Thursday, July 26, 2007

International Road Trip: Entry 7

I again visited the land of cotton candy, loose women and change. When I Awoke we were stopped at a roadside rest area… I obliged to relieve myself. Me and Emmett by this time were as chummy as shipmates. We talked about the perks of education, he told me more about his youth… growing up on a farm in Missouri. I told him how I grew up on a farm in Oklahoma…I reminisced about the great taste of fresh cow milk. Or even a day old jar of milk, after the cream has separated and risen to the top…. And mom tells you always shake it up but that cream just tastes so good. Hmm, Mm! Good memories.

Emmett reiterated that he wasn’t allowed to have passengers on his bus, and that due to technicalities he wouldn’t be able to give us a ride across the border, He evidently had had a hell of time coming across the Canadian boarder even without breaking any rules and he didn’t want any trouble coming into Alaska. Of course, we agreed. He had been generous enough to take us as far as he had.

I took it on myself to manage the map for Emmett. He pretty much got a visual on every sorry excuse for a town we passed through. Emmett is a master bus driver. In all my experience with busses, they are only good for holding up traffic. I don’t recall ever having seen someone get passed by a bus before our ride with Emmett. He passed almost every car we came upon. He cruised at about 70 when the roads permitted. Like I said, the roads were pretty hashed up. He told me about running out of gas on the road from L.A. to Las Vegas a few years before. And how it had cost $400 - $500 just to get the roadside assistance people to drive out with the gas.

He told me about his 21 foot boat back home, and how he couldn’t wait to get back and finish working on it. It had a 350 engine in it, new this and that. He seemed really happy when he talked about his boat.

At long last, we came to Beaver Creek, BC. It was about 10:30 at night, Emmett pulled into the first hotel he spotted (there was only one other…) We had pretty much decided that as close as we were to the border that this is where we would have to start thumbing again. We thanked Emmett profusely. We went to check into the hotel and learned that it was 90 (Canadian dollars) for a single-bed room. We discussed and voted to check prices across the street. While me and Burt waited with the luggage, Glade went to check prices across the way. Apu (I’m not certain that that was his name… but it fit) came out and asked if we were going to stay at his hotel, We told him there were 3 of us and we were strapped for cash (not entirely true, but..) He said that he had one room for 3 left, and that he would cut us a deal. I asked if he knew what the rates across the street were, he said “ummm… about 150, lately…” to which I replied “ A hundred and fifty dollars for a room!? Wow… you guys really are aware that this is the last stop before the border, huh?” He didn’t respond… he just kinda hung his head and walked off. I looked down and saw that I was standing in a pile of dog crap. Wait, I think Burt pointed that out… anyway, it proved fortuitous. While I was wiping it off on a post I noticed an SD card in the gravel of the parking lot. It was a 512 MB card, without any pictures on it… score!

Glade came back and said that it was $65 bucks for a room across the street. Looks like apu was really just trying to gyp us into staying at his crap-hole establishment, after all. We pooled the money and sent glade back to get the room. We weren’t sure if they would let us take a single-bed room if they knew there were 3 of us.

After putting our stuff in the room (the “motel” was actually a series of modified mobile homes.) we went back over to Apu’s, because Burt and I had heard that Curry Chicken was on the menu. Emmett was in the restaurant. He invited us over to his table and offered me the rest of his curry chicken… I pleasantly declined but he insisted that if I didn’t take it that it was going to go to waste because he was full. I finally took it. We wanted to buy his meal, but he declined on account of his employers compensating all his expenses. He told us that if we wanted a ride to the border, he would be leaving early in the morning. Again, he couldn’t take us across the border, but he was willing to take us close. He took his leave and Glade and Burt ordered meals. (I was eating the curry chicken.) It was all really good food, we shared all the food, Burt got Fish N’ Chips, Glade got Salisbury Steak. We went back to the room and went to bed after we each took a shower for the first time since Seattle. I had Glade set his Alarm for 5 AM. Emmett had told me at some point, the day before, that he had gotten on the road at around 5:30.. And I figured he’d have the same schedule again.

So, we got up and got our stuff gathered up. Made a makeshift envelope for the key and pushed it under the office door. They weren’t open. We drug our stuff across the street just in time to see Emmett heading toward the bus. He greeted us at the open Luggage compartment. Perfect.

We piled in and hit the road. It was only about 20 miles to the customs point. But it took a while to get there on account of the REALLY CRAPPY road. When we did get there it kinda snuck up on us… that is to say that we didn’t see the building until we were pretty much right on it. We thanked Emmett again and piled off the bus. We walked to the building and he drove… but we were only too certain that they had watched us get off the bus. As we got closer to the building they waved us to come into the building. We came in with passports (and in my case, Birth Certificate and Drivers License) in hand. They asked us where we came from and we gave a cereal box version of our adventure. One of the elderly customs officers was going back and forth between our information and Emmett (who was at the drive-through) finally (and by that I mean about 5 nerve-racking minutes later ) they told us we could pass through. Emmett told us to wait for him. After they got done with him… about 2 minutes later, He picked us up and we were back on the road. He told them that he had picked us up in Beaver Creek to give us a ride to Tok, Alaska. Way to go Emmett! Smooth-talking old man.

I dozed off, Emmett stopped for gas at the next station but it would only give him 45 (AMERICAN!) dollars worth for some reason. But it was enough to get us to Tok.

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