Driving Alaska

It’s very hard to explain the feel of Alaska when even their largest city, Anchorage, has a small town feel. It is built in a sprawl not upward like New York City. Street names are fun while driving around downtown.  There’s Albatross, Caribou, Glacier, Kinnikinnick, Mt McKinley (tell me you didn’t expect that one), along with the main drags of Dimond and Bragaw.  The other 3000+ street names are pretty much what you would see anywhere you travel.

Route 1 is not only the primary road in Alaska for travel but also just about the only major artery available.  It is two lane except for more populated areas which are four lane.  We traveled from Mt. Denali to Homer on Route 1 a length of less than 550 miles with a few stop overs on the way.  However, unlike the lower 48, you have to ensure that your tank is filled because gas stations are rare unless you’re near a village or town.  Although if you ran out of gas, you probably wouldn’t have a problem getting assistance.

That assistance would probably have to come from a passerby since phone and internet access is notoriously unavailable outside the more populated areas.  However, if you don’t want to drive, you can take a train, bus, or plane if one of those will get you there.  The more remote areas are only available by plane or boat.  When I say plane, I’m not talking about some big hulk that will provide transportation for the masses.  We don’t have masses here.  These are the small planes that carry just a few people.  My daughter actually sat in the copilot seat for one business trip.  She’s lucky that way.  When traveling she keeps a keen eye on the weather just as a pilot would.  If winds kick up or snow blows, then the small planes don’t fly and getting home is a priority for her.

The more remote villages don’t have hotels or restaurants. They don’t get a lot of visitors so it just doesn’t make good business sense to build either.  While there on  business, you would hunker down in a local school or such with your bedroll and the food you brought with you.  Isolation brings about its own problems and the natives aren’t immune to the temptations that abound throughout the world.  Where available, the internet will assuredly build a bridge for those who choose to use it.  Maybe, we can make the world a little better by listening to them.


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