“Can’t we wait till we back in the United States? Its just that in these strange showers there’s no way to protect your virginity!”
We are a few hours north of Vancouver. In this small space we are each in our own orbits. Michael is pounding one booted foot as he drives, plugged into The Fall on itunes, grinning. I’m not in the mood for Manchester’s punk scene yet. I’m hovering between realms, playing teacher, pbj-maker, map reader, fly on the wall. Jake sighs over science. He’s grappling with the building blocks of life: cells, sexual vs. asexual reproduction. As much as he deplores the subject, it chases him down. Before bed at night he shouts his usual warning, “No monkey business!”
We watched Little Big Man last night. Jake was rapt. I’d forgotten that we three had watched that together when Jake was only seven and Michael has been calling him that ever since. I don’t think we could all squeeze into this buggy next year.
For now, we run back in time. Birch bannered in gold again. Rocky hillsides dotted with pine and yellow grasses. In the lowlands, emerald green valleys, hulks of old tractors and wood-fired cookstoves sit out in the fields. One hung open, oven door agape and a hand painted sign, “Open Range.” If we passed a fruit tree of any kind, even if the fruit had fallen, I would have to pull over and eat it like the Joads. The landscape makes me hungry. Grapes of wrath lay thick about these parts. Wreakage of industry, beaten-down dreams. Towns called Horsefly and Likely. Was that rusty dark green car a vw karmann ghia? Sitting atop the sloping end of a trailer home, flooded with sun, it’s a south-facing deck, a cocktail hour crow’s nest.
BC Parks closed be damned, its still summer to us Alaskans!
We pass a perfectly circular lake encrusted and swirled with white.
“How can that be frozen?!” Jake wonders from the sunny loft.
“Salt,” says Michael, “There were other signs of a salt mine.”
So much history here, more log barns, old wooden waterwheels, picket-fenced farms. “Groovy town,” says Michael. Then, his benediction: “It looks like Northern California.”
And it feels like the West Coast’s Appalachia. A big rough footprint of White Man’s struggle to survive in an Indian stronghold. The ‘settlers’ took all but the names: Puntchesakut, Nazko, Lillooet, Xax’lip, Squamish. Typically these are left to the parks.