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Alaska Nomads: Rainbow Roads And Random Stops (A Story In Pictures)

Nomad Vacations: Jennifer and I love to go on vacations where we have no particular destination and just wander Alaska. We pack up everything we need for a week or two and just drive…

The pictures in this post are all from one particular year. It was a rainy summer…which sounds like it would be a bad thing but it was actually pretty nice. There was a certain level of newness and freshness that the rain brought to everything, it was very cool to see.

A picture of a rainbow over a winding road in Alaska.

We go wherever the road takes us and set up camp at the end of each day no matter where it’s at.

Our only guide was an Alaska Atlas, which lists some campgrounds here and there. Any campgrounds or interesting places not marked on the map we just drew in ourselves for future reference :).

Picture of a small backpacking tent.

A small backpacking tent was our home for this vacation. It was the first year we had that tent and we were testing it out to make sure there’d be no unpleasant surprises on hike-in camping trips.

Picture of the front of a small backpacking tent.

The tent has a low profile to withstand the sometimes really severe rain and wind in the mountains. It worked great and was super warm.

Picture of hiking boots in front of a small backpacking tent.

Using such a small tent meant that we left our boots outside unless we were sleeping.

Picture of cookware and misc items on top of a picnic table.

We like to cook our food over a camp fire but sometimes it’s just easier to get water boiled on a backpacking stove. We used the MSR Superfly Stove (great name :D) with a couple cheap cannisters bought from Fred Meyer. Here I’m cooking some boil-in-bag rice.

Picture of Jennifer Grattan cooking some Nomad Gumbo over a campfire.

Making nomad gumbo, it doesn’t photograph well but it’s realy good. If I remember right the ingredients are: cheese hot dogs, onions, teriyaki sauce, butter…maybe some garlic salt…then you put it over rice or something…I don’t know go ask Jennifer lol.

Picture of mountains behind some tree leaves.

Picture of mountains frames by tree leaves.

The clouds and mountain peaks were practically eye level at this campsite.

Picture of a camp site in Alaska.

There was an apocalyptic rain storm the night before and we appreciated the opportunity to dry out clothes and stuff out in the sun the next morning!

Picture of Jennifer Grattan going off to pick berries.

Jennifer off to pick some mountain blueberries or cranberries. Or both if I was lucky. She usually picks a bunch at once, soaks them in ice cold water for a while, and then puts them in a tin to snack for us to snack on while driving.

Alaska mountainscape.
Alaska mountainscapes are stunning :). This was the view from a campsite one morning.

A picture of the Alaska Pipeline and some mountains.

The Alaska Pipeline following next to some low lying mountains and snaking it’s way across the state.

A picture of bridge and mountains near the Denali Highway.

A bridge across the Denali Highway with some mountains in the background.

Picture of Alaska mountains with a rainbow going to it.

There’s a pot of gold somewhere over there.

Picture of a car with an open door at a rest stop in Alaska.

Digging through some stuff at a rest stop.

Digging through some stuff at a rest stop.

Picture of the Maclaren summit sign on the Denali Highway.

We saw all kinds of signage during our trip. This one announced that you were at Maclaren Summit, the highest point in the area and unofficial target range lol.

Picture of a sign marking where the hiking trail is.

Just so you know where the trail is. No way in hell was I taking that trail…I could see an large swarm of hungry mosquitoes eyeballing me just around the bend lol.

Picture of a sign talking about the history of an old railroad tunnel.
A ways down the road we saw this sign next to a rocky tunnel, it said:

Old Railroad Tunnel

The Iron Trail” by Rex Beach describes these events and this area.

This tunnel was hand cut into the solid rock of Keystone Canyon and all that is left of the railroad era when mine companies fought to take advantage of the short route from the coast to the copper country. However a feud interrupted progress. A gun battle was fought and the tunnel was never finished.

Jennifer Grattan looking out at the area around Homer, Alaska.
Taking a break at a rest stop and looking out at the area around Homer.

Picture of clouds over Homer.
That day it felt like you could jump up and touch a cloud or two.

Picture of veggie garden sign at a rest stop outside of Homer, Alaska.

The rest stop had a garden with a little sign:

‘Veggies donated to the Food Pantry. Please do not pick.’

We’re all on the honor system here :)

Picture of electric sign next to Whittier tunnel.

Waiting to go into the tunnel through the mountain to Whittier. The tunnel traffic (trains and cars) only went one direction at a time due to it’s claustrophobic proportions.

The town of Whittier was set up by the US Army because of it’s strategic location…and weather. Apparently the skies there are consistently overcast and that protected the military instillation from being bombed back in the day. It’s an amazing town and I’m totally fascinated with the place. A little blurb in this blog post is not enough to tell it’s story properly so I’ll probably be blogging more about it soon.
Picture of Army Engineer's poster at the Whittier Museum.

A poster in the Whittier museum. He is deciding whether it would be better to build or kill at that particular moment.

Picture of a receding glacier in Alaska.

One of Alaska’s many receding glaciers.

Picture of the sun going down behind the mountains in Alaska.

Sun going down, guess it’s time to camp for the night!




Video Clips:

The Maclaren Summit sign in 3D.

We picked up a hitchhiker before setting out.

When you see a house like this you know some crazy shit’s happened there. If you know the whole story on this let me know ok?

Driving on a droopy bridge on the Denali Highway.

Related Posts:

Living Off The Grid In Alaska (Formspring Question)



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