The act of recording himself always struck him as egotistical. He was no great scientist or artist or explorer, recording his deeds or discoveries for posterity; he was just another citizen, neither the brightest nor the dimmest, the bravest nor the most cowardly, the strongest nor the weakest. He was just...Earl.
And yet he felt compelled, from a very young age, to document his journeys. As soon as he could pick up a pencil, he wrote. As soon as he could hold a camera, he shot. The world around him, especially the people, captivated his attention, and he felt that if he didn't record, he would forget. As he has indeed forgotten so very much.
On this trip, he vowed to take his time, to photograph points of interest, to lose himself in contemplation, to absorb the continent's beauty and in some way come to understand it - and himself - just a little better.
The moment passed, and Earl drove on. His maps revealed that the winding, border-straddling road had taken him into the Yukon Territory now, but without signposts he didn't feel compelled to stop for a photo. Instead, a few kilometres on, he goggled in disbelief at the strangest sight of this entire trip.
A gravel pit hugged the north side of the road. Within it stood a man alone, a man wearing black shoes, bright white pants and shirt, a rainbow-coloured jacket of polka dots and matching hat. He stood beside an ice cream cart, looking up at the sky. Fort Nelson was hours behind him, Watson Lake hours ahead. There were no construction crews in sight, nor even a campground or rest stop where an enterprising ice cream man might find willing customers.
No, he was alone, alone and content, removing his cap and slapping it into one palm while contemplating eternity.
Earl drove on, mystified. In the rear view mirror he saw two other cars slow down and point at the man; this was no northern mirage, merely something inexplicable. He considered and dismissed the idea of turning back for a photo, knowing that he would regret the decision forever. But some images were never meant to be captured.
|The view from Earl's hotel room: a cement wall.|