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North America

Alaska 1/8: Tea for Two in Alaska

 Denali National Park

Denali National Park

At the age of 21, I developed a fascination with Africa. I studied the continent relentlessly in an effort to gather enough information to travel there confidently. I asked all of my friends if they wanted to go on an epic adventure and then patiently waited for them to change their mind and decide to come with me. After many months, I finally decided to go alone. 

Fast forward to 2013 when I decided that I wanted to take Gaia to Alaska. The thought of majestic mountain ranges, rich rushing water, lush green forests, mystery, failure and success was so enticing that I packed up our SUV with a tent, some bikes, and a newly potty trained 2 year old. My husband had a fairly strict work schedule which wouldn't have allowed for him to join us for the trip, but just like Africa, I didn't allow for that to inhibit my dreams. 

Many of my friends said I was crazy for attempting to cross some 10,000 km with such a young child, but really, I felt it was the perfect time to travel. At two, she didn't yet know the phrases "Are we there yet?" or "I'm bored." She was still at the age of napping, so if she fell asleep in the car, it didn't affect bedtime too horribly. Another advantage was how Northern we were, as it created close to 24 hours of sunlight. If we ever arrived at our destination at 10pm (which definitely did happen the odd time) we weren't fumbling around in the dark setting up the tent. 

When living on the road, flexibility in our schedule was a definite requirement. While many things like, campsites, gas stations, and distances are concrete facts, variables like whether a campsite is full or not, whether the gas station has gas, and what time businesses open or close need to be accounted for. Not to mention the hundreds of other events that can affect a trip.

 Grizzly bear in Denali National Park

Grizzly bear in Denali National Park

One day, after many hours of driving we reached our proposed destination- a campsite on the side of Kluane Lake, only to find out that tents were not allowed due to the threat of bears. The next closest campsite was another 2-3 hours away, yet we had no other choice but to continue on. Instead of lamenting at the fact that we had to keep driving (leading to the 10pm arrival that I mentioned earlier) I picked a great playlist, cranked it up loud, and remained thankful that our family would be sleeping safely that night. 

The Ferry was definitely something that you must book in advance. Unfortunately, I left it a bit last minute and had to alter my trip to leave from a less preferred destination. A rough map of our journey is pasted below thanks to Google. In total, we journeyed over 27 days during a delightfully warm and sunny summer. 

 A few detours are missing but the majority of the trip is as posted.

A few detours are missing but the majority of the trip is as posted.

Over the next few posts I'll write about the destinations we visited- our favourite parts of each, our trials and tribulations, and of course, our successes. But for now I will post my top 10 things I was glad that I packed into the SUV.

  1. Lots of books for Gaia to read
  2. Easy to eat and open snacks
  3. My bike, Gaia's running bike, and my bike trailer
  4. Warm sleeping bags (although it often got ridiculously hot and we just lay on top, I'd rather have the option of warmth)
  5. Eye masks -a MUST when tenting in 24 hour daylight
  6. A hatchet and matches (obvious ones when camping)
  7. My phone with detailed GPS
  8. A sandcastle building kit- a bucket, shovel and pail would do.
  9. My ergo-baby (a soft baby carrier but a hard frame one would have worked as well)
  10. My iPod busting at the seams full of music