I recently took a 12-day trip to Alaska, renting a car in Seattle and driving through British Columbia and the Yukon Territory. I visited the Eastern interior (Wrangell-St. Elias National Park), the Western Interior (Denali Parks), and the Kenai Peninsula. The trip was of course a rushed affair, but it gave me a great introduction to the Alaska I will explore on future vacations. After leaving Alaska, I visited my friend Kyle in Seattle for three days, stayed in an apartment in Vancouver for 7 days, then trekked down to Montana and South Dakota, a stop in Chicago, then a brief affair with Upstate New York. I returned to the GP, Brooklyn late last night to find my apartment swimming in the weekend's rainfall. As I dont feel too motivated to clean up right this very moment, here are some Alaskan facts and figures, as well as some logistics on this truly exhausting promenade through the mighty American landscape.
-Rental Car: 2005 Toyota Corolla
-Number of unlimited miles driven in rental car: 5,841.
-Total amount spent on 12-day rental, with insurance: $424.00
-Total amount spent on gas, to and from Seattle plus Alaska (5,841 miles): $538.00
-Amount spent in Canada (3,940 miles): $404.00
-Amount spent in US (1,901 miles): $134.00
-Average price paid for a gallon of gas in Alaska: $2.27
-Lowest price paid: $2.17
-Average price paid for a gallon of gas in British Columbia: $3.50
-Highest price paid for a gallon of gas: $4.03 Fort Nelson, BC (last gas for 120 miles toward the NT and 80 miles to the Yukon)
-Number of pine trees seen on drive: 70 billion
-Number of police vehicles seen in Canada: 0
-Number of police vehicles seen in Alaska: 5. They were all parked at a diner in Glenallen, AK, eating lunch. None of them were on duty so I can’t say that it counts. It’s the only diner between Anchorage and Tok (320 miles apart) so I really don’t blame them, but I never saw them again.
-Percentage of Canada’s Population Living in the Yukon Territory: 0.12%
-Number of Residents in the YT, 2001 Census: 28,674
-Nearest Proximity to the Northwest Territories: 88 miles. At Fort Nelson, BC you have a choice: Yukon or NT. I seriously debated traveling the 300 miles of gravel road to the bottom edge of Great Slave Lake, then continuing on pavement another 400 from there up to Yellowknife. But since no one in the world I know has ever been to the NTs and no one I know would really give a shit if I went there or Cleveland, I decided to head on toward Alaska. It has always been a dream of mine to go there, if only to see what could possibly be worthing living up there for.
-Average speed maintained on Alaska Highway: 59 mph. Difficult to say this is reliable, because with the numerous stops for gas, animal crossings, gravel roads, gravel patches, and construction sites, the maintainable speed is much lower than the possible speed.
-Attempted average speed: 95mph. I reached speeds of 110 but it was 95 that I tried to keep consistent. As the speed limit was 90-100 kmph, 147 is probably a hell of a ticket.
-Number of Miles Driven Without Being Passed: 5,632. Just after Spence’s Bridge in central British Columbia, a driver passed me on a brutal series of turns. He was a 60-year old motorcyclist who was capable of cornering at 75mph, a little sharper than I could manage. I passed him a few miles later (on the flats) but my title proclaiming “Fastest Driver in British Columbia” was squelched 200 miles from the border. Still, the titles “Fastest Driver in the Yukon,” and “Fastest Driver in Alaska” are absolutely mine.
-Longest stretch without seeing another vehicle in either direction: 1 hr, 29 minutes. On Provincial Route 29 (Northern BC) I was the only car on the road. The moose however far outnumbered me.
-Animals seen on Alaska Highway (as in, physically on the road): buffalo, caribou, black bear, elk, moose, silver fox, shrew, horse.
-Drive from Washington State Border to Slana, AK: 34 hours. On the way home I tried to beat this record but made it in exactly the same time.
-Longest stretch without leaving the car: 51 hours. After staying in Alaska an extra half-day longer than I should have, I found myself in quite a bind. So my 34 hour drive home was spent without the luxury of sleeping in a tent (no time for assembly) or any real overnight breaks. I do not recommend this.
World's Largest Icefield - The Harding Ice Field
North America's Highest Peak: Mt. McKinley, 20, 300 ft
World's Highest Vertical Rise: McKinley again, 18,000 ft
North America's Largest National Park: Wrangell-St. Elias NP (twice the size of MA, 6 Yellowstones)
World's Smallest Town: Nabesna, AK Population 1 (He wasn't home)
World's Richest Copper Mine: Kennecott Mine, Kennicott, AK (Miners can't spell)
-Total miles traveled on the road from July 19-August 14: 9,468