Rather than arranging for a ride or a flight, I ended up hitchhiking. In most places, it's usually a bad idea to get into a car with strangers. I don't encourage it. Here, things are a little different. I will most likely get picked up by someone I know. Even if I get picked up by someone I don't know, chances are, that person will know someone I know. I like the freedom of not planning, but most of all, I like hearing stories. One on one, traveling for hours and hundred of miles together, people tend to open up and let you into their world. I like that.
I once got a ride with a trucker who took me to Prudhoe Bay. Joe was his name. He was a big guy, what you would expect a trucker to look like. He must have smoked at least 3 packs of Marlboro reds a day and drank Folgers out of a big gulp mug. He told me he was an outlaw. Joe and I bonded over The Beatles like we were 15 year old kids. He talked to me about his relationship with his girlfriend and about his teenage son. He talked about his cabin outside of Fairbanks and about his life on the road. We made frequent stops for wildlife. Joe liked animals. We saw a lone black wolf strolling through the tundra and a herd of musk oxen not too far up the road. He even stopped for ground squirrels, which he tried to convince me into believing that it was a marten. Joe let me drive his truck and asked me if I wanted to go fishing. It was a spectacular day. Joe the trucker and I connected. It was a nice feeling.
Anyway, this time I got picked up by a film crew for a TV show about truckers. I made it up north safe, with no problems. On my free time, I went snowshoeing, dog mushing, sledding...and celebrated the arrival of spring in the Arctic with my coworkers and friends.