In mid-July 2010, my fiancee, Samantha, accepted a job in Anchorage, Alaska. She had to start work in August, leaving her only about two weeks to pack up the Subaru, drive it to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from her home near Philadelphia, and take a plane to Anchorage to start searching for a place to live. I drove the 2009 Outback from Pittsburgh to Anchorage alone.
After two great years in Alaska, we knew we had to move back home. Despite our love for the 49th state, both of us have strong family ties in Pennsylvania.
Craig and Samantha starting their journey, Seward Highway, Alaska.
Samantha and I, along with our dog, Bowie, left Anchorage on June 23, 2012, and arrived in Warminster, Pennsylvania, five weeks later, on July 28.
Driving between Alaska and Pennsylvania is daunting by any route. Our espresso-hued Outback already had made the trip east to west, a relatively straight shot save for one massive detour to Yellowstone National Park. The move back was considerably more ambitious. We logged 8,544 total miles, which included more than 20 points of interest, 14 states, two Canadian provinces, and one Canadian territory.
Along the way, we stopped to observe a herd of wild bison in northwest Canada, stayed in a posh 20-story hotel in downtown Vancouver, had a beer at the top of the Space Needle, walked along grassy dunes in the pouring rain on the Oregon coast, walked the east rim of Crater Lake, got turned away just short of the cables on a Half Dome summit bid at Yosemite, ate pasta on a sweltering desert beach at Lake Powell, passed out on Golden Gate Park beach delirious with poison oak, slept at a sketchy cliffside turnout of Highway 1 above the Pacific Ocean at Big Sur, and took the Bright Angel Trail deep into the Grand Canyon.
Images from left to right: brown bear on Alcan Highway, British Columbia; Vancouver, British Columbia; La Jolla Beach, San Diego
For two years in Alaska, we had used our Subaru to get us up dicey mountain roads to trailheads, and in many ways, this trip was an extension of that same spirit. Due to time constraints, we only had about a month for a few lengthy day hikes in some of the most pristine settings in the country.
We spent the night parked on roadsides in the middle of nowhere, crashed at friends’ homes, spent the majority of our savings, enjoyed and abused our car – which became, among other things, an eat-in kitchen, bedroom, entertainment center, moving truck, city taxi, pantry, and temporary dog kennel.