One Month Down, Three to Go...

Late Saturday night, we finally made it to the Alaska...now we could relax and enjoy, because the road to get here was a long, long 7,000 mile road to be exact.

Chris repacking the Subaru at the Borah Peak trail head.

Chris repacking the Subaru at the Borah Peak trail head.

As of tomorrow we will have been on the move for 4 weeks now, and here we are with our first blog post. From flat tires to technical difficulties its been hard to get some writing out. Hopefully, we have everything set up and we can start coming to you regularly from the road.

On Friday May 6th, we finally had the Subaru packed like a puzzle and the tear drop camper hooked up. We were ready to hit the road (after a quick "Good bye, Knoxville Sub" at Lenny's, of course). Well, 8 hours on the road and a couple of gas station stops later, we found ourselves on the side of the road in East St. Louis, with a complete blow out of one of the camper tires. Now the problem here wasn't that we didn't know how to change a tire, or even that we didn't have a spare, we had just forgotten to pack the 4 way tire iron. As we tried to come up with a tire iron that would work, we quickly found out that trying to get a tow truck company to East St. Louis was most likely never going to happen, and that this was not a place we wanted to be when the sun went down. Eventually, we figured all we had left to do was to ask the locals for help. 

Finally, one man gladly came to rescue us, but came with the bad news that  our other tire was close to blowing out and we were probably not going to be getting very far. We didn't know it in St. Louis, but this was going to be a reoccurring problem, and a major expense we did  not budget for.

Our Plan:

  • Four months
  • 20,000 miles
  • Knoxville, Tennessee to Dead-horse, Alaska 
  • Dead-horse, Alaska to Death Valley, California
  • 24 U.S. states 
  • 3 Canadian Territories
  • As many National Parks and State High points we pass!
  • $15 a day food budget a piece (try not to blow it all on the gas station snacks)
  • Live in a 4 foot by 8 foot camper for the next 4 months

Now to spare you all the pages of reading about the last month on the road here is a quick run down on how our plan has played out:

We left St. Louis in route for the Badlands of South Dakota. There we were greeted with a sunset like you have never seen and all the big horn sheep you would ever want. After a quick stomp up the state high point, Harney Peak, and a visit to Mount Rushmore and Wind Cave National Park, we were North Dakota bound. 

Big Horn Sheep running the ridge at sunset in the Badlands National Park, South Dakota.

Big Horn Sheep running the ridge at sunset in the Badlands National Park, South Dakota.

Sunset over the Badlands National Park.

Sunset over the Badlands National Park.

Megan Carden at Mount Rushmore, South Dakota.

Megan Carden at Mount Rushmore, South Dakota.

North Dakota brought a plethora of Bison and some strong winds our way. Now, when we say strong winds, we mean, wind we could lean against while walking up White Butte, North Dakota's high point. The winds were howling over the plains as the sun began to set, so we decided to make a sprint for the summit. Another peak, check!

Bison in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.

Bison in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.

Megan on the summit of White Butte, North Dakota. 

Megan on the summit of White Butte, North Dakota. 

From North Dakota, we drove through the strong winds of North Dakota and Montana only to find ourselves on an unplanned stop at the state high point in Idaho, Borah Peak. Since Idaho gave us the gift of beautiful weather we figured we would repack the car to gear up for the climb the next day. 

Megan putting her crampons on before the first snow field on Borah Peak.

Megan putting her crampons on before the first snow field on Borah Peak.

It didn't take much time in Idaho to figure out that place was more than just potatoes. Idaho had green rolling hills that faded into huge snowy mountains...talk about America's best kept secret. It was hard to believe that we were closing in on two weeks on the road with already 11 states checked off the list:

  1. Tennessee
  2. Kentucky
  3. Illinois
  4. Missouri
  5. Iowa
  6. Nebraska
  7. South Dakota
  8. Minnestoa
  9. North Dakota
  10. Montana
  11. Idaho

As the weather in Idaho began to fall apart we did some "weather calculating" and back tracking to make it back to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Here, we started to feel the wrath of Spring time. Rain, rain, and just a a couple more rain showers became the theme. But hey, every day can't be sunny, right? Luckily, the moody weather made for some beautiful Spring sunsets over the Tetons. 

Chris Higgins snapping sunset in the Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming.

Chris Higgins snapping sunset in the Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming.

We decided to spend the next couple days camping in the Tetons as we waited for Chris's mom to fly in to join us for a short leg of our trip. The visit lead to a couple days outside of our 4 by 8 foot box that we had been calling home for the last two weeks. With Chris's mom by our side we decided to make our way back around the parks to share the views, wildlife, and crazy tourist with her. 

Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

Sheila Higgins striking a pose with the tourist.

Sheila Higgins striking a pose with the tourist.

After a couple days in Jackson, and several trips to the local Ice Cream shop, Moo's, we were on the move to some four-wheeling fun in Montana. We spent the next couple days taking in our new favorite mountain town, Bozeman, and finally had to say good-bye to Chris's mom and start the final push to Alaska!

 

 

--Part Two: The Road to Alaska! Coming Soon!--