Bumper Stickers covered VW bus

You Know You’re Ready For A Road Trip When…

If you have ever gone a few years without a real vacation you know that with the passage of time the madness of work starts to all make sense and the insanity becomes your sense of normal. And I’m not talking about a vacation where you take the time off to put in a new yard or bathroom remodel, I’m talking wind in your hair, sand in your toes, Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville tequila sipping vacation that crosses the line of demarcation where what happens on vacation is forsaken by god with no hope of redemption.

Having a type “A”, workaholic personality myself, it is usually my wife who points out my stupidity when I can’t see what is right there in front of me pointing to the need for time off. So to help recognize when enough is enough and a break is called for I’ve put together another little memory jogger.

You know you’re ready for a road trip when…

  • Labor Day means exactly that
  • Your boss gets a promotion and you get a coffee mug
  • You have more plaques on your cubicle wall than dollars in your bank account
  • Doing the wrong thing is better than not doing anything
  • Your spouse asks who you are when you come to the front door
  • You see a stranger in the hall and find out he has been your manager for the last six months
  • Your best friend in another company buys a new HDTV with overtime pay, while you are given tickets to a play you don’t even want to see
  • You reach for the phone in the middle of the night instead of your spouse
  • Pay for performance means someone else gets paid for your performance
  • You begin to enjoy reading technical manuals for Dummies more than a good novel
  • You know that quickly shifting the blame is the most important business skill to have on the project
  • Company benefits refers to the health newsletter you got last week telling you that your cholesterol is too high
  • The only answers you get to questions about salary administration are solemn looks and vague catch-all phrases

…And the way you know that you are absolutely, positively ready for a road trip is when you recognize you are indeed the company’s best asset— to be signed away at will, moved as needed and purchased as cheaply as possible!

pop quiz

Skid Marks On An Arctic Gravel Road

The road is full of twists and turns. Drivers who claim to be it’s master are often ill prepared to solve the complex problems facing them at the road’s edge. In an attempt to help weed out the road warrior from the drivers-Ed dropouts, the last great road trip is providing a quick quiz that you can use to test those who claim to be masters of their own domain. By administering this test and evaluating the results you can be assured your road warrior can drive on the razors edge without getting cut.

Instructions: Read each question carefully. Answer all questions. The time limit is four (4) hours. Begin immediately.

History: Describe the history of the papacy from its origins to the present day, concentrating especially, but not exclusively, on its social, political, economic, religious, and philosophical impact on Europe, Asia, America, and Africa. Be brief, concise, and specific.

Medicine: You have been provided with a razor blade, a piece of gauze, and a bottle of Scotch. Remove your appendix. Do not suture until your work has been inspected. You have fifteen minutes.

Public Speaking: 2,500 riot-crazed aborigines are storming the room. Calm them. You may use any ancient language except Latin, Greek, or COBOL.

Biology: Create Life. Estimate the differences in subsequent human culture if this form of life had developed 500 million years earlier, with special attention to its probable effect on the English parliamentary system. Prove your thesis.

Music: Write a piano concerto. Orchestrate and perform it with flute and drum. You will find a piano under your seat.

Psychology: Based on your knowledge of their works, evaluate the emotional stability, degree of adjustment, and repressed frustrations of each of the following: Alexander of Aphrodisias, Rameses II, Gregory of Nicia, Hammurabi. Support your evaluation with quotations from each man’s work, making appropriate references. It is not necessary to translate.

Epistemology: Take a position for or against truth. Prove the validity of your stand

Sociology: Estimate the sociological problems which might accompany the end of the world. Construct an experiment to test your theory.

Engineering: The disassembled parts of a high powered rifle have been placed on your desk. You will also find an instruction manual, printed in Swahili. In 10 minutes a hungry Bengal tiger will be admitted to the room. Take whatever action you feel appropriate. Be prepared to justify your decision.

Economics: Develop a realistic plan for refinancing the national debt. Trace the possible effects of your plan in the following areas: Cubism, the Donatist controversy, the wave theory of light. Outline a method for presenting these effects. Criticize this method from all possible points of view. Point out the deficiencies in your point of view, as demonstrated in your answer to the last question.

Political Science: There is a red telephone on the desk beside you. Start World War III. Report at length on its socio-political effects if any.

Physics: Explain the nature of matter. Include in your answer an evaluation of the impact of the development of mathematics on science.

Philosophy: Sketch the development of human thought, estimate its significance. Compare with the development of any other kind of thought.

General Knowledge
: Describe in detail. Be objective and specific.

