In the morning we stock up on fresh fruits and veggies from the food bank, and then we hit the road again. In Watson Lake, I pull into a locally owned gas station Carlos and I visited on the way up. The German owner recognizes me, I tell him the story of my successful journey north, and I introduce him to Marcus. He sends us off with free cups of coffee.
As we drive, we talk about the power of manifesting. As almost all the travelers I’ve met continue to claim, we all have the power to attract into our lives anything that we desire. This applies to both the smaller things, like manifesting lunch, and to the larger things; manifesting a partner, a dream job, a certain lifestyle. There is really no limit. The concept seems almost mystical and esoteric to so many people, yet when we remove the blockages in our lives that prevent us from having faith in the present moment (plans, schedules, preconceptions, fears, etc), the phenomena continues to express itself over and over again. Rob talks about the animals he has seen in the north. But he still has yet to see a bear, he tells us. He really wants to see a bear. And the northern lights, of course, but we expect we’re too far south for that now. You can’t ask for everything.
It’s not long before we pass a young grizzly wandering through berry patches on the side of the highway. We pull over and climb out, not fifty feet away from the great animal. We remain close to the safety of the car, yet when the bear turns to look at us, our hearts pound. I can feel our fear and respect for the creature.
Ten minutes down the highway, we spot a second grizzly loping along the side of the road. I slow way down and keep pace with the animal, but then we spot another bear, thirty seconds ahead. I drive forwards and park; this third one is a black bear, grazing among the tall grasses. Suddenly, the wandering grizzly appears and breaks into a run. Rob bolts back to the car; Marcus manages to capture the whole thing on his camera. The black bear turns and scampers up a hillside, and we watch the grizzly chase the black bear into the forest.
Onwards through the sunset, caribou on the road. We begin to fantasize about what we will cook for dinner. “I really wish I would have had a chance to try moose meat,” Rob muses. In the fading twilight, huge shapes appear on the pavement ahead of us. I creep through a herd of buffalo, two hundred strong, some the size of a Land Rover.
It’s dark when we arrive at Liard River Hot Springs. We pass through the unmanned gates, commandeer the gazebo after finding most of the campsites occupied, and gather some firewood for the stove. Before cooking dinner, we excitedly grab towels and follow a cold wooden boardwalk out to the hot springs. The scent of sulfur guides us to the pools. We all moan as we sink into the water. Steam rises into the night sky, tall dark pines pressed against cloudy patches of star-strewn blackness.
Two Canadian hunters are waiting for us back at the gazebo. Danny and his buddy are very friendly and very drunk, and they are staying with us in the gazebo tonight, they announce. We light a fire in the stove and begin to cook our dinner, and Danny pulls out a huge cylindrical sausage the size of a loaf of bread. “This thing is only four days old, eh?” He says as he begins to cut off fat slices and throw them directly onto the stovetop. “What kind of meat is that?” We ask. “Well it’s moose!” Rob’s eyes widen. “I just shot this moose four days ago I tell ya! Here, try some of this sausage!” We gratefully accept, and we stir the sliced sausage into our pasta. As soon as we have removed the sausage from the stove, Danny replaces it with more sausage. At first we are thrilled by this. Yet we quickly grow alarmed when we realize that there may be no end to the sausage. “Hey, try some of this sausage!” Danny says, cackling. “We already tried it!” “Well, have some more!” We thank him, and we roast the slices on the stovetop until they are sizzling and crisp. “Man I tell ya, that moose…it had T-bone steaks the size of your head.” They pass around beers, Danny searches for marijuana. “Hey, here’s an idea!” He shouts. “Try some moose sausage! It’s good, eh?” “Yeah, it’s good.” “FUCK yeah it’s good!” We all laugh and more beers are passed around.
Between bites of sausage, Rob and I talk about how crazy the day has been. He got to see his bear, and now we have all gotten to try moose meat. This is crazy. Are we really manifesting these things?? “Now all that’s left is the northern lights,” he jokes. Danny throws more sausage onto the stove. Rob and I hear branches cracking, and we turn around to see a hazy figure coming through the darkness towards us. “Hey!” Someone calls. “Sorry to just walk up on your camp like this…but just thought I would let you know, just in case you’re interested…the aurora’s out right now. You can see it from the boardwalk.”
