I’d heard about my uncle John’s great adventure when I was a boy in short pants. And I vaguely knew the old motorcycle at the back of his garage was part of it. I pushed through the dusty boxes and cleared a space around the BSA so I could get on the saddle, hold the handlebars and go vroom vroom. Maybe Uncle John would sell me the machine one day. Hey, maybe he’d give it to me.
I’d seen the 16 mm film he’d taken of Alaska, Yukon and British Columbia when the color was still fresh. Over the years the color has faded to salmon, green and yellow. But when I was a boy and watched his movie flicker on the screen he’d set up in the living room of his house in Chappaqua, the rivers ran blue and the mountains were all white on top.
His films and motorcycle are in a museum in Fairbanks now. My wife, who had lived in Alaska, knew all about them. In the early days of courting, I told her my story of the motorcycle in Uncle John’s garage. Her jaw dropped and she stepped back. “You know John Logan?”
Now that all the corners of the globe have been explored, and the great adventures of the past fade to sepia, that trip, 2,400 miles, 6 months, through the great north wilderness in rain, snow and cold, is still fresh, still alive in the diaries he kept. And in the pictures and movies he shot.
How do yoiu cross a river in the Yukon when there's no one for a hundred miles? Simple. Get out your axe and build a boat. (click on "access this item" at the top of the page.)