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Posts Tagged ‘Joe Curtin’

Recalling the Highlights

September 24, 2010 14 comments

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s very difficult to name the highlights of this roadtrip…I’ve done far too much, seen too many spectacular places, and met up with a great deal of friends along the way.  But in an effort to capture some of the more memorable moments, I put together a couple of slideshows.

At first I was going to create one slideshow, then I realized it would be way too long with all the pictures I have (even after culling the unremarkable ones).  So I created two slideshows – one showing all the people I got together with along the way, and then one showcasing some of the amazing scenes I came across in the US and Canada.  After all, it was the combination of people and places that made Joesroadtrip a trip for a lifetime.

The first slideshow here is entitled “Joesroadtrip.com – The People.”  All the friends and family I spent time with along the way are here.  I used two songs to go along with the pictures.  The first is “Alive” by Pete Yorn, and the second song “Someday” by No More Kings.  Both songs have a good, positive energy that I think captures the spirit of the roadtrip.

The second slideshow is, you guessed it, called “Joesroadtrip.com – The Places.”  Although I saw many amazing sights on this road, there where some places that stood out a bit more than the others, and I tried to focus on those here.  The song accompanying the pictures is called “Hoppipola” by the Icelandic Band Sigur Ros. Just a great song that is fitting of an adventure, I think.

Hope you enjoy the videos.  Although it took more work than I anticipated, I had a lot of fun putting these together.  I feel so lucky to have experienced all of this in one summer.

All the best.

joe

P.S.  I failed to mention two people who helped me get these slideshows made.  Thanks Brendan and Nichole for letting me use your Mac for who knows how many hours!

Little respite

September 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Location: Raleigh, NC

As much as I would like to keep the blog updated each day with some exciting and scenic pictures, I’ve taken the past few days here in Raleigh to relax and unwind for a bit.  Hanging with Sam, Mrs. T, Jen, Saba, and Aaron, watching movies, prepping for future trips, and napping is how I’ve spent the majority of my time here.  And I’ve been quite content in that routine.

But soon the trip will continue, as I’ll slowly make my way into Virginia and Maryland.  The plan is to visit some of the same people I got to see earlier in the summer (some in different areas), and hopefully some new landmarks as I’ll try to take some new routes into these areas.  That will begin Saturday, and I’ll be sure to get a new post up before then as I wrap up my time in North Carolina.

Until then, thanks to everyone for the nice comments as the roadtrip winds down.  It’s kind of sad, after spending over 100 incredible days seeing some of the sights and the people that make this country (and our neighbor to the north) beautiful.  But it couldn’t last forever…especially given my unemployed status.  How lucky I am, though, to have seen all I’ve seen.

Keep on truckin’

joe

The journey so far…

August 30, 2010 1 comment

 

Black line = trip starting in GA to Alaska. Red line = return trip

I decided it was a good time to update the map showing where I’ve traveled.  Although I’ve driven close to 23k miles, it doesn’t feel like it’s been that much until I start drawing squiggly lines throughout the entire country.  Phase Four of the trip kicked off when I left Palmer, Alaska, and began the long, indirect journey home to NY.  Thanks to Travis in Vancouver for the suggestion to color the lines red going home (“red for return”), otherwise some lines would’ve started intersecting and may have been confusing to read.

The Mazda is holding up remarkably well, and I’ve had zero mechanical problems (knock on wood).  Unfortunately, there is a slight crack in my windshield on the passenger side.  I will take this over a mechanical problem anytime, and I suppose I am lucky to escape with just a crack after some of the tough roads I’ve encountered on this trip.  Assuming the crack doesn’t get any bigger, I’ll look to get that fixed/replaced while I am back in Georgia.

Looking at the map, you’d think it won’t be long before I arrive back home, but I am going to take my time in stops along the east coast (as long as the budget is still on track).  My rough plan is to arrive back in NY sometime around Sept. 18, which would bring this trip to a total of approximately 110 days.  Outstanding!

20,000 miles and still going strong

August 19, 2010 15 comments

I thought hitting 20,000 miles on this trip was a fairly significant milestone that earned its own post. And now that I sit here writing this, I have little to say.

I did initially expect to drive in the neighborhood of 20,000 miles by the time this trip was over, but to actually sit behind the odometer and see the distance I’ve gone is pretty cool.  A bit tiring to think about, but very rewarding at the same time.  That being said, there’s still a lot of driving yet to do, but I haven’t gotten sick of it.

So I figured this was a good opportunity to posit a question to the readers of joesroadtrip.com.  See, I’ve been asked many times the past few months, “Joe, what’s been the highlight of your roadtrip?”  I can never name one thing.  I usually end up rattling off about 10 things or so, and that’s before I even start really thinking about it.

