Category Archives: Road Trips

Off to Fairbanks, Alaska

With minimal planning — as we now like to do because we’ve realized jam-packed weeks of vacationing are tiring — we attempted to leave Denver for Fairbanks, Alaska two weeks ago. After a delayed flight, we managed to make it to Fairbanks a day later than expected.

Just a traveling tip here, if you call your hotel to let them know you won’t be able to make it for the first night of many nights of your reservation, be sure you are positive they understand you still want to stay the subsequent nights of your stay! We got to our hotel to find out that they had sold our room even though we had called them. We holed up in a Motel 8 instead and fell promptly asleep, hoping to make up our lost time in the coming days.

Fairbanks is a big place to navigate, but a small place to live and hang out. Maybe there’s not much to do in the summer, or maybe we just didn’t plan enough. Most of the roads are filled with construction crews trying to finish their work before winter sets in. There’s plenty of hiking to do, but the summer days seem to be typically overcast and rainy, making pretty miserable hiking weather.

Where We Stayed in Fairbanks, AK

Chena Hot Springs Resort (Website)

We spent the next couple of days at Chena Hot Springs Resort, hoping to catch some sights of the aurora and to bask in the hot springs located on sight. The resort was…pretty alright. The room we stayed was sparse, and the cabin itself was being painted and renovated, which led to much noise and cigarette smoke through most of the day and night. The weather was not very cooperative, resulting in a nonstop overcast sky and rain throughout most of our stay, which was not conducive to viewing the aurora, so we missed out there. But, the hot springs, pool, and jacuzzi, as well a pretty great restaurant made up for some of the trouble.

Arctic Roots Farm (Book on Airbnb)

We left Chena feeling indifferent about Fairbanks, moving on to our next base of operations for the rest of our trip, a small farm cabin on a sheep farm via Airbnb. The cabin at Arctic Roots Farm was clean and comfortable, surrounded by tons of flowers, with a great view of the pasture and mountains from the living room and porch. Unexpectedly, the couple that runs the farm also provided homemade continental breakfast each morning — scones, banana bread, homemade yogurt and strata. Needless to say, our stay in the cabin on the farm really perked up our moods after becoming a bit jaded while staying at the ‘resort’.

Sightseeing in Fairbanks, AK

Morris Thompson Cultural Center (Information)

This is one of the first places we visited and the museum inside is definitely worth a visit. It’s free and a bit interactive, full of information about Fairbanks culture and wildlife. The first thing we realized about Fairbanks while viewing the exhibits is that it seemed like most of the action seems to occur during the snowy winters.

Large Animal Research Station (Website)

Musk Oxen are the providers of one of the softest, warmest fibers available on earth, so they were the reason we went to visit the Large Animal Research Station (LARS for short). At the station, you can get fairly close to musk oxen and caribou/reindeer. Take the $10 tour to learn a lot of interesting facts about the animals and the research that the University of Alaska Fairbanks does regarding these animals.

Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum (Website)

The Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum was one of the places we’d actually planned on going before heading out to Alaska, we weren’t expecting too much but were pleasantly surprised at the size and quality of this museum. We’re not huge car enthusiasts, but really loved walking through the museum and seeing all of the antique cars. Antique dresses and fashion accessories were displayed alongside the cars, which gave you a feel for what women were wearing while riding around in these cars.

Pioneer Park (Website)

I’m not sure if we just weren’t looking at Pioneer Park the right way, but we found this (luckily free) park to be a bit depressing. It’s full of historic cabins that have been converted into shops and cafes, playgrounds and museums. It seemed like a place that used to be exciting and fun but lost the excitement along the way. But hey, it was free.

 Steese Highway Scenic Byway

Perhaps if the weather was clearer, this drive would have been better but it just felt boring. We turned around after a couple of hours, having gone that long hoping the next turn would reward us with amazing views of… anything. The only interesting thing we saw on half of this byway was part of the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline.

After making it to the farm, the weather began clearing a little and we decided to make our trips to Denali Nat’l Park, which we’ll save for its own blog post, but suffice to say, it was absolutely incredible. After multiple trips out to the park, across mountains and massive straights of amazing scenery and roads, finally catching the aurora, and seeing the highest mountain peak in North America, we had had our fill of Fairbanks, and knew that Anchorage was calling for us.