FJ cruiser haul road

“The Haul Road” Is The Road Trip

dalton highway visitor guideFriends and family have asked why Deadhorse, why the Dalton Highway, why not Anchorage? I think the Bureau of Land Management described it best in their The Dalton Highway brochure when they wrote: “Ultimate Road Adventure“. The Dalton Highway is a primitive road that begins 84 miles (134 km) north of Fairbanks and ends 414 miles (662 km) later in Deadhorse, the industrial camp at Prudhoe Bay. It provides a rare opportunity to traverse a remote, unpopulated part of Alaska to the very top of the continent. Traveling this farthest-north road involves real risks and challenges.”

To help decide if you are up to the challenge and assist in preparing for the experience the BLM has put together a great resource. You can down load “Dalton Highway 2008 visitor guide“.

Great snippets you’ll find include:

  • There is no public access to the Arctic Ocean from Deadhorse.
  • There are no medical facilities between Fairbanks and Deadhorse, a distance of 500 miles/800 km
  • Food, gas, and vehicle repair service are extremely limited
  • There are no banks along the highway

After reading through the brochure you get a sense that if you are looking for miles of nothing this is the stretch of road for you. For the last great road trip, this is the exact description we were looking for. We’ll of course pack an extra spare, a can of gas along with a few bags of Cheetos and beef jerky.

When describing road conditions, the BLM states: “The road is narrow, has soft shoulders, high embankments, and steep hills. There are lengthy stretches of gravel surface with sharp rocks, potholes, washboard, and, depending on the weather, clouds of dust or slick mud. Watch out for dangerous curves and loose gravel. You may encounter snow and ice north of Coldfoot any month of the year. Expect and prepare for all conditions.”

Like most things in the far north, the rules of the road have been modified to include a few you might not find in the lower 48:

  • Big trucks have the right of way
  • Stay on the right side of the road
  • If you spot wildlife, pull over to a safe location before stopping

And all this… is why the Haul Road is the last great road trip’s final destination.

Update: here is the Dalton Highway 2013 visitor guide

chicken alaska sign

Mapping Out Our Route To The Arctic Circle

delorme alaska atlas coverThose in the northwest know Metsker Maps of Seattle as one of the greatest places to find directions. Located in Downtown Seattle on 1st Avenue between Pike & Pine, in the Sanitary Market Building of the historic Pike Place Market. They have a huge selection of maps and a ton of other geography related products.

The guys at Metsker Maps helped the team sort through and locate copies of the Alaska Atlas & Gazetteer as well as British Columbia Road & Recreational Atlas. Both of these atlases are very detailed, filled with the information we need to not only map out a direct route but also ensure we can find those “off the beaten path” destinations. One atlas remains to be found that covers Canada’s Yukon Territory. You can see the route we’re looking at on the Travel Maps pages. While the map images are high level highway maps, you can see the scale of this adventure.

Since we have the FJ Cruiser for this trip, we plan to make good use of the atlases to chart out dirt trails that can be explored.

Many folks have asked if we’re going to get a GPS. The answer so far has been no. We still feel that a compass, accurate detailed maps and the knowledge of how to use both can be more useful than most GPS available at a reasonable price. Also, for me at least, turning the pages of a map is a prelude to driving the trails and looking just beyond the next bend in the road.

man hiking haul road

An Introduction To The Driver’s Seat

off road driverI am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling mountains and crushing ice. I have been known to take walk about for six months. I translate ethnic slurs for small militant groups. I write haiku.

I have done the Ididarod, raced the Baja and swam with whales. I am an expert in stucco, a veteran on the web and an outlaw in Peru.

I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, a ruthless bookie. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. Children trust me.

I’ve have listened to every Jimmy Buffet song in one sitting. The laws of physics do not apply to me. On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full contact origami.

I breed prizewinning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff diving competitions in Sri Lanka and checkers tournaments at the Kremlin. I have performed open heart surgery, cloned sheep, rewritten history and I have spoken to Elvis.

But I would like to know about you! Follow our adventure and leave a comment Last Great Road Trip on Facebook. Let me know what you are interested in hearing about. The time I spend with my Dad and friends on these trips is something I’ll never forget. And I will share every mile with you.

fj cruiser metal tech slider rub rail

The News Is Out – Alaskan Road Trip Adventure

For those of you keeping track of us in the press, take a look at “Celebrating Diversity for 14 days and 5000 Miles” (PR.com) and “One Truck, Two Generations, 14 Days and 5,000 Miles” (PRWeb).

