It's 2am and the sun is rising over the horizon. We're just South of the Arctic Circle in Alaska. Rick has found a prime fishing spot to catch our breakfast.
It's 2010 and I am hitchhiking to the Arctic Ocean, a dream I've had for the past 15 years. The only road that goes there is the infamous and highly dangerous Dalton Highway, featured in the popular TV series 'Ice Road Truckers.' It's 800km to reach the ocean with not one store or gas station along the way.
Rick is my savior. I waited 4 days for a ride at the truck stop outside of Fairbanks. Every night, Rick would come by for his after-work coffee, see me still trying to hitch in vain, and kindly offer to host me for the night.
On the fourth day, he saw me and said: 'Damn man, you still here?! Fuck it, let's go. I've never been there.' Two hours later we were heading North in his truck with jugs of extra gasoline and 2 spares tires (both of which we had to use).
Rick was an outdoorsman, and a tough guy with a big heart. He grew up on a ranch in Texas, and knew how hunt from a young age. In Alaska, he'd lived for two years in a remote indigenous village where they taught him how to survive in the unforgiving Alaskan Winter. He never left his cabin without his bear rifle, which he only used for protection. You can run into grizzly bears, wolves and moose, the most friendly-looking, yet deadly of them all.
On the ride up, Rick talked nonstop, as most lonesome souls do when they find a willing listener. It was all so fascinating. He explained in detail things like how to make a shelter, build a fire, where to place it.
This was the beginning of an epic adventure, and a life-changing journey, born out of the willingness to reach for a dream while facing my biggest fears, and stepping out into the great unknown. I can only describe it as one endless miracle.