Back in 1985... a year or so before National Geographic ran a feature article about Glacier National Park; and made note of Polebridge, Montana, I bounced up a pot hole filled dusty gravel road to a year long adventure.
I had arrived at this point in my journey after settling up some financial obligations after closing my first cabinet shop. After three years of hard work, and one major hand surgery my soul needed a transfusion. The week before leaving on my adventure quest I sold the last of my tools, telling myself I was never going to build cabinets again.
This after only about 6 years in a profession that allowed you the opportunity to start the morning off with a face full of saw dust, or to fill your lungs with the toxic chemical fumes of industrial contact glues, and lacquer finishes. No, we didn't wear respirators. Get one of the best you can find, put it on tomorrow morning when you start work, and wear it eight to ten hours every work day. You'll find you might prefer the comfort of directly inhaling your poisons. Many of the solvents, and the toxic sawdust of woods like walnut and exotic hardwoods absorb through your skin. These wood shavings can't be used for horse bedding in stables for just this reason. Even the chemical safety data sheets on the glues, finishes, and solvents made note that the best protection for not ingesting the toxic cocktail was an oxygen fed respirator. Once you read the data sheets on these fun materials you never read them again, too depressing to know what you had already sucked in over time. Terms like unknown neurological disorders and cancers just don't get people to jump up on Monday morning for work. For many like me the reward was at the end of a work day when you saw what you had built. Now that I am older, I am confident in my abilities, and would like to live, so I prefer cash and wear a respirator.
Here I had arrived on the North Fork Road leading to the edge of the Canadian border in the upper most section of the United States' Rockies. I had had a nice leisurely journey from the coast of Virginia to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for some early summer camping on the beach. Then a drive over to Gatlinburg for last goodbyes to family at a reunion, and then onward west.
But I wasn't headed to Montana, I was headed to the Yukon. My plan was to buy a horse and mule at some point, then once reaching the area I had picked, pack into the wilderness. Taking with me what I thought would be the best basic supplies including basic early woodworking tools packed in my truck to build a structure with fireplace for winter.
By the time I reached the remote border crossing up the dusty gravel road I had started to realize I didn't need to go into the wilderness to find sanity in the World, in fact it might be an insane thing to do. I think the words death & suicidal entered into the picture at some point between Missoula and Columbia Falls.
When I arrived at the border the first thing I see is a sign noting the laws of bringing weapons into Canada. Well, I could have lied and gotten in, but if a drunk Canadian runs his car into my truck. The law comes to investigate, then they find the Smith & Wesson model 29 - 44 magnum pistol, the shotgun, or the rifle. I get to go right to jail, lose my truck, and then end up with a nice prison sentence, including a very heavy fine. Maybe they would have just slapped my wrist, and told me to go home to the US, but that wasn't what the sign stated. I went in to talk to the American Agent, he was very helpful. Again though someone that spoke of death, and maybe even mentioned his friend crazy. He also informed me I could get a better deal in Montana on the horse, mule & trailer to haul them. Though they would need medical papers from a vet, and I would have to go to a special border crossing in Washington State to transport the livestock into Canada.
Fate it appears had stepped in, and saved me temporarily from myself as I turned around and headed back down the North Fork Road to see what the area offered. I discovered great adventures, very unique people & life long memories.