in the morning. I’m home again. Everyone is asleep. The blocks have been removed and the truck is back on its summer treads again. It’s raining. All is well.

The ice on the Yukon River slowly broke apart and went out over the last few days with very little drama or fanfare. Ducks and geese are flying. I went hunting Thursday evening. Walked a couple miles along the bank downriver. Brought home a beautifully plumed mallard drake. Ate if for dinner on Friday.

This is the last week of school. The last. Graduation is on Wednesday. The last day is on Thursday. And then I’m done. A year in the books. I can’t believe it.  

 

Posted on Sunday, May 6, 2007 at 01:26AM by Registered CommenterBrian Rozell | Comments1 Comment

Reader Comments (1)

Congratulations for getting your first year in the bag (almost!). I am sure you will be sighing a breath of relief ON THURSDAY that you'll be completing your first year of "principal-ahip" and "teacher of all trade" so successfully (from my vantage point). I commend you for all of it, and above all I thank the Lord for His blessings on you and "our familia".
May 7, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDad

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