Category Archives: Travel

Comments and observations on the traveling life.

Animal’s Travelogue Day 5

And finally, we wrap up this epic journey with details of the drive from Tok, Alaska, to our own new home in Willow!

We arose early to get a good start on the road, leaving the Alaska Highway at Tok and heading for Glennallen, there to take the Glennallen Highway for Palmer, Wasilla and home.

I was a bit surprised to not see a recreational marijuana shop in Tok.  I mean, if there’s any place in Alaska that should have a now-legal pot shop, you would think it would be Tok.

There was a snag – when we got up on Tok, it was snowing.  That’s hardly unusual in Alaska in March, mind you.  There was a couple of inches down and we had some mountainous country yet to traverse.  But we struck out, cautiously, slowly.  We crawled over the snow-packed road to Glennallen, where we turned west for Chickaloon, Palmer, Wasilla and home.  The roads slowly improved until, by the time we hit Palmer, things were wide open.

And then, finally, we pulled onto the Parks Highway, heading north for Willow and our new digs.  We arrived at mid-afternoon, exhausted but happy, to begin our new life in the Great Land.

We’re home at last.  After this tiring, exhausting, fascinating, beautiful and long, strange trip, we’re home at last, in Alaska.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Again, just some photos and notes today on our trip from Watson Lake, Yukon Territory to Tok, Alaska.  Normal weekly links posts will be back next week.

It’s interesting to note that on the Alaska Highway you don’t cross the Continental Divide until well past Watson Lake, about 1/4 of the way across the Yukon Territory.   We hit some heavy snow there, but that died quickly and we found ourselves with clear roads.  But on this road the highway turns very rough from Destruction Bay to the American border.  Today, we go from Tok, Alaska to our new home.  Here are a few photos from the lovely country around Destruction Bay in the Yukon – enjoy!

Animal’s Travelogue Day 3

Here are some details of our trip from Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Watson Lake, Yukon Territory.  The next day’s target destination:  Tok, Alaska!

It’s an interesting drive.  Between Dawson Creek, BC and Fort Nelson, there are miles and miles of miles and miles.  The terrain is mostly taiga, that great northern forest that encompasses the globe in the northern hemisphere.  Between Fort Nelson and Watson Lake, Yukon Territory, where we spent last night, there is a mountain range and about five hundred miles of no internet connection, almost no gas stations and not much of anything else – besides rocks, trees, bison, elk, and a million other kinds of critters.  It was a lovely drive; I hope one day to repeat it in nicer weather.  Here are a couple of samples.  More tomorrow!

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to The Other McCainThe Other McCain, Pirate’s Cove, Whores and Ale and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links!  No regular news post today, just some brief thoughts and an image from our trip from the Denver area to (so far) Dawson Creek, British Columbia.

We have a long ways to go yet, so brevity is the order of the day, I’m afraid.  So far, in two days, we’ve spent almost twenty-eight hours in the truck.  Saturday saw us from the Denver area all the way to Shelby, Montana, just a few miles short of the Canadian border.   On Sunday, we crossed into Canada, spent two hours (!) at Customs establishing our bona fides, then drove as far as Dawson Creek, British Columbia, which has us at the southern terminus of the Alaska Highway.  Tomorrow’s goal is Watson Lake in the Yukon, assuming we hit no bad weather or other delays it’s a long day but doable.

It’s an interesting drive, but the really interesting part is just beginning.  Watch this space for more.  Meanwhile, here’s  a shot of the vast plains of Alberta.  More tomorrow.

Rule Five Road Trip Friday

So, first, some housekeeping notes.

Later today, after I take care of some work chores, we’ll be loading our cargo trailer, packing up all of our remaining office equipment and supplies as well as what firearms and ammo I still have remaining in Colorado.  In fact, we’ll be packing truck and trailer with probably a third to half of all the stuff we’ll be hauling from Colorado up to the Great Land.

