The McCarthy Road

I wrote this essay the day after I drove the McCarthy Road for the first time. That was in August 2001. The images are from the last ten years of driving this road including yesterday.

I start out going ten miles an hour down this dirt road that will lead me to McCarthy, Alaska. I can do this. 

I can do this. Even though I know the clanking tire jack in my backseat is there only for making music–I cannot change a tire.  The D, as in dog, I received in Driver’s Education marred my high school academic record in a way I never fully recovered from. And perhaps, it is a true reflection of my abilities in that department.

I can do this. I can drive down a dirt road that leads to the soul of Alaska. I’m not afraid of no dirt road. Not this hip mountain momma. Although I do deeply wish I’d worn a sports bra.

This dirt road is simply hours out of a day spent moving slowly. It’s what it takes to get there.

I listen to Michener’s Alaska on the tape player. Missy, the strong female protagonist of Michener’s narrative, crossed the Chilkoot Pass, looking for gold in a skirt, on feet, I do believe.  I’m looking for riches too. I’m ready to mine what I find at the end of this dirt road.

The car bumps. I bounce. And my odometer says I’ve covered three miles of dirt in ten minutes. In the beginning, I thought I’d get there in time for dinner. I am strong. I can do this. I eat my rations and change my aspirations. If I get there by dusk, I’m doing good.

I think about travel and try to refine for myself this tired metaphor. You’d think we humans would have evolved, found some other way of explaining what life is.  Yet, we return again and again to this notion of journey, of travel, of going somewhere else.

Always in the hopes of finding ourselves along side the road, or if worst becomes reality, and the road ends, we meet a maker with a discernible answer concerning what this dirt we’ve been moving over is all about.

Traveling on a road with little shoulder and windy curves makes me clench the wheel. 

I usually travel in circles and stop frequently for directions.

How do you get from point A, the origin of travel, to point Z, the absolute essential essence of an individual’s life? 

Do you travel in a car or on a magic carpet?

Do you lift rocks and look under, or do you look up at the stars and ponder?

From the little bit of wisdom I’ve managed to accumulate in this life, I’d say it’s a mixture of both. Of course, the hard thing is choosing the right method for the right journey.

The car bumps. I bounce. I can do this.

How did I get to this junction? This particular dirt road? How a did a girl, this me, ever close the door on a childhood lived in a rundown ranch style home in Kansas, walk to the end of a gravel drive way, and look west and then north, only to find more gravel?

I also shared this essay as part of my response to our latest Cloth in Common prompt which is ROAD. I hope you will visit our website and see how all the artists are responding.

This entry was published on July 10, 2018 at 7:08 PM. It’s filed under Ideas, McCarthy Alaska, McCarthy Style, Thoughts and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

18 thoughts on “The McCarthy Road

  1. pmgarrett2 on said:

    I remember you reading this. So long ago. Take care.

    Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

  2. Wonderful post, Maria! I feel like I’m on the road, both figuratively and physically, with you.

  3. CONNIE RIZZO on said:

    My first trip out was in “82 and the sights never get old.Can’t even tell you how many times I’ve gone down that road, never too many.

    • I know you have got stories in you Connie. Have you been out here lately? We are having a great summer. Enough rain to to keep the fires and bugs away and enough sunshine that some people are actually sporting tans!

  4. Loved reading this post! I’ve experienced dirt roads, but not that long! You are brave and strong!!

  5. Thea Choate on said:

    One of my favorites you’ve shared. Thank you!

  6. Thanks for making me think, and for the beautiful photographs

  7. A good memory for you. Thanks for sharing it again.

  8. The best essay on travel ever!! ♡

  9. Penny on said:

    You are amazing at every turn.

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