Enough with the bus. Yeah, you know what bus.
Alaska State Troopers had to buzz in with a helicopter and rescue another Chris McCandless-bus worshipper on Thursday. This time it was some 22-year-old Canadian doofus. Back in June, it was a couple dudes from the American South.
We’re getting to the point that somewhere out there is a trooper or National Park Service helicopter with enough buses painted on the cowling beneath the door to qualify the pilot as a bus rescue ace.
Of course, “there’s nothing we can do about this.” Or at least that’s the official state line.
Bladderdash! as Alaska Rep. Don Young would say. There are any number of things the state could do.
Here are 10:
Let Darwin Take Care of the Problem: Put a sign at the start of the trail outside of Healy saying simply: “Warning. You are entering a rescue-free zone. No matter how many times you call for help, we will not come get you. If you want the McCandless experience, we are willing to let you have the entire McCandless experience. Good luck. Good starving.”
Ransom the Bus: Americans, or at least some of them, seem to think there’s something mythical, mystical, magic, marvelous, mad or some other m-word about visiting a bus where some poor, foolish young man sadly starved to death. Let them pay to keep their shrine out there. Put out a press release warning that the cash-strapped state of Alaska cannot afford further rescues, and unless people contribute $500,000 this year to save the bus it will be blown up as public nuisance. Let America start a GoFundTheBus campaign.
Create the State’s First Rescue-Me-Fee Zone: Yes, all real Alaskans hate zoning, but it might make sense here. Sign the Stampede with this caution: “Attention: You are entering an Alaska Rescue-Me-Fee Zone. If you summon a rescue, you will be charged $10,000. If you cannot afford to pay, we have plenty of road sides in need of people sentenced by the courts to pick up trash for three months. If this warning make you decide not to call for rescue, fine. Enjoy the full McCandless experience.”
Blow up the Bus: Yes, actually blow it up. This wouldn’t make the money the ransom idea might, but the bus exploding into a gazillion pieces is sure to be a youtube sensation. We could even auction off the right to light the fuse. Muslim fanatics have given a bad name to blowing things up of late, but blowing things up is something of an Alaska tradition dating back to gold mining days when a lot of things were blown up just for fun.
Build a Highway to the Bus: Isn’t it about time for some state “over reach” as pay back for all that “federal over reach” we hear about? The National Park Service abuts the Stampede Trail with its oh-so-popular Denali National Park. Stick it in the Park Service’s eye with construction of the Chris McCandless Expressway. Let’s see the parkies try to keep the hordes from driving that sucker. Yes, a road would cost money, and the state would probably have to build a fancy Chris McCandless Roadside Historic Site with a new bus and a Chris McCandless cut-out people could pose behind to get a true McCandless-ized photo with which to remember the occasion. But at least we’d finally be rid of the stupid idea someone died “in the wild” in a BUS. A bus, dammit. He was in a bus. Buses are not structures of the wild. Caves are structures of the wild. McCandless did not go “into the wild.” He went “into a bus,” and he never left. They found his body there.
Create a McFishless License: We charge people big money to try their luck at fishing in this state, and we almost never have to rescue any of them. It’s just the opposite with the McCandless disciples. It’s time to end that. The state should require anyone expecting to come within 20 miles of the bus to purchase and carry a McFishless License, maybe even require them to wear it on their back like a hunting license in Pennsylvania in the bad old days. Or maybe staple the tags to their foreheads.
Rent the Bus: Put it online at http://alaskacenters.gov/cabins.cfm as Alaska’s dirtiest, most-rundown, and most famous public-use cabin. “Cabins have ‘rugged’ accommodations: usually a heating stove, bunks/sleeping platforms, table and chairs, and an outhouse,” the website says. OK, so the bus doesn’t have any of that. So what? It has the ambience. Kill a couple red squirrels and song birds while you’re there and make a McCandless stew in honor of the most famous occupant. Throw in some random wild plants you’ve never seen before, and see if you can become writer John Krakauer’s wet dream by somehow actually poisoning yourself in a way that can be documented by legitimate scientists.
Turn the Bus Into a Diet Spa: You know the McCandless story. Nothing more need be said. He proved that diet thing really is about how many calories you consume.
Shoot the Bus Into Space: Think about it. An orbiting McCandless-bus space station. Now that would truly be going “into the wild.” Alaska has launch pads at Poker Flats near the University of Alaska Fairbanks and on Kodiak Island. All we need to do is get the bus to one of the launch sites or put a small mountain of powder beneath it. (See “Blow Up the Bus” above.)
Bury the Bus Next to Osama bin Laden: Where is he buried? Nobody seems to know for sure. Perfect.