The Road to the North (The Journey into the Woods)

Coming home in California

  1. Get off plane
  2. Grab bag(s)
  3. Walk to meet ride
  4. Drive home
  5. You’re home, traffic willing, in under 2 hours. Traffic won’t-ing you stop for food. Poor thang.
  6. Enjoy.

Getting home to Alaska:

It took us 5 days from when we left California to get home to Alaska.

From CA we drove 11 hours to Portland.

In Portland we said our last goodbyes and headed to Anchorage via PDX.

Once we hit Anchorage and picked up the dog (thank you Alaska Airlines for not losing her, that was cool) it was GO time.

Town Run time.

Slang description: [Town Run] When people mention a Town Run (a.k.a an Anchorage Run) everyone seems to take a moment of silence together for the sanity that was inevitably lost in the process. Town Runs are supply runs. To me, supplies come from hardware stores. In the woods, supplies are everything you will (or hopefully won’t i.e. first aid) need until the next time you go into town.

When’s that?

Hopefully a few months.

Gulp.

All of your food. Clothing. Hardware (see, I knew it). Crafts. Entertainment. Building materials. Propane. Gasoline. Sanity (if it’s for sale).

Everything.

Ah, and you’ll need to be able to carry it all with you in one vehicle (we had a big ‘ol truck –seemingly enough). Add another consideration: freezing. Things that can’t freeze have to all fit inside the truck (this was a heart breaker for a veggie lady like myself). Everything else in the bed of the truck will likely freeze (the weather will decide if she wants it to or not) and therefore must be able to.

 

Things like this are just not in my typical thought process. Can mayo freeze? Sure, but then it gets “all weird” when you defrost it. Ok, but produce takes anti-freeze priority so…weird it’s gonna get.

Prioritizing like a boss.

We also had to purchase ALL of my “gear” (“gear” meaning clothing but because it’s focus is function it’s called gear). Not to be confused with fashion, function rules supreme. Asking “how does it look?” will inevitably elicit the response “how does it feel?” meaning, don’t even bother to look in a mirror – you don’t have one at home anyways – this gear is your only protection from the elements so even if it’s made of more neon than the 80’s or gives you a few (20) extra lbs. in your caboose, the point again, is function.

Fine.

Bibs that were tough enough to haul trees in, boots to withstand the low below zeros, two hundred pairs of socks (or so), skis  and ski boots and goggles and layers, layers, layers.

Sidenote: women’s “gear” is majorly lacking. I even went to the kids section because they at least make that stuff that can take some rowdiness. Nothing makes you feel more like a woman than asking if there’s a Kids XL Husky (real sizing lingo) available for your nearly 30 year-old self.

I’ve never shopped so long and hard in my life (or criss-crossed a town more – our path would have looked like a word search). 12 hour days for two days. We had to shuttle supplies into our hotel at night so they wouldn’t freeze and pack and re-pack the truck over and over.

Lastly, we shopped for perishables right as we hit the road (hours later than planned due again to criss-cross applesauce) so as to increase their chances for making it home (but certainly not guarantee it) then we picked up a few last minute pretty pleases from friends in the woods and…

Finally, we were off.

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She’s a Two-Lap Dog

 

Leaving a Town Run is the best feeling. Even with an 8 hour car ride ahead of you it feels like you’re already home. If I was in California, I would be in LA or Oregon in 8 hours. In Alaska…you’re still in Alaska.

 

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Plus, when this is the road you’re driving things are pretty alright.

 

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But then, in true Alaska fashion, it couldn’t go too easily.

 

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But six eyes are better than two.

 

We left at noon and didn’t get home until midnight.

Throughout the day we received calls about the conditions of The Road (The Road is a dirt road off the highway that is our straight shot home. It is a famed road for breakdowns in every season but winter is a special time for concern). A friend was caught in a road glacier (this is a real thing) and calling for help and to warn us of conditions, others called to tell us of their recent trips and what to watch for.

It takes a village to be able to return home.

As we turned onto the road and stopped to celebrate with the required traditional road soda, a friend pulled up out of nowhere and told us about our friend’s birthday party just a few miles down the road.

This is Alaska to a T. You’ve spent days stressing, spending all of your money, trying to make it home and as you’re almost there you get a taste of why it’s all worth it. Alaskan serendipity calls again. What a welcome home.

Leaving the party we approached the aforementioned road glacier which we thankfully crossed unscathed and finally (50 miles later) we pulled all the way into the driveway 5 days after leaving California.

Time to relax.

Nope.

Now it’s time to unpack everything you’ve brought. In the snow. In the cold. At midnight.

But first, let’s light off a lantern and hoot and holler “we’re home!” into the woods because really, that’s all that matters.

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Welcome home.

10 comments

  1. Whoo Hoo! NOW you’re talkin. This is my first taste of your blog. Way to go Julia! Hope your fingers didn’t freeze while unpacking. What’s your Dog’s name? He looks like a champ. Here in Marin, it’s been raining for days. Big fat wet drops. El Nino has indeed arrived. Supposed to be 10 straight days of rain.BRING IT! Especially since I am heading back to Mexico in a couple of weeks. O.K., bonita senorita, Adios for now, and Vaya con Dios!! love, -Auntie Calus

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  2. Oh god, the dreaded town trips … the lifting things into and out of vehicles mulitple times, finding warm, but not too warm spots for produce to travel in, the terribly exhausting madness of people and bright labels and muzak in the supermarkets and the overwhelming pressure to get everything on THE LIST or else make do without it :/
    I’ve always hated shopping. We live without road access and since I only go out twice a year I’ve come to positivly loathe (can you “positively” loathe?) shopping. Two years ago I hired expediters to do the dirty deed for me and now there is no turning back – it’s more expensive this way but SO totally worth it to me!!! I only have to move my shopping once 😀
    Love your blog, you’re a really good writer and your stories remind me of what a steep learning curve I had to climb when I first moved up north 🙂

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    1. Thank you, Nicole! Expediters – oh yea! That sounds pretty amazing. It’s hard just for us so I can’t imagine what a mental workout it must be you guys. Once a year. That’s pretty amazing. Cheers to you.

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