I purposefully planned the last 2 days of my road trip so that I would only have 6-7 hours of driving each day, so on day 5 I was in no hurry to get up. I figured I could take my time and get rolling whenever so I ended up leaving the campground around 9:30. Thankfully there wasn’t a rain cloud in the sky which I thought was a good sign compared to the last few days!
When I looked at a map it didn’t seem like I had far to go to reach the Alaska border so I thought the morning drive would be cake.
Oh was I wrong.
While I’d had some pretty bad stretches of road the day before the last stretch was by far the worst. At one point I came upon a stoplight, in the middle of nowhere (which seemed really out of place) advising me to wait for a pilot car which comes around every 15 minutes. Great. So I turned off my car and settled in for the wait.
About 5 minutes later a RCMP officer (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) pulled up behind me and walked up to my window. My first thought was that I was doing something wrong and didn’t even know it, but no, he just wanted to chat (since he was now stuck waiting for the pilot car too). He asked me where I was from and where I was going. I let him know I was moving to Alaska to go to Paramedic school and he thought that was pretty cool. After our chat I didn’t have much longer to wait, only a couple minutes later the pilot car showed up and we were on our way.
I learned really quick why we needed a pilot car. The road was crap and my car got a nice mud bath. In fact my car is still covered in mud. Even the rain won’t wash it off. There must be something about Yukon mud…
About 30 minutes down the road, I rolled into Beaver Creek and thought it would be a good idea to get a little gas since I was pretty positive what I had in my tank wouldn’t get my to Tok. I reluctantly put in 8 liters (just over 2 gallons). At roughly $5.55 a gallon I couldn’t let myself get more without crying.
Just 2 minutes down the road I was excited to come upon the Canadian border station. I pulled out my passport and got ready to head back into Alaska, and then I saw the sign…
US Border station: 30 KM.
Really? That’s odd. Why is there 30 KM of wilderness between the US and Canadian border stations? I may never know. And for some reason those 30 KM seemed to take FOREVER. Thankfully when I finally reached the US border crossing there was no line (because honestly I hadn’t seen another car since Beaver Creek) and I got through without any issues.
Straddling the international border between Canada and the US. There’s actually a stone obelisk marking the border as well as a 20 ft or so swath cut through the trees stretching as far as you could see.
Onward to Tok! By this point I was starving and I could not wait for lunch. Alaska is an hour behind Yukon so I set my clocks back an hour and headed on. I had decided to stop at Fast Eddies in Tok for lunch because apparently it’s THE place to go. They talked about it on the Milepost and they raved about it on the ferry. Honestly I thought it was good, not extraordinary, but good. It was definitely a nice break from driving and the first time I’d allowed myself to eat at a restaurant on the trip (aside from the two times I bought stuff on the ferry). I also saw my first state trooper while I was there, which is no big deal in real life but it made me super excited since I’ve probably watched every episode of Alaska State Troopers. Love that show.
Alas I needed to keep moving on so I filled up my gas tank ($4.29/gallon, ouch!) and headed off.
The rest of the afternoon was rather unextraordinary. After the incredible scenery in BC and the Yukon the sites from the Tok Cutoff where just kinda blah. After I moved onto the Glenn Hwy things started looking prettier, thankfully, I was beginning to worry about all the grand visions I’d had of Alaska’s beauty and wondered if I was wrong about anything else.
I stayed that night not far from the Matanuska Glacier and overlooking the famous “Lions Head.” I pulled into the campground and got set up right before the inevitable rain storm rolled in, thankfully it only stuck around for about 20 minutes and then it was all blue skies again.
I slept Ok that night, I did get pounded by another rainstorm and had moments when I thought a bear might come by and eat me (irrational), but I survived and by 9:30 the next morning I was on my way again.
I stopped briefly to take pictures of the glacier and then headed on to civilization.
Anchorage did get a little confusing. I managed to get on the wrong highway in town but I did end up finding my way in the end. I met up with a college friend from Liberty for lunch, Sarah, at the Olive Garden and then began the last leg of the journey, which was also the part I was most excited about, the Seward Highway!
I had heard on so many occasions that the Seward Highway was gorgeous and since the day was sunny I knew I was in for a treat.
It didn’t disappoint.
Pardon the lack of pictures from this leg. I was both really excited to get to the school and a bit pressed for time so I didn’t pull over anywhere (also I figured I’ll have plenty of chances to do it in the future), but trust me, this was the Alaska I’d always pictured.
My not so great pictures of the Seward Highway. I actually took them while driving. I know, shame on me, but that tour bus in front of me was going 10 mph below the speed limit, that makes it a little better right?
It’s actually a pretty sizable journey from Anchorage to Soldotna, about 2.5 hours. Luckily, like I said, most of that is beautiful. Sadly, the ugliest part is actually when you get closer to Soldotna. You’ve left the mountains at that point and are surrounded instead by these strange stubby trees. Oh well.
I pulled into the school around 4 in the afternoon unloaded my car and started to settle in, so relieved to be at my final destination.
I’ll write another blog later showing you guys around my new home, but thanks for following along my journey to get here, it really was an adventure and I can already tell that is going to be the theme for the year. I can’t wait!