I write to you from cold, dark Yellowknife. It's dark when you go to work and dark when you come home. Even if you only work bankers hours. But despite the cold and the dark, it is mighty fine to be home.
We got to the Milwaukee airport in the middle of a wild snow storm. I'd guess half of the flights were cancelled, including Jay's first leg to Cleveland, on route to Toronto for his dad's birthday. Alex and I were lucky to get out on our early morning flight to Denver. We connected there to Edmonton. And then made it home to Yellowknife by 10 at night. All the while we were receiving increasingly disturbed updates from Jay about life at the Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee. Eventually Jay caught a flight, a mere 27 and a half hours after arriving at the airport.
Before we left Wisconsin we were hosted graciously in Manitowoc and Two Rivers. Two Rivers is the home of the Red Giant and is now where the beast is resting. Deservedly so after a huge trip. Randy Nickels and Bryan Dax who operated the truck and managed merchandise on the road are also both from Two Rivers and showed us a good time before we set sail for the north. Hanging out at Bryan's favourite place to play pool and chowing down on cheese curds was the first time it sunk in that we were wrapping up the tour. Definitely mixed emotions.
Now that we're home, you'd think that we'd all want a little break from each other. Not so. Jay and I have been texting, emailing and calling frequently since our paths split in Milwaukee. And Alex and I hadn't been home for 24 hours when we got back together to do a radio interview with CBC North's Norbert Poitras. After the interview Alex gave me a ride home and we parked in the alley behind my house to keep yakking.
All of this is to say that it was a great trip. Happy as we all are to be sleeping in our own beds, the adventure of seeing a new place and meeting new people everyday will be missed, big time. During our interview, Norbert asked Alex about being on tour and getting to meet all those fans. Of course there are a few funny stories about obsessive fans (someone wet their pants), but mostly it's a series of incredibly friendly people who offer their homes and their hospitality to make our time on the road, away from home such a good experience. A big thanks to all the people whose paths we crossed in the last 2 months.
Finally, as lots of people have been asking me about the trip, I'm struggling with how to sum it up, how to capture such an epic journey and experience in a few sentences. So I've taken to breaking the trip down by the numbers. Most of these numbers are estimates, none are exaggerations:
57 days on the road (Alex)
52 days on the road (Loren & Jay)
4 loads of laundry (Team total)
25 visits to Denny's
3 home cooked meals (Thank-you: Simone Hardy, Tina Bush, and Barb Carstens)
80 hours of video footage
4000 "stimulus packages" - a tickle Alex delivers to maximize the smile for a photo (estimate based on roughly 100 per event)
3 magazines of Ak-47 ammunition (which was pumped into a New Mexico hillside)
6 surprise visits from Yellowknifers living in different parts of the US
5000+ new fans of Yellowknife and the NWT (who Alex gave a brochure and/or invited over for supper)
14 lbs gained (3 for Jay, 11 for Loren, Alex unknown)
I could go on. One thing that would be hard to quantify is how much we laughed our heads off. Nearly two months on the road together and you'd figure we would be ready to kill each other. But it didn't work out that way. It was a great time. And if it wasn't for Christmas and our friends and family we've been missing, I think we could have just kept on trucking.
It should also be said that the team on the ground, touring, was only a fraction of the team that put the trip together and kept it on the rails as we hurtled across America and back. Alex's son and manager, Curtis, was the backbone of the operation. A second wave of thanks should be aimed at his wife Jen, who makes Curtis' commitment to the project possible. As well, Carl Carstens, who operates Rockwood Products, was kindly referred to as "the mythic hustler in the sky." Having never met the guy it was impressive how he (and his team: Cheri and Lindsay) could utilize his network of trucker connections and know-how to sort out any wrinkles in our trip. Jillian and James at Anderson PR and Aditi Shaw and others at Wiley were also great. Kelly Hilliker was the behind the scenes guy for the Red Giant team. And finally Louise, Erika and Raegan, who put up with Alex, Jay and I being out on the road for nearly two months. That's a huge level of support to make such a cool experience possible. Big thanks to our ladies. And a big thanks to all of the people above.
This will be my last entry about the trip, but keep an eye on iceroadtrucker.ca to see what's going on with the movie project and what Alex is up to. After Christmas we'll get back to work on all this and keep you updated.
Thanks very much for reading. I hope you've enjoyed it. Have a merry Christmas, gang.