Alaska 2008

Bellefonte, PA to Home

280 Miles/448 Km

8 August 2008

Route Map

Route Information


Points of interest

Distance From





Bellefonte, PA Bellefonte/State College KOA Home
40.966 N
77.678 W
I 80
SR 26
Junction I 80 & I 81   Home
41.046 N
76.012 W
PA I 80
I 81
Scranton, PA Steamtown National Historic Site Home
41.419 N
75.611 W
PA I 81
I 84
I 380
Chester, NY
(Trailer Storage)
41.353 N
74.278 W
NY NY 17
NY 17M
Home   Home
40.726 N
73.866 W
NY I 495

Photographs and Commentary

We made it home. The run from Bellefonte to Chester was easy. There were a couple of construction sites but no real delays. Leaving Chester we picked up some traffic on NY 17 and on the New York Thruway (I-87) but it was moving at the speed limit except for a few spots where rubberneckers had to look at an accident on the other side. Then we got to New York City and our luck ran out. As we were coming across the Tappan Zee Bridge we heard that there was a major accident on I-95 in the Bronx and the highway was closed since early morning. The radio reports indicated that a lot of alternate traffic was coming down the Hutchinson River Parkway which normally causes a backup at the Whitestone Bridge. I opted to stay on I-87, which may have been a mistake. Apparently the truck traffic took an alternate route coming down from New England and was on I-87. There was a backup from nearly the city limits to the I-95 interchange which took a long time to get through. Once we were past that exit, the traffic started moving at the speed limit and we were home in about 20 minutes. This traffic made me want to turn around and head back to the peaceful wilderness.

Speaking of luck or the lack of it... After we unpacked the trailer, I started transferring data from the laptop to my desktop. I had just started doing so when I got the "blue screen of death." The laptop crashed. I tried restarting it with no luck it just gave me a blank black screen. I ran the Pre-boot Diagnostics program and after running through a series of memory checks, it beeped and advised that I had a hard drive problem. It was late in the evening and I didn't try to do more. The next morning I tried to start the computer with no response. I contacted Dell Support and a technician had me run the diagnostics again with the sam results. He told me what I already knew, the hard drive was dead. We tried to see if we could recover the data but could not. They will send me a new hard drive and I will have to install it and all the software that went "bye-Bye" with the old (only four months old) hard drive. On the other side of the luck ledger... I had backed up all of the thousands of pictures Susie and I took a few days earlier so they were not lost. All of the files from this Web site have already been restored to the desktop from the server so they are not lost. A lot of the other data, I can recover from other sources, but there are files that are gone forever... so be it. The lesson in this is that one should regularly back up their files. I subscribe to a service that backs up my desktop and Susie's laptop twice a day. I didn't bother to do so with my laptop because I was using an external drive for backup, but didn't back up some of the files that are now lost (don't ask me why). When my laptop is up and running, I will add it to my subscription for back up.

Now that I have had a few days to contemplate the trip, what did I think about it? How did it compare to the 2005 Alaska trip and other trips we have taken over the last few years? I think this was probably the best trip we have made since I retired. It was certainly more enjoyable than the 2005 trip and we saw so much more. The other trips were great, this one was better. It is hard to pick out the highlight of the trip, but the flight to Katmai and the bears comes to my mind first. Of course seeing Denali while in Denali National Park is high on the list as was the trip to the Queen Charlotte Islands. To me, it is the difficulty in identifying the ultimate highlight of the trip that made the trip itself so great. Our objective for this trip was to go to places we had not visited on previous trips and to do and see things we had not done before. I believe we met our objectives.

Sure, the trip could have been better if the weather was nicer, but there is little we can do about that but complain (which I did). In the end, the weather had little impact on our plans. The road conditions along the Alaska and Cassiar highways were not the greatest, but we got through them unscathed. We had to replace one windshield because of a rock hit on a nearly empty Interstate highway (where you wouldn't expect something like that) and will probably have to replace or repair the new windshield due to a rock hit on the Yellowhead highway (a multi lane highway which was also nearly empty at the time). These were minor annoyances, although they didn't appear that way at times, that had very little impact on our enjoying the trip.

So how do we top this trip? I don't know if we can, but we are sure going to try. Where do we travel to next? Again, I don't know, but we have already tossed around a few options. Stay tuned.

And Susie says… As the superstitious type, I didn’t want to say anything about the trip until we got home. But now that we are home, safe and sound, I can honestly say that not only did this trip meet my expectations, it far exceeded them. This trip was planned to include the places that we didn’t visit on our first driving trip to Alaska, in 2005.

As far as I am concerned the highlights of the trip were many…

The huge sculpture of Mt. Rushmore.

Mount Rushmore

The magnificence of the Queen Charlotte Islands (the float plane trip to sacred Skedans, meeting Jaalen Edenshaw and observing the steaming of his Haida canoe, visiting the soon to be opened Haida Heritage Center in Skidegate and observing the graceful elegance of the many bald eagles, perched in trees or  circling overhead.)

Skedans Totem Pole Jaalen Edenshaw and his canoe
Susie and Jaalen Edenshaw Two Eagles

Seeing Denali (the Great One) out only approximately 3 or 4 times during the summer, as well as the caribou walking up the hill no more than 10 feet from us, the moose and her calf that we encountered on the road at dawn and the mother bear and her 3 cubs walking along the road.

Denali, The Great One Caribou close up... too close up

Visiting the home of Michelle Coburn, owner of Rabbit Ridge Designs, a friend I met online, whose unique hand painted wool kept me busy making scarves all last winter.

Michelle Coburn and Susie

Taking a seaplane fight with Bald Mountain Air from Homer to Katmai to see the famous bears fishing for salmon at Brooks Falls. WOW!

Fishing at Brooks Falls

Watching people dipnetting for Salmon along the Kenai River, a cultural phenomenon that occurs only from July 10th through July 31st each year and is only permitted for Alaska residents.

Dipnetting at the mouth of the Kenai River

Taking the behind the scenes tour of the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward.

Susie at the Alaska SeaLife Center

Cruising the now pristine waters of Prince William Sound, site of the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.

Disrespectful Stellar Sealion

And…coming home.

The End, For now.


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