I've gone through several ideas on how to do the posts about the move to Alaska. At first I had wanted to do an update each day. I figured that I could use the hotspot on my phone and upload a new post every night. The writing of that post would give me something to do during the long hours of the drive when it wasn't my turn behind the wheel.
But it soon became apparent that this was not going to be possible.
Not only did we cross into roaming as soon as we drove into Canada, but they also started to limit my data each day.
Add to that the fact that we were using the phones to navigate and keep music going to keep us awake, I was using all the data they were giving me a day and then some.
So that plan was out.
The next idea was to create a post for each day as if was happening in real time. Here is us moving through Canada, here is us as we cross into British Colombia, Yukon, and Alaska. But that had proven to be a very complicated endeavor for our families who recently reached out to us wondering why we were headed back to Canada.
So instead of doing either of these ideas, I will instead use this post to relay some of the things that we learned about driving though Canada that we hope will be of benefit to those who are also looking to make the move.
We stopped our first night in Montana, as my previous post will have told you. And as we set out the next day we approached the Canadian border.
I thought we were going to be so prepared. But the one thing I've learned is that there is no real way to be prepared for traveling on a journey this way. We learned a lot, and I hope that the mistakes we made will help others in their journey. We like Montana, a lot. We even joked that if we had done our paperwork wrong than maybe we’d just stay in Montana. Before Tim and I got married, Montana had been my final destination.
I’d assumed that making it to Alaska on my own would never happen. It was just too bit a move to do alone and with my dogs, (I assumed that by this point I would have a small menagerie of dogs.)
I was going to build myself a tiny house out of one of those two story sheds that Home Depot sells and live with my dogs on several acres of Montana wilderness, just my own homestead, cut out for me and the dogs.
And some goats.
Oh! And bees, ducks, maybe some turkeys, and of course sheep.
But then Tim came around, again, sort of, and we got together and we we live in Alaska and I’ve never been happier.
The next morning we were off to Canada!
It was a short drive to the border, and we were glad to be finally getting into the next, and longest leg of our drive. Time was against us now. By stopping the night before we had slowed the progress by several more hours. And Canada was only giving us a set amount of days to get from one border to the other with our firearms.
I had spent days getting ready, weeks even. I knew everything the border check would require. Vaccine records for the pets, paperwork for the firearms including the letter allowing me to pass with the handgun, our passports, documents showing that we had job offers, and housing in Alaska.
I was ready.
Which of course meant that I was not actually ready.
Half of what I had, they didn't care about. For the most part they didn't care about our pets, our paperwork showing the jobs, housing, and school in Alaska. They cared about three things, passports, guns, and covid.
I thought we would sail through but in the end it took three hours to get us through the check in procedure and on the way. We got a fancy placard that stated we were only passing through and that we wouldn't stop at any tourist site or go in and linger anywhere without a mask.
Tim and I were unvaccinated at the time and that was the biggest hang up.
Eventually we got through and made and stopped the first chance we got to let the dog out and water the pets. We looked at the time, already well after three o'clock and made plans for how far we would drive today and where we would stop.
Part of our being let into the country was our agreeing to stop and submit another covid test from a hotel so that they could be picked up and submitted.
We drove until it got dark and found a walmart.
Sidebar: Why are the walmarts in Canada so red? We had to get one of those cat boxes that comes with the litter in it for Snot. As well as some snack food so we can stop less as we go. We masked up, as required, and we were sure to be quick. Even though there was a small part of me that wanted to wander through and just compare things from one walmart to another.
After a quick stay at the Pomeroy Inn and Suites in Olds, Alberta. we dropped our tests at the front desk and got back into the car.
This is about the point where the magic of the drive started to wear off. We needed to stop more today, to get out and stretch, to wake back up and just to be out of the U-Haul. There was also a lot of uphill today.
And by the time we got to the end of the day Tim was ready to just keep driving and not stop until we got to Alaska. Only stopping to nap in the vehicle if we had to. Except that we needed gas. And gas stations in Canada are not the same compared to what we're used to.
We found ourselves in a place called Pink Mountain with a hotel that looked really shady, and was under serious construction, a convenience store, and a gas station, that was closed. We didn't want to stop, but we couldn't keep going. We didn't have enough gas to get to another gas station.
So we stayed the night at the Buffalo Hotel.
The best way I can describe this place would be to say that if I turned around looking for Tim, and a some ancient one eyed man told me that I had no husband, that would make sense for this place.