So, dear readers – What has been your favorite part of the trip?

I’m actually very curious what others might see as the highlights, and I wonder if responses will jive with mine or be totally different.  There’s now about 80 or so posts on this website, so feel free to review the archives (on the right hand side) if you need a refresher.  If you have time, leave your response in the comment section and let me know.

Thanks,

joe

Day 78: Departing the last frontier in style

August 16, 2010 8 comments

Location: 30 miles west of the Alaska/Canada border

Miles Driven: 346

Total Miles: 18,311

Around 2PM or so I was packed, the car was tidied up, and I was stocked up on some pb&js.  Definitely was tough to say goodbye to Vegas, as we had become pretty good friends in just a short period.  We got one last walk in around the neighborhood, and I got to tussle his furry head a bit before heading out the door.

The going was a bit slow getting out of the Palmer city limits, as there were some pull-offs to take in some of the nice views, and there was a Musk Ox farm on the way.  Unfortunately, the cost to see the musk oxen up close was $8, and the animals didn’t appeal enough to me to pay $8.  Also, I had felt some nausea and ready to puke (I suspect something was up with the grapes I had purchased the previous day).  But an hour napping off by a river helped alleviate that a bit.

I had mentioned the views, and you didn’t have to drive far out of Palmer to be astounded.

Spotted an eagle

The goal was to make it to the Canada/Alaska border (or close to it) before I was done driving for the day.  Eventually the route would take me to the Alaskan city of Tok, a place I passed through on the drive to Fairbanks.  From there, I’d take the Alaska Highway, just going the opposite way I originally came.

I passed the famous Matanuska Glacier on the way towards Tok.

More mountainous scenery

After a few hours driving, I came to the city of Glenallen.  From there, I could head north to Tok, or a bit south and explore Wrangell-St. Elias National Park – the largest National Park in the U.S.  But given that it was later in the day, and I wasn’t feeling all that great, I passed.  But I still was able to enjoy some of the park’s mountains from a distance.

I could be wrong, but I think that's a lenticular cloud on the right. Never saw one in person before

The Alaskan sky...around 10PM

A bit after 11PM I was ready to call it a day, and it worked out – I was just 30 miles west of the Canadian border.  Definitely was a bit sad to be leaving this gorgeous state, but what an amazing drive on the way out.

joe

An update

August 15, 2010 2 comments

As I mentioned in the previous post, it’s time for me to start making my way back home.  “Phase 3” of this trip was the journey to Alaska.  I actually made it here, got to visit a lot of amazing places, but it’s time for me to go.

Not that I feel rushed to go, it’s just fitting with my overall plan for this trip.  Recall I originally blocked off three months – June, July, August – for this trip.  Early on in this trip, I realized I probably would not arrive home until mid-September (so about 3.5 months), and that was OK, as long as the car was in good shape and I was still in check with my trip budget.

The only real constraint on me is my trip to Asia, which kicks off September 25.  Naturally, I’d like to be home more than a week before getting on a plane, so if I linger too long up in Alaska and Canada, I’ll be cutting it pretty short.  And what I didn’t realize until I started the drive north from Vancouver is that Canada is huge – it took me about 5 days of driving (around 400 miles each day) to make it to Alaska.  I’d prefer not to drive that much on the way back to the Lower 48, so it will be prudent of me to get started now.

So you’re probably saying to yourself, “Alaska to New York?  Joe, it’s not going to take another 30 days to get home.”  And you are right, except for the fact my route home is going to be a bit indirect.  In fact, a lot indirect.  Recall the original trip plan:

Yellow arrows indicate "phase 4", the final leg of the trip

I’m going to change things up a bit and take a little bit more of a roundabout drive home.  I’d like to see some of my friends at least one more time before I leave the country in January, so I figured, “What’s another 2,000 miles or so when you’ve driven 20,000?”  So I’ll be heading south all the way towards Texas, east to Georgia, then a final swing up the East Coast back home to NY.  I figure the time is there, so why not take advantage and see some friends one last time.

So that’s my route back when I’m in the Lower 48.  And what about the Canada portion of the route?  Like my initial plan above, I’ll be making my way to Montana via Alberta, home of Jasper and Banff National Parks.  The Canadian Rockies are not to be missed, I hear, and I look forward to exploring more of scenic Canada.

Now that’s my plan above, how about my actual trip route?  Here’s an update I finished just this morning, showing the drive from Vancouver to Seward.

Eventually a lot of these black lines are going to intersect, so I think I’ll have to use a different color to mark the journey home.

