So, I was in storytelling mode the other day, and it involved the most beautiful places that I’ve ever seen, and this story came up. This story is all about a moose and a bear. There were always a few animals I wanted to see in the wild, and one of them was a moose. This was only part of the inspiration for this road trip to this gorgeous location in Alaska.
About a million years ago, or so it seems now, I was on a road trip with my ex-boyfriend. We left early one day in spring to drive down to the panhandle of Florida from our home in Colorado. I know what you are thinking… that’s a hell of a road trip, and yes, it was!
We made it down to the panhandle of Florida in just a few days, and after I finished with my business there, we had about a three-week window before I had to head back over to Afghanistan to fight the good fight. I already had enough of Florida for 20 lifetimes, so the next question we asked ourselves was, where do we want to go?
Well, to both of us, the most complicated, furthest from our starting point answer was always the choice. Alaska, of course! By the age of 30, both of us had seen and been to every other state in the United States but one. On top of that, I personally had never seen a live moose. Why this became a must, well, if you could figure out the inner workings of my brain, by all means, try.
So, I typed Anchorage, Alaska, into the GPS as we figured that would be a good place to start. The travel time that came back was 88 hours. What the hell? No, was that even possible?
Well, it appears that it was. Who knew that it could take that long to drive across the US (thankfully, we weren’t in Miami)? So, I asked him if he was game, and he said, screw it, let’s go!
Memphis, Tennessee. Is Elvis Alive?
We stopped each day at various places along the way. We managed to entertain ourselves along the way by stopping through various states to see family and friends, including Elvis. I was a little less than inspired to see his home in Memphis. I always expected it to be a huge mansion that was so far from reality that normal people couldn’t envision living. The green shag carpet was about enough. Lol. After we found his grave (we’re still not sure if Elvis is actually alive and living in Area 51), so we left at least seeing where he used to live.
Yellowstone National Park, Montana
Next up, we headed out and made a few stops for family and friends in the Midwest, and later in the week, we had to make it over to Yellowstone National Park, Montana. It is still such an amazing place to this day! As we entered the park and talked to the guides, they told me that there were moose in the park that could be seen in certain areas. I was then far too excited about the possibility. We were headed to Alaska, but if I could find one hiding in Yellowstone, I was all about it. The guides told me they had one very specific moose that traveled to a very specific area almost every day at the same time. All right then, it was a date, I was off to see my moose.
The next morning, we drove over to the said spot and waited ever so patiently. We gave the moose an hour’s leeway in case he needed to sleep in. Needless to say, the moose did not get the memo, nor did he bring the wine. Moose jerk. So, now, when people tell me there are moose In Yellowstone, I have to call BS.
Now, what Yellowstone does have a lot of, and I can prove it, are buffalo. I’ve had more than my fair share of enough close encounters to last me, and I’ll tell you, I’m GOOD!
So, there we were, driving up and around the mountain late at night. We were driving relatively slowly as we were climbing around the switchback road, and there’s definitely wildlife in Yellowstone. On this particular evening, we came around the corner, and standing in the middle of the road were two huge yellow eyes. We swerved a bit to miss the wall of fur attached to those eyes, and luckily, we made it around the “tatonka”. Wow, that was close, to say the least. I can only imagine how that could have ended. I think we would have been the hood ornament instead of the buffalo. Let’s just say, the bright lights stayed on, the speed lowered even further, and we found a hotel as soon as humanly possible.
Note* If you happen to make the drive through Yellowstone, make sure to drop stop by Old Faithful and also one of the shops to pick up a bag of buffalo jerky. To date, spicy buffalo jerky from the park is the best jerky I’ve ever had; It’s pricy but worth it.
Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, Montana
So, after not getting to see a moose and far too many up-close encounters with buffalo, we head out of Yellowstone and make it over to the Grizzly Bear Sanctuary in West Yellowstone. One of our favorite channels to watch was the Discovery channel (mine still is), and we’d watched enough of Borris the Bear to have the need to support what they are trying to do to save the grizzlies. The bears were just amazing.
As we arrived at the sanctuary, which was not huge but was very cool, there were three bears there that weren’t in nap time, and wow, were they impressive. Other than their size, their interaction with their trainer was enough to scare the crap out of any normal individual. How the bears didn’t eat them or throw them from one side to the other, I will never know. They are certainly doing something amazing at this place. The stories of how they not only save the Bears from people who should be tasered and left in a padded room but how they continue to care for them are extraordinary. Visiting the sanctuary is certainly worth the stop, and every dollar goes towards taking care of these impressive creatures.
Canada, Here We Come
After stopping by to check out the grizzlies, we made it through Montana, Wyoming, and up to the Canadian border. It was interesting to see how much the environment/architecture changed the moment we crossed into Canada. I’m guessing that where we crossed, the architecture had been influenced by the French. Very pretty but very different than northern Montana.
After crossing the border, we made our way up through Whistler, Banff, and Vancouver. This drive is beautiful, and I highly recommend spending at least one night in each location.
Vancouver was a beautiful, exceptionally clean city with friendly residents. We didn’t stay here long, but I’d definitely go back. One of the coolest things we saw driving through Vancouver was the remnants of the Olympics hosted there and the ski jump. This puppy, for lack of a better word, was scary! I looked at the height of the jump, and I swear it started in the clouds. OMG, seeing it on TV is one thing, but seeing it in person, nope, nope, nope. I’ve been skydiving, and this thing, I wouldn’t even go down on my butt. Ok, skydiving is one thing, but that is ridiculous. I can’t even imagine what it takes to work up enough of a nerve to try barreling down that thing and flying off it for the first time. My hat is off to the long jumpers!
After heading out of Vancouver, we headed over to Whistler, one of my favorite stops on this trip. In Whistler, we stayed at the Four Seasons, which was a stunning resort for the night. It brought in the wilderness theme and was super comfy. If you get a chance, hit it up along the way. Whistler is known for a few things. Skiing, mountain biking, and thermal spas. It’s a perfect location for a trip to the wilderness.
The following day after a stay in this beautiful town, we headed toward Banff. Banff is every mountain biker’s dream. The temperature was dropping with every mile we drove, as it was only springtime when we went. Even in the spring, you will need your winter coat! If we had more time, we would have rented bikes to hit the trails, but the goal was to find my moose. But I promise the folks out there playing on their bikes looked like they were having the time of their lives! We did have to stop for a beer and watch the entertainment at the base of the mountain and watch the downhill bikers before continuing. It was a beautiful area and well worth the detour.
Bring on Alaska
After our detour in Banff, it was time to keep going. Canada is huge, and it was going to take all of our daylight to get through. So, we continued up the highway all the way through Canada. Let’s just say there is a reason you see people with red gas cans attached to the tops of their cars, and we found out what it was.
I’ll tell you more of this story soon…as it’s worth the read, and to see if I found my moose, check out Alaska or Bust Part II. (coming soon)
Click here to learn How to travel to Alaska from the lower 48 for less than $1,000, I sure wish we had had this guide before we went!
And no matter where you go, always remember to Travel Till You Drop!
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