The map lies. But I blame it on the wall.
After six weeks of driving and a week on the Alaska Marine Highway’s M/V Kennicott, I drove off the ship onto Kodiak and logged my first Alaska driving miles of Round-Trip America. And I stopped writing. Stopped updating this site. Left the site’s map untouched (nope, not in South Dakota anymore).
Takeaway from a long road trip: a constant state of look-what-you-get-to-see joy and paying attention can lead to exhaustion. A big ugly wall of exhaustion. (I expected it but not to the degree it struck.) After getting to Alaska, a state I’ve considered my other home for several years now, I started napping about an hour for every hour of doing things. My brain could relax. I, in ways, know this place. Or at least, my version of Alaska (like NYC, everybody who comes here ends up with his or her own Alaska). There was no need to figure things out every single day. No need to look at maps to find the best route to my next wherever or to sift through reviews of hotels or campgrounds in order to figure out where I could get a budget-friendly bed for the night or set up my tent.
Oh, how a person’s relationship to a place can shift over time: during my first trip to Alaska in May, 2004, this was the all-new place for me. A place very much unlike anything I knew from the East Coast. The love came quick but, for several years, Alaska trips always ended with nap upon nap back in NYC.
Things changed last summer when I made my first temporary summer move to AK*. I lived my regular life—paid bills, did work, hung out with friends, searched out good pho—but traded nights wandering NYC’s streets for early evenings hikes, swapped dodging taxis on city streets for looking out for bears while on trails, and gave the heave-ho to East Village midnight drinks with NYC friends in favor of Midnight Sun beers with AK friends. Both p laces, though, have seagulls. But AK’s look a little spiffier.
This summer just builds on all of that. Within a day of getting to Anchorage, I decided to extend my mid-Round-Trip America layover from two to three months. From my far West Coast home base, I’ll write again. And, some day soon, I’ll even update the map. Or not. South Dakota’s not a bad place to hang out for a while either.
*Yes, I know I still need to log a winter or three in AK. It’ll happen but, really, I like to chase fall: if you want to do the same, try summers in AK, winter in TN, and fall in NYC/NJ or wandering wherever. Really, not a bad way to live.