Saturday, 4 October 2014

Highway of Tears

OK the first scary road completed I head across to see a mate in Nikiski, south West Alaska. I met Greg on a ride in New Zealand a few years ago, he managed to drop by Perth earlier this year and I promised to drop by on this trip. Greg has more toys than you can poke a stick at. Bikes, Planes, Cars, Ski mobiles, tractors, diggers, boats, 4wd's.... You name it. He's got it. But I have to say the private runway won the prize. Just imagine walking out your house across to your own hanger and pondering which aeroplane to take out today, Yes he has several of them too.

No sooner am I there than he's firing up the Piper Cub and we're running down the runway to lift off above his neighbours, which so happens to sit by the lake which is also used to land on ... or is it sail on?

With video camera's in hand we set off across to see some amazing mountain ranges just north west of our position. We fly between lovely peaks, glaciers, lakes and all that kinda stuff. All is going good until he's slowing down above this rock strewn valley, I'm sure he's too low but realise at last minute he's actually going to land on that random pile of boulders. Now I'm fairly ok flying as I've done this kind of stuff before, usually on flat runways, but I'm rather distressed that we'll hit the unkept pretend runway in Greg's head and we'll flip over breaking all bones. If we don't die initially, the remote location and weather will finish us off. As it turns out on bouncing the first time, the giant 30" wheels soak up the boulders as we sail over them at 60mph. Greg completes the landing with a prompt 180 deg turn any rally driver would be proud of, enabling some means on getting back off this mountain. I'm still gob-smacked when I hear over the headset, " I need to take a leak"!
Greg 'can land anywhere' Neisen

15 mins later we aim to take off, he tells me to lean forward as much as possible otherwise we wont get the tail of the ground and end up a mangled mess in the boulders at the end of the non existent runway. So the chances of death are still looming it seems. However, all goes to plan and we're off skirting the peaks and valleys. No sooner am I over this random toilet break than we're doing the same gain, slowing and descending. But there's no runway, no line of boulders in front. Yes there's a sort of beach looking thing on a lake in front but with vertical mountain faces at each end, there is no way you can turn a plane so tight at last minute skimming the water in a steep turn at this speed and land. But that's exactly what happens. No room for error here and I still have images of being spat out of a glacier in 100 years because it all went wrong. However, now landed, and still trying to pretend I'm not nervous, we get out for a pee. My turn this time. Purely as a precaution because we're taking off into a cliff face! With the same confidence as before,  Greg lifts the air-plane into the air and turns before we smack into the face of a ever closing mountain. What an amazing experience I thought, how can I beat that!

Matt and Gary
I head back to Fairbanks and collect my thoughts before turning East to Canada and the mountain ranges of the rockies. This is going to be fairly easy although pretty cold at times. I run into some new friends in Whitehorse where we all sit around the fire, drinking beer, talking complete bollocks and setting the world to rights. The best thing! The point of this at times. Good mental health therapy we all agree.
Gary is from Northern Ireland heading same way as me.  Matt is a NYPD cop heading home,who,  as I find out at the Canadian border, is also armed with a shotgun. Despite my feeble amusing  "make my day! Bear" Dirty Harry impersonations with my small tin of bear spray, my weapon is no match for a 12 bore.  I bid good bye for now Gary and Matt.

Doesn't sound like fun but the road or Highway of Tears was so named after several young girls disappeared hitch hiking here. This is the strctch of tarmac between Prince George and Prince Rupert. The weird thing is, this has been happening since 1969 and 2011. A total of 20 young girls have disapeared or been found murdered. Still no one has been caught for the crimes.

The suspects have been believed to originate in Prince George and it's here I wish I'd kept going. At night, out fending for refreshments the place has an eerie feel, with no one on the streets, similar to a horror movie where everyone lurks in the shadows and zombies are the only night life. Deciding to catch a quick beer I experience the pleasures of street life. A guy, obviously mentally ill tells me what he thinks of me and the world, two minutes later a drunk wants to pick a fight. But its all good, a scantily clad street girl asking for some loose change gives me a hug all because I spared her $5 to "get home"

So in effect I hired the services of a prostitute. Felt OK to me.

Next: "Why did you go to Nebraska"?

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