The view from the van on Sunday, March 13, 2022. (Ashlyn O'Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Out of the Office: Of cars and cliches

It’s cliche to say that the journey is more important than the destination.

Sometimes that looks like rerouting how you end up at the destination, but other times it looks like finding a new destination all together.

Some friends and I made the five-hour trip to Talkeetna last weekend to watch the Oosik Ski Race and Tour. I rode up with a friend who drives a vehicle in such shambles that we ended up celebrating our safe arrival to a greater extent than initially planned.

Our trip put a new spin on the old cliche. Not only did I savor every moment of the journey that we didn’t end up on the side of the highway, it was an instance where, I’d argue, the destination was equally as important — if only because we arrived there in one piece.

In the middle of the woods in Talkeetna, for example, the van’s sliding door fell off entirely. A brisk wind blew through rusted-out holes as we traveled along the Parks Highway and we shouted to hear each other over the sound of the wheels on the road. At one point, we pulled over so I could unscrew one of the front windshield wipers that was at risk of flying off.

And yet.

Despite all of that, we arrived in Talkeetna with next to no trouble. The view driving up the Kenai, through the Matanuska-Susitna valleys and into Willow across the Susitna River never fails to take my breath away. The friend who drove brought his portable speaker and we listened to The New Yorker’s Fiction Podcast while we bumbled north.

I’ll say I was surprised at how well it drove in light of frost heaves and piles of snow as tall as my shoulder. And of course it didn’t negate the joy of good company and amicable conversation.


Another cliche says you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. I’ll certainly be relishing the feeling of my own car’s steering wheel under my hands for the foreseeable future.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at

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