20 mei 2022

Fairbanks

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Bus 142, the magic bus

Nervously we walk into the campus. When we arrive at the 1st floor I see the bus in the distance. My heart makes a jump! After all these years seeing this bus with my own eyes is unimaginable. In combination with the fatigue of the past few days I react quite emotionally to this encounter. Unfortunately we are not allowed to pass the glass. I send an email to Angela (the supervisor of the project), asking if we can get closer to the bus. Late in the evening when we had given up hope my phone rings: Angela sends that tomorrow at 9am is perfect. A loud cry of joy follows. The next morning we are face to face with the bus. No glass between us this time. 'Can we... Can we go in for a minute?' I ask shyly. 'I thought you were never going to ask,' Angela laughs delightedly! Here we are inside bus 142, staring at the bed and even the mattress where Chris lost his life. There is something sinister about it and at the same time something so insanely beautiful. This day is forever etched in my memory.

Downtown

Fairbanks is a collection of cluttered, rundown buildings and diners. You name it they got it: McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Subway, KFC, ... All in the same complex! For someone with a difficulty to choose, this must be hell. We soak up the atmosphere of old Fairbanks in Pioneer Park where several old cabins are housed. There is a real pioneer atmosphere here. 

After two days you have seen Fairbanks. If you want to try all the fast food chains, you'll probably need much longer.

Walmart

Shopping for the next 10 days to Anchorage we do in Walmart. The goal? To stay under $3 a day for food. In the cart, out of the cart, dessert or none at all? When I grab some cheese for lunch, I see an armed man standing next to me! Full of disbelief I stare at the man and his gun discreetly. We as Belgians cannot imagine this. That an ordinary citizen goes shopping with his gun. The 'gun culture' here is really something quite special. 

Hospitality

During our rest days we stayed with Geoff and Dorothy, two elderly people. I contacted them through Warm Showers, the cycling community par excellence. We came for a flat piece in the garden, but in no time we roll out our mat inside. Geoff wants to bike with us for a bit downtown, we agree enthusiastically. From the first few meters he seems to be riding in turbo! We have to pedal incredibly fast to keep up and that on our rest day! 

It's nice to feel the warmth and security of a house for a while.

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