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Its a long way home

May 20, 2016


The sun had been up many hours as I had my last look at Fairbanks through the rear view mirror. I would have left earlier were it not for those who I never new cared so much and wanted one last hug or a chance to say goodbye. In some ways it reminded me of when I said goodbye to my parents when I was in the Army and left for the far East, it was that wrenching pull of emptiness one feels in their gut and can only be healed by time.

For those that have asked some stats are:
The trip took 5 ½ days and covered 4085 miles, if you add in the drive from my cabin to Fairbanks. Average speed as recorded by my Garmin was 60 and actual moving time was 68 hours. With 14 stops to get gas for a total cost of $626. Gas was more expensive in Canada but was offset in the lower forty-eight because the average driving speed was much faster. I only slept in my truck two nights, because I quickly found that a 70 year old man with gout problems does not sleep as well in cramped contorted conditions as he did when he was 50.

My stops were:
The first night in a parking lot across from the airport in Whitehorse YK.
The second stop was a hotel in Ft. Nelson BC
The third stop was again the parking lot of a truck stop in Calgary, Alberta
The fourth night was a hotel in Cheyenne, WY
The fifth night was again a hotel in Oklahoma City, OK
The sixth night was a bed my son had set up for me in my apartment in Little Elm, Texas

Thoughts and emotions along the way…..
This is hard for me to put into words because I have driven most of these roads a number of times before, but always with the knowledge I would return to Alaska. Passing by the many impressive sights that I have come to know and love was cause for renewed wonder and contentment, but also tinged with that hollow feeling that would pervade the entire trip.


Muncho Lake, BC

Of course the first day and a half as the Alcan meandered through mountains, over streams and along hundreds of lakes I felt a oneness with the passing complex of unfathomable beauty. It brought to mind the possibility that this very same oneness, with the wilderness, may explain how I survived alone in my cabin for so many years. Some people need the edge of a fast passed ‘connected’ lifestyle, but others feel more comfortable with that laid back, ‘I’ll get to it tomorrow’ life. Then there are those few who sense that only when they are miles from anyone and are sharing the sights, sounds and smells of only nature that they are where they belong.

So because I fit into that later category once I neared Ft. Nelson on the Alcan the drive became more of an endurance run than a scenic road trip. And of course befitting that change of mood my first and only automotive consternation happened. Though only day two of my journey I was feeling drained and when a red light started to flicker on the instrument panel I assumed the worse. It was late and being tired I decided to address the light in the morning but suffice it to say it did not make for a restful sleep. By morning and with my caffeine level at normal I realized the team at ‘Jiffy Lube’ forgot to reset the ‘maintenance required’ light and a worry became nothing but a grumble about the idiots at Jiffy Lube.


Summit Lake, BC

The rest of the journey was thankfully uneventful, and except for some nice mountain panoramas in Montana and Wyoming, truly boring. Near the end of my drive outside Oklahoma City I realized that I had only 200 or so miles left and didn’t feel that tired so I decided to go for it. I thought I would make Frisco, outside of Dallas, by about 2 or 3 AM and would park in front of my son’s home. But a slow drizzle combined with road construction and my old eyes forced me to stop. I finally made it to my new abode around noon the next day.

A new chapter of my life has begun
one with grandchildren
and modern conveniences
every morning when I wake
I go to the window
and look for that vast expanse of wilderness
I once called home.

three menkeys

Three close friends and old time Alaskans not wanting to say goodbye

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Del Hoskins permalink
    May 20, 2016 2:46 pm



  2. Terry permalink
    May 20, 2016 2:55 pm

    A little bittersweet ;-)


  3. May 20, 2016 2:56 pm

    Great trip! Northern British Columbia is beautiful – I see you were at Muncho Lake. Two of my sons work near Muncho Lake and live in northern BC. I live across the country near most of my grandchildren but travel (fly = easier for me) to the far north to visit. This works for me.


  4. john permalink
    May 20, 2016 2:58 pm

    God Bless, you not done yet-=- an another new begening 73 john w8wej


  5. Dwight permalink
    May 20, 2016 3:26 pm

    Nice write-up Pete! And thanks for the beautiful photos. Glad you made it safely to Little Elm!
    Now, after sufficient rest you can start fixing up your new place. I look forward to some progress photos from there when you get time. Hats off again to your son who helped so much with the move…

    Best Regards, Dwight


  6. May 20, 2016 5:00 pm

    my brother david, and his wife, are moving back too… they’ll be following in your tire tracks at a much slower pace, leaving fairbanks this coming monday. they’re going to enjoy the road trip though, and stretch it out for three weeks. we’ll have to all get together in the very near future!


  7. Jon permalink
    May 20, 2016 7:04 pm

    Though we’ve been in touch Pete, still an enjoyable read, & the pics of course added to the story.


  8. May 21, 2016 5:13 am

    Great travelogue, Pete! I wasn’t surprised most involved Alaska or northern Canada; like you I’ve come to realize I am most comfortable when I’m sitting alone – or with ‘the kidz’ – surrounded by Nature with not another human in sight and no human created sounds as well. Not really anti-social; I just prefer the natural world to the ‘artificial’ environment in which I spent most of my first 59.5 years. I’d wager you aren’t dealing with many skeeters down there..? They just kinda exploded on the scene ’round here this week; about as happy to see them as I am the tourists who’ve already taken over the village. C’mon October!!


  9. May 21, 2016 10:25 am

    I enjoyed the read. Too bad you had to leave that scenic country. I’ve never been to Alaska, except once on a cruise. My wife and I rented a car in Skagway, and drove up to Carcross, YT. The beauty we observed was unutterable. Texas has some beauty too, so I hope you can find at least some measure there, of what you’ve left behind.


  10. May 21, 2016 2:48 pm

    Glad you made it safely to Texas; had I known you were coming to Calgary we could have offered you our spare bedroom for the night!


  11. May 22, 2016 4:26 pm

    I like the story of the trip, and wish it were 10 times longer!


  12. May 22, 2016 5:21 pm

    Big hug to you Pete. I know how it feels to make a change in ones environment. I loved your pics here and look forward to seeing your blog more regularly.


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