Alaska Locator map

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Day 1

Day 2
Non-express Expressway

Day 3
Forty-Eight Down

Day 4
I Can Hear You Now

Day 5
1 W

Day 6
Icefields Parkway

Day 7
A Gray Day

Day 8
Mile 0

Day 9
A Lovely Drive

Day 10
Time of the Signs

Day 11
Glass Chipper

Day 12
Ending in Destruction

Day 13
Forty-Nine Down

Day 14
Short Travel Day

Day 15
To the Circle

Day 16
Caribou, I See You

Day 17
The Parks Highway

Day 18
Connecting with Family

Day 19
The Fourth in the Forty-Ninth

Day 20
Homer Alone

Day 21
Staying Dry

Day 22
A Day in Anchorage

Day 23
Back to Tok

Day 24
Top of the World and More

Day 25
North Klondike Highway

Day 26
Starting the Cassier

Day 27
Get on the Right Page

Day 28
More Yellowhead

Day 29
To Edmonton

Day 30
Stampede? Now?

Day 31
Back in the Lower 48

Day 32
Going to the Sun

Day 33
Mo' Montana

Day 34
Disappointment Dodged

Day 35
Return to ND

Day 36
Lewis, Clark, Welk, & Kevin

Day 37
Art in Corn & Metal

Day 38

Day 39
The House that Alex Built

Day 40
House on the Rock Wrap-up

Day 41
A Peaceful Conclusion

Postude - August 4, 2016
I was home for three days before I got the last of the daily journal entries posted for this trip so it should be no surprise that it took me nearly another week to correct the locator map, roll the trip into "Done Deeds" and put together this summary. That was partly due to the trip being longer in time (41 days) and distance (11,108 miles) than any previous trip but it was also due to the trip being chock full of things to see and do which made for a lot to write about while reducing the time to write. The bucket list was obviously hit by visits to my forty-eighth and -ninth states (North Dakota and Alaska) and there were several other hits, too. Many of which were not on the agenda when I left home. Visiting the Arctic Circle was something I decided to do the day before I did it. Seeing William Clark's 1806 signature was something I wanted to do from the decades ago day when I first learned it existed but something I didn't realize could be part of this trip until after I saw Pompey's Pillar listed on an exit sign. In Wisconsin, visiting the House on the Rock and the lakes holding John Prine's "peaceful waters" just conveniently fell into place. I didn't realize I'd be able to drive the Going to the Sun Highway until the day before I left home and getting a look at the Calgary Stampede was 100% accidental. The ol' bucket list was seriously impacted by this trip.

I did not get to see the top of Mount Denali and, while I saw moose elk, sheep, caribou, fox, bison, black bears, and grizzlies, the only wolf I saw was road kill. I got through Canada a little quicker than anticipated so my idea of celebrating Dominion Day didn't work out but Independence Day with my cousin as guide was so much better than I could have managed in Tok or Fairbanks. Since I didn't even know it existed before I reached Alaska, that July 4th race in Seward wasn't on the bucket list but it was a unique and truly Alaskan experience.

Before starting out I'd made a guess of six weeks for the trip and the forty-one days I was actually on the road was really close. My guesstimate was divided into three even pieces and reality was somewhat different. I reached Alaska on the thirteenth day which wasn't all that much quicker than estimated but was enough to do in any Dominion Day thoughts. I reentered Canada eleven days later then spent seventeen days getting home.

The distance driven didn't match my pre-trip guess quite as closely. I'd rather casually tossed out a guess of 10,000 miles and exceeded that by more that a thousand. The Forester, with more than 110,000 miles on the odometer at the start, performed wonderfully. It went through a little oil along the way but, with that much "experience", I'm thinking it's justified. The windshield got chipped again but that's pretty normal for that part of the world. Lots of gravel you know. It was a trouble free trip that generally went as planned and when it didn't it was usually for the better.

July 26, 2016 (day 41)
I got another item off the bucket list although there's a case for claiming it was only two-thirds. I started the day thinking I would spend one more night in a motel but once I reached Indiana there was no stopping me. Forty-one days on the road and I easily made it home tonight.

