Planning Is All Done...just waiting

Published: June 19th 2008
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Alaska Maritime Highway System Ferry "COLUMBIA"Alaska Maritime Highway System Ferry "COLUMBIA"Alaska Maritime Highway System Ferry "COLUMBIA"

The COLUMBIA was designed to carry 932 passenbers with a crew of 68. Its two vehicle decks can accomdate 186 vehicles. You can roll out your sleeping bags on deck chairs and camp out under the heated Solarium, or, you may want to try one of our two decks ideal for pitching "free standing" tens and sleep under the stars. (..that be me!) just a few short days there are over 60 subscribers to my travel blog...I hope you will not be dissapointed in my journal entries. Please feel free to make comments that I will publish as I go good friend Chuck Scott has an awesome comment...thanks Chuck for your humorous wisdom on my decision to go to Alaska. Also, pass my blog along to anyone you might think would be interested. Not much photos now, but just wait......

People have asked my why am I driving my motorcycle to Alaska via the Alaska Highway? While I think I know the answer, I will give you a more definitve answer when I return on July 26.

What were my immediate questions as I started the preperation....

I wanted to know what are the road conditions? When is the best month to go? How much time is needed? Should I drive the highway and cruise home aboard an Alaska ferry? (YES) Is gasoline available all along the highway -- and how about camping and lodging? What items should an emergency kit include?

These are all great questions that have been answered this past year as I planned for what I will call an odyssey and adventure…especially since I am traveling the Canadian and Alaska wilderness to my wife and she does not agree with my "SOLO" decision.

JoLynn and I went to see the movie “Into the Wild” which is based on a true story.

After graduating from Emory University in 1992, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandoned his possessions, gave his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska to live in the wilderness to live off the land. Resourceful, McCandless finds joy in living off the land, and begins to write a book of his adventures. Unfortunately, as the spring thaw arrives, he is cut off from civilization by waterways. As his food supply lessens, he resorts to eating plants. Although he consults a brought-along book about the edibility of plants, he confuses an edible and a poisonous kind, which turns out to be fatal. As he dies, he continues to write, detailing his painful demise as a dramatic narrative to his autobiography.

Needless to say, it was not a good movie to take your wife to knowing she will not see you for 30 days!

Anyway, here’s a little bit of history about the Alaska Highway, nicknamed the Alcan Highway that I think you will find interesting.

Motorcyclists still say it is an adventure road, but the degree of difficulty has eased sharply in recent years as more and more sections have been straightened and paved.

Here’s what my research has found:

* Almost all of the two-lane highway is surfaced with asphalt. But it’s no freeway.
* There still are stretches where the highway is narrow and curvy, where it lacks center lines and ample shoulders.
I am told to watch out for sudden loose-gravel breaks where the pavement has failed or is under repair. Sometimes the gravel gaps are marked with little, red flags; sometimes they aren’t. And that asphalt paving can ripple like a roller coaster track in places where “frost heaves” are caused by seasonal freezing and thawing of the ground.
* Maintainence crews do their best to patch the annual outbreak of frost heaves, but it’s a never-ending, high-cost job. Long dry spells can make the gravel portions of the road dusty, and if it's extremely dry, you may have washboard and roughness problems. It is recommended to drive with your headlights on at all times as it is easier for oncoming vehicles to see you.

For sure, the modern Alaska Highway is a far cry from the pioneer road that was cut through the bush during World War II by Army Corps of Engineers units. That was a muddy, twisting, single-lane trail fit only for trucks and bulldozers. Today's highway is mostly smooth going all the way. In Canada, it's paved or packed gravel with a tar base, which makes for a smooth ride. The Alaska Highway is entirely paved in Alaska.

“Some people still have the perception that they’re going to be driving up through the wilderness and they need 17 spare tires and armor plates to punch their way through,” says Lynn Gabriel, deputy director of the Great Alaska Highways Society. “We want people to know that you don’t need a surplus army tank.”


THE ROUTE: The Alaska Highway begins in Dawson Creek, (MILE 0) in northeastern British Columbia, then winds northwesterly through Canada’s Yukon Territory and into the heartland of Alaska. Delta Junction, Alaska, 98 miles south of Fairbanks, is the official northern end of the highway, but Fairbanks is the destination for most Alaska Highway motorists. Driving distance from Dawson Creek to Fairbanks is 1,488 miles.

I can't wait until Saturday, June 28 at 0900 hours!!!!

Have a safe ride...God bless you all.



19th June 2008

The "movie comment" about "not a great movie to take your wife to when you will not see your wife for 30 days" is a riot. Jolynn... you are so awesome......................... Rob-- your blog is already enlightening............ i look forward to the read. I sent it thru the SA network... so you should be getting even more sign up. HEY... you can try to beat Murphy's unique hits record.
19th June 2008

High Expectations
Rob - I am amazed that you are the one that is taking the journey. You better bring Jolynn back one sweet gift. I pray that the time away for thought, reflection, and self assessment will be just as rewarding as the reunion that awaits you upon your return in seeing your second grand daughter for the first time. Many Blessings.
19th June 2008

Thanks Shelle
Shelle, you are a hoot. And thanks for shooting my travel blog to Soldiers Angels...I hope to meet some of these very special people on my journey. I will definately let you know when I do. Rob
19th June 2008

2nd Grand Daughter--cannot wait to hear the news
Tyler, Take special care of the two women in my life...JoLynn when she comes to Louisville and the birth of our Lucy Mae. Rob
19th June 2008

Be careful and take care. Lucy Mae will be very excited to see her rugged g-father. We'll be praying for you in Kentucky. Have fun!
19th June 2008

Once in a Lifetime Opportunity
Rob, what a great experience for you. My husband and I cruised the inside strait of Alaska last year. We had opportunities to leave the ship and take in some of the local culture and beautiful scenery. Having done that, we both said that we hope to go back someday, and be able to drive through the breathtaking countryside of Alaska, and stopping at the little towns and cities was so much fun. I was surprised at the daily change of temperatures, we went from wearing coats, and gloves one day to t-shirts and shorts the next. If you get a chance, I highly recommend the train ride in Skagway, the White Pass Train Ride, beautiful and so interesting! I'm looking forward to your pic's and blogs.
20th June 2008

Great tips
Carleen, thanks for the great tips on Skagway. My senses will be tested to the max and I promise the photos I post with be memorable. Stay posted for more. Rob

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