For the next 3 days, we will be on the road to ALASKA!! Here are some basic questions people usually ask us about this trip:
How long is the drive? Approximately 2,000 miles from Washington State. We do the drive over three days, driving about 14 hours the first day, 11 hours the next, and 7 hours the last (a nice reward on the last day)! We drive through British Columbia, up into the Yukon Territory, and then back down into Alaska. The map on the right hand shows the very tail end of Alaska (the pan handle). The road we will be taking is the upper part of the green line, and the lower half of the yellow line, as well. As soon as the yellow line reaches the path just at the upper tip of Alaska (in a pale yellow color), we head straight down across the US border in to Skagway. Skagway is at the end of the highest water inlet you can see on the map on the panhandle. Did ANY of that make sense? It's so hard to find a good map!
Isn't it still cold this time of year? Yes! We are headed back into the winter, and are expecting snow on all three days of our trip. Road conditions last year were fabulous (despite the literal 10 feet of snow on the sides of the road), but in years past we have hit some pretty nasty snow storms. We've actually done donuts in the middle of the highway before, ending up on the other side, facing the other direction. Should I have mentioned that? Oh...keep us in your prayers! We always hope for nice weather this year! I got this photo of the wild bison in April 2006.
How do you get up there? There are only two roads that take you to Alaska--The Alaska Highway, and the Cassiar Highway. Whenever possible, our road of choice is the Cassiar Highway. It is an old logging road, far west of the Alaska Highway. It is very remote, and when we get on the highway, we know we will have limited access to any types of services. There are 2 places where we can spend the night, one costs about $180, and the other $120. While the $180 "resort" is quite nice (although not what you'd expect for the money, whatsoever!), the $120 is a hole-in-the-wall. Gas stations are few and far between, and often closed this time of year. So, you fill up EVERY TIME you can!
What are the roads like? The Alaska Highway is pretty nice the entire way. It is a two-lane highway, and quite windy. You only pass through one mountain pass, and the rest is just over rolling hills with evergreens as far as the eye can see. The Cassiar Highway is not quite as nice. It is mostly paved (they make improvements every year), but there are still some gravel sections. So...are you wondering why in the world we prefer the Cassiar Highway? We choose it mostly because the scenery is more breathtaking, and it is a slight bit faster and shorter than the Alaska Highway. The photo on the right was taken just 2 miles from our home in Skagway (we live down the mountain pass those two miles, so there is usually much less snow at our place)!
Do you see a lot of wildlife? Yes, and no. It depends on the year! Three years ago we drove up in a caravan with Jared's family, and we saw a ton of wildlife! My favorite was the cow that was walking in the middle of the street. We drove up right next to him, and I have a picture of Jared looking nervously at the camera with a cow staring at him through the open window. We also saw a bear eating a carcass of some sort (he wasn't too fond of us watching, and pounded his fist at us). We've had black bears walk up to our car and smell our tire before, and we've stopped for countless amounts of Bighorn sheep (we usually just drive on by, now)! These are some of my favorite photos of wildlife I've gotten on the drive in past years.
And that's all I can think of, now. Feel free to post questions, and I'll answer them! For now, stay warm, and enjoy the coming of Spring! We expect to see Spring in Alaska in late May, but you are more than welcome to send it our way sooner!
P.S. Wish us luck with TWO kids in the van for 3 days straight!