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X-Country Trips

Round the World Expedition

I woke up in the middle of the night recently with a very vivid dream. I started a Kickstarter Campaign to fund a Documentary about a Round The World Road Trip. Somewhere around 2003 I had this idea to drive around the world. I researched the Eurotunnel from England to France, and the 50 miles of the Bering Strait which freezes over in the winter between Russia and Alaska. As I embarked on more and more cross country trips, the desire to go on this journey increased and made its way on to my Bucket List.

But the seed that caused that recent dream may have been planted in my head because I recently found out that Zach Braff (who I actually used to be neighbors with) funded his latest movie through Kickstarter. Obviously he has Star Power (and by that I mean celebrity, not the Super Mario kind), but part of me wonders if I could pull funding this trip off similarly.

I created a Spreadsheet to try and itemize and tally the full cost. My goal would be to start in the United Kingdom, drive through Europe and Asia, then ship my car to Indonesia, Australia, and then Alaska. I would then drive down and across North America to the East Coast. (Part of me wanted to drive the full circumference of the Earth by driving  from China into Siberia and crossing the Beiring Strait while it froze over, but I don’t think that’s realistic without an incredibly modified and expensive vehicle).

RTW Visas

RTW Shipments Update

RTW Gas

Just calculating the required Visas, Gas, Shipping hard drives of footage back home, and only one of the three major Vehicle Shipments, the cost already comes to $9,156. I still have to factor in things like Vaccines, Tolls and Ferries, Insurance, Lodging, Food, and more. I’ve read about this kind of excursion being done twice. One by a former AP reporter who did it solo and cost him $50,240 (including $6,700 for an old Land Cruiser). The other was a group of people with the goal of driving the whole circumference of the Earth. They even outfit an expensive vehicle (think Tank) for driving over the Bering Strait when it was frozen over if I remember correctly. That or for the Siberian and Alaskan Tundra. They eventually got stuck and had to helicopter the vehicle for a small portion of it.

Diomede Islands

The Diomede Islands between Russia and Alaska

Anyway, some of this information will be useful sooner rather than later as I hope to spend two weeks in Europe relatively soon. Hopefully in 2016.

Okay, back to work…

LT_Signature

An Inspirational Letter

West CoastAbout ten years ago (my God), one of the most influential Guidance Counselors I’ve ever had handed me an envelope with a note and $100 in it. On the face of the envelope were doodles of a road lined with Redwood Trees, the Oregon shoreline, the Seattle Space Needle, and other prominent features of the West Coast. (The $100 was a loan which she never allowed me to pay back.) She told me to take time during our three week break and travel, because she knew that’s what I needed.

It was a phenomenal trip. I drove from Los Angeles to Whistler, Canada which is a town right above Vancouver. On the way I also stopped by San Francisco and Sacramento, drove through the Redwood Forest, visited Portland and Seattle, and even drove up Mount Saint Helens.

My pictures don’t do it justice because at the time I was experimenting with just taking video, and using still frames from it as pictures, so the quality is not that good. But recently I discovered a roll of film, tucked away in my draw for over 10 years, that I never had developed. The film contains some pretty bad pictures. Some are just horribly taken, and others may have just degraded over time, but one stood out to me though:

Drive Thru Tree

This is the Chandelier Tree, named for its distinctive limbs at the top that bear resemblance to a chandelier. Found in the town of Leggett, Northern California, it’s a 315 foot tall Redwood tree so large that you can drive a car through it. The base measures 21ft in diameter and has a 6 foot wide by 6 foot 9 inch hole at the base that allows cars to drive through it.

The trip was my second major solo adventure of significant length, but the one that spurred many more to come, and I have to thank my former guidance counselor for that.

LT_Signature

Miami and the Florida Keys

In my attempt to drive across the whole continent, I’ve traveled to San Diego CA (Southwest), Fairbanks AK (Northwest), Orlando FL (Southeast), and Bar Harbor ME (Northeast).

