In June of 2011, I drove solo from Anchorage, Alaska to Mt. Dora, Florida, taking the long way and cutting south through Utah and Arizona before finally heading east. I drove 7221 miles in 15 days in my beloved 1998 Jeep Cherokee. Lady Cherokee, bless her heart, performed beautifully — though the 100+ degree temperatures beginning in Oklahoma eventually began to unravel her four-year acclimation to the chilly Alaskan climate. With disintegrating lining and an exhausted water pump and belt, she eventually stalled and died fourteen miles from the finish line: my parents’ home in Mt. Dora.
My wife and daughter had flown directly to Mt. Dora, leaving me with two and a half weeks to explore North America as I made my way southeast. I camped in a tent or out of the Jeep all but two nights along the way and ventured into innumerable parks and preserves. Among these hiking/photo stops were (to name a few): Denali National Park, Stone Mountain Provincial Park, Muncho Lake Provincial Park, Jasper National Park, Banff National Park, Craters of the Moon National Monument, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Petrified Forest National Park, the Painted Desert, Meteor Crater, Red Rock Canyon State Park, and the Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge. By the time I reached Oklahoma, the trip accelerated as I found myself closer to home and with an obviously heat-stroked vehicle.
Despite frequent difficulties with attaining decent 3G coverage, I photographed and live-blogged the entire trip with my Nikon D90 and iPad 2. Forcing myself to stop and write about what I was experiencing in real time provided me with a kind of internal rhythm by which I could better soak in these experiences. Indeed, it was ultimately more experience than my tiny hominid mind could handle and now, looking back, I’m grateful to have these on-location notes and testimonials for reference. Otherwise it would all be an incredible blur.
In general, I strove to not box myself in with a rigid timeline or concrete plan — other than to arrive home no later than Sunday the 19th on Father’s Day. Still, my modernistic ways kept pushing me to calculate and to box myself into itineraries. In hindsight, breaking free of my own self-mandated scheduling proved more difficult than the drive itself. It took great effort to break myself from “The Plan” from time to time, to follow an unknown road or to veer slightly off course.
In the end I consider the trip an astounding success and an absolute gift of experience. While others dream of exploring other continents, I find myself constantly in awe of my own home continent. North America is vast, dynamic, and extremely diverse in the beauties it affords. For everything I have seen of this continent in my life, I know there is still so much more to discover and to experience. I did some damage to my bucket list on this trip and fulfilled several life goals in travel, but I still feel like I’ve only begun — says the man in his late thirties.
Below you will find a chronological listing of liveblog posts written during this trip, with shortcut links to each and every post. Also mote that all posts on this blog are categorically tagged by state or province. These tags can be accessed via the main “black bar” menu at the top of this page under “Locations.”
Special props and gratitude to all those who read and commented along the way, either directly on the blog or via email. You helped make the trip feel much less lonely — and there were indeed some very lonely nights.
If you have any questions about this trip or any of the photos or information provided within, p,ease feel free to contact me via the blog or my email (jansonjones -at- me -dot- com). Also note that the photographs featured during the trip itself (beginning 31 May 2011) were taken with a Nikon D90 in RAW format and processed solely on the iPad 2. I did not have any laptop available during this time. I was strictly mobile in the true sense of the term.
UPDATE: Images in these posts have since been upgraded (in May and June of 2012). During the trip, I had no computer. Just the Nikon D90 and my iPad 2. All images were originally imported directly to and processed with the iPad 2. I was somewhat limited in what I could upload and usually only posted one or two images per post. Since then, I’ve fully processed the photos and revised these posts with the higher grade images in full.
THE DRIVE FROM ALASKA TO FLORIDA:
INDEX TO THE ORIGINAL LIVE-BLOG POSTS
- June 2011: The Plan.
- Moving Done Got Easy, Y’all.
- Getting Ready, Set, To Go.
- All I’m Missing is the Convertible.
- Last Day at UAA.
- 23 Days Earlier.
- Three Weeks to Go.
- Two Weeks to Go.
- Three Days, Ten Days.
- I Leave in One Week! The Outline.
- 45 Hours Remaining.
- 19 Hours from Departure.
Tuesday 31 May 2011 (Day 01):
- Mile 0000: DEPARTURE FROM ALASKA! The Trip Begins.
- Mile 0041: Wasilla, Alaska!
- Mile 0103: The Susitna River, Alaska.
- Mile 0134: Denali State Park South, Alaska.
- Mile 0163: Denali State Park North, Alaska.
- Mile 0175: Hurricane Gulch, Alaska.
- Mile 0190: An Igloo, Finally!
- Mile 0232: The Chulitna River, Alaska.
- Mile 0253: Denali National Park (Savage River), Alaska.
- Mile 0273: Nenana River, Alaska.