Rob and I almost fall over. Then we collect ourselves, grab Marcus and Ronan, and head over to the boardwalk by headlamp. In the northern sky, beneath fistfuls of stars, the green glow hovers faint but unmistakable above the horizon. We all lie down on the wooden planks under the inky night sky. Northern lights and shooting stars; soon the yellow moon peeks up over a hillside. When the aurora fades and the cold seeps in, we head back to the gazebo to make some hot chocolate. “Hey!” Danny calls as we step inside. “You boys should try some of this moose sausage, eh?” He throws another dozen huge slices onto the stove. “Man,” I marvel. “You got a lot of meat out of that thing.” “FUCK yeah!” We brew our hot chocolate and take sips between bites of moose meat. Danny is getting drunker. “Hey Danny, how big was the T-bone steak?” He grins. “Size of his back.” He gestures at Rob, who is kneeling beside the fire. His buddy is passing around a joint. Danny is talking about going up the river for hunting trip. “I was out on this one trip with this Indian, and I saw this huge bull moose. You shoulda seen that rack, eh? And I’m there with my rifle, getting ready to try to take a shot, but the ol’ Indian just says, ‘Take your time, Danny. Don’t panic. It’s coming right to you.’ He’s like, ‘Take your time. Don’t panic. It’s coming right to you.’ And he says to me, ‘Take your time. Don’t panic. It’s coming right to you.’ Man, that moose was huge. And the Indian, you know what he said to me?” “Take your time?” Marcus and I prod. “Take your TIME! Don’t panic. It’s coming right to you. But seriously,” he says to his buddy. “I wanna do it. We should go up the river.” His buddy nods. “But you need to get some herb first though.” “Nah, I don’t need to. I didn’t even smoke when I was out with the Indian,” he says as he flips over half the sausage slices. His buddy snorts. “You told me you did!” “Well, only the first few days.” We all laugh uproariously and Danny flips the same slices back over. “Only the first few days?” His buddy asks. “Well we ran out, didn’t we?” We all laugh uproariously again and Danny stuffs one of the sausage slices into his mouth. “Hey, you guys should try this sausage, eh?”
Marcus and I wake up still laughing. “Take your time. Don’t panic. It’s coming right to you.” We realize that this does not apply merely to moose hunting. Take your time. Don’t panic. Everything you need is going to come right to you. I’m antsy to get on the road as we pack up, but Marcus turns to me. “Hey! Take your time,” we say in unison. “Don’t panic. It’s coming right to you.”
Our driving routine continues. Marcus passes up peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (he’s an expert now) and I answer Rob’s questions about Americanisms like “cooties” and “junk in your trunk.” We roll the windows down to let in the warm air. Everything is green again. We’ve driven south from autumn back into summer. “How far will we get tonight?” We wonder. But we have no idea, and that doesn’t really matter. We need a bigger cooking pot, we remember; it’s been hard to cook for four people with our collection of small bowls. “Should we buy one at the next town?” Ronan asks. Marcus and I grin. “Take your time. Don’t panic. It’s gonna come right to us.” After all, if Rob can manifest moose sausage and the northern lights, surely we can find something to cook with.
In Fort Nelson I find a cooking pot in a recycle bin, make friends with the woman working in a gas station, and walk out with a box full of fried chicken that she gives me. From there, south. South, south, south. If we make it far enough down tonight, I think we can camp with the hunters who took me in on my first night up the highway. I don’t remember where exactly they were located though, and I have no idea whether they are still there. The road winds up through ice cream cone mountains and then the sun eats into the earth behind us, burning away like paper, the hills all insane neon hues; I have to feel my face to check whether I am wearing sunglasses that are somehow distorting the colors.
Just as the mountains swallow the sun, we find the camp. The RVs are still there, and as I pull in, I see the hunters sitting around the fire. Their faces light up when I climb out of the car, and we rejoice and reunite. I fill them in on my journey north and introduce them to my new travel companions. We pitch our tents in the windless area behind the RVs. When the night grows late, the hunters turn in. I gaze into the fire for a while before heading to bed myself. Tucked into my sleeping bag, I close my eyes. “I am grateful for this day,” I whisper. I am doing it. I feel like a traveler. Marcus, Rob, Ronan, and I; we are a good team. We are all learning from one another. We each bring something different to the dynamic. I have extending the methods I have been practicing, and, without the use of money, I have been able to provide food for four people. “I am grateful for this home,” I say. My body is my home. This sleeping bag is the home of my body. This tent is the home of my sleeping bag. This campsite is the home of my tent. This route from Alaska to Vancouver is the home of this campsite. The continent of North America is the home of this route. The earth is the home of this journey.