There are three ways I could expand the territory covered by car:

1. Drive from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay in Alaska. (Northwest)

2. Drive to L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland. (Northeast)

3. Drive to Key West. (Southeast)

Realistically speaking, Prudhoe Bay won’t happen for awhile. There are much more interesting trips I’d like to take (Europe, Australia, etc…) Part of me wishes I could have fit that into XCRT-7. Newfoundland could be a possibility in the next few years, although again I’d rather fly overseas for a trip. Key West is definitely a fun and easy trip to pull off though, and Kay would love a vacation like this.

My plan would be to fly into Miami and rent a car. Maybe spend a day there and then drive 3 hours along the Overseas Highway to Key West. Along the way I would like to stop in Homestead to visit Biscayne National Park (I believe this is the only National Park under water) and Key Largo. It’ll be a nice trip, and Kay and I devised a fun way of saving money so we should be good by next summer. :)

Time for some research…

The Final Frontier

I was cleaning up my laptop (sorting and deleting files) when I came across my “Travel” folder. As I was skimming through old trips and potential ones for the future, I found my Northeast Canada folder. I’ve always wanted to visit Nova Scotia, and last year I was online and discovered a former village in Newfoundland that was the early settlement of L’Anse aux Meadows. Leif Ericson discovered and settled in this area before Christopher Columbus discovered what is now the Bahamas. The remains of L’Anse aux Meadows were uncovered in the 1960′s yet still remain unpopular.

While I’m still not certain of what I’d like my next big trip to be, driving to Newfoundland and Labrador is definitely on the list. Just looking at a map brings chills down my side. The thought of exploring a new area is so exciting. I feel like this would be the Final Frontier for me when it comes to North America. I’ve driven southwest to San Diego California, northwest to Fairbanks Alaska, southeast to Orlando Florida, and northwest to Bar Harbor Maine. Yes, I would like to go back and drive to Key West in Florida and Prudhoe Bay in Alaska, but those are relatively minor trips I would fly in for and perform a short drive. For the most part I have driven to three of the four “corners” of the continent (excluding Mexico for safety reasons), but in terms of the northeast, there is technically still another 1,000 miles of road for me to drive past Maine.

Aside from traveling to Europe for my next trip, or flying to Colorado and driving around the southwest to California, I think this Newfoundland and Labrador road trip is another top candidate.

I would drive up the coast of New England into New Brunswick Canada, then over to Halifax Nova Scotia. From there I would take a ferry to Newfoundland and drive up the Province to L’Anse aux Meadows. Afterwards I would take another ferry into Labrador and drive up to Happy Valley – Goose Bay. That area seems to be the farthest drivable area in the northeast part of the continent. It would be a long loop inland and back down to Quebec, then Montreal, and then back to the states.

Overall I think it would be a fun drive. I have a feeling it’ll require a lot of research to make this trip exciting, and I’ll want to spend less time driving and more time exploring towns and cities. But heck, after driving through northern Alberta and Saskatchewan, I should be used to it.

Here’s a map of a rough route option:

And some rough calculations:

- 3,600 miles round trip
- Drive 7 hours a day for 10 days
- 133 gallons of gas at @ 27mpg
- $532 in gas @ $4.00/gallon

If I spend 9 nights in hotels at $100 a piece, that’s almost a grand right there. Of course I’d like to spend $50 on a Motel 6, but most of the towns and cities I’d want to stay in have jacked-up rates. That’s what I witnessed on my road trip to Alaska. So we’re looking at $1,400 just in gas and hotels, not to mention food, souvenirs, and activities.  So this’ll be a 2 grand trip easily. Hmmm… Better start saving…

My First Cross Country Trip

Once in awhile I glance around this website looking for things to improve, and it always bothered me that I never wrote about my first Cross Country road trip. I guess I never did because it was a very quick trip, and in that regard made it kind of boring to write about. I completed the trip in 52 hours and only took a 4 hour nap, which was unintentional mind you.

