Moai on Easter Island

Moai on Easter Island

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Heading into the Mountains

Off to the Alaska Range tomorrow!  I'm teaching a 12-day mountaineering course with ascents of numerous small peaks in the area.  I've spent the last week or so around Anchorage so I'm really looking forward getting into the mountains.  Mountains are good for the soul.  I should be back on May 30--as long as the weather cooperates for us to fly back out.  

Here are a couple of interesting links for the Alaska Range:

The company I work for, Mountain Trip, maintains blogs for all the trips.  I use a sat phone to call into the office every evening. The blog at should be up and running tomorrow.  Click on the May 19 Course.

Also, the flight company, TAT, has a webcam to show you what the weather looks like in the Alaska Range at

Kahiltna Glacier 2009

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Another Bear Video

I couldn't get both videos on the last post so here is the second one.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fun with Bears

The house that we have in Anchorage is a little bit out of town and right in the forest.  It is great to look out the window and see moose on an almost daily basis.  It gets way more exciting when a bear graces us with its trail-mix-eating-presence.  Below are some videos and photos playing with the black bear.  Be sure to have your sound on since some of the audio is pretty hilarious.

All I ask is that you don't try this at home or anywhere else.  Ever.

Yes that is a fire extinguisher in Ted's hand

I need to send this photo to Counter Assualt (the company that makes the bear spray)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The journey is worth more than the destination

We're in Talkeetna now.  Toren says it is the end of the journey; in her mind it is.  I won't accept that since I will need to get to Anchorage in the next week or so.

It was certainly one of the best road trips I've ever been on and definitely the most scenic.  I'm sad it is coming to an end.  I'm excited to get into the Alaska Range and start work, but I can't help but already miss the days on the road.  Things are simple; just keeping an eye on the frost heaves and the gas gauge.  It is not as simple as backpacking, but a distant second.
Alaska Range

Hopefully traveling through South America won't have an end like this since there is no real destination.  The destinations are part of the journey down there.  I guess that Is just how I need to look at this destination--as part of the journey.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

When does it stop being a road trip and just become a part of life?

 So far we've driven 2,500 miles and are finally in Alaska!  We're going to some hot springs outside of Fairbanks tonight and will finally get a good rest from driving.
Good beer in recycled Kokanee and Budweiser bottles
We decided that we couldn't leave Whitehorse until we visited the Yukon Brewery.  Just might be the only good beer in all of Canada.  Most of the other people on the brewery tour were also driving to Alaska.  Funny how we all congregated there.  

Salad in my gold pan
some of the enjoyable things about car camping

East side of the St. Elias Range
 The wide-open, arctic Yukon was amazing.  Sort of bittersweet leaving it for Alaska.  Driving between Whitehorse and the border is very challenging because you have to swerve all over the road to avoid bumps and potholes while still admiring the view.

We made it!

Looks like everyone is heading north
 We're in Fairbanks now.  This is the furthest north I have ever been.  It definitely still feels like winter up here.  I feel dazed from being on the road so much.  It will be nice to slow down a bit and get out of the routine of driving every day.
First sunset in AK

Not a bad first night in AK
North Pole, AK

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Side trip to Alaska on our way to Alaska

There are little communities along the road—random establishments of only a few buildings and a gas station/grocery store/post office and usually a lumber mill.  To me these places seem out in the middle of nowhere.  But they are only out in the middle of nowhere to me; not to the people that live here.  In a way it is not much different than living in Libby or Alzada, Montana.  To everyone living here it is not the middle of nowhere.  It is someplace.
Find the Beaver
 When I travel to South America I expect things to be very different.  After a while that different becomes the normal.  Here in Canada I haven’t really expected things to be that much different.  But everything is, just slightly.  Just different enough to make things stand out as abnormal [to me].
 We took a little detour to Alaska the other day.  We drove off the main Cassiar Highway to Stewart, BC, which is a little port town at the end of the Portland Canal right on the Alaska/Canada border.  You drive a few miles passed Stewart and suddenly end up in Alaska.  Then the road simply stops.  Everyone in town is on Pacific Time like the rest of BC.  But the since the post office is a federal building it goes by Alaska Time. We were only out of Canada for a few minutes, but still had to show our passports and get incessantly questioned for about 10 minutes when we crossed the border again.
Hey we made it to Alaska!

Open Daily?

The people of Hyder, AK are very religious.....

How are you supposed to read that sign?

Bridge to where?  Too bad it was closed.

Steward, BC

 The wildlife sightings have been more prevalent the last few days.  A couple more black bears, a grizzly, a coyote, foxes, caribou, beavers, moose, loons and eagles.
Griz...just sittin in the snow.  
 A part of me feels like we’re missing out on some of the grandeur of this drive because it has been pretty cloudy.  It is still super scenic nonetheless.  One of the benefits of traveling in the off-season is being able to camp wherever we want.  In this case a place that is relatively dry, has a good view, wood for a campfire and is free.  Sure plenty of these places we’re not “supposed” to camp at, but there is no one for hundreds of miles to enforce such rules.  For hours on end we won’t even see another car.  Caribou have certainly outnumbered people lately.
Camping along the Cassiar Highway

I was so excited to see a Caribou that I couldn't get my camera out in time.

Cassiar Highway

We made it to the Yukon yesterday.  We’ll cross the boarder back into Alaska later today or tomorrow and head toward Fairbanks.  On a sad note we ran out of IPA last night.  Canadians know nothing about making real beer so we need to get to Alaska soon!  There is a brewery here in Whitehorse that we will check out this afternoon. 


Miles Driven: 1,919