With so much of the country digging out from the massive snow storms that swept from Texas across the Midwest and on to the East Coast, this column from Slim Randles seems most appropriate for today. But first, I must say I was mildly amused at some of the jokes that circulated on social media about Texas and the state of the power grid. It was funny, too, to see the messages about our dear Ted Cruz perhaps going to Cancun again. That trip last February was not one of his finer moments and even the spin put on it when he returned didn’t dim my dismay.
Normally, I like snow. I like to walk in it, play in it, and in my younger years even liked to lie down and make a snow angel. Not so much anymore. This storm started with ice, so walking was not an option because I didn’t want to risk slipping a and falling. Plus, it’s been so frigid, with temps in the low teens and wind chills in single digits. So I stayed inside, bundled in warmups and sweaters and thick socks until the weekend when bright sunshine brought temperatures up a tad and the ice started to melt. My dog was so happy when I finally took him for a walk.
Before turning the blog over to Slim, I do want to share a couple of pictures I’ve taken from inside my warm cocoon.
Okay. Now here’s Slim. Enjoy…
It was time to do it. I mean, Dud had specifically dropped more hints than World War II bombs that he had always craved a pair of snowshoes, and Anita had given him a good set of wood and Babiche trail shoes … (the good ones … 12 by 56) for Christmas.
Only problem at Christmas was … it’s hard to justify snowshoes when there’s only an inch of snow on the ground. But now, this morning, the world is a powdery white and it’s time to do it.
So just after breakfast, Dud Campbell walked on down to the field next to Lewis Creek and strapped them on. Kinda weird. But fun. After a little practice, Dud was shuffling along like nobody’s business on those shoes.
Only two more miles, Dud thought, looking back at his following dog team. Only two more miles of packing trail, and he’d be in Nome.
Eleven hundred miles of driving a dog team and he’d only had to pack trail for the dogs twice. He smiled through the tunneled parka hood. It takes a real Alaskan to do this job right, of course, and Dud was the one to put the sour in sourdough!
Looking up at the yellow-diamond sky, he spies the old Miller place on the left. Well, where the old Miller placed used to be, anyway. Had to take it down, so all that’s left is this field … this field stretching to …
The North Pole, of course.
Oh, others had been here before. Peary and Henson in 1909, and a bunch of others since then. But they hadn’t done it on snowshoes alone. No way. He would be the first. And he wondered … when I get there, will there be some sort of monument left by the others? Some way of telling I’m really there?
Ah, these snowshoes … great opener of doors for Dud’s imagination. Of course, there’s only one reason to reach the North Pole.
He’s always wanted to write this in his diary, “From there I turned south.”
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All of the posts here are from his syndicated column, Home Country that is read in hundreds of newspapers across the country. I am always happy to have him share his wit and wisdom here.
Slim Randles is a veteran newspaperman, hunting guide, cowboy and dog musher. He was a feature writer and columnist for The Anchorage Daily News for 10 years and guided hunters in the Alaska Range and the Talkeetna Mountains. A resident of New Mexico now for more than 30 years, Randles is the prize-winning author of a dozen books, and is host of two podcasts and a television program.