After a mentally and physically challenging trip up the Dalton Highway, we had to hunker down a bit and rest up in Fairbanks, Alaska. So we joined the 75 or so other RVs staying at the Fairbanks Walmart Resort with our friend Nick of the Travato Base Camp Facebook group. While there, we checked out the Fairbanks Information/Cultural Center and learned quite a bit about the native people and their culture as well as how this northern, remote part of Alaska came to thrive and grow.
We also met a fellow NC Tarheel, Dave Friedrich, who was here on a mission. He rode his BMW motorcycle from the coast of NC to Alaska to honor his son who gave his life defending our freedom in Iraq. Dave explained to us the concept of the Tour Of Honor rides and surprised us as he took out a flask filled with part of his son’s ashes and showed us how he travels all over the country spreading his son’s ashes and honoring his memory. It was a touching and emotional moment for us as we made another lifelong friend on this journey in our van.
From there we started making our way to Denali but only made it as far as Healy, where we had a great lunch at the 49th State Brewery and got to experience the BUS from the movie “Into The Wild”. We then hopped in the vans and drove to the end of the Stampede Road, which is where Chris had been dropped off, had crossed the river and had found the infamous bus. It was one of those awesome moments that we got to be in the exact spot where we’d just watched in the movie, with those sad feelings still sticking around after watching Chris’ last days as he struggled to survive in the wild of Alaska.
It did not go unnoticed though that both of our experiences during this portion of the trip were very much related. Dave’s son, Chris, gave his life defending our country and fighting so we can have the freedom to live our Happy Life. Chris lost his life living his very own happy life… like so few he chose to leave everything behind and live his Happy Life as far out in the wild as he could go. He made it to the spot in his life and in Alaska he wanted to get to, but unfortunately the spring thaw raised the rivers to the point that he could not get back as he’d planned.
We find ourselves doing the same… trying to find and live Our Happy Life. We are much more conventional than Chris was in doing so, but far more adventurous than most our age… trying to strike that happy balance. Here’s hoping you find your Happy Life too and that you have the courage to strike out in that direction. Until then, we really appreciate each of you watching as we continue our journey.
Living Our Happy LIfe – Fairbanks to Healy