Today is the day we officially began our major prep work for our journey to our new home in Alaska. We've had the Alaskan itch for a couple years now and it's so exciting to see it take shape.
Over the past year we had done the bulk of our planning for the big move; the big picture things such as what kind of house we were going to build, the route we were going to take, and the things we wanted to bring. Keeping an open mind really helped with the planning because plans change. Flexibility was key to rolling with the change of plans week by week. We both were willing to make compromises in order to keep on track, healthy, and happy.
Throughout April and May, Pete and I wrapped things up at work (mine loosely continues online), sold the house and moved our belongings from Minnesota to South Dakota where we are storing our non-essentials during the transition. We found ourselves asking the age old question, 'how did we get so much STUFF?!'. Though it was a long process, it was a good feeling sorting through the accumulated clutter - keeping only the necessities (which still added up!), Our plan was to store some tools, large items and various sentimental things with our parents in South Dakota, cram in as much of the bare necessities we will need initially when we get to Alaska, and ship the stored items up months down the road once we have a place to put it all. The bare necessities mentioned would be road trip items, emergency items, various tools, computers, books, work clothes and of course the Queen mattress.
Ultimately, we decided to purchase a 1996 Ford SuperDuty limo bus from a casino. We needed something to get us from South Dakota to Alaska via the Alaskan Highway. The bus fit the bill for affordability (it was 'totaled' due to hail damage), durability (4WD with 8 ply tires), and 'camp-ability' (has a wet bar and half bath). It just needed a few minor repairs and many, many decals removed. We are forever grateful to those family members and friends that helped us with the work of making the repairs and upgrades for our journey. Over the next couple of weeks we completed many tasks on the bus, both big and small. They included:
Countless other small things were complete after many trips to the hardware and automotive stores. From day one we had planned to bring my Subaru Forester and had already gotten it up to snuff for it's 3,000 mile trek. I purchased and installed some quality tires capable of handling whatever Alaska or the Yukon might throw at us. I also made sure to get a full sized spare tire of the same quality to have on hand (just in case). We mounted the spare tire on the roof and extra cans of premium and diesel fuel on the hitch caddy (we made sure to ignore the warning label telling us not to do this). Pete and I have taken the 'Scoob', as we call it, to Salt Lake City, UT twice and Colorado, not to mention countless trips in Minnesota and South Dakota. She runs like she's got 40,000 miles on her when in reality, we've put over 112,000 on it the 4 years I've owned it. She has gotten us through a lot and we have learned if you want your vehicle to take care of you, you need to take care of it. The plan was for me to lead the way in my car and Pete follow behind in the bus. We used the walkie-talkies to warn each other of any potholes, frost heaves, construction, or road hazards, along with the typical banter and light conversation that goes with a road trip of this magnitude. Navigating this long distance was a big job and, after all was said and done, I believe I earned my navigation badge!
Looking back on our vehicle choices, we 100% believe we made the correct decision with the bus & Subaru. We had originally planned to buy a pickup and a trailer or RV before leaving. However, we had heard all sorts of stories about what the road and weather conditions may be like - ranging from benign to horrifying. That uncertainty, combined with the unknowns that come with used vehicles and trailers, made it feel a little risky. Visions of towing a large open trailer with our belongings strapped down through miles of construction and frost heaves peppered with potholes, or towing an RV through the remote Canadian Rockies and Yukon wilderness, praying the RV (our new home) didn't break before we arrived. In the end, the bus was a much smaller investment and if something catastrophic were to happen to her, neither of us would be too heartbroken.
Hello, I am Melissa, owner of Wild North Design. Recently, my husband and I decided to pick up and move to Alaska. This dream has been a couple years in the making and we are enjoying the journey so far. We love to learn and make all kinds of things. From wood craft, to painting, to vehicles, landscaping, building, exploring...we love it all! We are finding out that Alaska is a great fit for our restless minds and bodies! Excited for what the future holds for our expanding family!
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