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Posts Tagged ‘roadtrip to Alaska’

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!

Wrapping it up

September 21, 2010 7 comments

The completed journey. The black line starts in Georgia and marks the start of the trip. The red line marks the return trip home from Alaska

And there it is – the entire trip.  I began the trip on May 30, and it ended 112 days later on September 18.  Take a look at my original plan here.  I was pretty close to matching that.

On left: odometer just before heading out. On right: odometer at the end of the trip

The traveled a total of 25,821 miles.  To offer some perspective, note that the circumference of the Earth is 24,901 miles.  Another way to think of it is that’s almost five roundtrips from NYC to LA.  I’m proud that I was able to travel that distance without A) going crazy, and B) getting sick of driving.

You might recall I put up some trip stats back when I was in the state of Washington, before heading north into Canada.  Now that the roadtrip is over, I figure it’s time to see what’s different and what has stayed the same since late July.

Total miles: 25, 821

Total gas expenditures: ~$2,933

Most expensive gas (US): $4.59/gal – Big Sur, CA

Most expensive gas (Canada): USD equivalent of ~$7.60/gal – Swift River, Yukon Territory

Least expensive gas (US): $2.43 – Newport News, VA

Least expensive gas (Canada): USD equivalent of ~$3.64/gal – Calgary, Alberta

States traveled through: 39

Largest rest areas: Kansas

Nicest rest areas: Illinois/Kansas

Not-so-nice rest areas: California (takes the cake in the US), and Northern Canada (not much out there)

National Parks visited: US – 12, Canada – 2

Pulled over: 3 times.  One for speeding and rolling through a stop sign.  Two other times for a busted headlight.

Tickets received: 1.  $100 fine courtesy a cop in Guernsey, Wyoming

Tickets received in my 2005 cross-country trip: 3 – Virginia, California, and you guessed it…Wyoming

State that has it out for me, but I still like the place nonetheless: Wyoming

Total paid in tolls: $148.15

Most expensive toll: $11 – Verrazano Bridge, NYC

Total number of oil changes: 8.  In order:

– Gulfbreeze, FL

– Endwell, NY

– Mishiwaka, IN

– Midland, TX

– Hillsboro, OR

– Palmer, AK

– Westminster, CO

– Gaithersburg, MD

Total vehicle maintenance costs: $1,386.70

Largest single expenditure related to the car: $606.35 (oil change + new tires in Hillsboro, OR)

Money spent on washing the car: ~$65

Replaced windshields: 1 (fully covered by insurance, thankfully)

Replaced headlight bulbs: 3

AAA usage: 1 – battery jump

Flat tires: 0

Hotel/Motel/B&B stays: 7 (two for free – thanks Rachel and John)

Cheapest attraction/excursion: $4 – Wright Brothers Memorial in Kitty Hawk, NC

Most expensive attraction/excursion: $77.33 – Wildlife boat tour in Alaska

Planetariums visited: 1 – Morehead Planetarium at UNC Chapel Hill (check it out…it’s amazing)

Darkest sky/most stars ever seen: Big Bend National Park, TX

Hidden gem in the middle of nowhere: Cosmosphere space museum – Hutchinson, KS

Camera accessories lost: 2 (lens cap and LCD cover).  No worries, purchased replacements

Ferry rides: 3 (2 in the state of Washington, 1 going from VT to NY)

Most expensive ferry: $17.50 – Lake Champlain ferry

Showers taken at truck stops: 4 (thank you, Flying J)

Haircuts: 5

Close bear encounters: 1 – Anchorage, AK

Friends that would readily abandon me in a bear attack: 1 (hahah… just playing, Matt)

Website hits, to date: 17,173

Some searches that brought people to this site: monumental walley; tempereate rainforest picture long ways; joe in carlsbad texas; 69 dreams; experience in taiwan; owners name + 14 lighthouse rd campobell; how did the religions spread; unique canadian flag; alaska and mara and andrew; day 26 break up

Friends I visited with/hiked with/ate with, etc: too many to count

Friends/friends of friends/family homes I’ve stayed in: 32

And once again, the important stats are the ones listed last. Thanks to all those who helped make this such a memorable trip. Not only did you let me “couchsurf,” but the mere fact of being able to hang out and spend time with all you guys is what was important to me.  And also thanks to the many who offered a place to stay, but we didn’t get the chance to link up because of timing or other logistics.  I’m very grateful.

