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HIS SHARE OF THE LOAD
Lake Louise, Alaska
Lydon and I stood on a cold inland shoreline, distant mountains bumping the northern horizon. To the south the massive uprising of ancient earthly turmoil lay jumbled in a mesmerizing sight by a million years of patient, godly thought. Across the lake the skeletal genesis of someone's dream, the ribbed wooden rising on a piece of land jutting into the vast lake, two or three stories high with a steep roof, a lodge of some sort quickly forming - in geologic time - into reality.
It is almost twenty years later and I retrace our old steppes across the far north with two of my daughters, Rebecca and Sarah. Across the Glenn Highway we have driven, over the Top of the World Highway into old memories of Dawson City, and that troupe of characters I have come to know. Down into Pelly Crossing, Carmacks, and Whitehorse, and now we are returning to Anchorage, and seeking lodging on Lake Louse.
I have formed my own Interpretation of Dreams. My original trek across Alaska with Lydon was the genesis of my own appreciation of them. I have found that there is much to the saying, 'Just Do It.' I have found that it is important to have dreams, and more important to accomplish them. Or at least die trying. A favorite quote of mine is from George Steinbrenner. "If you don't have a hernia, you're not pulling your share of the load," said he, and I mold this into my own understanding of dreams 'if you don't have a hernia trying to accomplish your dreams, you're not pulling your share of the load…' I haul a load of dreams.
As we bump along the twenty-mile dirt road into the lake I tell my girls of Lydon and I camping, and of the lodge that was being built at the time. We pull over and pause at the magnificent grandeur that an overlook affords to the south, a white-mountain blue-glacial madness, a masterpiece of stark, raw beauty unsurpassed anywhere I have traveled. Once back in the car we spot a caribou, and slowly approach the shoreline of Lake Louise. I spot the lodge on its jutting point of land across a bay, and we crawl back onto the dirt way and jolt our way to it. There are two or three cars in the parking lot, and as my girls run to the shoreline to take pictures, I enter the lodge to inquire of availability.
Inside is quiet, not a soul to be seen. It is as impressive inside as out, a large dining area, great picture windows overlooking the broad water, and finally, after a halloo, a young woman. They are closed, she tells me, and after directions to yet another lodge on the lake, I tell her of my previous visit, and of looking across the lake as this lodge was being built. The woman smiles ruefully.
"The man who built it, it was his dream," she tells me. "Built in '85. Did the whole thing, his own idea, he did it, and you know what happened?"
"He built the place and arranged a grand opening, a grand opening party, the first day the lodge was opened, this huge party, and you know what happened? He had a heart attack right at the party. Right during the party. He died right here, right in his own place, his dream place, on its opening night."
I share this story later, sitting in the rustic dining area of yet another wonderful lodge, with my two girls. They are twenty-something, and as I utter the words I sense that they do not appreciate the tragedy as I do. I stare out through the picture windows, out over the lake toward that lodge on its jutting point of land. As my daughters share their horror at the furred atrocities mounted on all the walls, I muse quietly and raise my glass in silent acknowledgement.
He had pulled his share of the load.