Monday, November 4, 2013

The Land of the Midnight Sun


This untamed wilderness called to us like sirens in the sea, we needed to see this state and all that inhabited it. The beauty of this trip would be getting my last two states in on the same vacation. We planned to drive the whole way up to Alaska taking the famous Alaskan Highway built during World War Two through Canada into Alaska. We set off and within two days’ time we were up in North Dakota ready to start our journey off right. We crossed over into Canada and were met with an immediate loss of cell service despite emergency calls. Canada was beautiful and the Canadians were all extremely nice as we met many along the road.

The Alaskan Highway was built during World War Two in fear that the Japanese would attack the west coast, specifically the islands around Alaska. The highway was made to transport goods easier to and from Alaska to the Lower 48. It was and still is basically dirt and gravel covered road spanning its way across the Canadian territories into Alaska.

Our first major stop in Alaska was in Fairbanks at a nice little private campground. We finally got to set up our new tent to use. The way up consisted of some hotel stays as well as sleeping in the back of the truck. I loved my comfy air mattress that trip and my cozy mummy style sleeping bag. In Fairbanks we explored the community and even drove to the college in the town around eleven o’clock at night and it was still sunny. The all the time daylight was very hard to adjust to. The campground offered a bus trip up the Dalton Highway to the Arctic Circle and I was lucky enough to cross the dotted line on a rug, walking across the Circle. The best part of Fairbanks was our neighbors, “The Wild Hogs”, super nice guys riding their motorcycles around the country, but sadly we had to leave and move on.

We ventured on to Denali National Park for the most exciting portion of our trip. I enjoyed this greatly due the shear fact that it was another National Park stamp in my passport and we got to see Mount McKinley, the most amazing rock I have ever come across. We took a bus tour into Denali, experiencing the multitude of wildlife within the park as well as the massive landscape before our eyes. Breathtaking…

As we were leaving Denali we got to see the Into the Wild bus used in the film and were a mountains distance away from where Christopher McCandless died, all alone in the wilderness. Down the road a ways we stopped for a plane ride over Mount McKinley in hopes of actually seeing its peak. We were absolutely blessed with this experience. My family, another couple, and a pilot all climbed into a six passenger plane with me in the copilot’s seat. We put on our earphones and got our oxygen masks ready for assent into the heavens. We experienced some turbulence over the glaciers but once we broke through the clouds we were greeted with sunshine and a glorious mountain in the distance. I was so struck by its size and beauty I actually teared up. I was only a mile or so away from one of God’s greatest masterpieces and 23,000 feet in the air. Life changing is all that could describe that plane ride above masses of ice and rock.
Mount McKinley

After that ride we made our way down to southern Alaska and hopped on a ferry boat in Hanes, Alaska. This was our way of leaving the most exciting state I’ve ever been to. We were on the ferry for five days and met a wonderful army soldier bound for Florida as well as another Ohioan. It was an interesting experience but I could have gone without the sea sickness. We landed safely in Bellingham, Washington and made our way through Seattle for the second time, then on to Montana. In Montana we drove through Glacier National Park and I again got excited for my National Park nerdiness. Sadly though we had to head home for school to start but this vacation was the most memorable and life changing that I have ever been on.

"Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world." -Gustave Flaubert

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