Little did I know that when my mom joined online Weight Watchers how it would impact my life. On their website there was a place one could visit with other dieters about weight loss experiences. That is where she met Joyce Harris from Fairbanks, Alaska. At first it was just diet conversation and soon before you knew it they were friends. Four years later we had the privilege of going to Fairbanks, Alaska and meeting Joyce and her husband Dale in person.
We were given a quick tour of Fairbanks and then a trip to North Pole, Alaska from Joyce. We then went to their rural home where we met her husband Dale. He was a short man, in his forties with rosy cheeks, blonde hair, and the most twinkling ornery looking eyes!! He just enjoyed every part of life, and he showed it. Upon meeting him, he immediately made us feel comfortable and like we had known him our whole lives. I learned so many things from Dale that day.
My first lesson from Dale was to slow down and to enjoy life to its fullest. Joyce and Dale had planned an afternoon trip to take us to the Chena Hot Springs. Some people believe that these are healing waters. Next, they took us on a nature drive. I observed and learned so many things off the beaten path. My eyes caught movement of a huge moose frolicking in the water, with babies in tow. He then took us to a secluded place that was absolutely beautiful. We saw majestic mountains with the clearest water gently flowing. Purple fireweed cascaded down the banks of the river. We skipped rocks across the pristine water. I stood at the edge of the water trying to take a picture of a little frog. Dale encouraged me to get right out in the water to take the picture. I can still hear him telling me “Lacie, you must get closer, you have to get right down on the little thing to get every detail.” When I got the photo back, I knew Dale knew what he was talking about, such a cool picture.
Dale had been an over the road trucker for over 30 years. I can honestly say he was the best storyteller. It was so much fun to hear of the experience that he had encountered over the years. He was an ice road trucker and traveled in very dangerous conditions. He also told us about the local legends. His nickname was Spud and he was such a lively character.
Our day ended with promises of a returned trip to Fairbanks for more adventures. Dale wanted to take my dad on the ice road to Prudo Bay, and in return they were going to visit us in Kansas. We didn’t know then that it would be the last time we would ever see Dale Harris again. He was killed in a head on accident on a road that he had logged millions of miles on. It was the other drivers fault, but the damage had claimed his life abruptly.
In just one single day we fell in love with this man. Dale took the time to do the little things with us that really make a difference. Dale showed us dedication to family and to his job and taught us about the brotherhood of the road. To this day when I hear the sound of humming engines and the smell of diesel fumes I will think of my friend Dale Harris, my favorite storyteller.
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