Back home again.

Trip Start Jun 19, 2009
Trip End Jul 26, 2009

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Where I stayed
Home, my own bed

Flag of United States  , Alabama
Sunday, July 26, 2009

Packed and out of campground at 5:50 am.  Gas nearby was a nice price -- $2.27.9.  One of the best prices of the whole trip!

Detoured through Land Between the Lakes (Kentucky and Tennessee).  There is a nice Nature Center ($4 per adult), an elk and bison habitat to drive through ($5 per vehicle), and an 1880's homestead area ($4 per adult).  This area might be a good place for a vacation closer to home.  Canoes can be rented.  There are several campgrounds plus the possibility of 'backcountry' camping.  The only disappointment was that the pay attractions in LBL did not honor my federal multi-agency pass, although LBL is a federal recreation area. 

Traffic ground nearly to a standstill east of Nashville on I-24.  An 18-wheeler had overturned and was almost completely upside-down in the median.  A number of  big tow trucks were on the scene...probably figuring out how to work together to get the wrecked truck up and out of the way. I crawled along at about 3 miles per hour for 50 minutes.  Not helpful.

Traveled about 505 miles today.  I noticed that gas prices in the Decatur area are about the lowest of anywhere on the trip.  Not a reason to stay in town, though!

* * * * * * * *
Friday, July 31...  Well, I've looked at some of the bills that have come in already.  I averaged slightly less than $100 per day for this trip.  Gas was the single greatest expenditure.  Lodging was the second most expensive category.  My fine tent was my nightly abode 65% of the time, which allowed for some fancier stops in Alaska (cabins, hostels, and 2 motel nights). I ate in restaurants only during part of the trip in Alaska.  I stopped at fast food restaurants, including drive-throughs for coffee, 5 times.  I bought ice for the cooler almost daily, but the majority of items for meals and snacks I brought with me from home. 

Things I'm REALLY glad I had along: power inverter (to charge cameras, etc. while driving), small drip coffee machine (I dislike the little bags of coffee that look like tea bags!), head net, Thermarest mat, mini laptop so I could keep up this blog, baby wipes (for spills and to do some good detail cleaning when stopped for construction or traffic), small battery-operated fan for hot nights in the tent (there weren't too many of those nights), a bottle of Germ-X I kept in the driver's door pocket, bottle of window cleaner and lots of paper towels, and a little notebook so I could make notes about the pictures I took (can't remember the names of all the lakes, etc. after time passes).

Things I didn't need (fortunately): hydraulic tire jack, mounted full-size spare tire, OTC meds for stomach and other ailments, first aid supplies other than 1 band aid and a few Tylenol.

Looking back, I noted that I slept better in my tent -  thanks to the comfy Thermarest and sleeping bag - than I did in the various other lodgings.  Sleeping in the tent was only difficult if the campground was close enough to the highway that road noise kept me awake.  That is the only reason that I chose a motel for the first night on the road and a KOA kabin for the last night on the road.

I saw license plates from every US state except Rhode Island and Hawaii.  Saw plates from 7 Canadian provinces/territories. 

 * * * * * * * * * * *
August 1: I have done a first edit on only about 2/3 of my pictures.  (I took about 2000 pics.)  When I finish the editing, I will add more photos to most of the TravelPod entries.  Please be patient.

August 8:  I'm still editing pictures.  Only about 400 left.  Only???

* * * * * * * * * *

Thursday, August 20...I've finally finished a first edit of all the digital and film pictures.  I have yet to print any. 

Other thoughts...good planning ahead was important to me.  I could travel with confidence, knowing where I would camp or stay most nights.  Most of the information I found on the internet turned out to be pretty accurate.  Advertisements for most campgrounds described features and amenities rather well.

It's sad to know that more and more businesses along the Alaska Highway and the Cassiar Highway may be closing.  If I get a chance to go to Alaska again, I'll be sure to take along even more gasoline...JUST IN CASE!

I want to go back!!!  There are areas in Alaska, as well as in the Pacific Northwest, that I have yet to see.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Friday, September 4...I've posted more pictures on my Webshots pages:  I still have more to post.  I'll continue to put up additional pictures on this blog, too.  I may replace some with other pictures that I have edited.

A final thought: MUCH helpful information was gained by frequently consulting the TripAdvisor web site. (  The local experts for my Alaska destinations gave accurate, specific, and CURRENT information.  Their info was much more up-to-date than any publication I bought or most websites I visited.  More current than the 'Milepost.'

* * * * * * * * * * * *
October, poor van was wrecked on October 3rd.  Total loss!  It made two successful trips to the Canadian Rockies (2005 and 2007) and one great trip to and from Alaska --- and then my poor van gets crunched about 1/2 mile from home.  Sigh.  Haven't replaced it yet.  Will need something reliable for my next trip to....?

November, 2009...replaced my Mazda van with a Saturn Ion.  Having a small car will not prevent me from taking great trips, but I'll have to rethink my packing strategies!  I won't have room to pack food for several WEEKS at a time.  I may have to buy another soft roof-top carrier for tent, sleeping bags, and similar gear.  That would work!!   The little car gets 33 miles per gallon the the highway.  That is a good trade-off for size.

As a final note, I added a few pictures of wildflowers from various stops on the trip.
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