Alaska is gross this time of year, guys. Seriously, I don’t recommend it. All the snow is still melting and the entire state is basically one big, boggy, poop-smelling swamp. Okay, probably not the entire state, because I’m pretty sure the top like two-thirds of it are still covered in ice, but the important parts of the state (like the part of it that I’m in) smell a bit like a sewer from all the frozen moose poop that’s thawing out and it squelches when you walk.
Spoiler: We made it to Anchorage without driving off of a mountain, getting eaten by a bear, or getting turned into vampires. Now I’ll pick up where I left off last time which was, I believe, in Montana. We left Montana with this in the backseat (because I can’t resist throwing in cute critter pictures):
Gabriel: Go? Are we going? We’re gonna go now, yeah? When are we going? Can I have a treat? I need to poop. Go?
Jenny: I’m going to slit your throat in your sleep. Every. Single. One. Of. You.
And trundled our way into Idaho for about an hour, and then into Washington, where we got rained on again (at least it wasn’t snow) and I very courteously did not get us killed trying to find our hotel in Seattle, although I did almost hit several pedestrians, because apparently, in Seattle, the “DON’T WALK” signs are just a suggestion.
So we did finally find our hotel and very awkwardly dealt with the valet parking. Note that up to this point in my life, the nicest place I’ve ever stayed is the Holiday Inn. In Seattle, we decided to treat ourselves, so we stayed at the Westin. Now, it has been established that I grew up in the boonies. I come from a family of rednecks and country folk, and we did not have a whole lot of money growing up. I not ever, once in my life, have tried to hobnob with anyone who had a job title classier than “store manager”. The closest I’ve ever come is trying uncomfortably to fit in with some of my in-laws at family gatherings. I truly and honestly felt, from the moment the valet started doing a little wave-dance to get us to drive toward him, like I could’ve been on an episode of Beverly Hillbillies. To his credit, he was very friendly, and seemed to understand that I was as out of my element as… well, a redneck in a four-star hotel. And of course, when I get nervous, I run off at the mouth, and I honestly can’t tell you what all I chattered about to the valet, the front-desk lady, the bellboy (which is what Google told me when I typed in “guy in a hotel who carries your luggage to your room”) and any other innocent bystander we happened to pass on the way to our room. And I couldn’t stop. It was just awful. I’m sure I thoroughly embarrassed my poor husband, though he valiantly denies it, and once we were in our room and all of the people who take care of you at these places were gone and I was in tears because I felt like Carrie at her prom at that point, he gently reminded me that he fell in love with me precisely because I was from a different world of people, who stay in Super 8 and haul their own luggage to their room. And also advised me that people probably didn’t think I was unfriendly if I didn’t say everything that went through my mind when I was nervous. That last bit didn’t exactly help, but he meant well. Also, he told me I was adorable, and that did help, a little.
So that was a disaster. At least we had the common sense to not drink the $15 bottle of water or touch the $8 candy bar on the refreshment stand. And we did get to see this from our hotel room window:
Which was pretty cool, even if I can’t tell you what any of the buildings are. (I can tell you that is Puget Sound, though. I can also tell you that I had that Owl City song stuck in my head the ENTIRE TIME we were there.)
And we didn’t go see the Space Needle, but you can’t go to Seattle without taking a picture of it, so here’s that:
And that’s all the pictures we got of Seattle, because any time we were outside I was terrified we were about to be mugged and I figured that wandering around goggle-eyed with my phone up in camera mode would probably make me a pretty easy target. But we went and saw the Pike Place Market, which was essentially a giant multi-story indoor-outdoor flea market and was pretty neat, and we went on the Seattle Underground Tour, where we learned that Seattle is mostly built on poop and whores. (The website doesn’t specify this, but if I remember right, after the Great Seattle Fire most of the funding for rebuilding the city came from a Madame.)
