My then-boyfriend, now-husband, and I set a pact in 2011: the first person to get a job out of NY dictated where we were moving. Well, before I’d even updated my resume he had a job and housing lined up in Anchorage, Alaska. Between January and April 2012 we started packing up our apartment, saying our goodbyes, and planning the all important ROAD TRIP from Albany, New York to our new home.

A baby-faced and excited Adam. Or maybe he was terrified – he’d only learned to drive a stick a month earlier! #baptismbyfire

We coordinated our route with the help of our local AAA office and the following parameters: 14 full days, Badlands, Yellowstone, Glacier National Park. The staff took our info, general budget, and called us back four days later with a sweet itinerary and map with highlighted route. By the end of our trip, that map had holes in the seams and a large mud stain from falling into a puddle. Now it’s framed and lives on our walls.

That road trip was the experience of a lifetime. It was the first of many adventures and “intensives” in our relationship, and we laughed and loved every minute of. Below is a brief gallery and recap of our journey.

After preliminary check ins with family in Chicago and Minnesota, it was fulfilling my lifelong dream of visiting Badlands National ParkIf you consider yourself a real Babysitters Club fan, you’ll remember the road trip west the girls took. Their RV broke down in the Badlands and they fell asleep listening to the howls of coyotes (I think?). We did a day tour of the park and walked some of the trails. A thunderstorm in the distance spooked me, and we took off.

Badlands National Park, 2012
Badlands National Park

After a quick tour of South Dakota, we looped around to Mount RushmoreCool. 

Next up: Mount Rushmore!

Staying west, we skimmed Grand Teton but couldn’t explore due to weather and seasonal closure. Someone told me Grand Teton means big boob… C’est vrai? We also ate the best Thai of our lives at a little hole-in-the-wall in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It disappeared as soon as we left, so I can’t recommend it to you.

My favorite part of the trip, among other favorite parts of the trip, was Yellowstone National Park. We hadn’t been in the park for minute when a herd of buffalo (bison?) crossed the road and went into the field. Adam and I jumped out to watch them and snap some pictures. Adam looked back at me in excitement, and then said… “your car is rolling down the hill….”. In my excitement, I forgot the e-brake. WHOOPS!

We spent two nights in Yellowstone, camping on the west and east sides of the park. We saw Old Faithful, explored the hot springs, watched bison walk through trees in the moonlight, and experienced blizzard like conditions at high elevations. I even saw a bear off the trail.

I love waking up to this face!
Drying tents in the sun

Glacier National Park and the Going to the Sun Road was mostly closed, so we smoked the last of our pot on a sunlit lake and made our way to the Canadian border. I have limited pictures from our journey through Calgary, scenic route 40, Banff, Dawson, the AlCan, Liard Hot Springs, Whitehorse and our entry to Alaska.

I can tell you that the AlCan Highway was not as bad as it’s made out to be, although my recommendation would be to fill up at every gas station you pass, just to be safe. Of course, a week after we made it to Anchorage a floor wiped out a mile of the highway and prevented people from driving in and out of communities on either side. I might also recommend packing extra snacks before you leave Calgary, because the food between there and Fast Eddy’s in Tok left something to be desired.

We made it! Cheers to the mile behind and the adventure ahead of us.

That road trip was 5+ years ago, and we’ve only looked back with joy and appreciation that we took the first steps. Curious about our route, our accommodations, and your Alaskan road trip? Leave a comment with your information and I’ll be in touch!