Category Archives: Yukon Territory

AK2FL One Year Later: Yukon

Nisutlin Bay at Teslin, Yukon. 02 June 2011.

Five photographs from Yukon one-year-after the cross-continent summer trip of 2011. These photographs were originally processed with Apple’s Aperture application and have been heavily edited with Snapseed on the iPad for this post. Original live-blog posts from summer 2011 can be accessed here

Yukon: Miles 0707-1314 (607 miles total in Yukon). The Yukon is a massive swath of isolate land. This is where the Alaska Highway is roughest and loneliest. Though it arguably doesn’t have the epic grandeur of the Icefields Parkway in Alberta or the Stone Mountain/Muncho Lake run in British Columbia, the Yukon Alaska Highway is still enshrouded by deep mystery and atmospheric beauty. During my trip through the Yukon, the weather was mostly against me. Regardless, the otherwise-detrimental weather merely served to further enhance the ethereal ethos of the Yukon Territory and its hidden beauties.

A marginal Lake Creek pond in the Shakwak Trench, Yukon. 01 June 2011.

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A knoll at Kluane Lake, Yukon. 02 June 2011.

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The Shakwak Trench and the Kluane Range, Yukon. 01 June 2011.

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Sphinx Mountain in the Cassiar Range, Yukon. 02 June 2011.

Wednesday 01 June 2011 (Day 02):

Thursday 02 June 2011 (Day 03):

Friday 03 June 2011 (Day 04):

The June 2011 Drive from Alaska to Florida

20110624-103522.jpgIn 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

Pre-Trip Posts:


Tuesday 31 May 2011 (Day 01):
ALASKA 

  

Wednesday 01 June 2011 (Day 02):
ALASKA, YUKON TERRITORY 

  

Thursday 02 June 2011 (Day 03):
YUKON TERRITORY 

    

Friday 03 June 2011 (Day 04):
YUKON TERRITORY, BRITISH COLUMBIA 

    

Saturday 04 June 2011 (Day 05):
BRITISH COLUMBIA, ALBERTA 

Sunday 05 June 2011 (Day 06):
ALBERTA 

  

Monday 06 June 2011 (Day 07):
ALBERTA, MONTANA 

    

Tuesday 07 June 2011 (Day 08):
MONTANA, IDAHO 

  

Wednesday 08 June 2011 (Day 09):
IDAHO, UTAH 

    

Thursday 09 June 2011 (Day 10):
UTAH 

  

Friday 10 June 2011 (Day 11):
UTAH 

  

Saturday 11 June 2011 (Day 12):
UTAH, ARIZONA 

  

Sunday 12 June 2011 (Day 13):
ARIZONA, NEW MEXICO 

  

Monday 13 June 2011 (Day 14):
NEW MEXICO, TEXAS, OKLAHOMA 

  

Tuesday 14 June 2011 (Day 15):
OKLAHOMA, LOUISIANA, MISSISSIPPI 

  

Wednesday 15 June 2011 (Day 16):
MISSISSIPPI, ALABAMA, FLORIDA 

  

Post-Trip Posts:

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/.

~ janson.

NOTE: This post was substantially revised and completed on 11 August 2011.

Day 04 Begins, Mile 1290.3: To British Columbia Go We!

20110603-090450.jpg

03 June 2011 @ 8:54 pm PDT (1290.3 miles). Good morning and welcome to Day 04 of the drive from Alaska to Florida. According to the weather machine thing, it’s thirty-six degrees here in Watson Lake, Yukon, this morning. I don’t believe it. Feels more like the mid-40s. Either way, BLEH. Bring on the heat.

It’s overcast and rained much of last night. The sky is currently that dreaded blanket of soul-sucking, monotonous gray. Just about the worst kind of light imaginable for photography. At least, for me. I’ve seen some real photographers do wonders with this kind of light, but I’m not one of them. I need help with contrast and figure-ground contrast — thus, sunshine and texture in the clouds are most appreciated. Right now, I’ve got none. Just that color-sucking, void of bland light. I’d like to think it’s going to get better, but I’m afraid it may not. The projection for this whole region today is basically “Hopelessly Overcast, Dreadful Light With A Splash Of Rain Just To Make It Sting.”

Of course I’m paraphrasing.

So, the plan today is to shoot down toward Fort Nelson in British Columbia. It’s going to be a long day and one I suspect that won’t offer me any Wifi or Cellular connections. Along the way I’ll pass through the wildlife-thick corridors of Liard River, Muncho Lake, and Stone Mountain Provincial Parks. Today should be a day dominated by the wildlife of British Columbia. Just hope I can manage to take some decent photos.

On Saturday I should reach Dawson Creek and the end of the Alaska Highway. I should also hit Grande Prairie. If memory serves, both of these towns are a bit active and have a little scale — so I’m hoping to be able to get online somewhere on Saturday, if today’s locks me out.

Alright, time to head on out and get muddy. Let’s go find some wood bison, stone sheep, black bear, elk, mule deer, wild horses, moose, porcupine, red foxes, gray wolves, and whatever the hell else may be out there! Good light or bad, it should be a lovely (and long) drive.

