So...there I was at age 56 with a chance to take early retirement from my position as General Counsel for a multi-national machine tool company. Now...what to do with all that free time. I spent a few months just relaxing...not doing much of anything. And then, sometime in the spring of 2008, I was discussing a planned trip to Maine for a week with a friend. "You know", my friend said, "you could go on vacation for a lot longer than a week, and you could go a lot farther than Maine. To which I replied, "If I wanted to, I could drive all the way to Alaska". And, at that moment, my mind was already made up...I was going to Alaska. It would prove to be, as they say, a "life-changing experience".
I spent the next few months doing extensive research and setting about purchasing all of my camping "essentials"...tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, stove, back pack, hiking shoes, copy of The Milepost, etc. Mind you, my friends would have told you back then that my idea of "roughing it" was staying at a Hilton where I had to go up a floor to get ice. I proved them wrong.
And, on the fourth Tuesday in July of 2008, I left Michigan for Alaska. I traveled through Illinois, up into Wisconsin, through Minnesota, then north through North Dakota to Canada. By the way, I did make one "unscheduled stop" in Minot, North Dakota for an emergency appendectomy (definitely not in my travel plans). But, thanks to modern laparoscopic surgery, I was back on the road the next day...Moosejaw, Calgary (a few days of R&R there), Edmonton...and then, Dawson Creek, the first stop on the Alaskan Highway. From there, on to the usual stops...Fort Nelson, Muncho Lake, Watson Lake and Whitehorse. A little over two weeks after leaving Michigan, I crossed the border from the Yukon into Alaska. And there, I camped for the first time at a National Park...Denali.
After two weeks in Alaska, I spent a another two weeks traveling around the Yukon and working my way south through British Columbia. Then, more National Parks...Olympic, Mt. Rainier, Crater Lake, Yellowstone. Now I was hooked.
Last summer, I went back out west and spent about ten days each camping in Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton...all magnificent Parks. The National Park system in our great country is truly a national treasure.
This summer, I'm going back to Alaska with two of my closest friends...this time in a motor home. And, in the future, it is my dream to visit and camp in as many of our National Parks as possible...there's so much more to see.
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