Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Football Road Trip from Anchorage to Fort McMurray

One of my colleagues has the most charming expression for when they deliver a definitive statement, a conversation closer beyond argument or reproach. “Sheh-bam”, they will say, always with a smile and a confidence that the discussion, whatever it was, is now finished because there is nothing more to say.

A few weeks ago I got an email inquiring about the local transportation plan for this little CFL game we had going on where I happen to work. I was getting dozens of those emails and responding to each as best I could, but this one was a bit different as the sender shared he was driving to Fort McMurray with his two small children...from Anchorage, Alaska.
I was admittedly both impressed and stunned, as it appeared he had never been to Fort McMurray and yet was setting out on an epic trek with a 6 and 3 year old to take in a football game in place far from home and where he had never been. I responded to his query, and over the days leading up to the game I contemplated contacting him to try to meet with them while they were here, but, tied up with the myriad details and complexities of my job, the email was never sent.

Imagine my delight and surprise when he emailed me after the game to share that he had written about their journey. I had checked my email late at night and stayed up even later to read his travelogue about their adventure as they drove from Alaska to Fort McMurray, the place I call home. I marvelled at his courage, as even though the Intrepid Junior Blogger is 15 the concept of being trapped in a car with my child for this many days strikes me with a kind of terror and I cannot even quite imagine doing it when she was younger. But I marvelled most at his story of not only their journey, but their experience of Fort McMurray – enough so that I asked his permission to share it here on my blog, because it is perhaps the definitive tale of why people should come here.
Got a family member who complains about how far it is to come visit you? Tell them about the guy who drove from Anchorage with two small kids to see half a football game. Run into people dissing our community without ever being here? Tell them about the man who came to place he had never been, bringing his small children and an open mind about what he would find. Find people looking for reasons as to why they should come here? Send them this link and tell them that if some guy from Anchorage can find a reason to drive here, so can they if they really want to (and if they don’t want to, well, it’s their loss).

It is a long read, and so very worth it. There were moments when I laughed, and moments when I found small tears forming in the corners of my eyes, because it was incredible to see my community through someone else’s eyes. It was equally incredible to me as a parent to read of an epic road trip that the kids might not remember (at least only bits and pieces and blurs) but that their father will never forget, just like all the adventures the IJB and I have undertaken in the last few years.
I am saddened I didn’t get to meet this man and his children when they were here, but as we corresponded he offered that if we are ever in Anchorage to let him know – and as luck would have it the IJB is planning our next cruise for the summer of 2016 (having discovered her love of cruises on our trip to the Caribbean last year) and her chosen destination is, of course, Alaska, with Anchorage one of our ports-of-call.

So, take the time to read this travelogue, because it is worth it. Keep the link handy, too, because the next time someone questions how far it is to come here, whether it is worth it and why they should visit I suggest just sending them this with one word attached: “Sheh-bam”

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