We crossed the Arctic Circle early in the day and conversed in halting, friendly English with a retired Francophone couple — and we’d exchange loud, happy greetings with them a few days later in the Inuvik library.
Intersections open when you share a trail. Common trajectories become common delight, wonder, challenge. Our maps cross and we laugh and grin with familiarity. How simple it is to know others with whom you have fed a woodstove in a mountain campground, sheltered from the freezing rain; or roadside marvelled together facing the vast tundra, evening sun warming your face.
Having last met them while hiking, we chanced again to see a young, romantic couple. She drove from Ohio then skipped her Alaskan cruise company interview in Juno so to stay connected with a German who’s travelling Canada. They’ve decided his 1970’s dodge van isn’t going to make it to Inuvik so they are southbound after stopping at the Arctic Circle. Her small hatchback parked back in Dawson presses a different decision.
Travellers, campers, and brief rest-stop companions: we touch the easy exchange of where are you from and where are you going? With each conversation, another layer of why weaves into that recurring dialogue.
Closing in on Inuvik, the highway enters NWT and crosses the Peel and Mackenzie rivers on their way to the Arctic. We take small service ferries across which host colonies of cliff swallows and their mud nests. Meanwhile, chortling ravens chase indifferent eagles low across the shoreline horizon–no matter where we go, it seems these sky creatures have either common argument or common play–probably both.
Another long day-and-night’s drive through the open beauty of road-alone. Just the two of us sharing water, food, and holding hands — all eyes open with wildflowers and wildlife. And Karen and I realize that this trip has brought us far more strata of why than from what and when we’d first set out.