Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Privileged To Meet A Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman–and Share Some Commonalities

Bert Gildart: We meet wonderful people along the road, all sorts of interesting people. But sometimes we meet people whose lives we admire and with whom we seem to share many similar experiences.

Such was the case two days ago when we were camped in Quebec’s KOA. Near us was a couple in one of the few Airstreams we’ve seen along the road, in this case a 34-foot Classic.

The owners were Bob and Nicole, and I introduced myself with a copy of Airstream Life, which I thought that they—as a Canadian couple with Quebec license tags—might appreciate. They said they’d heard of the magazine and were hoping to find a copy.

Both Bob and Niki, as she says her American friends call her, had just recently retired; he from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and she from a government position that worked with specific Native American tribes. I have always admired the RCMP and told Bob that when I was a child, I used to tune my radio to Sgt. Preston and Yukon King. Almost immediately our rapport grew, and we discovered in a round about way that we knew people in common, and in far flung places.

Once Bob had worked in Old Crow, Yukon Terriotry, and it is one of the several Gwich’in Indian communities in which Janie and I had once developed many friends as interim teachers. To renew friendships, several years ago Janie and I had boated from Circle, Alaska, 100 miles down the Yukon River to Fort Yukon.

From there, we had replenished our gas supply, and, in our Johnboat, continued our journey, linking at Fort Yukon with the Porcupine River. From there we traveled for over a week and for 350 miles through both the Alaskan and Canadian wilderness to reach Old Crow, Yukon Territory. At the time, I’d been there gathering a story for Christian Science Monitor and was delighted to chance upon a huge gathering and delighted with the open friendly cooperation of the Gwich’in. We attempted to join them in their various dance ceremonies.
Just three years ago, Burns Ellison, a writer friend, and I had also taken this same boat and traveled from Fort McPherson just off the Dempster Highway but on the McKenzie River, to Aklavik, located not far from the Arctic Ocean. We reached this far-flung village by boating down the Peel Channel of the McKenzie River.

The river system there was a maze, and there is definitely a place where the newcomer should have a GPS. But more significantly, it was also a place where Bob had worked, and we talked about all these things.

Last year I wrote about these experiences for several boating magazines, and Bob and I discussed mutual acquaintances and the adventures and misadventures each of these areas had once provided for the RCMP. Areas around the Peel River, for instance, served as the setting for the Mad Trapper, who killed several other trappers as well as a member of the RCMP who was attempting to question him about improper trapping techniques.

Eventually the RCMP tracked the man to an area just north of Old Crow, and here, they were forced to kill him. The incident was made into a movie and starred Charles Bronson.

The same area also back-dropped a misadventure for the RCMP, for it was here between Fort McPherson and Old Crow that a patrol perished in the brutal cold while on a routine patrol—in -40° temperatures! Members of the RCMP have always, it seems, endured hardships, and usually emerged victorious. But not this time, for all (five, I believe) perished when they lost their way. That was about 1920, and the group has become known as the Lost Patrol.

But these were broad interests that we shared, and my familiarity, of course, was more through books, while Bob’s familiarity had been acquired through the history of the agency directly involved. As a member of the RCMP, he has certainly experienced hazards, and probably more than some of his contemporaries, as his specialty was drug control.

On a more personal note, Janie and I, Bob and Nicole, share common anniversaries, for we were all married in the spring of 1991. We’ve all had wonderful children from other marriages, and now grandchildren.

And of course, we both cherish our Airstreams, and while Bob and Nicole are now full timers, we are out but six to eight months of each year.

We promised to stay in touch and we believe our paths will cross again. And, I must mention, that before departing, Bob gave Janie and me a tie pin, one of the ten he’d been given as a retiring RCMP member, and that is only given to retirees to do as they will.

We’d be hard pressed to explain just how flattered we are.

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