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A One-Way Ticket to Alaska (Part 10)

November 10:

Today is our last day on the road! For real this time! I hope…


My brother went to pick up the part as soon as the store said it would be available, and we quickly got to work once he returned. It was simple enough to replace the small pulley and restore all the components to their original place.


I anxiously put the key in the ignition, crossed my fingers, and waited for the roar of the engine.


Success!

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We were on our way! After saying farewell and thank you to my aunt, we packed up the car and continued south to Colorado Springs.


Traffic in Denver was unbearable. We had hit so many roadblocks, and we were so close to our final destination that something as monotonous as traffic was murderous.


Once we were past Denver, the anticipation became more than I could bear. My husband and dog were waiting in Colorado Springs for me, and J.T. and I were so tired of being in the car.


When we saw the sign telling us we were in Colorado Springs, we very lazily celebrated. Exhaustion beat out our excitement.


As we pulled into the parking lot to meet my husband, a second wave of energy hit me. We made it. We finally made it!


After a quick lunch and a lot of hugging, we made our way to Manitou Cliff Dwellings. This was J.T.’s must-do! All he talked about was wanting to see the buildings in the mountain once we got to Colorado Springs.


Once we pulled past the entrance, we found a place to park and unload all of my stuff from the Jeep to my car. Which took way longer than I was expecting. The Jeep had become so disheveled, and I couldn’t remember where I had put a lot of my things. But once it was over, the reality of the trip being over finally set in. Today truly was our last day on the road.


We explored the Manitou Cliff Dwellings for some time, and they were really fascinating! My dog, Luna, wasn’t a fan at first, but she warmed up after a while.

I would definitely recommend checking them out if you ever find yourself in Colorado Springs with time to spare and $12.

After that, we made our way over to the Garden of the Gods; but as soon as we got to the trailhead, we realized how tired we truly were. We made our way back to our cars and said our goodbyes. I grabbed a few more things I remembered were tucked away and hugged J.T. Tears filled my waterline, but don’t tell him that.


My husband and I are planning on staying until the twelfth, so this wasn’t really goodbye. I knew I would see him on Friday, but this was the end of this adventure.


We actually did it.


We drove through three Canadian territories and four US states. I’ve seen the Northern Lights, glaciers, and landscape so beautiful words will never suffice. I’ve been the coldest I’ve ever been, I’ve feared for my life, and I’ve never been more tired.


This is an adventure I will tell my children and grandchildren about for as long as my memory will allow. And they won’t believe that I made coffee outside in subfreezing weather, or that I saw more bald eagles than I can count, but I did and more!


So if you ever get the opportunity to do something that makes you feel like you’re in way over your head, do it, because you will be fine and it will be worth it.

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Looking Back:

Territories/States:

  • Alaska
  • Yukon
  • British Columbia
  • Alberta
  • Montana
  • Wyoming
  • Colorado


Animals we saw:

  • Moose
  • Bald eagles
  • Muskrat
  • Linx
  • Deer
  • Bison
  • Mountain goats
  • Foxes
  • Elk
  • Caribou
  • Canadian Geese
  • Antelope
  • Prairie dogs


Misc Observations about Canada:

  • There is no litter in Canada! All alongside the highway in the Yukon and British Columbia, there are pull-off areas with trash cans every couple of miles. I think the US should take note because they make Texas look like a dump… Oh, and all the trash cans have a locking mechanism to keep out the bears.
  • They call rest areas, “rest houses”
  • Bathrooms are called “washrooms” and sinks are called “taps”
  • Not all Canadians are nice. That stereotype is officially debunked! For example, we randomly got flipped off by someone driving by us in Alberta. I still don’t know why.
  • Everything is significantly more expensive. Gas is about $6 a gallon. A meal at a restaurant that you would expect to be about $12 in the US is around $20 in Canada.
  • They have a lot of taxes! Including, an eco tax if you buy a bottle of water, a tourism tax when you book a hotel, and that is all on top of your regular sales tax.
  • They don’t really have billboards. The first billboard I saw was outside of Fort St. John’s, and they were smaller than what you see in the US and all outside of town. The next time I saw them was in Edmonton, Alberta.
  • J.T. and I had a thing growing up that a place wasn’t a town unless it had a McDonald’s. With that logic, we only drove through three towns in the Yukon and British Columbia combined.
  • They have traffic signs for everything, including a sign to inform you if there was a new traffic sign.
  • Most of the Yukon and British Columbia is closed during the “off season”, which starts in October.
  • You see more snowplows than police cars.
  • Everything in the Yukon and British Columbia is at least 20 years behind the US. For example, the gas pumps are like something you’d see in a movie or in a ghost town.
  • And more!


The rest you’ll just have to see for yourself! If you’re curious about what it takes to make this drive, stay tuned for my next blog where I’ll talk about all the things I learned, tips, packing tricks, and more!

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