Years ago I began noticing that the passing of time seems to go in spurts. One minute I’m planning a vacation six months from now… and the very next minute we got back from that vacation two weeks ago… what’s up with that?
As I’ve noticed that the actually doing of things is never as good as the anticipation of such things… I’ve started to extend my vacations significantly. Instead of waiting until the days before I am to do something… I instead start planning way ahead of time… like a year ahead of time. Now when I say planning… I mean get on the computer, look at maps, look at things to do, places to go, people to talk to. A good example of this was a trip my nephew Kyle and I took to Alaska 4 years ago now. As my job has me visiting lots of people out there in the world… it makes for lots of opportunities to “gab”. As the conversation went… if any of the folks I was visiting had even a passing brush with travel to Alaska… I would delve deep into their experiences. Why…? I’m already on the trip of course… my face is smiling, my mind is wandering, my day dreams start taking the shape of what I hope to be doing soon. That exchange of ideas and memories of good / extraordinary times so happens to work (for me) in my line of work. But I must say… a really good conversation with the right kind of people can having you visiting that place many times before you get there… and for me… a constant source of optimism. They had a fantastic time… I’m (in my head) already having a fantastic time!
As it turned out one of the couples I talked to suggested that when driving up there… that I might consider staying in the United States for as long as possible. Why? Gas is cheaper for one. I started looking at the map 9-10 months out… go this way go that way… looking for what might be interesting along the way. Calling people, asking more and more questions with excitement building every day. Conversations with Kyle about what we were in for were starting to get intense… what gear to take, what not to take… it was, for me, turning into a riotous affair… no kidding!
As Kyle and I came to find out… we have a beautiful nation… we do! Now I must admit that travel from Minnesota thru South Dakota was rather brutal… once we got to the Black Hills and points west were all good. We made it through the three B’s before we stayed the night… Billings, Bozeman, Butte… 1,066 and some change… our first day was 16+ hours long! For those of you that follow my blogs… this was one of those “bad days” that I will remember fondly. I can’t remember why we stretched it so far that day but I believe it was we wanted to build in spare time for what might come up. Butte turned into a drive thru Missoula then Coeur d’ Alene… then to taking some pretty serious side roads crossing the border to Osoyoos Canada… about 850 miles the way we went. Cool views along the way… spacious wheat fields of northern Washington state gave way to orchards of apples and pears where the tree were planted every 3 or 4′ and grew to 25′ high… never imagined. After that there were endless vineyards of grapes which quickly transitioned to the river and valleys that ran down the west side of Canadian Rockies. We took several detours onto “scenic byways” that were marked on the map… all of which added to drive time but were absolutely worth it! After that we wound our way up through Kelowna, Vernon over to Kamloops… north to 100 Mile House and pushed onto Williams Lake ending that day’s drive in Quesnel British Columbia… 700 miles plus. On the fourth day we traveled north to Prince George and took a hard left passing Fort Fraser, Smithers, Kitwanga… from there north thru Meziadin Junction and I believe we camped out just north of Dease Lake… 1,084 miles! Day five north to Watson and hang another left thru Swift River, Johnson’s Crossing thru White Horse and west from there thru Haines Junction and stopping in Destruction Bay 910 miles! From there we traveled thru Snag Junction, Northway Junction to Tok where we kind of took a big fat detour north to Fairbanks… note that we did pass thru the town of “North Pole” on the way… this was our shortest day 427 miles! The next morning we traveled south to Denali National Park where we stayed a couple of days a fished for pink salmon and rainbow trout and did pretty well I might add. Anchorage was next where we turned back east along highway 1 and stopped at Bird Point for a couple of days to do some more fishing for Silver salmon… we also took a short tour of ATV riding where we tried to spy a few bears on the paths there 390 miles. Next destination was Soldotna which is a ways down the Kenai peninsula… there we stayed with a good friend of mine… and from there did some halibut fishing with friends of his and also took a day to drive down to Homer… which if you are looking at the map… the end of the road… quite literally. although these past to hops were 200-300 miles… in the scheme of things they hardly seem worth mentioning given the big chunks we had been putting on. The return trip was even more hasty if you can imagine that. Leaving out of the town of Kenai we traveled north and instead of going thru Anchorage again we turned east on 1 thru towns like Chickaloon, Glacier View, Eureka Roadhouse, Tolsona turning north on 1 at Glennallen thru Slana and onto the town of Tok again where we turned East and went thru all of the towns we had already been thru on our way up… and we stayed overnight in Destruction Bay again 800 miles. From there we kinda had to run like hell to get back in time for both of to go back to work… so… on to White Horse again back to Watson Lake… by the way they have this really cool sign park…. thousands and thousands of signs in this huge park… weirdly interesting! Instead of turning South the way we came we headed East on 97 thri Liard River, Toad River, Fort Nelson, Prophet River, Pink Mountain, Fort St. Johns and I believe that we stayed overnight in Dawson Creek 1,209 miles. South from there thru Pink Mountain, Fort St. John, Dawson Creek where we cut south thru Grande Prairie, Valleyview, Fox Creek, and onto Edmunton. 1,040 miles. Day four we headed East thru Lloydminster, Saskatoon… and then we took a detour thru Wadena Saskachewan… a place that I have been told to go goose hunting before I die… interesting but heading South thru Regina is where we stayed overnight 782 miles. From there we hauled ass South by South East thru Weyburn, Estevan, entering the US just north of Minot to Grand forks to Fargo and the rest is history 1,197 miles!
We drove there in six days and came back in 5 grueling days! If the scenery wasn’t so spectacular it would have been a killer… but no kidding it was ALL GOOD! We saw bears, goats, mountain sheep, Buffalo on the freeway, Moose, gobs of deer… seriously you name it we saw it! And “it” was all good… we live on a beautiful planet… absolutely.
I’ll end this essay the way I tried to start it… whenever I take off on adventures like this I try to express how precious this time will be to my fellow travelers. For as we headed out the driveway on the way out on this adventure I purposely stopped the car and clapped my hands… and told Kyle… when I clap my hands next it will be all over. As we drove into the driveway as we got back home… I again stopped the car and clapped my hands and we both agreed that it was gone in a flash… in a flash!
By the way… 3 things: 1st) if you are reading this and want to see more than pictures of this trip… Kyle took video and spliced together a pretty fun little video of some of the things we saw and did – the address is: htts://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H21CEmFpcxM&feature=youtu.be
2nd) When I got home from this trip my wife told me that I wasn’t doing that again anytime soon… and I said back to her… now that I’ve gone once… I plan to do it again real soon! Next trip summer of 2019… anybody want to go with?
3rd) if you like what I’m writing about… at least throw me a “like” a comment would be much more appreciated.