Driving across country from Kentucky to Alaska is never boring for me. Though I may see many of the same things several times, I am never bored. My husband, Frank, on the other hand, frequently has a “let’s just get there and then we can enjoy” mentality about travel. This attitude, I have noticed is particularly true prior to his arrival at his favorite root beer stand in Fort McLeod in Alberta, Canada.
Over the years, I have pondered Frank’s attraction to this particular root beer stand. This attraction dates back almost 30 years! Heaven help us if the place ever goes out of business. Our daughters laugh about “Dad’s Root Beer Stand.” If there was anything exceptional about it, one might understand; but there isn’t. It’s just your average root beer stand. Well, maybe to the rest of us; but certainly not to Frank.
What is special though, to Frank, is what we have already put behind us during our travels. To him, what matters is that we are well rested, have cleared Canadian customs, stocked our cooler, and are set for some serious traveling. His root beer stand represents, for him, a reward for having overcome obstacles thus far along on the journey. It also represents, for him, total relaxation.
By Candy Clarke
The root beer stand means we only have two major cities between us and the Alcan Highway. Then, it’s smooth sailing the rest of the way home in Frank’s mind. Thus, he can sit and sip on his root beer in comfort and at ease in his little corner of the world.
Of course, that’s not true. The toughest part of the trip is yet to come. Once we leave the cities behind, there are new obstacles with which one needs to be concerned. Obstacles such as wild horses, moose, bear, buffalo, and caribou roaming freely. It’s not uncommon to round a curve in the road and find an animal blocking it as you are standing on the brake pedal and swerving to avoid impact. Then, there are the weather created obstacles such as trees across the road, rough crossings due to wash outs, or no crossings due to the road being washed away by flooding. Forest fires remain a constant threat when traveling in remote areas. Chances of being stranded due to mechanical difficulties increase greatly away from major populated areas.
All of these potential problems and many more lie ahead of us, but am I going to remind Frank of this? No way, not me! As we sit there in the root beer stand, I look across the table at the man who twenty years ago, loaded up his wife, daughters, and household belongings and moved to Alaska because his wife wanted to live there. He did this without knowing a single person in Alaska. I sit and watch as he enjoys his root beer and is, once again, ready to travel.
As we leave, I offered to snap a picture of him in front of his favorite spot. He declined the offer, saying he had the memories. I smiled; some things are better left alone-especially Frank and “his root beer stand.”