Looks like the word is out that this trip is more about relationships than passing mile markers.  Sure you’ll get some travel tips and plenty of travel photos.  But mostly you’ll get what it’s like to be on the trip with us… the emotional ups and downs of life on the road less traveled.

stickers covered window at mikes sky rancho

Support Our Sponsors

LGRT InfographicsYou always remember your first…  If we never receive any more help, the amount of support we’ve received from Metal Tech 4×4 will exceed all our expectations.

Our sponsors have helped make this adventure possible and we encourage you to visit their web site, get to know them and consider their products when your thinking of making a purchase.

Who are they?  Look a little to the side…  the other side…  there they are…  the list of our current supporting sponsors. Also look at our Last Great Road Trip sponsor page for more information on these terrific vendors and how you can get involved.

4 siberian husky sled dogs in harness

The New Milepost Is Here…

2007 MilepostThe new Milepost is here, the new Milepost is here…  I am somebody!

For those of you old enough to remember Steve Martin’s “The Jerk” you get the reference.

My mother believes a road trip is the drive to the mall, the four seasons is roughing it and a hike involves riding the escalator at Nordstrom. However, when my dad and I started talking about this adventure, mom was the first to go on-line and start ordering books and maps for us. Today “The Milepost” 2007 edition arrived. It seems to have information on everything for our adventure through BC, Alaska and the Yukon. With this resource we will be able to make last minute itinerary changes allowing us to avoid planning all the spontaneity out of this trip.

We will still need to find some off-road trails without mile markers to poke around on as we work our way to the Arctic Circle and back.

alaska marine highway prince rupert terminal

No Turning Back Now

The Alaska Marine Hwy ferry tickets arrived. For the same price as a luxury seven day cruse you get to bring your rig with you on a six-stop 2 1/2 day trip along the Inside Passage from Bellingham Washington to Haines Alaska. The accommodation may be tight and you’re on your own for meals, but the company promises to be interesting and the scenery spectacular. We will see how it turns out… there is no turning back now with tickets in hand!

And just when you think it’s smooth sailing…  Karma kicks you in the teeth and throws a wrench into all your best laid plans.

foggy dempster highway

One Truck, two generations, 14 days, 5000 miles

Follow this father and son road trip adventure as they take this once in a lifetime journey.  Our travelers will keep everyone up to date through their blog with stories and pictures.

The Arctic Circle remains one of the last great wildernesses you can reach by “road”. On August 24, 2007 a father son team is setting off, in their Toyota FJ Cruiser, from Poulsbo, Washington and driving to the Arctic Circle. The two road warriors will attempt to travel over 5,200 miles in 14 days traveling on the Alaska Marine Hwy, Alaskan Canadian Hwy (ALCAN) and highways that can best be described as gravel paths.

Excitement is building on the web and in the press about this adventure. This site will record their day by day adventures through stories, pictures and video. Check the blog for up to date adventure highlights.

The first leg of the journey is through the scenic waterways of Southeastern Alaska’s Inside Passage. The ferries of the Alaska Marine Highway will carry the pair of road warriors and their Toyota FJ Cruiser from Bellingham, WA. to the southeastern ports of Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Sitka, Juneau (Alaska’s capital), off loading in Haines AK.

From Haines the travelers will drive north joining up with the Alaskan Canada Highway at Haines Junction. The early legs of the trip are a hard push to reach Fairbanks Alaska which the pair will use as its jumping off point to the Arctic Circle. The 414-mile Dalton Highway, still called the ‘Haul Road’ connects the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay on the North Slope with mainstream Alaska and is one of Alaska’s most remote and challenging roads. Mostly gravel, motorists need to watch for ruts, rocks, dust in dry weather, potholes in wet weather and trucks and road maintenance equipment at all times.

The first stop on Haul Road is Coldfoot one of the few Alaska communities north of the Arctic Circle accessible by road. Described as a bit of a one-horse town it will be the first overnight stop on the Dalton Highway.

The end of the trail is Deadhorse 498 miles north of Fairbanks near the Arctic Ocean and is the end of the Haul Road.

After the dust covered adventurers return to Fairbanks, a leisurely journey back down the ALCAN Hwy will carry the pair south through two countries, two provinces and two states. While the itinerary sets some goals, the mark of a great road trip is the freedom to take a side road just because it looks interesting.

Follow the father son adventures as they take this once in a lifetime journey. The travelers will keep everyone up to date through their blog with stories and pictures. Just don’t be surprised if a few days elapse between updates as Internet access may not be as available clean air, wide open spaces and magnificent scenery.

See itinerary and maps of the last great road trip. See the entire arctic circle road trip adventure.