Monday, November 29, 2010

The ambassador of kwan

Hello again. Writing to you from rain-drenched Lavergne, Tennessee. We saw rain drops today for only the second time since we got out on the road more than a month ago. I'm sure that will get a groan and an eye-roll from anyone reading this in Yellowknife. According to reports, it was 26 below zero this morning. The good news is that the gasoline and food shortage has blown over. Sorry, I'm gloating.

We had a great event today at the Ingram Book distribution centre in Lavergne. It was a private event, but hundreds of people showed up to hear Alex do what he loves to do more than just about anything else: dispense advice. He figures he's held down enough weird jobs and raised enough heck-raising kids to qualify him to give advice on everything from how to cure whatever ails them with herbal remedies to where people should set up shop to raise their families and find good work.

The more people who turn out to hear what Alex has got to say, the thicker he lays on the advice. Today, around 300 people heard about the merits of having a big family. He encourages people with 5, 6 and 7 kids by saying, "That's pretty good, you've already got half of a family, keep going." He also says having 11 kids and 10 grandkids (with an 11th on the way) is the surest way to start your own fan club.

Perhaps Alex's favourite advice is to sell people on the idea of coming north to Yellowknife. In the last 40 days, almost nobody has managed to shake Alex's hand or get a photo taken without getting a tourism brochure or DVD from the Northwest Territories or Yellowknife. It amounts to thousands of people hearing a quick story about how to cope with the cold or how they could ply their trade or skill to great success in Canada's north. At the very least people leave with the knowledge that the north is vast and beautiful, and if they do make it up north, they're welcome to look him up.

It is nice to hear Alex trumpet the north (over and over and over and over) because it's a good reminder that we actually do have a home. This road trip is a constant adventure with a new location, with a new set of faces and personalities everyday. The daily refreshed audience constantly gives Alex a new crowd to regale with advice. He clearly enjoys it and it can seem like life on the road is his natural habitat. But his focus on the north roots the whole trip in our real home. Which is good.

The photo here was taken this afternoon in Tennessee. Alex is explaining where we're all from. The video is one of a couple northern reels that we play on the huge LED screens on the outside of the Red Giant big rig at events.

Hope this finds northerners digging the onset of winter and southerners contemplating a trip to Yellowknife. My advice: March and July are the best months to visit. Take care.

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