July 25, 2016 (day 40)
I've looked at infinity from both sides now. I also looked at stuff that ranged from totally intriguing to way beyond silly. It was, overall, a very good day that ended with the best fish dinner I've had since 1953.

July 24, 2016 (day 39)
One whole day and only a third of an item scratched off the bucket list. It still beats my average.

July 23, 2016 (day 38)
Not much forward progress today but a nice visit to a slightly off course national monument.

July 22, 2016 (day 37)
In South Dakota, hill sides and building sides both serve as art galleries. For the first time in weeks, I was on some road I'd driven before this trip.

July 21, 2016 (day 36)
With this post, the current trip officially becomes the longest I've documented on this site. The previous record holder was 2013's thirty-five day Lincoln Highway Centennial Tour. On this record setting day I clinched Lewis & Clark forts, visited the old Welk homestead, and had a friend report in from that signpost up ahead.

July 20, 2016 (day 35)
A hunt for breakfast led me to one of the coolest museums I've seen. I found a brewery in North Dakota's capital then ordered dinner on the phone.

July 19, 2016 (day 34)
I started the day with a little childishness then felt a little silly when a landmark I should have been expecting surprised me.

July 18, 2016 (day 33)
Despite intentions to make this an expressway day, I got tugged onto an old two-lane and across an old bridge before ending the day surrounded by old signs and breweries. In between I visited a state museum and looked up -- way up -- to a tall lady.

July 17, 2016 (day 32)
Going to the Sun Road was every bit as cool as I'd hoped and I had a beautiful day to enjoy it.

July 16, 2016 (day 31)
I had two surprise stops before I got back in the States. One was the site of major cranial mayhem and the other the home of "That delicate satin draped frame".

July 15, 2016 (day 30)
Anyone else ever arrive in Calgary during Stampede without knowing it? Thought not. Before I did that, I rode an old streetcar and after I did that I ate atop the city and went to that Stampede.

July 14, 2016 (day 29)
I made it to Edmonton after voluntarily driving into Jasper traffic, watching stupid human photo tricks, and rolling through a street fair.

July 13, 2016 (day 28)
One pole, one bear, an arch to drive under, and some rain.

July 12, 2016 (day 27)
The Cassier Highway ends at BC-16 which is part of the Trans Canada Highway as well as the Yellowhead Highway. Before leaving the Cassier, I got a little help with my reading.

July 11, 2016 (day 26)
I retraced a good sized chunk of the Alaska Highway but did reach the new-to-me Cassier Highway to finish the day.

July 10, 2016 (day 25)
A nice drive and some nice clouds but not a lot of pictures.

July 9, 2016 (day 24)
I drove off the last pavement in Alaska and it took a Canadian ferry ride to get me back on.

July 8, 2016 (day 23)
I started for home and ended the day in a place I passed through on the way north. I got there on a different road, however, and this time I got to stay.

July 7, 2016 (day 22)
This is the extra day I stayed in order to do stuff I planned on the first day. Flyers, dancers, and a beer at Bernie's.

July 6, 2016 (day 21)
Rain kept me off the beach but I made it to a bakery, the business district, and some breweries along with a marine refuge visitors center.

July 5, 2016 (day 20)
Beer on the Spit and ballads at dinner. I like this town.

July 4, 2016 (day 19)
Some people in Alaska celebrate Independence Day by running up a mountain and others by eating chicken and watching them. The chicken was good.

July 3, 2016 (day 18)
I reached Anchorage and Cousin Deb's today and took in a fair while swapping stories.

July 2, 2016 (day 17)
Today I used the George Parks Highway to relocate from Fairbanks to the north edge of Anchorage.

July 1, 2016 (day 16)
Even with walk suppressing rain and mountain hiding clouds I really enjoyed my bus ride through Denali National Park and I emptied my unseen big critter list.

June 30, 2016 (day 15)
One road, one moose, and one Arctic Circle.

June 29, 2016 (day 14)
Traveled less than a hundred miles which let me catch up on this journal and do a little planning.

June 28, 2016 (day 13)
I entered my forty-ninth state, clinched the Alaska Highway, and misled a caravan. Oh, and grizzly.