- Mile 0373: Near the Parks Memorial, Alaska.
- Mile 0407: North Pole, Alaska.
- Mile 0416: Chena Lakes Recreation Site, Alaska.
Wednesday 01 June 2011 (Day 02):
ALASKA, YUKON TERRITORY
- Mile 0416: Morning at Chena River, Alaska.
- Mile 0426: North Pole, Alaska.
- Mile 0487: The Tanana River, Alaska.
- Mile 0509: The Alaska Highway at Delta Junction, Alaska.
- Mile 0583: Robertson River, Alaska.
- Mile 0699: Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.
- Mile 0707: THE YUKON TERRITORY BORDER.
- Mile 0746: Shakwak Trench and the Kluane Range, Yukon.
- Mile 0786: Lake Creek Ponds in the Shakwak Trench, Yukon.
- Mile 0855: Congdon Creek, Yukon.
Thursday 02 June 2011 (Day 03):
- Mile 0861: Morning at Kluane Lake, Yukon.
- Mile 0868: The Kluane Lake Knoll, Yukon.
- Mile 1011: Whitehorse, Yukon.
- Mile 1095: Johnson’s Crossing at Teslin River, Yukon.
- Mile 1129: Nisutlin Bay at Teslin, Yukon.
- Mile 1219: Rancheria River and the Cassiar Mountains, Yukon.
- Mile 1225: Sphinx Mountain, Yukon.
- Mile 1290: Watson Lake, Yukon.
Friday 03 June 2011 (Day 04):
YUKON TERRITORY, BRITISH COLUMBIA
- Mile 1290: Morning at Watson Lake, Yukon.
- Mile 1314: THE BRITISH COLUMBIA BORDER.
- Mile 1324: American Black Bear (British Columbia).
- Mile 1341: Wood Bison (British Columbia).
- Mile 1393: Whirlpool Canyon, British Columbia.
- Mile 1393: American Black Bear (British Columbia).
- Mile 1417: Wood Bison (British Columbia).
- Mile 1434: Liard River Hot Springs, British Columbia.
- Mile 1448: Stone Sheep (British Columbia).
- Mile 1454: Muncho Lake Provincial Park, British Columbia.
- Mile 1470: Muncho Lake, British Columbia.
- Mile 1493: Toad River, British Columbia.
- Mile 1532: Stone Mountain Provincial Park, British Columbia.
- Mile 1536: Stone Sheep (British Columbia).
- Mile 1540: Summit Lake, British Columbia.
- Mile 1574: Rocky Mountain Foothills, British Columbia.
- Mile 1625: Fort Nelson, British Columbia.
- Mile 1691: Sikanni Forest and Prophet River, British Columbia.
Saturday 04 June 2011 (Day 05):
BRITISH COLUMBIA, ALBERTA
- Mile 1691: Morning at Prophet River, British Columbia.
- Mile 1862: Fort St. John, British Columbia.
- Mile 1880: Peace River at Taylor, British Columbia.
- Mile 1916: Dawson Creek, British Columbia.
- Mile 1937: THE ALBERTA BORDER.
- Mile 1992: Grande Prairie, Alberta.
- Mile 2104: Smoky River at Grande Cache, Alberta.
- Mile 2180: William A. Switzer Provincial Park, Alberta.
Sunday 05 June 2011 (Day 06):
- Mile 2180: William A. Switzer Prov. Park, Alberta.
- Mile 2229: Jasper National Park, Alberta.
- Mile 2260: Athabasca Falls, Alberta.
- Mile 2268: Athabasca River, Alberta.
- Mile 2292: Sunwapta River & Winston Churchill Range, Alberta.
- Mile 2300: Stutfield Glacier, Alberta.
- Mile 2305: Dome Glacier and the Columbia Icefield, Alberta.
- Mile 2305: Athabasca Glacier, Alberta.
- Mile 2316: Banff National Park, Alberta.
- Mile 2363: Bow Lake and Bow Glacier, Alberta.
- Mile 2365: Crow Foot Glacier, Alberta.
- Mile 2403: Moraine Lake, Alberta.
- Mile 2437: Bow Valley, Alberta.
- Mile 2445: Canmore, Alberta.
- Mile 2496: Stumbling East of Canmore, Alberta.
Monday 06 June 2011 (Day 07):
- Mile 2603: Morning at Claresholm, Alberta.
- Mile 2682: Open Prairie, Alberta.
- Mile 2688: THE MONTANA BORDER.
- Mile 2776: Bear Creek, Montana.
- Mile 2841: Glacier National Park, Montana.
- Mile 2863: The Trail of the Cedars, Montana.
Tuesday 07 June 2011 (Day 08):
- Mile 2864: Morning at Glacier National Park.
- Mile 2932: Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Montana.
