On The Road: American Road Trip

 

I feel like I have been driving forever.

Since that first nerve-wracking drive through Anchorage over two months ago I have driven nearly 4000 miles (6400 km) through Alaska and the western states of the USA. I was sure I would never get used to that uneasy feeling of driving on the right-hand/wrong side of the road, and yet now I feel as though I could do it in my sleep.

Glenn Highway, Alaska

© Quiet Wanderings. All photography by Cherina Hadley. Glenn Highway, Alaska.

 

We have covered so much ground. Too much, in fact. Or rather, too much too quickly. Which is not the way I like to travel. Slow travel is much more my style: seeing less places, with enough time to really immerse yourself into an environment or a culture.

However, while there were some very definite highlights on this road trip, if you asked me which place I would sacrifice I would find it very difficult to choose.

Coming from a country as large as Australia, I should’ve had a better idea of the vast distances we would need to cover to complete this trip. I’ve been to the States before. I totally miscalculated.

 

Denali National Park.

© Quiet Wanderings. Denali National Park.

 

After travelling to Alaska and Yellowstone National Park we have spent the last four weeks moving on every couple of days. We have driven the stunning Pacific coastal route from Santa Cruz, through Northern California, Oregon and Washington, finishing in the wild and rugged Olympic National Park.

And while I am not at all ready to go home, I am a little travel-weary and long to be in just one place, any place, for a least a couple of weeks.

I caught up with some old friends for dinner in Vancouver the other night and one of them asked me:
Are there any continents you haven’t been too?

Of course, I said rolling my eyes!

But when we worked it out… turns out Antarctica is the only one. (And I am totally working towards remedying that!)

 

black bears catching spawning salmon in Valdez, Alaska.

© Quiet Wanderings. Black bears catching spawning salmon in Valdez, Alaska.

 

My friends tend to consider me the go-to person for all things travel related. But this trip has been a lesson learned. No matter how much or for how many years you travel, there is still so much to learn about how to travel.

Figuring out where you want to go is the easy part. Understanding how you like to travel and implementing that is a little more challenging.

I know exactly how I like to travel – slowly!! I got a little carried away with this trip and tried to fit too much in…my trip to Iceland and Lapland next year will be very different. A month in each place at least.

 

Beartooth Highway, Montana.

© Quiet Wanderings. Driving the Beartooth Highway, Montana.

 

My final destination for this trip is Churchill, Manitoba: a photography expedition to the polar bear capital of the world that I expect will be the highlight of this trip.

I have dreamed of visiting this Arctic wilderness in the far north of Canada for about ten years, so my expectations are high. For a change…

It feels a little odd to be joining a tour group when I’ve managed to travel completely independently for the last ten years. A daily schedule laid out for me with little or no deviation is not something I am either used to or respond well to.

Having said that…I do not have to organize a single thing. For an entire seven days! I don’t have to drive anywhere, or book anything or worry about luggage or meals or flights. I can just sit back and enjoy. And after such a crazy few weeks…that sounds like absolute bliss.

 

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