The other reason is because there wasn’t much to write about. I had driven through one of the most beautiful parts of the country at night and missed out on all the scenery. Don’t get me wrong, the trip was still very exciting, but most of that was because it was my first time traveling so far away from home.

Anyway, in case anyone is interested the entry can be found on the Adventures Page, or through this link.

For anyone new to this website I encourage you to check out more exciting road trips like:

X-Country Road Trip 3 – Northeastern Route (Over the Great Lakes)

X-Country Road Trip 4 – Northwestern Route (through Idaho, Montana, the Dakotas)

or X-Country Road Trip 5 – Southern Route (through Louisiana and Texas)

Road Trip To Alaska – Itinerary and Advice

In June of 2011, before my big road trip to Alaska, I posted a blog entry titled “Alaska Road Trip Itinerary“. A lot of entries like that one and “Merger” were more about me getting my thoughts straight and planning the adventure than about helping people who are embarking on a Road Trip to Alaska themselves.

I’ve noticed over the past year that many people stumble upon that page from Google, so I thought I could update it (or in this case replace it), with a more cohesive and useful version for aspiring road trippers to Alaska. First I’ll go over some useful things to pack, then over the route taken coming from the East Coast, as well as things to check out.

THINGS TO PACK

- Engine Oil
- Coolant
- Transmission Fluid
- Brake Fluid
- Power Steering Fluid
- Windshield Washer Fluid
- Extra Fuses
- Full Size Spare Tire
- Jack to Change Tire
- Emergency Windshield Repair Kit
- Horn
- Flares

- First Aid Kit
- Food
- Water
-Toiletry
- Clothing to match climate
- Any other equipment used on excursions, such as hiking shoes, ponchos, etc.

- The Milepost (The “must have” travel guide to Alaska and the highways heading north.)

 

ROUTES TO TAKE – PART 1 : EAST COAST TO CANADA

When coming from the East Coast, here are three options into Canada:

FROM THE NORTHEAST: Niagara Falls -> Toronto -> Sault Ste. Marie -> Winnipeg -> Saskatoon

FROM MID-COAST: Amish Country -> Chicago -> Twin Cities (Mall of America) -> Rugby (Geographic Center of North America) -> International Peace Garden N.D.  -> Saskatoon

FROM THE SOUTHEAST: Great Smokey Mountains -> Chicago -> Twin Cities (Mall of America) -> Rugby (Geographic Center of North America) -> International Peace Garden N.D. -> Saskatoon

From Saskatoon continue on to Edmonton, a city with the West Edmonton Mall (The largest in North America) and plenty of other attractions.

*Keep in mind that Canada’s Highway system does not have nearly as many gas stations, and very few operating 24 hours a day along this route.

ROUTES TO TAKE – PART 2 : LOWER CANADA TO THE YUKON

FROM EDMONTON: Travel to Dawson Creek, which is the beginning of the Alaska Highway. There is a Marker for “Mile 0″ here and some decent restaurants. You will then drive through the beautiful Northern Rockies of British Columbia. We stopped at Liard Hot Springs along the way, which was a nice break.

After crossing the border into the Yukon, stop at the Signpost Forest in Watson Lake. From here continue on the Alaska Highway to Whitehorse.

*If you are planning a one-way trip, dip down to Jasper and Banff National Parks after Edmonton. For purposes of this itinerary, I will explain more about them on the way back.

ROUTES TO TAKE – PART 3 : THE YUKON INTO ALASKA

MOST DIRECT ROUTE: From Whitehorse the most direct route is via the Alaska Highway to Tok in Alaska, then to Anchorage or Fairbanks. I did not take this route.

NORTHERN ROUTE: A more scenic option is the Northern Route. From Whitehorse travel on the Klondike Highway to Dawson City. Should you have time, stop at Tombstone Territorial Park (I didn’t, but I hear it’s beautiful). Dawson City is a great little town, with shops and restaurants to give you a break from driving. We spent the night there.