- janson

Day 03, Mile 1290.3: Watson Lake, Yukon Territory

02 June 2011 @ 7:00 pm PDT (1290.3 miles). I am in Watson Lake, Yukon for the night. It’s just north of the border from British Columbia and sets me up for the Liard River, Muncho Lake, and Stone Mountain Provincial Parks run tomorrow. I can only hope it stops raining.

Raining?

Yes, raining. Cold, bitter tears from the winter gods, it seems. I got a little wet late this afternoon. And muddy. So, I’m in a hotel tonight. Doing laundry, charging batteries, catching up on the online smack, and what-not. Oh yeah, and showering. Also, drinking more coffee. But hell, I do that anytime, anywhere, and anyway.

So here I am in Watson Lake, crashing in a hotel, doing laundry. So what, you ask, is going on with these photos? It’s a fine question and I’m absolutely delighted you asked.

These are shots from the Sign Post Forest, the top tourist attraction of Watson Lake. I have no idea why it’s here or who built it. Like the tree in the forest, or whatever, it’s just there. I could probably look up the answer, but it might take me an hour to crack through Google to find the answer. The WiFi here is… functional, and we’ll leave it at that. More like original Blob than remake Blob.

So, yeah. There’s a sign post forest. It’s called “Sign Post Forest.” And it’s for real. There are more license tags than you can fathom. Undoubtedly stolen (or possibly “borrowed”) sign posts dominate the park. A few folks even put up custom burned, etched and/or printed signs. “Marge and Hank of Red’s Canyon Was Here”! I made that up, but you’re picking up what I’m putting down, aren’cha?

I have to admit, this Sign Post Forest is awesome. It transcends The Normal and dives head first into waters even David Lynch may fear to paddle. It’s glorious. And it’s here. Right next to me.

Remember that crazy old sweet guy who built Salvation Mountain (as featured in the shoulda-been-a-hit motion picture Into the Wild)? It’s like that, only with license plates and sign posts. Who built this thing!?!?!? It’s awesome!

So, I’m down for the night. Regrouping. Working on my neck strain. Doing laundry. Drinking coffee. Catching up on email. Drinking more coffee. Bathing. And sleeping. The next few days are going to be furiously active. We’re talking wood bison, moose, wild horses, black bears… The whole nine yards. And then some. I only pray that the clouds will move on and we’ll have a sunny day tomorrow. And I also pray I didn’t just curse myself with over-confidence of overwhelming awesomeness.

As far as the internet is concerned with live blogging — who the hell knows. I have no idea when I’ll have solid access again. Whenever I do, expect a flurry of activity. It’s going to be a busy couple of days.

~ janson

Day 03, Mile 1225.5: Sphinx Mountain

02 June 2011 @ 3:56 pm PDT (1225.5 miles). At one point, I was going to hit the U.S. and then turn east, then turn south toward Florida. Later it became a go-south and then turn east thing. The lure of Utah and Arches ultimately won out over the lure of Wyoming and Devil’s Tower. So, to this day, I still have not been to Devil’s Tower. And I am sad about that.

But less sad as of today.

Today I discovered Sphinx Mountain. Located in the Cassiar range, Sphinx Mountain helps ease the gaping hole of having never experienced Devil’s Tower. I mean, look at that thing. It’s a friggin’… tower! It looks like it could be Devil’s Tower’s stockier brother. The big, drunken one who picks bar fights. It’s an awesome mount, for sure. And it casts a long, long shadow.

This, of course, means something.

On the bummer side, it’s starting to rain. Bleh.

- janson

Day 03, Mile 1219.4: Rancheria River and the Cassiar Mountains

02 June 2011 @ 3:25 pm PDT (1219.4 miles). I’m about 120 kilometers from Watson Lake (a “kilometer” is what Canadians use to measure road distance instead of miles, as do all those other fancy-pantsy Western nations — whatevs).

Going to try to find a hotel. I’m seriously muddy and I need to find a place to shower and do laundry. Plus, internet would be nice so I can catch up with the family and blogosphere.

The light is quite nice right now. The clouds are again starting to take more and more depth and texture. You can do a lot with that kind of light — as long as it’s not that bland carpet of soul-sucking gray. Not there yet, but getting there. Maybe.

This is a photograph of the Rancheria River running through the Cassiar Mountains. At some point I’m going to have to pull out some topographic maps and figure out just how many ranges and mountain lines I’ll pass through on this trip… It’s mind-numbing.

- janson

Day 03, Mile 1129.1: Nisutlin Bay at Teslin, Yukon

2 June 2011 @ 1:25 pm PDT (1129.1 miles). Ah, yes. Now I remember. Teslin is the tiny town we stayed in back in 2007, not Watson Lake. Watson Lake is the place with the license plate garden… And what does that mean? Well, it means I’m going to be photographing license tags a bit later… Har har har. For real.

Meanwhile in the here and now, these are a photographs of the Teslin bridge running over Nisutlin Bay, which itself is connected to Teslin Lake. On the other side of the water is a strange resort compound… complete with tiny museum, tiny gas station, and tiny hotel rooms. We stayed here back in 2007 on the way to Alaska and had a great time. The sunrise from those grounds (over the bay) is phenomenal.

But alas, it’s not even two o’clock yet. I must press on — to Watson Lake, yes? Prepare to have your mind blown by a garden composed entirely of wood and license plates… Yukon, home of the unusual & extraordinary ordinary.

~ janson