June 27, 2016 (day 12)
Even before setting out I decided not to try reaching Alaska today. I targeted the tiny town of Destruction Bay instead.

June 26, 2016 (day 11)
I got the popular Alaska Highway windshield chip installation out of the way early then saw a couple bears, a couple museums, and a couple waterfalls.

June 25, 2016 (day 10)
The bison on highway that one of the first signs of the day warned of never materialized but other beings did. By the end of the day, I'd seen enough signs to last a life time though I fully expect to see more tomorrow.

June 24, 2016 (day 9)
A day with few roadside attractions but a whole lot of roadside attractiveness.

June 23, 2016 (day 8)
I explored Dawson Creek just a little then drove my first mile (and a few more) of the Alaska Highway.

June 22, 2016 (day 7)
Clouds constantly filled the sky, rain sometimes fell, and construction crews sometimes held me up but it takes more than that to keep me from enjoying a drive on winding Canadian two-lane.

June 21, 2016 (day 6)
Just a little rain on a nice drive through Banff and Jasper National Parks on the Icefields Parkway.

June 20, 2016 (day 5)
It was essentially a one road day interrupted only by short teepee and tower excursions.

June 19, 2016 (day 4)
I returned to two-lane, left the country, lost communications, and regained communications all in that order.

June 18, 2016 (day 3)
Most of today's driving was on the interstate and that included entering my forty-eighth state. While off the expressway I got to photograph a movie star. look over a Viking ship, and sample some local brew.

June 17, 2016 (day 2)
I spent a lot of today on the expressway but construction and weather kept speeds low. Even so, I knocked off more than 300 unexciting miles and about 100 cool ones.

June 16, 2016 (day 1)
A rare 500+ mile day got this trip off to a big start and put me in northeast Iowa on the banks of the Mississippi.

Prelude 2 - May 25, 2016
When I put a trip to Alaska in the "Just Seeds" section I suggested it might not remain there long. Now, not much more than three months later, I've used the single paragraph that made up the AlCan Highway "Just Seeds" page to form a Prelude section of a "Fixed Leads" page. While neither the route or launch date are entirely nailed down, they're getting close in more ways than one. I have a general route plotted and a launch window in mind. There are options in the route I've plotted and I know that others will appear as I travel. I'm hoping to enter Alaska sometime between the first and fourth of July and I think I can do that if I leave around the middle of June. The July dates are not absolute requirements but meeting them would allow me to celebrate the birth of two nations on one trip. July 1, 1867, is the day that the country of Canada was formed as a federation of four provinces. It is celebrated as Canada Day. Thirteen British colonies adopted a Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, and the United States of America celebrates the date as Independence Day.

The semi-firm route will take me through North Dakota and make it the forty-eighth state I've visited. I'll then pass through Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, and the Yukon Territory before entering Alaska. For all except British Columbia, it will be my first visit. In Alaska I'll drive as far north as Fairbanks then south to Anchorage before heading home by a slightly different route.

When I posted the "Just Seeds" page for this trip I named it for the AlCan Highway. I very quickly learned just how wrong that was. AlCan was its military name. People still recognize the name and is still used informally but the road has officially been the Alaska Highway since it was opened to the public in 1949. Furthermore, even though the former AlCan Highway is a central part of my trip, it will actually be a fairly small portion of the miles I'll be driving. Maybe I'll think of a clever trip name before I leave and maybe I won't. Right now it's simply "Alaska".

Prelude 1 - February 18, 2016
Thoughts of driving the AlCan Highway have existed for several years. I started actually talking about it as my list of unvisited states got quite short. It should have appeared in the "Just Seeds" list some time ago and there is a pretty good change it won't be just a seed very long. Unlike most road trips, this is one where the destination really is as important as the journey. Created in the 1940s in response to World War II, it is the road that first made driving to Alaska possible. Alaska was not a state at the time but it is now and is one of three I've yet to visit. People often fly there or ride cruise ships along the coast but that's not for me. I said the destination is as important than the journey. Not more important. Driving there seems to be a pretty big deal so I best be getting to it before too many birthdays come along.

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