After yesterday's marathon, I woke up at 7:00 and, wise from past experience to the deceptive width of High Level's highway alley, elected to cruise on an unladen Badger rather than walk across the highway to A&W for breakfast. As I ate, and noticed the "We Have WiFi" signage in the otherwise empty dining room, I contemplated whether I should have brought along my laptop to catch up on some notes over breakfast. In the end, I probably should have, because I ended up burning the next three hours downloading the last two days out of my head anyway, and if I'd done it in the A&W, it would've saved me spilling half my coffee while unsuccessfully trying to ride back to the hotel with the paper cup between my legs.
Regardless, I needed to empty my brain, as it had gotten to the point that I was mentally reciting a progressively more complex acronym to try to remember details.
The ride from High Level home to Yellowknife was typical. I got really lucky with wildlife, just south of the Alberta/NWT border seeing what I think was a lynx (although I remember it having a longer tail, but this is too far north for bobcats, hmm), and just north of the border seeing a big, confident black bear sitting on the opposite shoulder of the road chewing on a stick. I spotted the telltale black blob of the bear from quite a distance, but with it unflinching as I approached, I began to wonder if was instead a bag of garbage or a blown semi tire. But nope, at maybe 50 meters away, it casually got up and lumbered down into the left ditch, it's body language not saying it was scared of the human and its little machine, but more like it just couldn't be bothered having its Sunday morning nap disturbed by us. In my head, I though that this was the forest providing my music for the day, in the form of tough-sounding, latitude-inspired rock stations, "You're listening to 59.9 The Lynx," and "This is The Bear 60.1." Another day of earplugs, indeed.
I crossed paths with a migrating co-worker Mason at the Fort Providence gas station, then scarfed down an ice cream and killed the final tank of the trip. Five segments over nine months made up this 10,700 km out-and-return, and gave me lots of miles of memory upon which to reflect as I sped toward loving arms (and paws) awaiting me in my driveway.
Final thoughts to follow.
Day total: 743 km, 6h45m
Trip total: 10,708 km (end)
Start: High Level, AB. End: Yellowknife, NWT.
Soundtrack: -33 dB foam, all the way home.