April 26th, 2004

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Home where you do not expect it

(I'll be posting in clumps. Internet access as we can get it.)

(Day 1)
It's pretty here, in a Southern California sort of way. Makes me a little homesick. Sagebrush and stunted wind-twisted pines cling to the edges of rock outcroppings. The ground is the color of pale caramel, and the dust gets into everything, with the scent of sage.

We pass through several tiny towns, logging towns or tourist stops. I do not mind sleeping in the car, but small trailer-park town motels scare the bejeesus out of me. Too little civilization, and too much. Says something about my prejudices, I suppose: cities or wilderness I know how to live in, but not tiny logging towns where public buildings are decorated with crucifixes.

We're decided to proclaim ourselves back in civilized lands when we find a Thai restaurant. If we do.
  • Current Music
    Cake - The Distance
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The twisted lands

(Day 2)
Conspiracy nuts take note: there are parts of Canada that would work very well for fake footage of a landing on another planet. We wouldn't have to reuse that dusty old Arizona desert. These are the twisted lands, and they are strange and awe-inspiring.

Basalt columns jutting from a hillside, a cluster of hexagonal columns as thick around as I am and many times as tall, formed when lava crystallized. Like huge stone snowflakes in glossy red-brown.

Lakes frozen and cracked and frozen again, glossy and slick, but with the twisted networks of old cracks outlined beneath in odd writhing helices.

Heavy slate in reds and greys, buckled and folded like cloth. Ice stalactites from overhangs, like frozen waterfalls, or molten wax from a candle. Cliffs the color of old parchment, crumpled like a manuscript.

Rough-hewn shapes, precariously balanced and alien, like stone behives, like tombs. Surround by the bones of the landslides that carved them, gravel and shattered slate.

I keep looking, but I haven't seen spiritrover or opportunitygirl yet.
  • Current Mood
    cheerful awed


We've started creating a metric for how civilized a place is. Various things add or substract points. Here's the list. We've seen everything on it except the Thai restaurant so far.

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In the footsteps of the aurora

(Day 2)
I came North looking for Light, chasing the aurora to its own country, to stand on snows that have known the sweep of the sun unmarred by night, and below the stars that need not hide their faces. To hear the aurora sing of ionic hydrogen, of magnetic fields, of the solar wind and the cold of space and the taste of night.

We're on the Canada-Alaska highway. Not to aurora country yet, but I have seen light strange beyond imagining. I have see the the petrochemical factories burn off oil byproducts in flickering columns of orange flame that dance in spirals and spill ruddy over the clouds.

Sunset here is a thing I have no words for. The sun set nearly four hours ago, in the west, stained-glass blues and golds and clouds the texture of knotted silk. A lovely sunset, the sort that looks like someone has rumpled the sky, but not all that remarkable, if you live in Seattle.

Three hours later, the sky was a soft luminous green, like glacier melt, bright enough to read by. It seemed a very strange thing: 10 PM, and light still leaking around the clouds. Until we realized a much stranger thing: the green glow was coming from the North. What we were seeing was light from the sun, circling below the horizon, heading to the east to begin again. The sun had set diagonally, skimming below the horizon on falcon wings, a heartbeat below the ends of the earth, close enough to light our way.

Wow. It's finally real to me. The ends of the earth. Wow.