So Seattle was neat, but I don’t care to ever go back, and I am sure as hell sticking to my Days Inns and Best Westerns. Also, after actually spending a bit of time in a real urban setting, my husband has decided that giant heaps of people all living on top of each other are not for him, either, and I will still probably never get him to live in the country but at least I don’t have to talk him out of living in the middle of a big city anymore. So out of Seattle we went, on to Sumas, WA, where we crossed the Canadian border with no trouble at all (thankfully), which is good because I didn’t even realize how unreasonably nervous I was about it until we were actually pulling up to customs and then I REALLY had to pee which did not help matters at all, but the guy in the booth was pretty reasonable, although he apparently expected that we should be pulling a U-Haul behind our Versa or something since we were moving to Alaska.
And then we were in British Columbia, which was actually very ugly in the southern parts, so we didn’t get pictures. Also, I was very busy trying to remember that the speed limit signs were 100 km/h and not 100 mph. It did get prettier as we went further north, though, and I got this outside our only slightly shady hotel in New Hazelton, on our second day in BC:
It also started in with the ridiculously long days at about this point (which I am STILL not used to, god). So anyway, up through British Columbia and into the Yukon, and EVERYONE is so nice and friendly and Canadian accents are endlessly entertaining. Also, they have this amazing phenomenon known as honey garlic sauce which I think we should definitely try to capitalize on in the States, because seriously, it’s like a sweet garlicky heaven in your mouth. They also put gravy and cheese on their French fries, though, which is just kind of weird, so not everything Canadians do is brilliant, apparently.
I was so happy, after three days of driving in BC, to get to the Yukon, especially because the “highway” we took to get on the Al-Can was just awful, and comprised of dirt in a lot of places and potholes in the rest. And then this happened:
That space there, in front of that silver car? That’s the road.
But it did wait until we got to our motel. I would just like to point out here that this was the SECOND time on our trip that we hit an “unseasonable snow”. And we got stuck in Watson Lake, YT for a day, after a delightful morning of trying really hard to get out of Watson Lake, because Watson Lake is awful, which consisted mostly of me having a nervous fit because I couldn’t tell the road from the ditch on the side of the road and also it was snowing still. A lot. And then when we pulled into a parking lot to get our bearings, the car got stuck because people in Western Canada obviously don’t believe in paving their parking lots and undoubtedly like to chuckle evilly at out-of-towners when said out-of-towners can’t tell the lot’s not paved BECAUSE THERE IS A FOOT OF FREAKING SNOW ON IT and the heat from your car melts the ice and then the ice refreezes and then my poor husband has to spend over an hour trying to push the car out of its self-made rut. And for the first time in my life, I am, at least for a while, okay with cleaning out the cat’s toilet because her ass saved ours – we used an entire bag of kitty litter and ruined our back floormat before we finally got the car out. And then spend 45 minutes driving the ten miles back the way we came because I was absolutely done.
The roads weren’t great the next day, but at least the snow had quit, so we took a chance and even though it took us about three and a half hours to go the first hundred miles or so, the Al-Can was pretty good the rest of the way and we made it to Whitehorse.
I’m only sharing this because it’s a real, live, honest-to-goodness TOWN, and after days and days of nothing but trees and tiny little crappy villages, this place was a freaking oasis.
Which, being the capital of and the biggest city in the Yukon Territory, boasts a bustling population of about 23,000 people. But, they had a Best Western, so I wasn’t complaining.
And then from Whitehorse to Tok, AK, and from Tok to Anchorage, and both days were pretty uneventful. I will say that I feel kind of cheated, because everyone always talks about how much wildlife you see on the Al-Can. Our total wildlife tally came to two bald eagles, a whole bunch of ravens, a dead deer and a dead fox. Oh, though Ben did see a wild cat, which was possibly a lynx but he’s not sure. Either way, I was all excited to see bears and giant herds of bison and moose, but no. On our last day, once we got off the Al-Can and were en route to Anchorage, we did see one yearling reindeer and one female moose.
Either way, we are now safely ensconced in our temporary lodging (more motel room, wooooo) at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, and if I ever get too down about not seeing bears on the trip up here, all I have to do is go to the BX.