- Mile 2971: Summit Lake in the Flathead Nat’l Forest, Montana.
- Mile 3058: Avon, Montana.
- Mile 3077: Interstate 90, Change of Plan in Montana.
- Mile 3192: Clark Canyon Reservoir, Montana.
- Mile 3235: THE IDAHO BORDER.
- Mile 3347: The Great Rift Lava Field, Idaho.
- Mile 3398: Craters of the Moon Nat’l Monument, Idaho.
Wednesday 08 June 2011 (Day 09):
- Mile 3401: Craters of the Moon Nat’l Monument, Idaho.
- Mile 3404: Craters of the Moon Nat’l Monument, Idaho.
- Mile 3462: Arco, the INL, and Atomic City, Idaho.
- Mile 3579: THE UTAH BORDER.
- Mile 3712: Salt Lake City, Utah.
- Mile 3780: Highway 6 near Price Canyon, Utah.
- Mile 3953: Arches Nat’l Park & Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah.
Thursday 09 June 2011 (Day 10):
- Mile 3953: Morning at Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah.
- Mile 4064: Canyonlands Nat’l Park (The Needles), Utah.
- Mile 4098: Highway 211 and Newspaper Rock, Utah.
- Mile 4211: Arches National Park, Utah.
Friday 10 June 2011 (Day 11):
- Mile 4211: Morning at Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah.
- Mile 4256: Canyonlands Nat’l Park (Island in the Sky), Utah.
- Mile 4388: The Desert Around Highway 24, Utah.
- Mile 4444: Capitol Reef National Park, Utah.
- Mile 4470: Pleasant Creek in the Dixie Nat’l Forest, Utah.
Saturday 11 June 2011 (Day 12):
- Mile 4470: Pleasant Creek in the Dixie Nat’l Forest, Utah.
- Mile 4480: SR 12 in the Dixie NF at Boulder Mountain, Utah.
- Mile 4604: Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.
- Mile 4616: Red Canyon in the Dixie National Forest, Utah.
- Mile 4677: Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Utah.
- Mile 4706: THE ARIZONA BORDER.
- Mile 4750: Kaibob National Forest, Arizona.
- Mile 4758: Tumbleweed in Arizona.
- Mile 4794: Vermillion Cliffs, Arizona (not Utah).
- Mile 4798: The Navajo Bridge and the Colorado River, Arizona.
- Mile 4929: Bonito and Sunset Crater in the Coconino Nat’l Forest, Arizona.
Sunday 12 June 2011 (Day 13):
ARIZONA, NEW MEXICO
- Mile 4929: Bonito and Sunset Crater in the Coconino NF, Arizona.
- Mile 4934: Sunset Crater National Monument, Arizona.
- Mile 4943: Strawberry Crater in the Coconino NF, Arizona.
- Mile 4950: Wupatki National Monument, Arizona.
- Mile 4953: Desert Patch-Nosed Snake (Arizona).
- Mile 4960: Doney Mountain, Volcano (Arizona)!
- Mile 4995: Flagstaff, Arizona.
- Mile 5035: Meteor Crater, Arizona.
- Mile 5150: Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona.
- Mile 5150: Painted Desert National Park, Arizona.
- Mile 5194: THE NEW MEXICO BORDER.
Monday 13 June 2011 (Day 14):
NEW MEXICO, TEXAS, OKLAHOMA
- Mile 5568: THE TEXAS BORDER.
- Mile 5589: Morning Somewhere in Texas.
- Mile 5685: The Land of Giant Crosses (Groom, Texas).
- Mile 5754: THE OKLAHOMA BORDER.
- Mile 5859: Red Rock Canyon State Park, Oklahoma.
- Mile 5919: Code Red! An Abrupt End.
Tuesday 14 June 2011 (Day 15):
OKLAHOMA, LOUISIANA, MISSISSIPPI
- Mile 6522: Indian Bayou at Atchafalaya NWR, Louisiana.
- Mile 6722: The Mississippi Rest Stop from Heaven.
Wednesday 15 June 2011 (Day 16):
MISSISSIPPI, ALABAMA, FLORIDA
- Five Days Later.
- Eight Days Later.
- The 2011 Drive from Alaska to Florida: An Introduction.
- One Year Later: Alaska.
- One Year Later: Yukon.
- One Year Later: British Columbia.
- One Year Later: Alberta.
- One Year Later: Montana.
- One Year Later: Idaho.
- One Year Later: Utah.
- One Year Later: Arizona.
- One Year Later: New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma.
- One Year Later: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida.
- One Year Later: The Florida Keys Reunion Tour.
Alternatively, you can also view a thumbnailed archive list of all posts listed above here: http://dusttracks.com/category/series/summer-2011-the-drive-from-alaska-to-florida/.
NOTE: This post was substantially revised and completed on 11 August 2011.