(Some of) The Blue Ridge Parkway

Since we were driving home from Pittsburgh once again, we thought we’d try to take some of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

We drove the North Carolina portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway, starting at the entrance nearest I-77. I had read before we chose our entrance point that if you have limited time, the North Carolina bit is more scenic than the Virginian because it is much more mountainous.

We spent about 7 hours on the parkway from I-77 to Asheville, where we called it quits.

Trip to Mom’s | My new trip on Roadtrippers.com!

For the most part, the drive was really lovely, but we are still really spoiled by our recent trip to Oregon. After about an hour or so on the scenic route, I stopped asking to pull in to every single photo area.

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Our Road Trip from Florida to the Grand Canyon

With Detours to Ruby Falls, The Meteor Crater, Painted Desert and Petrified Forest

The road trip from Orlando, Florida to the Grand Canyon that we took from September 26, 2011 to October 2, 2011 is something that we’ve mentioned in one of our first posts, and is still probably one of the most epic, fun, adventurous road trips that John and I have taken.

The Grand Canyon was actually never on either of our ‘lists of places to see’. A big hole in the ground didn’t really intrigued us. But road trips did. And a road trip out west really intrigued me.

We had a week of vacation coming up with no real plans and the Grand Canyon popped into my head. I looked up how long it would take to drive — 1 day and 8 hours. It would be a crazy road trip. We would have to drive almost straight through just to have a couple of days to explore the park. We’d have to sleep in the car! It would be epic, like those coming-of-age movies where friends have crazy road trips! (At least, that’s what I thought anyway.)

So on the morning of September 26, 2011, we set out with adventure on our mind.

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Crater Lake and the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway

So, if you can’t tell from our last posts, Oregon is super pretty.

Mountain view
View off of Highway 230 (Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway)

Like, super-duper pretty.

View point off of Highway 230 (Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway)
View point off of Highway 230 (Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway)

The last time that Mandy and I were on the Pacific Coast, we had really wanted to check out Crater Lake but because of the season, most of the roads were closed down and covered in snow. We decided to hang a little closer to where we were staying, which at that point was San Fransisco, and do some sight-seeing there.

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Over the River and Through the Woods Scenic Byway and West Cascades Scenic Byway

The Over the River and Through the Woods Scenic Byway starts about 25-30 minutes north of Eugene, Oregon. Take I-5 up and then get yourself onto Highway 228 and just drive east.

The byway takes you through farmlands, over rivers and through woods – imagine that! Our trip on this byway happened to be on an overcast and rainy day, which surprisingly didn’t ruin anything.

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Photographs: Running around Oregon & Washington

I apologize in advance, but this post is a bit of a cop out. We’ve been running around so much, from Portland to Seattle to Portland to Eugene, that we haven’t had much time for sitting down to write a blog post. I guess it’s a good problem to have when you’re traveling but no so good for this blog and its readers.

These are the photos I’ve been taking with my DSLR. If you’ve been keeping up with my Instagram, some of these may look a bit familiar but the photos taken on a DSLR always have a different quality than those taken on an iPhone, so I thought I’d share them anyway.

Rocky Butte Sunrise Overlooking Portland, Oregon

Mount St. Helens Visitor Center in Washington

Tumwater Historical Park in Washington

Highway 101 from Highway 26 to 20 in Oregon

For more pictures from the last few days, be sure to check out my Instagram account! 🙂

How to keep occupied during a road trip

When Mandy and I go on our trips, we usually spend several hours taking apart our house to look for things to keep our attention when we’re not driving. You should keep in mind that on a twenty-hour road trip, chances are that the things you’ve brought to stave off boredom may just as well start boring you again when you’re doing it for ten hours straight.

Much like raising kids (or from what I’ve seen of them being raised), keeping occupied during a road trip is mostly about the art of distraction. Especially during that boring stretch of I-10.

Just kidding.

That’s all of I-10.  All of I-10 is boring. There, I said it.

Anyways, the art of distraction plays an important role in any road trip. You’ll want to bring enough supplies to split your attention between them for a while, but not enough to where your trip is going to be overly-cumbersome.

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