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That One Place

The page is turned once more. This morning I’ll pack the few things left in the shack that has been my home, I’ll grab the last few things out of my classroom, and I’ll leave Circle to join my family in Fairbanks. The school year is ended, another chapter is closed. 

As I leave Circle, I will pass by that hairpin curve where Stephanie went too fast one time and lost control of the truck. I’ll see the place where Scott put his car in a snow bank and tried to walk to town before realizing almost immediately that it was far to cold to walk. Then I’ll come to that one place where I saw a bear while Jacob was sleeping as we drove together in to town.

I will be crossing the bridge over Birch Creek, where Stephanie and I got water from the river to filter when we first moved to Circle. Where we had a cookout and swim one hot summer afternoon. Where the Watsons and the Rozells ended an all night canoe trip.  Where I spent a summer night dragging two bedraggled hunters out of the river one inch at a time.

I’ll blast through Central and wave at the Steese Roadhouse where Stephanie and I had a few better-than-nothing Spaghetti dinner dates. I’ll look up that road to Ketchum Rocks where we took the boys on a couple of fun and frightening afternoons.

Crossing Eagle Summit will bring a flood of memories: Bernard getting stranded deep in winter and my going to fetch him in the middle of the night. Too many white knuckled passes through deep snow drifts and white out conditions. Spending the night of the summer solstice locked out of the Trooper and taking pictures of the midnight sun before catching a ride back to Fairbanks the next day with a stranger. 

I’ll remember the spot before 12 mile summit where I broke down and spent a cold night in the truck. As I crest 12 mile summit I’ll think about the time Stephanie and I shared a wine and cheese picnic before I set off for three days on the Pinnel Trail. I’ll remember Jan driving with us to Circle and not wanting to eat any of those wonderful blueberries.

At 80 mile, I’ll see the Montana Creek plow station and think about Bones and Mack, and the guys who drove the big snow plows and blowers; who kept the road as open as they could, and always gave me a wave as I blasted past.

I’ll stop and shoot at that fifteen foot wall of ice that forms each winter from a natural spring in the side of a hill; that ice that will still be there in June. Stephanie and I stopped one time and fired jacketed hollow points at that ice and then collected the mushroomed lead bullets and peeled brass jackets. They rattled in our ashtray for months after that.

When I see the Long Creek roadhouse, I’ll remember having breakfast that rainy morning with Stephanie, the morning after seeing the Indigo Girls in concert and cozy tent camping without kids.

Maybe I’ll stop at that place along the Chatanika where we used to stop so that Jacob could throw rocks in the water, and where Stephanie breast fed Toby that one time, way out in the middle of nowhere. I’ll throw some rocks for Jacob and say prayers of thanksgiving for my life, my family and these incredible experiences.

As I get close to town, I’ll eventually get to that point where the gravel road becomes paved again, and though I promised Stephanie I’d go slow, I’ll start thinking about being home, and about Jacob and Tobias waiting for me, and I’ll start driving faster. I’ll pass that one pull off where we fished for grayling, I’ll pass that log cabin with the great windows, I’ll cross the bridge over the Chatanika that has made me think of the Watson family every Sunday and Friday this past year, and finally I’ll be at the corner, the fist turn in a hundred and fifty miles, and I’ll be home. Ready to see what is around the next bend and on the next page.

Posted on Friday, May 15, 2009 at 06:46AM by Registered CommenterBrian Rozell in | Comments2 Comments

Reader Comments (2)

It would be a nice day to do this drive with you. I hope you enjoy it.
May 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWifey
What wonderful experiences you have had since moving to Alaska. Im sure you will be enjoying the summer with your family and not thinking about going back in the fall
Some of the pics you have sent have let us enjoy some of that with you Thanks for that. We enjoy sharing your lives.
Have a great summer with that beautiful family

Mary Lou & Jerry
May 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMary Lou

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