Which is a really long winded way of saying that it was creepy and it could have been a front for a mass murder hang out. But it was a bed and place for all of us to spread out for the night. We slept lightly and woke a first light, hoping to get some gas and be on our way quickly. Thankfully the Race Trac Gas Station was a wonderful place.
Not only was there a very handsome cat who greeted us and loved chin scratches, but the owner was a really nice man. He gave us a list of every gas station going in either direction all the way to the border. I was a amaing and it saved our assess. If I can find it I will happily upload if for you all. It saved our bacon.
We gasses up and kept going.
Another long day of driving brought us to Yukon and the last leg of our Canadian Journey.
(It's a crappy picture, we were really tired.)
I would love to say that we were happy and excited about the journey, but we were exhausted. No one was getting any really sleep, and our patience with the drive, with the time it was taking, and with each other was starting wear really thin.
We were just so tired of driving.
We made a lot of progress today, pushing has hard as we could. We saw a lot of wild life, and a lot of miles were completed as we pushed to get as far as we could with the daylight we had.
It isn't that we can't drive at night, we totally can. It's just that when the sun goes down it gets harder to stay awake and keep going. We stop more frequently, and for longer amounts of time so we can stretch and wake back up. All of this was driving Tim crazy. He is a very efficient man. He likes to do things in a way that both expedites things and gets them done as quickly as possible.
All the delays and stops to stretch and eat and caffeinate were driving him slowly mad.
So as another night darkened around us, he knew we would have to stop soon. We discussed another hotel room, but we hadn't planned on staying in any hotel rooms. Our plan was to sleep in the Pickle with the dog and the cat. But we'd been so short on space that it didn't really work out that way.
By now it was cold at night, really cold. And when Tim suggested just parking at a rest stop I was worried about the animals.
Snot the cat was not very excited about the trip, and even less so about being locked up in her crate the whole time, with the exception of bathroom breaks.
There is a lot of fury in that tiny paw.
So, Tim stretched out in the U-Haul and I climbed into the Pickle. I pulled my big green blanket over me and Zelda, then kitty came and snuggled down on my chest. After a minute or two I grabbed my Mass Effect jacket and draped it over kitty.
It was cold, and uncomfortable and I couldn't lock my doors.
(The pickle's battery died early in the trip and we'd been unable to get it started again. So no heat in the pickle and no locked doors)
But we slept.
Or at least I think I did.
I feel like as soon as we had settled down and gotten comfortable, Tim was at the door saying it was time to get up and get on the road again. I looked at the sky and felt super confused.
There was light in the sky, but it was supposed to be around two am.
It could be sun rise, in fact I was pretty sure it was. But it was only two in the morning. Welcome to the far north, I guess.
Back on the road we made it about as far as the sunrise and had to stop again, we were so tired, After checking the temp in the car and making sure it was warm enough for the pets, we passed out in the front seat. It was far from comfortable, but we needed the rest. And it was the last day.
We were so close.
So we drove.
We stopped for lunch at a beautiful little lake where we paid way to much for everything, but their burger and fries were worth it when we took in the scenery.
Tim relaxing with Zelda by the water.
It was a nice stop before the last big push.
We hit a town called Beaver at the edge of Yukon, just bef0re the border. It was becoming a really rough ride at this point. We had hit the Alaskan highway, and it hit back. We bounced and dragged with huge parts of the road being nothing but gravel or dirt. They were rutted and unmaintained and our Uhaul was technically over its weight limit. Which is not a thing I've ever thought about before. It was only in retrospect, as we watched the back end of the Uhaul go up and up as we unloaded.
It was near two in the afternoon Alaska Time when we finally crossed the border back home.
I think I cried a little when I saw the big dipper flag flying over the port of entry. Not because Canada was awful, it wasn't. It was honestly a beautiful country and I wish we could have stayed longer.
I was happy, so very happy to be almost to our new home. We smelled, we were exhausted, and we were still almost five hours from Fairbanks.
So on we drove.
We marveled at the beauty of our new surroundings, the snow capped mountains, the verdant forests, and the world teeming with wildlife. It was amazing. And we so happy to be there.
After a few more stops for gas and the bathroom we finally rolled through to the University of Alaska Fairbanks just after 8pm local time.
There was a moment, when we stood in the lawn and looked at each other. There was joy and love, relife, gratitude and not just a little sorrow.
But we had finally made it.
We were finally home.