A Much Belated Conclusion

Here it is, one month after we arrived safely home in Anchorage.  When we got home, Brennan, Jared and I were all immediately busy.  There was a lot we wanted to do, especially with Jared, before he left a mere 3 days after we arrived, and before work picked up for myself and Brennan.  I spent the week after we arrived seeing old friends, hiking, and enjoying being home again, but the following week work started and the vacation ended.  With all that was going on, and with the busy schedule we all continue to have, updating the website fell to the wayside.  Now it is due time to tell everyone about the trip, especially the portions through Canada where we couldn’t post updates.

We appreciate all the interest we got, whether from friends and family or from anyone who may have stumbled upon this web journal, and would like to say thanks for the support we got from everyone.  If you’ve been checking in for the last month, hoping for an update, we appreciate the dedication!

Now for some thank-you’s.  I’d like to thank my Granddad Walt for letting me use his car (and not just any car, to be sure!) for the past year at school, and for making such a trip and experience possible for the three of us.  I’d also like to thank Mrs. Dana Nilsson for the great food that kept us running.  We often could be found perusing the box of snacks she had prepared for us (we called it “Mama Nils’ Pantry”).  Also, our good friend Andrew Manriquez and his family deserve a tremendous thank you for all the car parts and wonderful food (and all the sleeping gear for Brennan —he wouldn’t have made it without!).

We will do our best to post a complete journal of the trip, with pictures etc, as soon as time allows.  We have a couple good stories to share…

Jimmy

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We’re Back!

We are finally back on US soil, and we’re on a straight track to Anchorage!

To all of you that have been visiting the site and expecting updates, I’m sorry that there has been such a long stretch without any. Expensive and sparse service in Canada, along with very few available wifi hot spots kept us from being able to update on the drive.

We arrived in Tok last night, and camped by an old water tower tank that was laying on the ground. This morning we woke up at 7, and started the drive down to Anchorage. After 3000 miles, 200 is like nothing.

There are so many pictures and videos of our trip, and I’ll begin posting those quite soon. The posts will be in a daily log format, so you can see how each day of the trip went.

We have made it this far without even a flat tire! It’s been a great trip, and each of us is excited to get to Anchorage.

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Oh, Canada

Unfortunately I have to make this quick, but here is the low-down on our time spent in Canada so far.

Yesterday we reached Calgary late at night. It was treacherous trying to drive through the city in the dark, but we did find a place to set up camp just a bit outside the city. We woke up refreshed, and began driving north.

At the moment we’re in Grand Cache, in Alberta, Canada. I was able to get some internet access in a hotel lobby and create a network for all of us to use. We’ve checked our emails, caught up with family, and looked at our posted grades from finals at school! A very nice receptionist also let us sneak into the shower here so we could wash up (thank you!).

There are a load of gorgeous pictures and video, spread between all of our cameras. I don’t have the time to upload them all now, but once we hit the Alaskan border, you’ll start seeing some media!

Here is a shot of a great peak that we passed in Banff National Park:

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Up Into Canada

Still chugging along, we’re just 23 miles away from Sweetgrass – where we’ll cross over the border into Canada. I’ve been using my cell phone as an Internet source to update the website, and Internet access is quite expensive in Canada – so the updates will be less frequent.

We will still update the site when we stop at places with wifi access, and I will be updating our location every 100 miles or so along the trip.

With that said, please try not to text, call, or send pictures to us in the next three days unless it is an emergency. We’ll make calls via Skype at pit stops, and start the info stream up again once we reach Alaskan territory!

Thanks everyone for following, and keep checking in for some gorgeous pictures of our Canada adventure in the next few days!

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Montana Wind Turbines

It should be pretty obvious that I love renewable energy. Of course, if we were to come across a wind farm, I would probably be ecstatic.. Well I was!

We stopped at a huge field of wind turbines between Harlowton and Hobson. The setting was grand – giant turbines against blue skies and mountains, on rolling hills – in the middle of nowhere!

I don’t have much ability to edit photos while we’re on the road, but here are some raw pictures and a few videos!

This is a clip that should give a better idea of how GREAT our solar setup is doing.

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Sleeping in Montana, Moving Forward

So last night, we did indeed sleep under the stars. When we got to Billings, we drove through the city a bit. One right turn instead of a left got us further away from the camp site, but we quickly corrected the track and made it to a nice site called Yellowstone Riverside Campground. In a short discussion, we decided that it would be better to forego the tent set up and put our sleeping bags on top of a tarp on the ground. This worked well, thanks to our extremely warm bags.

Overnight, the winds blew wildly! We set up our tarp and sleeping bags in relatively warm weather, but the night and morning were filled with chilly winds that made us not want to get up. If someone had come across us in the middle of the night, they would have found three tightly wrapped lumps.

We are back on the road again, taking full advantage of the morning sun. Our night leg of driving yesterday was extremely beautiful. The second that we crossed the Montana border from Wyoming, the world started looking good again. Rolling green hills with full trees and dark rocks went on for miles! A snow-capped mountain range was off in the distance, and it reminded the Alaska boys of home. I think that each of us is just in awe of the scenery. Traveling by plane is nice, but when you have this landscape, a road trip is really superb.

Jimmy is at the wheel and we’ve just reached Lavina. A left will get us to Harlowton, and from there just a bit of NorthWest driving will have us at Great Falls! I should also mention that our gas mileage has been great. Our average thus far is about 18MPG. Neutral coasting rocks!

Here are a few pictures from our journey last night, and a shot of our campsite this morning:

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Settling in for the Night

We’ve made it to Billings, Montana! The car ran beautifully and we’re at a great camp site, ready to sleep under the stars. We’ll update with more pictures and details tomorrow.

Good night all!
-Brennan, Jimmy, and Jared

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Truckin’ Along Through Wyoming

We’re almost through Wyoming! For the first 3 or 4 hours, Jimmy drove us and tested the car at higher speeds – from 60 to 65MPH. The car drove well, but when we reached our first gas stop, we realized that the Big Missus had lost a bit of oil. Jared is driving now, taking the ride at mellow speeds from 50 to 55MPH. We’ll see how the gas milage and oil loss compares at the lower speed.

On a very bright note, when we stopped for gas, we calculated that we had been getting over 18 miles per gallon. This was with strong headwinds, and at higher speeds. Since we had typically gotten 16MPG throughout the year, 18 is a very exciting number!

Here are some pictures of the ride through Wyoming. The scenery has been somewhat bland, but occasionally there are interesting rock formations and cool animals.20110514-060525.jpg20110514-060552.jpg

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On The Road!

Finals week is over (finally) and we are officially on the road to Alaska! Jimmy’s grandfather Walt (the car owner) came down to wish us farewell. He ended up taking a few of our things with him to keep over the summer, as there isn’t much room in the car..

We’re ecstatic to be done with school and moving forward on our adventure. The location page should be updating, so keep checking in!

Here are some shots from the beginning of our trip:

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Solar!

The Goal0 gear came in within days after I had ordered it. It has been a busy month, but I have had a few chances to test the setup.

As you can see, Goal0 has a good sense of design. Both the solar panel and the battery pack are durable, and they feel/look like professional products.

To be fair, I have had some difficulty with the Sherpa battery when charging the iPhone 4 and iPad 2. These devices have higher power requirements and are notorious for being difficult with third-party chargers. When I mentioned this to Goal0, they were incredibly helpful in setting me up with a newer Sherpa that puts out higher voltage from the USB port.

The panel seems to charge the Sherpa battery quite well, and my tests with the early-version Sherpa and older iPhone models yielded great results. Soon we’ll be on the road and there will be more to say!

 

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