Visiting Alaska 2015
Let your dreams grow and the artwork will follow.
This autumn I completed my lifelong dream of driving to Alaska. Below are a few reflections from the long trip and several paintings I made on the way.
It began when I was 10 years old and my father gave me a very cool looking alcohol decanter. I decided to fill it up with money and in no time I had a collection of 100 found pennies. One whole dollar! As my fortunes grew that small decanter was replaced by a large bottle, than a vat, and when the vat finally broke I replaced it with a large plastic rain barrel. Splish splash it was raining lotta cash!
When I turned 14, I got the crazy idea to scrawl “Alaska or Bust” on the vessel bloated with coins. My plan was to one day use the money to go on a long trip. It took a while, but two years ago, on my 50th birthday, the rain barrel was finally full and I decided to fulfill my dream. I had amassed $5,266.18 and was finally ready to go.
It turns out that sometimes dreams require permits and before heading to Alaska I was informed that to go straight into the Denali National Park and drive the 89 mile road through the mountains to get to Mount McKinley (now called Denali - the tallest mountain in North America), I’d need to apply for a pass. Only 700 vehicles per year are allowed into the park so the passes aren’t easy to get. Unfortunately, I missed my chance that year and instead ended up in Oregon painting the ocean.
The following year I was thwarted once again, and this year, after turning 52, I decided that waiting was no longer an option and decided to drive to Alaska without a pass.
Some 5600 km later and a very sore butt, I’m back home. Seems strange that my lifelong dream is accomplished. Obviously, if you have a clear goal and a rain barrel full of pennies, you can achieve anything. Small things amount to big things.
Here are a few thoughts from my trip:
Those of you who told me to bring a few jerry-cans of gas because the gas stations are far apart were right. Some towns are as much as 600 kms apart and when that gas light came on (more than once) I wished to have taken your advice.
The northern part of our country is vast beyond belief. It’s absolutely magnificent and seems to go on forever. Seeing the vastness and wildness of our Great White North left me feeling very patriotic. It is a very special place - an area that needs to be protected.
There are three natural resource in our country: Oil & Gas, Trees and Subway locations.
Books on tape and lots of music are essential. There is no cell service for thousands of kms and when you sing as bad as me it gets old very fast.
The only time you will see another vehicle is when you stop to pee at the side of the road.
Caribou are a lot smaller than most artists paint them and Northern moose are like regular moose on steroids. Also - Beavers are definitely not an endangered species.
Lastly, and most importantly - Never turn down a shot of whisky with a black, 100 year old, shrivelled-up miner's toe floating in it. They say it’s good luck and I believe it.
Your friend in art,