Back in 2018, my partner and I made the decision to move to Alaska. We made this decision based solely on the fact that we’d never been there and had always wanted to go.
Did we have any contacts? No.
Did we have a job lined up when we made this decision? No.
Did we let either of those things stop us? Absolutely not.
When you’re a wandering nomad like the two of us, you don’t let such trivial things bog you down. You decide on a place to go and then you work out the details later. That’s what we did.
After deciding to move to Alaska, I got to work on trying to find us a job and living arrangement. Thankfully, it’s really not that difficult to me a wandering nomad these days with resources such as coolworks.com. This website is a place where jobs all over the country and in some cases even the world are posted for wanderers such as ourselves. The jobs can range from things like housekeeping and line cooks to tour guides. We fall into the latter category as we’ve been traveling all around bolstering our skills as outdoor guides for years.
I set to work on obtaining a guiding job for us and just filtered to jobs posted in Alaska. Honestly, in almost no time we had a job lined up and all that was left to do was to get there.
Now, we’d been hearing from family that it was darn near impossible to get to Alaska by car these days. But I knew that wasn’t true. I researched my little heart out for weeks coming up with the best route and devised a perfect itinerary of two weeks.
But as we all know, plans never really go according to plan.
Our first night was spent in Nebraska and get this, we were caught in a blizzard. Now, we’ve always been the backpacking and camping sort of travelers and I saw this trip as being no different so even though I had our itinerary planned, I had only booked campgrounds and planned on roadside car camping stays the whole way to Alaska. In April.
Yeah, maybe not the best idea.
Anyway, that first night we made the most of it and instead of being able to keep warm in a tent by a campfire, we slept in the car. But don’t worry, we are experienced nomads with a fold down bed in the car. So, it wasn’t so bad but at the same time, an unexpected blizzard was not how we wanted our first night of the trip to go. We holed up in the car watching Netflix from a phone and eating cold leftover spaghetti. Sounds like a nightmare but it’s honestly such a treasured memory for us both.
After that first night, we were prepared for anything that could come our way on this trip. Or so we thought.
The next bump in the road, so to speak, came in Montana. You see, again I hadn’t factored in that we were driving to Alaska in APRIL. So, though the route I curated was pretty amazing, we encountered a lot of snow. A LOT of snow. When we were about to cross the border into Canada for the VERY FIRST TIME for the both of us, we came upon a road that hadn’t been plowed and was covered in about five feet of snow. Yeah. Fun.
But this little bump in our road let us to a lovely experience we otherwise never would have had. We were driving up and down this tiny road in the middle of nowhere Montana trying to decide what to do and where to go when this woman came out of a big house on the side of the road. She flagged us down and asked what we were up to. We told her about our trip and how we needed to get to Alaska and she honestly laughed at us. She told us there was no way for us to go through this road and that there was nowhere around here to stay. Again, I say we were in the middle of nowhere Montana. She explained to us that she was here getting her house ready for the upcoming tourist season and doing a lot of renovations in the house. She gave us a tour and told us all about the surrounding area. She was also extremely kind and gracious and allowed us to camp out in her yard for the night.
We woke up to frost on the tent and excitement in our hearts. We were about to go to Canada for the first time ever! We packed up the tent and headed off on our merry, little way.
If you’ve never been to Canada before, there are really no words to describe its beauty. But I’ll try anyway. We chose to mainly drive through British Columbia because we had the time and wanted to see the beauty there that we’d always heard about. It felt like as soon as we crossed the border, the mountains paved our way north. The views were endless and inescapable, not that you’d ever try to escape them in the first place. The mountains were capped in snow and glowing with the rays of the sun. The forests spanned the land as far as the eye could see and the road went ever on and on. It was breathtaking everywhere we looked. The views I found in B.C. have so far only been rivaled by those found in New Zealand.
We made sure to venture out of B.C. for a detour to the Banff and Jasper National Parks in Alberta and I truly just have no words at how amazing that small sliver of our drive was. No words right now, but one day you’ll hear all about that portion of this trip.
As I said previously, we camped the whole way there. And in B.C. there are campsites off the road every hundred miles or so where you can pull in and stay for free. They’re extremely primitive campsites, yes, some of which not even having pit toilets but we aren’t fussy travelers and find comfort in simplicity. But one of our favorite things about these roadside pull offs was that some of them have an indoor shared space where people can go and find warmth in wood burning stoves and even trade books in the little library area. Take a book, leave a book. Even though we were always alone in these places, there was a comfort in the thought of past travelers coming through and leaving a piece of themselves behind for someone else to find and treasure.
That road trip is one of the greatest road trips I’ve ever been on. It was full of changed routes, tons of snow and bad weather, but it was also full of shared laughs, loud singing and finding peace in the simple things. When you’re in the middle of nowhere amidst the forest, between the mountains, you find simplicity and you gain insight. There was a comfort in knowing that there wasn’t another human within 50 miles or so and feeling like the world existed only for us. It was beautiful.