Monday, October 21, 2013


This entertaining movie is more for men who have sweated and wept for gaskets and washers misplaced and bearings that fail. There is a training school for mechanics but most mechanics don't go there. We learn the hard way and then put ourselves in positions where the precarious balance of safety and goals becomes blurred. There is a process to rebuilding something but it's rare to get it perfect...and in Hess's case I'd say it's not even realistic because he chose the worst vehicle in the most remote location to bring back to life. Plans like this usually fail not because of the determination but because the money becomes staggering. And if you have the money to throw away on some crazy plan then you wouldn't have the crazy plan to begin with.

One need not remind me that Hess has some qualities that Oggy might display from time to time. But the real similarities are sort of in the experience. I asked a filmmaker in San Francisco to follow me to Ellesmere Island and this documentary is sort of what he would've ended up with...had we survived. I have mixed feelings that no one was interested in filming the Arctic Wolf Quest of 2009-2011. I think I would've found a way to keep going North from Happy Valley and that's when it would've been in a dangerous realm. You can't show up in Nain without an escape plan. Lacking any kind of team mentality I couldn't look at those thousands of kilometers of north arctic coastline and open water to Baffin Island and then the unlikely scenario of a research vessel or crab boat would take me further...and proceed with plaid bell bottom pants and a few Canadian dollars and a story about being sent back from the future. But with a camera man filming I would've kept going, abandoned my van, set out on foot, something ludicrous and probably fatal. So, I'm alive today but I wonder if the trip to Ellesmere Island would've been heroic or another gimmick in the failed environmental movement. It would've been interesting as it would've required a long boat journey and probably a longer ride in a medical evacuation helicopter...maybe international news: "Homeless Man Rescued Off Coast of Ellesmere Island. Tells Tales of Time Travel, Wolves, Starvation, Apocalypse."

The movie also brings back memories of the Alcan Highway...remote wilderness, weeks of driving or hitchhiking, desperation, feeling close to death. I had separated both shoulders somewhere in Montana and kept going, walking like a double amputee. In The Yukon Territory I could no longer walk without a crutch and when I sneezed I fell down from double groin tears. The trip had broken me but there was no turning cars on the highway in either direction...6 days waiting for a ride with $3 in my wallet. Resigned to death.
Creative Commons License
Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.