Years ago, my wife and I were driving north on the
highway out of Fairbanks, Alaska that eventually
goes to Prudhoe Bay and the Arctic Wildlife Preserve
inevitably crossing the Arctic Circle
which is well marked and is ofcourse
an iconic stopping point for tourists.
We arrived there at an hour when we knew we
should stop and sleep. I won’t say stop for
the night because it was sunshine 24/7 on
that date in early July. The campsites were
obvious even though this was not an officially
designated campground and we found a place to
put our tent up out of view of the few other
people who were there. We went for a walk to
check out how many neighbors we’d have for the
Alaska has plenty of gnarly weather, so smart travelers
are sure to have good rain suits; jackets and pants
are a must. I had purchased a good set for the
trip and before leaving home in Virginia, had recently
worn it to play golf in a "tournament" the week
before we left for Alaska. I happened to
have a single golf ball and a courtesy "gold" tee
in my pocket. Chris and I were walking on the vehicle
tracks (don’t call them roads) through the head
high alders occasionally spying a truck or an
SUV. Then we came around a bend and saw a Japanese
gentleman practicing his golf swing. He had his
clubs and his bag out and he was hitting “air drives”
with his big club.
We waved to him and started to return to our camp when
I felt the ball in my pocket. I turned around, walked up
to him and handed him the ball and the golden tee.
I didn’t know if he spoke English, so I just said:
“This is for you.”
We turned around and walked away, I told Chris not
to look back in case he decided to hit the ball off into
the brush. I didn’t want to make him nervous or
intrude on his solitude.
I often wonder what he may have told his family and
friends about this when he got home.