So today I was finally allowed to tell people about my big secret! I was selected as one of the artists to create the tourism banners this year, and I feel so honored. Not only was I a part of a group of very talented artists, but I got the theme that is near and dear to my heart; The 75th Anniversary of the Alaska Hwy.
This road was built in 1942 during World War II in an impressive timeline of nine months. The construction of the road was in response to the Pearl Harbour attacks and what was expected to be an invasion by Japan. At the time, there was no road from the lower 48 states to Alaska. It was originally 2,735 Km. (1700 miles) long, but over the years, they have straightened out a lot of the road and it is now 2,237 Km. (1387 miles). Mile Zero is in Dawson Creek, British Columbia and it ends in Delta Junction, Alaska.
But this is not a history lesson. You can find all this, and so much more if you click here. I have a personal attachment to this incredible engineering accomplishment we just call “the Highway”. I moved here in 1982, when I was six years old, and I really can’t count how many times I’ve been up and down that highway. It is the main artery that runs through the Yukon and you can’t get out of the Yukon without driving on it, unless you fly of course. But as a longtime Yukoner, I totally suggest you drive. Flying is for wimps. And you will never understand the beauty and remoteness of this incredible part of the world if you don’t.
Also, I have a history with the highway. The Yukon part of the highway runs from Watson Lake, “Gateway to the Yukon” all the way to Beaver Creek, where you then cross the border into Alaska. As a teenager and young adult, I worked as a surveyor’s assistant for my Dad, who at that time had a land surveying business. I have surveyed properties all up and down the highway, from Watson to Beaver Creek. Along the way I learned about the different terrain in each community, and met so many of the special people who live and run businesses along the highway. As a young person, this was such a great experience and I still owe my Dad for that. At the time, I was mostly tired and dirty, but looking back they are some of the best times of my youth.
And you know what, I cannot count how many people in my life who actually built parts of the highway too. Road construction used to be a pretty big industry here, and if you weren’t a flagger or heavy equipment operator, you could probably find a job in a kitchen or as a cleaner in one of the camps that used to dot the highway. My husband worked in the Steamboat and Shakwak areas as a labourer and rock truck driver in the ’90’s and early ’00’s. I myself even had a job as a surveyor’s assistant for an entire week, at one point. Land surveying is quite different from highway surveying and it was not a good fit for me. But I put sticks in the ground in the Skakwak and claim that I built a part of the highway too!
Anyway, I just wanted to share this accomplishment with you. As an artist, there’s a fine line between hiding in one’s studio making things and being a general introvert, and realizing that if you want to make a living one day doing what you love, you have to get yourself in front of people. And with the blog blowing up in the last few days, it’s been a nice change from doing everything in what appears to be a vacuum to being able to actually share some success with others. Thanks, people who read the blog. And thanks to my die hard fans who have been with me from the beginning. You ten people know who you are.