Next, posts:  Tomorrow we’ll have the Saturday Gingermageddon as usual.  Next week, instead of placeholders while we’re on the road, I’ll probably post some photos of random, interesting scenery along the 3.200 mile trip.  Normal posts should resume on either April 1 or April 2, unless we encounter some difficulty along the way.

Mrs. Animal and I always enjoy road trips.  We have taken a lot of them together over the last thirty years or so, and we inevitably end up talking, planning and laughing the entire trip, just like a couple of kids.  I guess we just enjoy being together, even (especially) after all this time, and given that this road trip is the penultimate act in the culmination of our twenty-plus year plans, it’s going to be even more fun.

And, of course, there’s the trip itself.  About half of the drive is on the Alaska-Canada Highway itself, which we’ve wanted to drive for years.  Problem is this:  Canada is hurrying people through right now because of the ‘rona, so no time for sightseeing, and frankly this isn’t the best time for that anyway, not to mention we’ll be towing a trailer and have a canoe tied atop the truck, so not the best vehicle configuration, either.  Not to worry; we have plenty of time, and we’ll plan to make the drive again sometime when we have time to sight-see.

Speaking of that drive, here’s how the itinerary looks, for any of you True Believers that might be curious as to how this works:

Day 1:  Denver, Colorado to Shelby, Montana.  Shelby is about twenty miles south of the Coutts, Alberta entry station into Canada.  So in the morning we’ll want to get an early start to deal with the bureaucracy at the border.

Day 2:  Shelby, Montana to Dawson Creek, British Columbia.  Dawson Creek is where the Alaska Highway proper begins.  I’ve done some reading about the town, and it seems like it would be a hell of a fun place to spend a few days, once the Kung Flu panic dies down.

Day 3:  Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Watson Lake, Yukon Territory.  This is where gas stations and so forth get thin on the ground, so it’s prudent to keep the tank topped up.

Day 4:  Watson Lake, Yukon Territory to Tok, Alaska.  Tok is where we leave the Alaska Highway, which continues (officially) to Delta Junction, while the highway continues up to Fairbanks.  Now we’re back into the States, and officially into the Great Land!

Day 5:  Tok, Alaska to our new home in Willow, Alaska.  This involves a trip down the Glenallen Highway, which is a gorgeous drive, and then through Palmer and Wasilla to home.

It’s going to be interesting and exciting!  Mrs. Animal will still have to fly back to Colorado to meet the movers to load the remaining stuff for the trip north, then to arrange for the Colorado house to be cleaned up and sold.  Denver real estate is crazy right now, so we expect to do well on that deal.  But when that’s done, she comes home, and we settle into our rural Alaska home for good.

So, stand by for news from the road!

Animal’s Daily Airline Seats News

Be sure to check out my latest over at Glibertarians – this week’s entry is five guns you should consider in the event Something Bad Happens.  Now then:

Wow – the airlines can cut your odds of contracting the Kung Flu on an airplane by eliminating middle seats!  Sounds great, eh?  Well, maybe not so much.  Excerpt:

Eliminating the middle seat on planes may help cut already low on-flight coronavirus risk even more, a new research paper from Massachusetts Institute of Technology has suggested.

The paper, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, pegs the risk of contracting COVID-19 from nearby passengers on a full flight at about 1 in 4,300. According to the research findings, that risk drops to 1 in 7,700 when the middle seat is not booked.

The research paper, titled “Covid-19 Risk Among Airline Passengers: Should the Middle Seat Stay Empty?” was penned by award-winning MIT statistician Arnold Barnett and published in MedRxiv earlier this month.

The calculations, Barnett writes, “do suggest a measurable reduction in COVID-19 risk when middle seats on aircraft are deliberately kept open.”

“Measurable.”  Well, sure; electron orbits are “measurable,” too.  That’s a word that really carries little meaning in this case.

Let’s measure this another way.  The elimination of middle seats – something I’d love, by the way, for purely selfish reasons – would reduce your risk of a Kung Flu infection from 0.233% to 0.130%.

Well, that sure is measurable.  As in, it can be measured.

