On Saturday, Aug. 2, I thought it would be a good idea to hitchhike to the Arctic Ocean. And it was, but that wasn't always apparent during my trip. It was a journey fraught with peril and hardship but ultimately fruitful beyond my second-wildest expectations.
Leaving was easy. I just made this cool sign, stuck it to the back of my pack, and started out the door of the Coldfoot Cafe in the rain. It was about 10:00 am. I hiked for two miles before Ben stopped for me. Here's the inside of his truck.
The first thing he asked me, before where I was headed or my name, was "are you running from the law?"
"Me neither", he assured me.
We exchanged a little conversation before "Do you have a camera?" (Yes) "Does it take video?" (Yes) "Make a video of this" (OK). I recorded a few seconds of Ben driving a truck and he said "Are you going to put it on youtube?" (I don't know) "Put it it on youtube" (Um...ok) "Sweet".
Yeah, it was only minutes before I realized that Ben is quite mad (as in crazy). I should have known as much when he stopped his oversize load on a blind curve so that I could climb into the cab of his rig. I hadn't even had my thumb out.
Ben is 29. He has been married to Anastasia, his Russian email-order bride for one year. He says she's the greatest. "Does your camera let you view the video?" (Yeah. I'll show it to you when we stop) "Show it to me now." (....Ok) He watches the video, glancing at the narrow gravel road now and then as it speeds by at 70 miles per hour. Wanting to devote his full attention to a boring video on a small screen, he stops his rig in the middle of the highway and holds my camera. "Cool". Another trucker zooms past heading South. He asks Ben over the CB radio if everything's alright. Ben's voice drops two octaves as soon as he picks up his own CB mic to say "Yeah I'm watching a video." The entire 4 and a half hour ride he doesn't once fail to use his extra manly CB voice when he pushes that button.
Ben brings up a series of topics that make me uncomfortable, including Why Mainstream Christianity is Better than Mormonism, Which Girls at Coldfoot Like to Sleep Around, Things that Could Happen to a Hitchhiker, and What is the Best Way to Hide the Body of a Hitchhiker if One Were to Murder Him. He asks if I have any weapons, and I show him my skinning knife and my bear spray, which I have kept handy since leaving Coldfoot. Then he brings up a topic that will last us the rest of the ride: Hilarious Conspiracy Theories, from which I learn that:
1. George H.W. Bush, Richard Nixon, and a bunch of other former presidents are Illuminati, and they orchestrated the death of JFK who was anti-Illuminati, but still deserved to die as he was a known attendee of The Church of Satan. Our entire government is run by Illuminati. They will kill Obama soon.
2. Benjamin Franklin was a "fag", even though he did many good things.
3. Every time you drink a soda, a little bit of aluminum enters your body and ends up at the top of your brain inside your skull. It collects there over time.
4. Every tetanus shot contains 59% mercury (which I thought was more than enough to kill several humans) and, guess where it ends up? Right next to the aluminum.
5. These metals form a sort of antenna which receives transmissions from the government, who controls all of our thoughts.
(And Ben probably thought that I wasn't paying attention.) He makes me promise to type "Illuminati JFK" into youtube and watch all of the videos that come up. These topics were so distracting that I almost didn't notice the herd of 20+ muskoxen that we zipped by at about mile 330.
Finally I saw what I was looking for.
I say to Ben: "Thisismystopthanksbye" and he lets me out. I grab my things and never look back.
Parts 2 & 3