19 Hours from Departure

I’m about nineteen hours from departure. I’ll probably hit the road sometime between seven and eight o’clock tomorrow morning. Feels strange to actually be experiencing my final day in Anchorage.

I can still vividly remember when we first crossed the Alaska state line nearly four years ago (represented in these photographs). Driving from Florida to Alaska in July 2007, we cut through the Klondike to Skagway/Dyea, Alaska. By road, this little corner of southeast Alaska is entirely cut off from the rest of Alaska. If you were to drive from Anchorage to Skagway, you’d have to cut through the Yukon of Canada. That realization helped shape my first impression of Alaska four years ago: how cut off much of the state is from other parts, by road at least. That’s why small planes are so popular here — you need them to get places.

Because of this, there is so much of Alaska I was not able to experience these past four years. I never made it to Katmai or Kodiak. Never made it to the Gates of the Arctic or Barrow. And I never made it to Kobuk Valley or Nome, where Alaskans diligently stand on their rooftops and watch for invading Russians (as our former governor sort-of once described).

Still, I have experienced much in southcentral Alaska, particularly the Kenai Peninsula and the Chugach and Talkeetna ranges. More than I had expected, actually. Alaska’s a big place and every time you make your way around a particular mountain, you’ll find yourself dazzled by something you didn’t expect. These are memories and experiences I will treasure from here on out.

And then there’s the people. In general, I don’t blog much about friends and family (Kid A being the Mighty-Exception) and prefer to keep those relationships and experiences private, but I feel I must express deep and loving gratitude to those who have shared our lives, professionally and personally, these past four years. Truth is there’s an amazing number of assholes and bigots in Alaska, but there are also some of the most engagingly awesome and supportive people I’ve ever known in this life. As with its environment, Alaska’s people are nothing but extreme — some for the better, others for the worse. I will carry the impressions these bright, loving souls have had on my life back with me to the Lower 48 — and I’m grateful to have met and shared my experiences with them.

So, last day in Anchorage. It’s sunny, clear, and mild outside. Not a cloud in the sky, unlike that first day back in July of 2007. The Jeep is packed, everything is set to go. The rest of the day is all about hanging out with the family before departure. As great as this drive will (hopefully) be, it’s going to be hard being away from Mumpower and Kid A for nearly three weeks. I’m going to miss them terribly, though I’ll be glad to know they’re in the south living it up on the beach as I trek my way through mountain, desert, prairie, and marsh.

What an incredible summer this will be… And it begins tomorrow morning.

Bring it. Let’s get this movable feast underway!

Photographs taken near the Alaska/British Columbia border near Skagway on 27 July 2007. This was the day I first touched Alaskan ground.

– janson

8 thoughts on “19 Hours from Departure”

  1. I am so ready for this trip.

    I followed your adventure there it was fantastic as I know this will be.

    I know the cat flew home is their a dog? I lost track somewhere.

    One more wake up at 0 dark early and your on your way.

    Travel safe


    1. Hey, Lea. There is a dog and he’s safely in Florida — next door to the cat! Soaking up that Florida humidity, no doubt. On our end, we’re just about ready to go ourselves! RAH!

  2. Janson, safe travels and enjoy.

    Looking at you itinerary – if you have to make choices in Utah, don’t miss Arches and Bryce Canyon. Hit Bryce near sunset or sunrise (light is spec. tac . u. lar). I have been to all 5 National Parks in Utah and they ALL have something to offer but those two can’t be missed. (my apologies if this is all stuff you already know).

    And Denali – take your time in Denali – are you going for a bus ride into the park?

    Can’t wait to follow enviously along!

    1. Utah’s all new to me, no doubt — but I should have about a day for each park — unless something bad happens prior or if I tangent off course too far. Utah and Arizona are top priority this round. For sure. Looking forward to doing some night photograph out there too!

      On Denali, we’ll see. I’m hitting it tomorrow –Day 1– but after the pain of these past three days, I’m not sure my heart will be into sitting in a bus for hours, especially if it’s busy. Still, I’ve got the time — so it may be. At the very least I’ll do some hiking at the head. Tomorrow will sort of be decompression day… Heh.

      1. Well, just the drive to Denali is awesome. And you can drive a few miles into the park at least. There is a bridge that marks where non permit traffic has to turn around, and that area is lovely for photography. We saw a lynx from that bridge! I think that is where we saw coyotes too at a later time.

        Totally get the not wanting to sit on a bus all day – but you can see plenty still even if you are not totally in the park. We spent 3 days there and never saw McKinely!

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