Exploring the Last Frontier was awesome. It was filled with miles of highway with few other cars, vast landscapes and awe-inspiring mountains. It would be week that I would never forget.
Check out part one here.
Continued… Part 2…
After we pinched ourselves from the amazing view we were so fortunate enough to witness. We readied the truck for travel and headed south, hoping that we would be able to see the mountains along the way.
We drove through the small town of Talkeetna, which is probably my favorite town in Alaska now. We made it all the way down to Anchorage, which is by far the biggest city in AK. I believe it holds over 60% of the state’s population. It was the first time I sat in traffic in literally months. I hadn’t even seen this many cars in one place since leaving the lower 48 in early May.
It felt weird getting back into civilization. My buddy with me was probably annoyed at the fact I pointed out every fast food restaurant, Target, and commercial chain I hadn’t seen in months. It did feel kind of good to be in normal civilization again.
We were hungry when we arrived and decided to take advantage of the world class seafood that Southern Alaska had to offer. One thing that disappointed me about Skagway was the lack of fresh seafood. Turns out the fishing is much better South of Skagway and just outside of Anchorage.
I can’t even remember the name of the place and I’m currently kicking myself for not taking more pictures of the shit we did. I knew I would be recapping the whole adventure. I failed on that one. But, not to worry! I promise some kick ass photo’s are to come!
We feasted on coconut shrimp with some bomb dipping sauce, seafood stuffed halibut, and an all you can eat salad bar. We agreed on the deliciousness of the meal and the 70’s style of swank the restaurant had. We also took advantage of phone service to update friends and family where we were and to manage our fantasy football teams.
But before our feast, we managed to scope out a piece of Anchorage that would once again allow us to set our eyes on Mount Denali, this time from over 200 miles away. The weather gods were in our favor that day, and we took advantage while expressing our gratitude.
We found ourselves in awe once again of Denali but also of the mountains across the bay. I’m not sure what this lookout was called but it was near the airport. Planes roared above us a handful of times as we stood in amazement of Alaska’s beauty.
We made another stop in Anchorage at Auto Zone. My inverter had a blown fuse and I needed to replace it so I could charge my camera battery. Boy, am I glad I did!! I would’ve been sick if I missed the opportunity to shoot what was coming next!
We got the fuse, plugged it into the inverter and got the camera battery charging. We then plotted the route (there was only 1) towards our final destination of Colorado. We were confident that we would make it to the border before it closed (11 PM) and we did, with time to spare. Even stopping to take a few pictures of the sunset along the way.
The border crossing was more eventful than I would’ve hoped for but not bad. They had a stop sign, with a big white sign right next to it. I saw the stop sign and stopped there momentarily. There was a big green light above the “carport” (for lack of a better term) area that insisted that I move forward.
We pulled up to the window, passports in hand, only to be reprimanded by the border officer.
“Didn’t you see the stop sign?” he asked forcefully but not in a dangerous manner.
“Yessir. I stopped and then I saw the green…” he interrupted me before I could finish.
“What about the big white sign right next to it.” he asked in haste.
Honesty, I didn’t see nor read this sign. I was thrown off by the stop sign and green light above the place you enter. You see at the US customs those lights will be red until they want you to move forward then they’ll turn green. There were no other cars in front of me and the light was green. I figured it was okay to move forward.
He asked a bunch of the usual questions, any tobacco or alcohol on board? any guns or ammo on board? He thought it was unusual that a Texan and Tennesseean weren’t carrying guns. He went on to tell us that he owned two guns but he must’ve mistaken us for someone who gave a shit. We just wanted to be on our way.
The discussion didn’t last too much longer and we were on our way within a few minutes. The interaction gave us material for the next several days. We joked about not being able to read Canadian and how weird their signs were. We meant no disrespect, mostly poking fun at our own stupidity.
We crossed into the Yukon Territory as true darkness was taking over. The night was clear and the stars were very bright. We would once again have the favor of seeing a great Alaskan phenomena.
We drove a few hours and even got stopped by construction for a few minutes. However, it was all in perfect timing because we got to witness something many people come to Alaska for but rarely get to see, the Northern Lights.
This was the second time I’d seen the northern lights but the first time they danced across the entire sky. It was as if they were shooting from one peak to the next. We pulled the truck over right underneath them. Once again, my eyes switched back and forth from camera screen to real life.
The moving green lights were something only seen in photos before this moment and we did our absolute best to take advantage of this special moment. I turned off the truck lights and killed the engine. I opened the sun roof to sit on top of my truck.
I laughed like a child as I would take a photo, change the exposure settings and take another one, each photo coming out a bit better than the last. I couldn’t believe the shots I was getting and the scene I was witnessing.
I had to watch people all summer long be disappointed by not seeing the northern lights and here I was getting to see them dance in the fall Alaskan sky. I did not take it for granted.
I would’ve been happy with just seeing Denali at sunrise and watching the first light on the Americas. The day was made better by seeing Denali again from Anchorage and now Northern Lights?! This would be a day I would never forget.
In retrospect, I think Alaska was speaking to me that day… sending me off with a special memory and inviting me back anytime I would like. Lord willing, I will certainly be back to once again get lost in the Last Frontier.
To Be Continued…