Thursday, August 21, 2014

The End of My Alaskan Adventure

Well, I suppose this is the end.  I've kept this blog for two years and chronicled our life and adventures living in Alaska.  It was an incredible experience that I wouldn't trade for the world. To close out this blog I just wanted to show you some of my favorite parts of Alaska. Here it goes...

1.) The view from my front porch.  There was nothing more peaceful that waking up, walking outside with a coffee, listening to the eagles, and watching the sunrise.

2.) The people. We met some truly incredible friends in Alaska and they ultimately turned in to family.  These people helped us out whenever they could and kept us sane.  We love them all so much!

3.) The outdoor recreation.  I loved getting to go exploring whenever I wanted.  Juneau had thousands of trail miles to explore and I tried to make the most of it every chance I got.

With every end, there is a new beginning though. Cody, Specks, and I are heading to our new home in Michigan tomorrow.  I start teaching in two weeks (Michigan schools don't start until after Labor Day) and couldn't be more ecstatic. We will always have a little Alaska in our hearts.  Hopefully we will make it back there one day to do more exploring and adventuring.

To close out, I would like to encourage you all to stay tuned for one last post.  I will be starting a new blog that is less "location specific" and it will focus on minimalist living, teaching, vegetarian cooking, and general lifestyle topics.  I have loved writing for all of you and I encourage you to go visit the new blog.  I promise that I'll be back to post the link sometime this week :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Driving The ALCAN: The End

Temperature: 90°F-80°F
Weather: Warm, Stormy
Mileage: 2,441 miles
Lodging: Various

Our last days of driving were LONG.  We were no longer on the actual ALCAN and were having to navigate through lots of cities, towns, and even some teeny mountain villages.  If anyone is interested in our actual route, feel free to message me or leave a comment and I can post it. 

Anyway, we entered the US at the Babb, MT border site. It was incredible scenic! If you are entering in the western US this isn't a bad place to do it.  We had very short lines and great views.  Cody and I must have looked very non-suspicious too because the border patrol wasn't concerned with asking us many questions.  There were also some super scenic little towns lining the border that were worth stopping at to snap some fun pictures. 

As the trip went on we cruised through North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and then headed into Michigan's UP.  The UP (Upper Peninsula) was probably one of my favorite places that we drove through in the states.  It is incredibly beautiful up there.  The weather was great and there are views of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, both look like oceans in their own right.  Plus, the Porcupine Mountains and places like Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore are in the UP and make for some incredible views.  Unfortunately, we hit some nasty storms (tornado sirens were ringing) and we didn't get to spend as much time here as we wanted too. 

Finally, we made it to out destination! We stayed a few days at my dads house in Michigan and then went on a tour of the Midwest to visit a bunch of our other family (basically whoever lived in a 7hour radius).  It's been a great month-long adventure and I am so happy that we got to experience the US and Canada in this incredible way. 

Where is your favorite US vacation spot?
Have you ever visited the UP?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Driving The ALCAN: British Columbia and Dawson Creek, BC

Temperature: 70°F-60°F
Weather: Sunny, Warm
Mileage: 281miles
Lodging: The George Dawson Inn

The next leg of our trek took us through a chunk of British Columbia and we eventually ended our day in Dawson Creek, BC.  Dawson Creek is also known as "Mile 0" of the Alaska (ALCAN) Highway.  Somehow, this fact slipped my mind and I didn't get a picture of the famous mile-marker! Doh! 

I did manage to snap some other great pictures though! The scenery really started to change once we got farther into British Columbia.  Our day started out with HUGE mountains, those gradually changed into rolling hills and farmland though.  I wouldn't say that this part of our trip was the most scenic by any means.  It was a very easy and stress-free leg of the trip though.  Towns and amenities were much more frequent, which gave us a little bit of peace.  The terrain was also incredibly easy, as most of it was relatively flat.  

Dawson Creek was a nice little town to stay in for the night.  I could definitely see why people like to visit this famous city on their ALCAN trip.  While it may not have been my favorite leg of the trip, it was certainly a relaxing part of it. I recommend staying the night in Dawson Creek, getting some tasty food delivered, and relaxing/refueling for your other days of driving.  It's a great spot to fit in a day of r&r! 

Do you ever take a "rest day" on big trips? 
Have you ever visited Dawson Creek, BC? 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Driving the ALCAN: Yukon and British Columbia

Temperature: 60°F-40°F

Weather: Scattered Showers, Cool
Mileage: 590miles
Lodging: Ramada Inn Fort Nelson, BC

We began to move from the Yukon Territory into British Columbia as our trip progressed.  The transition area between these two territories was beautiful.  The days we spent in this area were my favorite in terms of scenery and wildlife viewing.  We saw grizzlies, elk, moose, bison, and caribou.  The moose was my favorite animal to see on our trip.  They are so statuesque.  We saw our first moose, an adult male, just bathing himself in a roadside pool.  We were able to pull over and watch him splash around for quite some time.

A little further down the road we saw a sign warning us of wildlife on the road.  Within minutes we were at a standstill, stuck in a traffic jam of bison! There was an entire herd of bison on the road in more than one spot.  These huge animals would do some serious damage to cars so this stretch of road had to be driven very cautiously.  Safety is key on the ALCAN!

The roads were some of the most remote that we traveled on the entire trip.  There is a stretch of the ALCAN between Whitehorse, YT and Fort Nelson, BC that is incredibly isolated.  We saw very few cars and virtually no hotels, stores, or other signs of civilization until we approached the oilfields outside of Fort Nelson. We filled our gas tank at every station we saw (and carried a spare 5 gallon gas can as a precaution). Even with these precautions though we pulled into multiple stations, marked simply by signs pointing down dirt roads, and found them long closed.

My biggest pieces of advice on this stretch of road is drive cautiously, keep your gas tank full, plan on camping, and take lots of pictures!! It was a beautiful and isolated stretch of road.  But, it was also a wonderful place to chat with locals and the roadside was littered with scenic pull-offs.  One of my favorite areas to pull into was the Muncho Lake area.  The lake was beautiful and I highly recommend checking out the camping here if you are ever in the area and looking for adventure!

This stretch of driving was extremely incredible. We did some serious wildlife viewing, enjoyed some isolated driving, met some kind travelers, and even had a kindly man pay for our gas! The area between Whitehorse and Fort Nelson could be a week long vacation on its own.  Cody and I hope to take a trip back to this area one day and really spend some time exploring.

Have you ever visited any of these locations?
Would you take a long road trip with your SO?