We left Champagne, Yukon Territory by eight thirty and hoped to make it to Chistochina, Alaska by suppertime. But, as we had learned, traveling the Alaska Highway often yields the unexpected.
Before we left we heard road rumors such as, “The Alaska Highway is gravel, isn’t it?” and “The potholes will swallow your car!” We considered ourselves lucky to have only encountered one major construction site on the road thus far.
All of that changed three hours out of Champagne. We pulled up behind a truck and camper to wait for a pilot car to lead us through a construction zone. Our second place in line meant we would probably have a long wait, so we got out to stretch our legs. I hopped in the trailer to rummage for snacks, and when I got out, Pedro said, “Look at that!”
“No way!” I said, looking behind us. A red Nissan pickup and red Winnebago Minnie had pulled up right behind us. By this time, the retired couple in the cab had noticed their doppelganger and had started pointing and gesturing towards our truck and trailer.
When they got out of their truck, we went back to chat with them. “I see you have Arizona plates,” I said. “What part of the state do you hail from?”
“Tucson,” the lady told me. “And you?”
“We’ve driven by there many a time,” she replied.
We all stood back and admired the sight of two red trucks towing Winnebago Minnies right next to each other in nowhere Yukon Territory. The couple spent their winters in Tucson and their summers in Fairbanks.
The lady gave me a tour of their trailer (a slightly smaller version of ours), and I showed her around ours. Her husband and Pedro did the manly kick-the-tires version of our conversation outside.
The thirty-minute wait for the pilot car passed pleasantly, and we even had time to snap a few photos of the matching trailers.
Once we negotiated through the construction zone, we entered a portion of the road the Milepost had warned us about. The guidebook called the phenomena ‘frost heaves’—places where the concrete buckled due to the underlying permafrost melting and refreezing. I called them the ‘dry heaves.’
No matter what you call them, they don’t make travel easy. The constant bucking of the truck and trailer from the heaves left me feeling queasy. I consulted the Milepost to find out how long the stretch would last, but I found it impossible to read.
Quirky Customs Rules
By lunchtime we had passed through the dry heaves and headed uphill towards the international border crossing. When we pulled up at the guard station, a starched and uniformed custom’s official went through her list of questions.
She ended the usual questions about destination and travel plan with one that surprised me. “Do you have any fruit or vegetables in your truck or trailer?”
“We have some tomatoes, an avocado, lettuce, potatoes, and some oranges,” I told her.
“You can’t take the tomatoes and avocado with you,” she said. “And you can either throw away the oranges or peel them and bring me the peels.”
Pedro and I looked at each other and shrugged. “We purchased the oranges at Costco in the United States,” I told her.
“Doesn’t matter,” she replied. “You can park by that fence and bring the banned stuff back here.”
I briefly considered just driving off. How ridiculous that we had to turn in items purchased in the states in a state that didn’t produce most of those items! Of course, the agent could easily track us down—one can’t just camouflage a big red trailer.
Pedro and I pulled over and proceeded to peel a dozen oranges. I carried our contraband back to the agent while Pedro fixed sandwiches.
“We only have 181 miles left!” I told him when I returned. “On normal roads, that should only take three hours.”
“But around here,” he finished my thought, “it could take five!”
Our chance encounter and stop at customs had me thinking about how people noticed our combo. We didn’t consciously purchase the truck and trailer together to make any sort of statement, but folks seemed to notice us.
At more than one gas station or rest area along the way, someone had commented on the color combo. They often combined their observations with the phrase, “You passed us awhile back.”
I started thinking about how our Alaska journey mirrored our Christian journey. I tend to think that I go through life with no one paying attention to me. Long ago, I realized that I worried more about what other people thought of me than other people actually thought of me.
This no-one-notices-me-anyhow-attitude has its perks. I discovered this summer it also has its drawbacks. People DO notice me. And if I claim the name of Christian, I should live my life worthy of the label.If I claim the name of #Christian, I should live my life worthy of the label. #write31days Click To Tweet
People notice. Perhaps people even hold Christians to a higher standard based on what they think they know about what Christians believe. By claiming Jesus as my Savior, I also agreed to the title of ambassador. People judge my Jesus based on my behavior.People judge my #Jesus based on my behavior. #write31days Click To Tweet
We don’t need to live in fear that people judge our every move, but we do need to realize that people watch. They judge Jesus. We should strive to always speak, write, act and respond (especially on social media) in love and with grace.
Beauty Tip #13: Strive to live with love and grace towards yourself and other people.
Q4U: Have you ever discovered that people noticed you more than you thought they did?