ALASKA Day 4: In God's Country, There Be Angels

In a previous post in this blog, from Tuesday I believe, I mentioned I could see rainbows where the sun shone through the ice fog. This is the picture I referred to previously. When you click on the picture you'll get the full size version, but you can see the faint rainbow in the center of the picture rising up from the trees along the Parks Highway.

In Indian Mythology, rainbows are often described as the highways the spirits travel on. My thinking on this is that if the rainbow highways are good enough for spirits, they are also good enough for Angels. Never in my life have I been more convinced that Angels and God exist than after what befell me today while driving to Denali for a planned day of hiking in the park with the National Park Rangers.

Mom, Dad, I know you're reading this, but don't be worried, I'm okay. This morning, at about 6:00 am Alaska time I was in a rollover accident in my rented Buick Rendezvous. I wasn't speeding, I wasn't driving recklessly, I wasn't doing anything wrong. I was actively scanning the shoulders for Moose. But as I rounded a curve, I hit a patch of ice and skidded out of control. My car made a beeline for the right shoulder. I crashed into a snowbank, slid down a gently sloping 7' embankment, rolled over, screamed to myself: "I'm dead! I'm dead!" and then the car was back on all four tires again. The ABBA CD was still playing in the car's CD player as if nothing had happened. I looked around and was amazed that not only was I still alive, but that I hadn't even received the smallest scratch. Instantaneously, not one, but two cars stopped beside the road to check on me. The first car was a man and a woman who asked if I was okay. The second was James Brown, a police officer for the University of Alaska-Fairbanks Police Department who had just got off work and, as I learned later, had followed me essentially all the way from Fairbanks.

The picture below is of the snow tracks my car made as it ran off the road.

James is a life saver. 1. He stopped to see how I was. 2. He drove me to the Parks Highway Towing Station only two miles south of the accident site. 3. When noone was there, he drove me another 20 miles to the town of Nenana to find a phone to call the Tow Station. (Cell phones had no service in this area.) 4. He drove me back to the Tow Station. I am 100% certain that God, or my Guardian Angel, had James behind me to help me in this emergency.

A dark picture, but an effective one showing distance. A.P. McDonald used a flashlight to hook up the wrecker cables to pull the car out of the snow.

In James' truck, as we were driving up and down the Parks Highway, I had time to think and my head was spinning. The odds that I survived the accident without even a scratch are pretty amazing. But if you also consider that just twenty yards further down the road, there was a 40 foot drop-off in a stand of trees that would have hurt me very badly; if you also consider that all along the Parks Highway there are drop-offs that are not survivable or thick stands of birch and trees that would do much damage upon impact; if you also consider that this morning it was -25 degrees and if I had suffered a broken bone or other injury shock and hypothermia could have been deadly in a very short period of time; and if you also consider that on a wilderness highway it is possible I could have remained hidden from any car or truck passing by and not discovered for days. It was snowing outside, afterall. Combine all these factors with the instantaneous appearance of James Brown and I think it's pretty clear that not only was I extremely lucky, but also that I was blessed. This accident could have so easily been far uglier than it was. That I was unhurt and that James Brown was there to aid me, that A.P. McDonald was so close by and able to extract the car, that A.P.'s wife Annette was also available to drive me back to Fairbanks, and that the shuttle that will take me from Fairbanks back to Anchorage tomorrow morning stops right in front of the hostel that I'm staying at is just too many fortunate coincidences for me.

A. P. McDonald working to extract my car from the accident site.

Below, my rental car on the truck bed of A. P. McDonald's wrecker.

OK, it's a blurry picture, but really, for a rollover accident, there really wasn't much damage to the car. Dented panels, one broken rear window, the driver's side view mirror wrenched off.

I don't think it needs to be said that I did not get the scenic Alaskan experience in Denali I was expecting today. However, I did receive the human experience. Ever since the plane ride to Alaska every Alaskan I have met has been warm, and friendly, and helpful, and kind, and interested in me and what I was doing here in the winter. Every single person I have met has been eager to talk, to take the time to get to know a little about me and to share their state or their city and their stories with me. And after this morning, I can add that they will go out of their way to help those in need. To me, James Brown, A.P. McDonald and his wife Annette McDonald are heroes, and their actions, along with all those who've I met while in this state have restored my faith in humanity.

Back home in Columbus, we have snipers on I-270. Home intruders in Upper Arlington. Child abductors in the central city. Car burglars in the city's richest mall. Traffic accidents every day at all major intersections all along the beltway and few people to stop and help though thousands pass by every few minutes.

Here, in God's country, there be Angels. And I am grateful beyond words.

Thanks for reading.


I am Z said...

i love rainbows -- thanks for sharing that pic!


January 19, 2006 9:13 PM
Anonymous said...

glad you are ok.

john and tresa

January 20, 2006 10:15 PM
Anonymous said...

glad you are ok

john and tresa

January 20, 2006 10:17 PM
"Jet" said...

Matt-- Thank you for sharing this story with me. I do believe things happen for a reason!!

I am glad you are ok!


April 12, 2006 5:50 PM
Erin said...

We usually call those 'rainbows' sundogs, up here. I'm glad you were found quickly - a wreck on the Parks in the middle of winter is dangerous.

April 14, 2006 4:39 PM
Anonymous said...

The care rental companies really should put studded tires on all their cars. I have had similar bad experiences with rental cars in Alaska because the winter tires they use are not the best available. Always ask for a four wheel drive or all wheel drive if you have a long trip planned.

November 24, 2008 9:52 PM

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