This is a continuation of our family trek from Fort Mill, South Carolina to Fairbanks, Alaska. For other parts in the series, click on the links below:
Day One (Part One) – South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee
Day One (Part Two) – Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri
Day Two – Missouri, Iowa, South Dakota
Day Three & Four – South Dakota (Mount Rushmore)
Day Five – South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana
Day Six & Seven – Montana, Alberta Canada
Day Eight – British Columbia, Canada
Day Nine – Yukon, Canada
Day Ten – YUKON TERRITORY
By the time we hit Whitehorse, we thought we had seen all there was to see in terms of scenery. How wrong we were. We drove to another town called Haines Junction and had some sandwiches at a gas station that were surprising delicious. While there, we actually met a woman from Georgia who was headed to Alaska for the military. Small world. We imagined that would be the highlight of our day but there was more to see. Minutes later, we entered the Saint Elias mountain range which includes the second tallest mountain in North America – Mount Logan. We had no clue and were not expecting another mountainous pass. Lord of the Rings eat your heart out!
Among the snow-covered mountains were vast fields of fireweed, creating a dynamic of colors that I thought only possible at the tip of a Bob Ross paint brush. This is where our cover image comes from. Some of you may have even watched our Facebook Live video at this location. Again, I’ll leave the details to the pictures below. I present to you, the St. Elias Mountains (not the Rocky Mountains like I first assumed … hey, a mountain is a mountain is a mountain, am I right?)
After traveling through a place that claimed to be community (Destruction Bay – as the old adage goes, if you blinked, you missed them) we stumbled into Beaver Creek for a bathroom break. Not much to see in this little town either, but it is the last thing you drive through before reaching the good ol’ US of A. While there at the rest stop, a bus from Minnesota filled to the brim with senior citizens was loading up and ready to take off. I knew what that meant. I would be sitting at the border waiting for the agents to process 30 geriatrics for the next five hours. I screamed at my wife and kids to get in the car and I peeled out of the parking lot as fast as I could.
A handful of miles down the road and we were finally there. Nine and a half days. Over 3900 miles. Countless Pringles. There it was: Alaska!
Day Ten – ALASKA
We stopped to get our picture at the big Alaska sign and while there we bumped into an entire crew of bicyclists. I’m talking, there had to be over 60 of them. The morning sun had given way to rain and these folks were riding their bikes through the cold mist. As it turns out, they were from Austin, Texas and had rode their bikes all the way to Alaska for charity (cancer research according to their site: texas4000.org). Purely a coincidence, we had reached Alaska at the exact same time that they did. However, in terms of the border, that bus of senior citizens suddenly didn’t seem so bad. We were sandwiched between two caravans and things were looking grim. Luckily, this old lady at the border came out and waved me over since, in her words, “I don’t think you want to wait behind all of them.” She was right. And we were home.
Well, almost. We made one more stop before Fairbanks. One more night of camping. One more night living as nomads (I guess, if you don’t count the next four days we spent in a hotel).
We camped at a place called Sourdough Campground in Tok, Alaska. The establishment was operated by a husband/wife team and ended up being pretty nice. The husband cooked dinner, and then there was a central campfire for all campers to gather round. Apparently, they have a custom that every night they play a pancake tossing game – if you throw a pancake into a bucket, you get free breakfast. If you miss, you have your picture taken amongst the other losers. Here we are, below:
I contend my status as a ‘loser’ though because my pancake landed on the edge of the bucket and stayed there. It wasn’t ‘in’ the bucket, but it didn’t ‘miss’ the bucket either. It was like the Browns tying the Steelers – we’ll take it.
The prices for gas and food were still inflated in little old Tok, but it was nice seeing gallons, US dollars, and Fahrenheit measurements. Canada is an alright place, but its not home and it never will be.
Next up: The end of our journey. We reach Fairbanks and get prepared to flight out to Hughes, Alaska.