“For heaven’s sake, it’s not just bad luck, it was a terrible selection”. I was quite pleased with my ability to string together our latest three word geolocation code to make an apposite sentence. Lucy, my dog, was less pleased with the implied criticism, but that was the least of our worries. We had been transported from Honduras, with all its street gangs and violence, to an oasis of …. tundra. We were up in the arctic circle, miles from anywhere, surrounded by frozen lakes and more frozen lakes, with no where to visit other than …. the next frozen lake! “At least nobody is trying to shoot us”, Lucy mumbled in only the way a dog can, but that was scant solace to my increasingly frozen feet. We needed a map, we needed a ski-doo, we needed a warm comforting bear-skin rug, we needed a drink – and we needed them all fast. “Be careful what you wish for”, observed Lucy. She was right, I quickly deleted the bear-skin rug from my bucket list.
We were about as far north as it is possible to be without going over the top and going back south again. I zoomed the map out until it showed hundreds of miles around the spot we had found ourselves after choosing the What3Words geolocation code ///sake.luck.selection. There was nothing but mountains and frozen lakes. I changed the filter settings to show roads and railways: nothing appeared. I added public buildings, restaurants, shops and undertakers: nothing appeared. I added houses, human beings, dogs, and spiders to the list, and still there was nothing but mountains and frozen lakes. We were in the middle of nowhere.
A little more research and we discovered that a healthy 20 miles walk would take us to the settlement of Selawik where there were a few houses, a wooden shop or two, a post office and a landing strip. Determined to, at least, send someone a picture postcard before getting the first flight out, we set off across the mountains and frozen lakes, heading for the big city. To while away the time, I tried to educate my dog companion. “You are on the bridge”, I said. “No, I’m not”, she replied, “I am walking across a frozen lake”. “You’re being pedantic”, I countered, knowing that there are few things worse than letting a dog get the better of you in an argument. “We are in Beringia, or what used to be Beringia, and is now the Bering Land Bridge National Reserve, it’s where the first Americans crossed the then land bridge from Siberia.
I had to explain to Lucy that we couldn’t retrace the steps of those first Americans as the land bridge sank beneath the Arctic Ocean 11,000 years ago. With no escape to the West possible, we continued to make our way north east, across the frozen lakes. I mean no disrespect to the citizens of Selawik, but if truth be told, it is not the most exciting city in the world. There are a couple of stores, a church, a school, the post office and even more frozen lakes. The good news was that we were able to find a pub as well, the bad news was that it was in Galena, 140 miles to the South. It’s strap line is “The only bar on the Yukon. Good drinks, pizza, music and good times” We agreed leave Selawik, hitch a flight down to Galena, try and find a warm beer, and pick a new word.
So that is how we found ourselves in the Yukon Inn, Galena, warming our six frozen feet and never wanting to see a frozen lake again in our lives. “What we need is a change:, I said. So that is what we did. ///sake.luck.change here we come.