I decided to split this trip into two posts. Mostly because there are so many images to share, but also because this adventure really did have two distinct parts with different emotions and stories.
My entire heart and soul went into the planning of this trip. After spending two months of every spare second we could create building out the new van it was finally time to hit the road. We literally were putting the awning on the roof four minutes before driving away. Corbin and I jumped into the front seats knowing that there was likely a long list of things we had forgotten. It didn’t matter, all of the hard work and long nights and stress and disagreements were going to be so worth it. He grabbed my hand and we took a few deep breaths, watched our eyes grow glossy and then drove away.
The first couple of days were rather uneventful, I had three continental states left to visit: North Dakota, Montana + Idaho, so we took the northern route. Once we got into the mountains in Montana we started to notice that something wasn’t quite right with the van. We had been driving it for close to six months and it actually had visited the dealership twice to prep for the long drive. Regardless of our preparation, after several opinions from shops in Montana, Washington State, and British Columbia, it was determined that the van needed a new transmission and that it wasn’t going to be finished in time for us to get to Alaska to shoot a wedding.
Cue the birth of VAN .25. The Dodge minivan that we rented and slept in for ten days that carried us all the way to our destination and beyond. Leaving our van behind in Prince George, BC was heartbreaking, it really was. But honestly I felt like maybe I should have been more sad. After letting the build out completely consume our lives and relationship for months the idea of not being able to carry out the van’s purpose should have totally crushed me, but it didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I was sad and stressed and I did cry. But traveling and adventure is solely experience and I didn’t care what I was going in because I was still going to fucking Alaska. And I was with Corbin and that was all that mattered.
A fellow traveler friend sent me a message during our sharing of the circumstances and stated “Part of being on the road is being flexible” and that we were doing it well. She is right. To follow this path you have to eliminate expectations and just fill yourself with so much gratitude that you get to wake up in a new place nearly every day.
Alaska is everything you would imagine it to be. The sunsets at midnight and dusk never fades. We saw black bears and grizzly bears and moose and caribou and wild buffalo and wolves and foxes and mountain sheep and otters and seals. It is true wilderness. I’ve visited a lot of places that seem like wilderness, but 10-20 miles down the road you can find hotels and fast food joints and tourist shops. But driving through the Yukon and into Alaska, you are absolutely alone and in the wild.
I have now covered all of the United States (other than Hawaii )and more than half of Canada too. I have a lot of plans for this new van and I’m glad we were able to get some big repairs taken care of. This winter will be my fourth winter on the road and I have no intentions of slowing down anytime soon.
Stay tuned for ALASKA pt. II were we reunite with our van and head over to the Canadian Rockies.