We finally made it to Alaska! Three days of nonstop driving has landed us in Fairbanks at two in the morning somewhere in the middle of the setting sunrise. Thats right, it NEVER gets dark. We awoke this morning to Clays ridiculous spontaneous banjolele wake up song and crawled out of our tents to the sunny Calypso Community Farm. It feels so good to have arrived. Lets recount the journey.
We left Bellingham at 1 am on Saturday night/Sunday Morning, and didn’t really stop to camp until we made it to Fairbanks, rotating drivers the whole way, and sleeping when we could curled up on seats or cramped in the back of the bus like circus sardines. As we cruised through Northern BC I wrote in my journal, and this is what it said.
“On Monday we crossed the continental divide at the northern part of the Rockies. The landscape was incredible, twisted lawers of striated rock rising thousands of feet in the air between carved out valleys with waterfalls galore. In the period of two hours, as we drove past lake after river we saw Stone Sheep, a Caribou, a herd of Buffalo, a Black Bear and the most vivid rainbow I have ever seen, hugging the valley floor.
We stopped at Iliard hot springs for our first dip in water in 48 hours, ate pasta, and continued on our merry way. Just now a Moose with baby in tow crossed right in front of our crazy vaudeville caravan rolling into a sunset that never ends. Shades of Pink and Purple are strewn about the sky like cotton candy for the gods. Myself and many others have never been this far north before, the vastness of the landscape is hard to fathom, it is truly wilderness in a sense that you simply cannot find in the lower 48. Somehow the solitude gives me the sense that everything is right in the world.
11 oclock and the sky still glows with an orange hue to the west, with still no signs of the first stars. Buffalo are everywhere, huge lumbering beasts, peacefully strolling about, a testement to the wonder of this place, still untainted by humanities meaningless meddling.
So here we are, 45 folks just crazy enough to leave everything behind for a month, hop on a CROWDED bus and embark on the journey of a lifetime to spread joy and light to places that need it most. In these uncertain times how easy it is to forget that life is supposed to be fun.
But thats where Chautauqua comes in, a reminder of that playful spirit hiding in us all, waiting to be set free. So we fill the air with songs, juggle, dance, parade, teach, and frolic, not just for ourselves, but for everybody. And that is why no amount of bus breakdowns, border hassles, all night driving, cramped conditions, sleep deprived deliriums, flooded busses or rainy days will ever stop us. As I said before and will say again, The show must go on.”
Two days later and here we are, Fairbanks AK. We just had our first group circle, of which I will report only two things. First, we got a message from the nursing home we performed in on Friday just before leaving Bellingham. The director said “I haven’t seen the people that happy since I can remember last, andon Monday they were still talking about it, which is almost unheard of.”
The second thing was from one of our drivers Alan, who said “In my 25 years of bus driving I have never seen a group go through such adverse conditions, and on top of it, remain positive, friendly and helpful throughout the whole journey. It is much much more than just luck.”
We then broke off for band rehearsal, show auditions and shopping errands. Tomorrow the real action starts with a parade, workshops, and shows. Stay tuned for more Midnight Sun Vaudeville Tour updates,
Sincerely, Blog Monkey Extraordinaire,
Eli “Dr. Bonkers” March.