Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Alaska/Canada Journey: Recap

Here is a map of the complete journey I took from April to June of 2014.  The left side shows the first half of the journey, which was mainly the trip north.  The right side shows the last half, which encompassed mostly the trip back south, but also has the two forays into the Arctic in Alaska and Canada.

I passed through twenty US states, four Canadian provinces, and two Canadian territories, and put over 20,000 miles on my car.  I visited all the US states I had not previously visited, so now I've been to all 50 states.

This was a somewhat spontaneous journey.  I had taken off on the spur of the moment motivated by a newspaper article I had seen stating that the Trinity Site in New Mexico was going to be open for a day, and I figured I had barely enough time to get there.  So I hurriedly threw a bunch of stuff in my car and took off for New Mexico.  I ended up buying other stuff I needed along the way, mostly at thrift stores.  Little did I realize I'd end up in Alaska, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories.  Good thing I brought my passport!

I had planned previously to go to Alaska in September of 2013.  But, passing through El Paso on the way up, I broke my ankle hiking on Mt. Franklin, and that scuttled that journey. This time, I wasn't really planning on anything beyond New Mexico. I was even thinking at the outset of the trip that it was probably still too early in the year to contemplate going to Alaska.  But, actually, this journey from April to June was about the ideal time to make this trip.  If I had completed the September trip, I would have been in mostly darkness rather than mostly light.  I probably would not have covered as much territory every day as I did during this trip because of the darkness.  I noticed, while looking back on the time and place markers that my camera phone superimposed on the photos of my trip, that there were days when I started traveling at five in the morning and stopped at midnight or later.  It's easy to do that because you get fooled by the constant sunlight.

I could have been trapped in really bad weather, though, at this time of year.  I think it was sheer blind luck that I avoided that fate.  I don't have a block heater or anything (not to mention that my tires were probably extraordinarily inadequate for some of these roads), so extremely cold weather could have really kept my car from functioning.  Some of the coldest and snowiest weather I ran across on this journey was actually in Colorado near the beginning of this trip.

But bad weather did factor in to a degree.  I had to turn back at Atigun Pass in Alaska because of icy roads.  Though I plundered forth through similarly icy roads in the Canadian Arctic (because I HAD to...I couldn't turn back because I didn't have enough gas to make it back to a gas station, though I had enough gas to get to the next gas station ahead), I ended up having to turn around because ice on the Peel River prevented the ferry from operating.

All in all, I'm glad it all turned out well, with no major catastrophes, and with me avoiding becoming a meal for some large animal higher on the food chain than me.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Tuesday, June 3, 2014