NPR logo Conan's Alaska Adventure, Part Four

Conan's Alaska Adventure, Part Four

The Tanana River, pictured from the side of the Alaska Highway. Neal Conan/ hide caption

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Neal Conan/

The Tanana River, pictured from the side of the Alaska Highway.

Neal Conan/

About 7:30 or 8 o'clock, Dick Peterson started to glance out the door if the cook house every few minutes. Will, Denise and Nancy had saddled up in the morning to take two strings of horses to a range 20 miles away, and they were due back by dinner. Experienced riders all, but you never know.

As if to relieve the anxiety, the talk turned to stories of survival — a former foreign correspondent who managed to make it through the terror and chaos of combat and capture; Lynn Schooler, who escaped a fatal car wreck, a minefield and a bear; Gretel Ehrlich, struck by lightning, who crawled back to life through ignorance, abandonment and heart failure.

Then, a flash of movement through the trees and the long riders were back with stories of creek crossings, eccentric horses, caribou herds and moose.
Taco'ed, tequila'ed and slightly less saddle sore, Denise turned to her right and said, "Thank you, Will. That was the real deal. "

And the stories grew lighter — Nancy's attempt to Evel Knievel her schoolmates on a bicycle; Dick's friend, who took a Huffy 10 speed off a 40 meter ski jump.

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A few minutes afterwards, we headed back to the tents and the ground suddenly rolled to the left and lurched to the right. Earthquake!

Looks like we cheated death again.