The Alaska Highway – A Short Story

Ever since I was a small child, stories of the Alcan Highway have been woven through the fabric of my life. Stories told by my grandfather, grandmother, father, and aunt that spoke of the courage to travel to Alaska this way — even before Alaska was a state. Trips in the 1950’s and 60’s towing one’s life behind. Travelling more miles of rough road than can even be told. And the epic-ness of the journeys. WOW! Thinking to myself, “Someday….that will be me!”

Someday is now! We are headed to Anchorage via this same route that so many of my family members have traveled before. We are travelling with our dog (Isabella) and camping along the way. Living out of our car — the GOATGRL. It is with wonder that I look at the landscape that they have seen and muse about the changes that have happened in the past 7 decades. It is with equal wonder that I think about driving these roads towing trucks, towing mobile homes, towing trailers, and the audacity to attempt such feats with little more than faith and a few dollars.

As we begin our travel on this epic road, we are in Dawson Creek at mile zero. The Alcan has been renamed the Alaska Highway and we join many others on this epic pilgrimage between Dawson Creek, BC and Delta Junction, Alaska. There are retired people, families vacationing and/or moving, old farts on an adventure, young hipsters exploring the world, and us.

It took us a while to get here, though. We had to meander through Oregon and visit cousins, stop for a spell in Spokane to connect with parents and brothers, and then push on into Canada with the express purpose of finding many hot-springs. This part of the story is for another blog post (Family).

The history of the Alaska Highway is well documented and over every stretch of the road there is a story waiting to be found. In some places, the skeleton of the original highway lies, like a corpse, beside the new and improved road. And, at the end of the day, this isn’t really a road that one tells a story about. It’s a road that writes its own story into one’s being as it is experienced. At the end of this road we have our own sense of epic-ness that we will one day spill out in the form of well-formed stories. I’m wondering when that will be. As of this writing several months later, I still can’t really tell you about this experience. The expanse of it, the magnitude, the emptiness of population with the fullness of life.

Truly, living out of our car for many weeks was awesome. Greg, Isabella, and I are gifted at being homeless even as we love and crave the comforts of home. We can make camp quickly and cook a fine meal on nothing more than a camp stove. And, sleeping in a tent in the middle of no-where was fantastic! The one menace…..MOSQUITOES. I will say no more about this now.

After days on the road, there are times when my eyes close and all I can see are endless expanses of trees. Then there are the dreams of trees, rivers, mountains, and the epic silence. This summer was about the road less traveled. Finding those places with few or no people and living out of our car for weeks. We made it to “J” on the ipod — which is a feat when thinking about 16 gigs of music! 

We met the road in Dawson Creek and finished at Delta Junction. It is a road I hope you can take sometime in your life. As you are on this road — so timeless and unchanged — perhaps you will be able to develop well-framed stories that convey this untamed land that you will tell me next time we meet.

Here are a few of the 2000 images we captured along the way.

Next up — Family

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