I was inspired by a new MyCoolworks friend to write this tonight. She just went on a rocking road trip in her Cobalt and it got me thinking about two road trips that I have done, driving from Wisconsin to Alaska. The first time I was in a wicked rush. Please pardon the "wicked" comment, I have been reading a book about the Boston Red Sox and I guess am feeling a little New England-ish tonight. Back to the point, first trip of 3600 miles was done in 4 days, leaving Friday morning and arriving Monday night. Still not sure how me and my friend Dave accomplished it safely, but we did. The second trip was done in a leisurely 8 days with my new wife. We had been married for 3 days. And yes, the marriage survived the trip, which is an accomplishment all its own. FYI to anyone contemplating marriage, don't lock yourself in a car with your new spouse for 8 days only 3 days after the wedding. Take a cruise or something. I thought that I would give a famous Peterson list of why the drive is awesome instead of a rambling narrative.
1. The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise -- the place is simply awesome. A co-worker who I still owe huge hooked me up with a free suite as a honeymoon present. The hotel is great, but the surroundings are unbelievable. Lake Louise is so clear, and cold, and picturesque, and there is a glacier on the other side of it. Basically it is perfect. Sometimes Banff and Jasper get more publicity, but for my money Lake Louise is the place to hit.

2. 17 hour driving days -- you don't really know yourself until you have driven for 17 hours. Call it a road trip vision quest. If you survive you will always file it away as one of those things you can do. Like opening a Starburst with your tongue or tying the cherry stem with your tongue. Or any other stuff you do with your tongue for that matter.

3. You can get yourself over that mix CD or playlist you always listen to -- After a few days with no radio whatsoever you will never need to listen to that favorite cd again, and you can move on to bigger and better music. Tip: Bring some audio books.

4. The Watson Lake Signpost Forest -- it is a collection of signposts from all over the world that passerby's have dropped off. I firmly believe it is the sole reason Watson Lake still exists. Spend some time trying to find a sign from your neck of the woods.


5. Bison -- I am a big fan of westerns, so the opportunity to drive through an actual wild bison herd is just amazing. Both times I did the drive I went right through bison herds that were over 100 large on both sides of the road. They are so majestic that I almost feel bad every time I grill up some bison burgers. Almost.

6. Entering North Dakota -- Driving to Alaska was, and still is, the only reason I can think of to enter North Dakota.

7. Leaving North Dakota -- Driving to Alaska was the perfect reason to leave North Dakota without any delay. Hey, North Dakota isn't my least favorite place, but close.

8. Bickering best friends -- I really believe that you should have at least one good fight with all of your friends at some point. Get all the lingering frustrations out in the open so you can move on. Every person has something that bugs them about their best friend. You normally overlook it because they are your best friend and it isn't major. I drove with my friend Dave for 17 hours a day for 4 days straight. We love each other, and still do. But mid-day 2 we had it out. We were just outside of Jamestown, North Dakota following signs for "The World's Largest Buffalo" when I saw a Harley Davidson store. Being from Milwaukee I was enthused because this was the first good thing I had seen in North Dakota. I announced, "Look, a Harley factory", mistakenly calling the store a factory. My friend retorted, "Yeah Rick, I am sure the Harley factory is in Jamestown." I responded with some swear words. It was our first and only fight. And I think it was a good thing. 30 minutes later we were laughing about it. And we never did see that stupid buffalo. The Alaska road trip, where else can you cuss out your best friend and get over it 30 minutes later.

9. Time to Think -- ever wish you had fewer interruptions and time to clear your head. Drive to Alaska.

10. Funny Canadian Money -- Who doesn't want money with hockey players and fish on it?

11. A Chance to Enter America -- I found it very nice to be able to feel the thrill that millions of people before me have felt entering the U.S. of A. For the moment crossing into Alaska from Canada I chose to rock Neil Diamond's America. It even got the border patrol guard to smile.

12. Introduction to my Least Favorite Place on Earth -- used to be the dentist, but then I drove through Whitehorse, in the Yukon Territory. I am sure there are great things about Whitehorse, but it just isn't for me. Maybe it is because I wasn't in the city for more than 10 minutes and some hoodlums tried to pick a fight with me and my friend. And it was the first and only time I ever got bad root beer at an A&W.

13. Dude, Where's My Car -- The drive to Alaska is the perfect opportunity to see if you really have the right car. It gives you the true test -- hills, corners, weather, different surfaces, bison poop. If your car can handle all of that, much like Indiana Jones in Last Crusade, You have chosen wisely.

14. Sense of Accomplishment -- When you finish driving the Alaska Highway you will have a great sense of accomplishment. You will always be able to say, I drove the AlCan. The highway is very historically significant, born out of necessity during World War II. Anyone who tames it is also historically significant in this humble writers eyes. If you get the chance, try it.

That is it. I know, I'm the only person who stops a list at 14. For anyone out there who has driven the roads of Canada and Alaska themselves, I'd love to hear some of the things you took away from the journey. And to anyone from Whitehorse, or North Dakota, sorry.

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Comment by Jason Brown on April 24, 2008 at 4:23am
Dude that is an awesome list!
and for sure the Drive to AK Rocks, My Dad can't believe I keep doing it every year but he just dont know!
Comment by John S on April 3, 2008 at 8:03pm
Heh, I drove from Georgia to Anchorage (mid 90's), and I remember on both trips my travelling companions and I agreed that avoiding North Dakota. No particular reason, we just didn't feel it had anything substantial to add to the trip.
Comment by Rick Peterson on April 1, 2008 at 10:49pm
Maybe we should start a bison lovers group.
Comment by Kari Quaas (Q) on April 1, 2008 at 8:00pm
Bison lovers unite! : )
Comment by Kari Quaas (Q) on April 1, 2008 at 12:38am
FYI - in the park ranger vehicle are Bill, founder of Cool Works, and his wife, the park ranger!
Comment by Kari Quaas (Q) on April 1, 2008 at 12:37am
Just had to share a picture of a bison no where near Alaska - Yellowstone actually.

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