Note: This piece is not intended to be consistent with the theme of this blog. The following comments provide a summary of our Alaska trip. In this case, I am using my blog as a personal record and an access point for those who may find our travels of some interest. My trips do not have the exotic or international appeal of other educational bloggers (e.g., Andy Carvin, Bernie Dodge) but may be of interest to some. The unreliability of my server saved visitors more frequent entries.
Time and Distance
The typical ALCAN traveler is younger or older. The length and related time requirements of the trip encourage interest from these groups. You can???t be in a hurry and you have to be willing to accept unaccepted obstacles (e.g., ruined tires, bad weather). Keeping to an absolute schedule or to the time constraints of the typical two-week summer vacation will not work. Actually the size of our group has varied ??? Cindy and I, Cindy???s sister-in-law and daughter have made the entire trip, Cindy???s brother and our daughter Kim have flown in to join us for some part of the journey.
Our van has a special feature that records trip statistics. The total trip covered 6850 miles and we spent 160 hours in the car. A trip to Alaska takes a great deal of time because of the distance and because of the quality of the roads. Many roads are two lane and seem to be always under repair. I assume the constant construction is due to permafrost which prevents the creation of a firm base and results in heaving and break up. You end up constantly driving on gravel through the middle of long stretches of construction. I grew up driving on gravel country roads, but they were nothing like this. These roads are rough, filled with holes and ruts, muddy, and very hard on vehicles. We had to change two camper tires and the camper aged considerably.
I bought a Canon Rebel XT digital camera for this trip. We have always taken a lot of pictures and video on our vacations and the trip was as good an excuse as any. There are now 513 images in iPhoto and I will probably end up saving about half. I tried to dump the images from the camera each evening and labeled each collection by location. Still not good enough ??? the mountains and lakes end up looking a lot alike. Looking through all of the pictures I realize I concentrate too much on scenery and wildlife. At the time these images are most spectacular, but collectively do not tell enough of a story. One would think by now I would have figured this out.
A small sample of our collection.
I find photographing wildlife in the wild a great challenge. This may have been one of our best experiences viewing animals. I even saw, but was unable to successfully photograph, wolves.
If you have read our books, you probably have noticed that we use wildlife images and video as frequent examples. We do this for two reasons; 1) we have many examples and lots of personal experience, and 2) outdoor images and technology seem contradictory to some – there is useful shock value in starting from a point that some assume does not exist. Technology is an important part of the way we explore and appreciate nature. Exploring nature has also ended up being a way that we have learned about technology and developed some of our ideas related to student field-based projects.
Along the way we met many interesting people. I tended to approach people I saw collecting images, connecting to the Internet from a campground, etc. For example, we met a couple of couples at a photo op riding cycles. One guy was listening to an iPod and turned out to be retired school administrator from Minnesota (seemed like we ran into lots of Minnesotans). Turns out he is creating a blog – so check out Two Kept Men. [To the two kept men - thanks for mentioning Denise from Hinckley, MN, in your blog. ]
One small complaint. What is the deal with camping in a Walmart lot? The image below (our car and popup in the middle just for fun) was taken in Whitehorse, Yukon. What reasoning causes people to drive a camper that is worth more than my house thousands of miles at 4 mpg and then save a few bucks by camping at Walmart.
It was a great trip! Back to work.