You then cross a small river via a ferry, and start your journey on the Top of the World Highway. It’s roughly four hours to Poker Creek Alaska, where two men live as Border Patrol Agents during the summer months. Then it’s another hour (roughly) on a horribly unpaved road to Chicken, Alaska. From here you travel to Tok, and then Fairbanks or Anchorage.

ROUTES TO TAKE – PART 4 : ALASKA TO SOUTHERN CANADA

WATER ROUTE: On our trip we left Tok and went to the North Pole and then Fairbanks. Afterwards we dipped down to Denali National Park for a flight seeing tour, and passed by Anchorage (regrettably). We then travelled back to Tok, and then Haines. We took the Alaska Marine Highway (a ferry) to Juneau, Ketchikan, and several other towns finally landing in Prince Rupert. From here we drove to Prince George.

LAND ROUTE: Another option would be to drive from Tok to Whitehorse, and then take 37 down to Prince George. Along the way you could dip west towards the coast and travel along the Stuart Cassiar Highway. If I took this, I would have taken a side trip on the Glacier Highway to Stewart.

* If you chose the Water Route, keep in mind from Tok to Haines you will be traveling from Alaska to Canada, then back to Alaska. The Border Patrol station to get back into Alaska is not open 24/7.

ROUTES TO TAKE – PART 5 : CANADA INTO THE U.S.

WESTERN ROUTE: From Prince George you can travel south to Vancouver and Seattle and enjoy the west coast scenery. I have done trips like this, one of which can you read about here. But because of my limited time off from work, I took a more direct route east described below.

MID-WEST ROUTE: After Prince George we travelled through Jasper and Banff National Parks. This was quiet possibly one of the most beautiful parts of the trip. Icefields Parkway connects the two towns and parks, and privies drivers to snow-covered mountaintops in July, Caribou smiling at you from the side of the road, and the most crystal clear water I have ever seen before. Copilot and I spent the night in Banff and then went to Calgary -> Glacier National Park -> Yellowstone.

ROUTES TO TAKE – PART 6 : THE MID-WEST TO THE EAST COAST

Here are three options to get from Yellowstone to different parts of the East Coast.

TO THE NORTHEAST: Yellowstone -> The Badlands S.D. -> Chicago -> Detroit -> New York

TO THE MID-COAST: Yellowstone -> Kansas City -> St Louis -> Memphis / Graceland -> Nashville -> Great Smokey Mountains -> Charleston

TO THE SOUTHEAST: Yellowstone -> Rocky Mountains -> White Sands Desert -> Carlsbad Caverns -> Houston -> New Orleans -> Orlando

* If you have time, or are heading south, I would highly recommend spending time in the Four Corner States. They are some of the most beautiful in the country. Even just dipping down past Salt Lake City and driving along I-70 passed the San Rafael Swell area is gorgeous. Farther south holds Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, and more.

 

I hope this information was helpful and if you have any questions please ask. I love discussing road trips, giving and receiving advice, and hearing the stories of fellow travelers. For more information on potential routes across the US, check out these links below:

Road Trip To Alaska - The Black Route from New York to Alaska and back.

States include: New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Iowa. Provinces include Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, and the Yukon. Photos. / Blog Entries.
Cross Country Road Trip #6 - The Yellow Route through middle America from California to NY.

States include: California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and NY. Photos. / Blog Entry.
crosscountry5_70Cross Country Road Trip #5 - The Blue Southern Route from New York to Florida then California.

States include: NY, PA, W. Virginia, Virginia, The Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and CA. Photos. / Blog Entry.
crosscountry447Cross Country Road Trip #4 - The Orange Northern Route from California to New York.

States include: California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. Photos. / Blog Entry.
sanrafaelswellCross Country Road Trip #3 - The Green Northern Route dipping into Canada over the Great Lakes.

States include: New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California. Blog Entry.
san-bernadinoCross Country Road Trip #2 - The Dark Orange route through the middle of America (runs along dark purple mostly).