This trip was one I won’t ever forget.  I got to see so many spectacular places and meet up with so many friendly people.  Just like I realized after my roadtrip in 2005, I gained a further appreciation for how beautiful this country is (as is Canada), and that the people living here is what helps make it so beautiful.  And like I commented back in 2005, nothing mushy happened like “finding myself” or any New Agey BS, but there’s some things I came to realize while being out on the road, and the biggest realization was how amazing it is to share these spectacular places with others.  Sometimes on the trip I’d find myself in a national park, or at a lake, or staring at mountains, and I’d wish I had a friend there to share the experience with.  Not that I was bummed to be there on my own, but there’s far too much beauty in this country to just enjoy it by yourself for an extended time.  Many have asked me, “Would you do it again?”  And I think the answer is “No.”  Others have to see what I’ve been able to see, so maybe if I can show off some of these places to a friend I would go, but to enjoy them all by myself once again might be a bit too selfish.  It’s a double-edged sword, though…someone would have to travel with me for an extended length of time – that might be a bit tough.  Maybe we decide to meet up at key locations so everybody keeps their sanity.

Others have asked me, “What was the highlight of the trip?”  I can never answer that question.  There were far too many “highlights” in my book.  Some just off the top of my head – seeing a rocket launch at Cape Canaveral, being at the St. Louis Gateway Arch on the Fourth of July, pulling up to the “Welcome to Alaska” sign at the Canada/AK border, taking pictures of the Milky Way in Big Bend National Park, meeting my nephews in Texas and Oregon, hiking Mt. Marathon in Alaska, visiting Crater Lake for the third time in my life, hanging with my friends in Maryland, seeing Oregon Trail wagon ruts in Wyoming, hiking the Angels Landing Trail at Zion National Park, watching the first rays of the morning sun hit the US….the list goes on and on.  I can never identify something as the “highlight” since I’ve experienced way too much to narrow it down. I’m pretty thrilled that’s the case.  Even before I set out on this trip and was in the planning phase, I didn’t expect I’d have such vivid memories when the trip ended.

Although it’s a little sad the trip is over, I now have new adventures in the works.  In less than a week I fly to Asia for a little personal trip.  I’ll be visiting Nepal and hanging with Lucky Monk, and then from there I head to Japan to meet up with a friend I made during my last trip to Asia.  I’ll be back in about a month, but then a few months later, in January, is my tentative leave date for my Peace Corps assignment.  I’m grateful I had the chance to explore a lot of the country before I leave it for two years.  I think my experience seeing miles and miles of the US will help make me a good ambassador, not to mention helping me appreciate what we have here while I work in the developing world.  So one adventure is over and done with…but many more to look forward to in the coming months.

Thanks to everybody out there who followed the website.  I didn’t expect so many people to be intereted in the journey, and it was a pleasure to share my time on the road with all of you.  Thanks to all of those who commented and gave me suggestions of things to see…some of the best finds across the country are not the ones in books or on a map, but the ones people share with you in casual conversation.

It’s been a thrill to be on the road for the entire summer.  When I left my job at the end of May, I had a strong feeling that it was the right choice, and it’s only been further confirmed here at the end of the trip.  This roadtrip has been long in the works.  In fact, in my old job in Bethesda, I made a rough route in GoogleMaps of what I planned to see.  I printed it out and hung it in my cubicle as an ‘escape’ from the daily drudgery (lesson learned, GoogleMaps only allows about 25 or so destinations in one route).  To go from that rough plan on a printout to adding 26,000 miles on my vehicle was, indeed, living a dream.

Speaking of my car, I owe much of my positive experience on the road to having a reliable vehicle that never gave me any grief, despite the fact we covered about two years’ worth of driving in just a matter of months.  The only money I spent on the vehicle during this trip was for regular wear-and-tear items, in addition to regular maintenance.  I was an advocate for Mazda before this trip, and I’ll remain that way for the rest of my life.  This week will be my last few days with the car as I’m selling it to my sister.  The Mazda6 has been great to me this past four years, and I finished my last summer with the car in style.

I feel very lucky that the roadtrip was even more successful than I imagined it could be.  The stars aligned for a great experience, and I’m so very grateful I’ll have this as a memory to last me the rest of my life.

Thanks for joining me on this ride.

joe

P.S.  Stay tuned to this site over the next few days as I’ll be putting together a roadtrip slideshow to visually recap the experience.

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