Wednesday, September 8, 2010


2630.2 is the number of miles I traveled by car last week. As many of you know I was out of town last week driving from Fairbanks, AK to Moscow, ID with my daughter. Our route took us across central Alaska, into the Yukon Territory and then down the spine of the northern Canadian Rockies through British Columbia and finally into Idaho.

It had been my hope to post from the road. In that regard I completely underestimated my ability to write while shoehorned into a passenger seat and also my ability to find access to the internet. Evidently the Yukon and northern BC are still two places in the world where it is difficult to be wired in or to have cell service. It is also a place where lots (being a relative term) of people live strictly on generator power.

Here is the number of books I read on the trip: only 1. But I read that book front to back and also from right to left, really. This is what happened.

The Milepost is written specifically for those individuals driving to Alaska through Northwestern Canada. A new edition is published each year. Originally the book just dealt with travel conditions along the Alaskan Highway. Now the book includes different routes that work their way through parts of British Columbia, Alberta, the Yukon and Alaska. The book has also been expanded to include various ferry routes. You get mileage points that breakdown the trip to minute detail. We knew where every gravel pull-off was along the way. We also knew where to find gas, a place to camp, food, hot springs and when to be aware of large, wild animals traveling along the same road as you. The amount of information available to the reader was / is mind boggling. It also provided us with options to consider when travel plans had to be rearranged due to the lateness of the day or unforeseen events such as wild fires. But here is the catch: all of the sections we needed where written for those traveling south to north. And as you all know we where traveling in the opposite directions; which meant that the reader had to find the appropriate section, he / she would then read from left to right working down the page looking for the appropriate information while turning the pages in, what we would normally consider, the wrong direction, transposing the information along the way. Yes, it was tricky and yes, it took practice. It took both of us a little bit of time to figure out what to do and to then be able to actually do it. So, we read everything multiple times doing mental gymnastics with the information along the way. But it was worth it.

Here are a couple of more numbers that came out of the trip.

Number of miles after leaving Fairbanks, AK until we reached our first stop light: 855, it was red, there was construction on a bridge in the Yukon Territory. Number of additional miles until we reached our second stop light: 170, it too was red and was signaling travel across another bridge undergoing construction.

Number of new species of animals I saw in the wild for the first time: 5, swan, wolf, caribou, stone sheep & wood bison.

Number of rainbows we saw traveling through the Yukon: 7, number of double rainbows: 2; yep, it rained a bit, but never when we were putting up or taking down the tent.

Number of 13 - 14,000 foot peaks seen: too numerous to count; number of 6000 foot passes traveled over: 2; number of nights camped out: 5, we stayed in both private and provincial campgrounds and a few National Parks in Canada. All nice, all interesting in there own way and some with absolutely, spectacular scenery.

Number of different times we experienced a different time change /zone: 4 maybe 5 times I’m still not sure. It got very confusing going along the BC, Alberta, and National Parks of Canada borders.

Number of times we saw active or smoldering wild fires: 3.

Number of times we drove over the Continental Divide: 4.

Number of spare inches left after squeezing in all of the stuff plus 2 adults and 1 dog into a 1993 Honda Civic with a bike and kayak on the roof: not 1.

Oh, and just two more points. Did we run into any difficulties along the way that stalled progress or forced us to make changes to prearranged plans on our trek? Yes, we did. But I’m also happy to say that we didn’t run into a single thing that a biologist from Alaska and a librarian from Saranac Lake couldn’t find a solution to. And would I do the trip again? In a heartbeat.

See you at the Library,

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