So here it is, Day 78, and it’s time to start turning back East.  It’s a sobering feeling, after spending all this time on the road, to know that the route I begin now will eventually bring me home.  But it’s exciting at the same time.  I’ll get to see new places along the way, and some familiar faces, as well.  As much as I am a self-proclaimed loner, I’ve really enjoyed the time I’ve spent with others along this trip.

joe

Day 69: Dreams realized

August 7, 2010 20 comments

Finally arrived

Location: Fairbanks, AK

Miles Driven: 610

Total Miles: 17,068

Well, as you can see in the picture above, I finally made it to Alaska.  Over 17,000 miles since leaving Acworth, Georgia…I’m finally here.  Feels great, and it’s pretty surreal.

Now that was a picture taken earlier this afternoon, but there was a lot of driving before that photo (and after), so let’s go back to the morning when I was in Whitehorse.

I’ll readily admit I’m not the handy-est of people.  My skills with a car are limited to changing tires and jumping batteries.  So when I realized I needed to replace two headlight bulbs, I was hopeful I could get someone at the NAPA Auto Parts store to give me a hand.  See, my car owner’s manual was not incredibly helpful.  In the section entitled “replacing headlight bulbs” it said:  Be sure to visit an authorized Mazda technician…  Not the biggest of helps there.  So I got to the NAPA store shortly after it opened, and checked with the mechanic dude that was working there.  He was real kind, but admitted he’s never been under the hood of a Mazda before…and after a quick look inside realized there was more to take apart then your typical bulb change.  My experience was limited to changing bulbs on an old Mercury Topaz years ago, and I recall little to disassemble in that operation.  Not the same here, it appeared.  The mechanic suggested I hit up a Mazda dealership in Fairbanks, and not to worry about the law where you need to keep your lights running during the day.  “You’re a tourist, you’re fine…hell half of the tourists don’t even know the law.”

An added bonus I didn’t think about…what better place for your headlights to run out than in these northern latitudes.  In Whitehorse, there was still daylight the previous night after 10PM.  Daylight will last even longer when I’m up in Alaska.

So I was in the car and got back on the Alaska Highway, heading northwest towards Fairbanks.  I had about 600 miles ahead of me, and it seemed a bit daunting, especially after all the driving I had done since the start of the week.  But it actually went by quite smoothly.  The nice scenery certainly helps there.

It’s difficult to make progress driving when you’re distracted by all this spectacular scenery.  I found myself pulling over quite a bit for some nice views.

For some reason I had a good amount of energy, and outside of the occasional gas-up and leg stretch, I was able to keep plugging away along the 600 mile route.

Kluane Lake

Around 3PM I was approaching the Canada/Alaska border.  There was a rest area just 20 miles outside where I stopped.  Another clear blue Canadian body of water – Pickhandle Lake.

Before I knew it, I was at the border.  The “Welcome to Alaska” sign was just before Customs, so I got out to take some pictures.  Met a nice couple from Michigan and the man kindly took my photo (the one you see above).

Amazing to see that sign in person

I made it through Customs relatively unscathed this time.  The officer asked me a lot of questions, but I think he was more trying to see if I would trip up than he was actually paying attention to my answers.  He didn’t like my passport.  Apparently I’ve bent and warped it a bit in my travels, so it doesn’t easily scan.  As he put it, “Since your passport has been to the Himalayas and back, it can’t be read by the scanner.”  He told me I need to get a new one.  I think he just doesn’t like typing.  Also, I have never been to the Himalayas.  I was expecting my car to be searched like the previous border crossings, but he waved me through and I was on my way.

I didn’t have to drive long to see some of the beautiful country for which Alaska is known.

I experienced a bit of rain not long after crossing the border.  Can’t complain about that.  I could barely remember the last place I saw any sustained rain in my travels. I think I narrowed it down to when I was on the way to Big Bend, in Texas.  Almost a month ago.  I’ve had some great weather while touring the western US and Canada.

I arrived in Fairbanks not long after 8PM.  Still a lot of daylight remaing when I arrived.  In fact, as I write this, it’s almost 11PM and there’s still a good amount of daylight out there.  I love it.

For the first time since Will’s place in Vancouver, I have a home to stay in.  Thanks to couchsurfing.net I linked up with a Fairbanks local, Ericka.  She has been extremely generous, having offered me her couch with limited notice, in addition to hosting another couchsurfer.  She even plans to take us out for some outdoor activities…maybe go out on a lake or go hiking, even.  I’ve only communicated with her using email and text messages, but she sounds like a great person to link up with.

I’ll go to Ericka’s later tonight, get some much-needed rest (and shower), and then tomorrow is my first full day in “The Last Frontier.”

Coming here was just one goal, of many, along this trip, but was definitely the major goal.  Thanks to all my friends and family who have been so supportive along the road here.

joe