By way of comparison, your odds of being hit by lightning, over an 80-year lifespan, are about 0.0065%.  So you’re more likely to catch the Kung Flu on a plane trip than you  have of being struck by lightning. You have similar odds of being killed by “exposure to excessive natural heat.”  Your odds are far higher of dying in a “pedestrian incident” (0.599%) or in a fall (0.787%.)

So, yeah, don’t look for the airlines to keep the middle seats un-booked for very long.  My own airline of choice, United, has already started refilling these seats.  So has America.  Much as I’d love to see them remain empty just to feel less crowded on a flight, it doesn’t appear to make good sense.  Not in a time when all of the major airlines are already bleeding cash.

Rule Five Future Airliners Friday

Mrs. Animal and I do more than the average amount of air travel, and it is as it has been of late:  Uncomfortable and inconvenient.  But there are ideas floating around to make air travel at least a little uncomfortable.  To that end, Airbus may have a neat new concept for air travel.  Excerpt:

The European aircraft manufacturer Airbus has unveiled a model of what it believes may be the future of passenger-aircraft designs.

The Model Aircraft for Validation and Experimentation of Robust Innovate Controls, or Maveric, made its debut at the Singapore Airshow 2020 on Tuesday. The new aircraft design seeks to upend the long-standing tradition of tube-shaped aircraft fuselages.

The model reflects what a “blended-wing” design, a concept used mainly in military aircraft, would look like for commercial planes.

Maveric is in the initial stages of development. Airbus quietly launched the project in 2017 and began tests on a small remote-controlled model in 2019.

Though it looks like something out of a science-fiction movie, aircraft with designs like the Maveric may become a reality if Airbus, one of the largest commercial-aircraft manufacturers, has its way. 

Take a look at what may be the aircraft design of the future. 

Here’s the neat bit:

A wider aircraft could also allow for a more open concept on board and make the cabin feel less congested compared with current-generation aircraft designs.

Less congested would be awesome.

One of my major peeves with air travel is how damn tight everything is on a typical airliner.  On international flights, as Mrs. A and I took earlier this week, we generally spring for United’s upgraded Premiere Economy seats, which are roughly the equivalent of the old Business Class; with this section selection we get wider seats and fewer people per overhead bin.  But those seats involve a not-insignificant extra cost, and while Mrs. A and I are empty-nesters and owners of a reasonably successful business and so can afford those seats, that’s not an option for everyone.  And the standard Economy seats are a trial for someone of my 6’1″ stature.

These concept art depictions (and, by all means, go look at them) literally paint quite a different picture.

Here’s the catch, though:  While the shorter, wider layout does seem to give a sense of more breathing space, I’m damned certain that the airlines would capitalize on that by cramming in the same crappy, undersized seating.  That’s not a problem without compensations; adjusted for inflation, air travel is cheaper now than it has ever been in the past, and the price we pay for that is crowding, rude one-time travelers and three-year-olds kicking the backs of our minimum-pitch seats.

So, this Airbus concept may be neat – and neat it is – but will it make air travel significantly more comfortable in practice?  Color me skeptical.

Animal’s Daily Auf Deutsch News

Thanks as always to The Other McCain, Pirate’s Cove and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links!  Also, be sure to catch the latest in my Gold Standards series over at Glibertarians.

Now, with that said:  Mrs. Animal and I took advantage of the long weekend to fly the Friendly Skies once more, this time to Frankfurt.  Continue reading Animal’s Daily Auf Deutsch News

A Tramp Abroad I – Ireland

Take a guess where we went.

Before we begin, thanks to The Other McCain, Pirate’s Cove and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links, and make sure to catch the last in my Thirty-Something Rifle Cartridges series over at Glibertarians.

This long weekend just passed, Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. made a whirlwind trip to bonny old Eire.  We took a red-eye flight Thursday night, arriving rather the worse for wear early Friday morning.  After picking up our rental car, I had a journey of discovery in which I 1) had to learn to drive on the wrong side of the road and the wrong side of the car, and b) navigate Dublin’s rush hour traffic to find our hotel.  Continue reading A Tramp Abroad I – Ireland