States include: California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. Blog Entry.
san-jacinto-mountain-20West Coast Road Trip - The Light Blue Route from Los Angeles, California to Vancouver, Canada.

States include: California, Oregon, and Washington. Attractions also include the Redwood National Park and Mount Saint Helens. Blog Entry.
favorites30Country Road Trip #1 - The Dark Purple Route through the middle of America. My first cross country trip.

States include: New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California. Blog Entry.

 

Alaska Live

I was fumbling through Google Analytics this week and found a very cool feature. For those of you who don’t know, Google Analytics allows you to track who (down to city-level) visits your site, what pages they are on, and for how long.

I know the basics of GA, in terms of how to see where my viewers are coming from, what pages they see, and for how long. But I never figured out how to see the pages that the person in Austin looked at. Until now.

Now if you reverse that, I can click on a page and see where the users are from. So I went back to July of 2011 when I went on the Alaska Road Trip and checked the stats for my GPS LIVE page. I had a page with a Google Map embedded in it that showed my exact GPS location via an iPhone app. The stats are intriguing:

Over the course of those 2.5 weeks these were the top 5 cities in terms of viewership:

Someone or some people from Boston checked in 76 times. Unique Pageviews means anywhere from 1-50 people checked it out, for a total of 76 times. The interesting part of this is that I don’t know anyone in Boston. (I did have a friend’s brother who lived there shortly though.) Same thing with Cambridge. There are a lot of other reoccurring locations that check in to my site, such as people from Brazil, Canada, and the United Kingdom. I even get random viewers from the Taiwan and Saudi Arabia. Sometimes I don’t know if they are “bots”, which could be cataloging or spamming my site.

Anyway, if you are still reading Mr. or Ms. Boston, “Hello!”

The Next Big Trip

With Alaska under my belt (and Hawaii by the end of the year) I thought I’d start a record of potential future road trips. On my list of relatively closer and shorter road trips are:

New Hampshire  – The Kancamagus Highway (Fall)
Rhode Island – Ocean Drive, Newport
Carolinas and Virginia -  The Blue Ridge Parkway

On my list of farther away places are:

Alaska – The Seward Highway
British Columbia – Glacier Highway
California – Sonoma and Nappa Valley
Utah – Route 12 Scenic Byway
Minnesota – North Shore Drive
Montana and Wyoming – The Beartooth Highway
Montana and Idaho – Lemhi Pass
Montana – Going to the Sun Road

These are just some routes jotted down from my notes, excluding a trip back to the Pacific Coast I’d like to take through the California Redwoods up to Olympic National Park in Washington State.

But in recent months Nova Scotia and Newfoundland have started to intrigue me. If you look at a map of where I’ve traveled, this is an area of the continent that I have little or no tracks made:

I’ve been reading up on how Newfoundland and Labrador where actually discovered by Leif Ericson before Columbus discovered North America. It turns out that there is an archaeological site on the northernmost tip of Newfoundland called L’Anse aux Meadows. It was discovered recently, in 1960, and is the only known Norse settlement in North America. Scientific study shows that it predates Columbus’s discovery of North America in what is now the Bahamas.

I’m not sure what to expect driving up through this area. It could be like a lot of my Eastern US road trips, green and beautiful but rather redundant after awhile. But this trip is something that will rank high on my Road Trip To Do list. It’s only 900 miles to Halifax, Nova Scotia, while it’s almost double to Newfoundland and Labrador. Round trip we’re looking at about 3,800 miles, and there are ferries from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland, and another back to the mainland.

I think this would could be a very interesting road trip. Something to think about…

Adventures Updated

I’ve updated the map and links on the Adventures Page. The Alaska trip is now up. Hopefully with time I’ll make that page and the Alaska Page a little more stylish.

Alaska RT Entry 30: Pictures from the trip.

Pictures from the Road Trip to Alaska are up! Enjoy!

http://www.theliberaltraveler.com/photography/?album=5&gallery=73