So this is what I'm doing to some poor rental car in June. Suggestions and dire warnings welcome.
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75 thoughts on “NPF: FANTASTIC VOYAGE”

  • Chautauqua says:

    Is the route through Minnesota an alternate? Please come and see our lovely mostly progressive state!

  • A Different Nate says:

    I'd suggest taking I-25 south from Cheyenne through Denver. You can pick up I-70 through Kansas and get back on track that way, and Denver's worth spending a day or two to see. Plus if I'm in town I'll buy you a beer! It's win-win, really.

  • Only one suggestions…plea actually…please write regularly and often. I am sure I will thoroughly enjoy your "take" on the areas through which you will be driving. Oh, take the insurance and have a good road support plan. Enjoy.

  • Stephen Johnson says:

    Quite the drive!
    I live in Calgary, so a few brief thoughts.

    You might want to consider switching at Calgary to W on Hwy 1 and then taking Hwy93 (the Icefields Parkway) to Jasper before picking up the Yellowhead. Calgary-Edmonton is a pretty dull drive.
    Highlight sites to consider in Alberta (in my opinion):
    Brooks bone beds
    Royal Tyrell museum
    Banff / Lake Louise / Morraine Lake area
    Columbia icefields

    Also, when coming up from the US side, come through Waterton via Going-to-the-Sun road, at least if you're feeling brave.

    Finally, if it interests you at all, consider checking out one of our rodeos, i.e.

    Just a few thoughts, contact me on the e-mail if I can be of any further assistance.

  • Feel free to stop off in Lawrence, KS! We're right off I-70 and it's probably your last chance for people of the liberal persuasion for quite some time, what with Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana between KC and Canada. It might also be your last chance to see a hill until you get halfway through Wyoming.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Lewis and Clark had nothing on you, Ed!

    Of course, they didn't have a rental car.
    They did, however, have a rental young Native American woman – or else they probably would ended up in Grizzly Bear poop.

    Are you going through Wasilla?
    If you are, drive by the Palin compound, flip the family compound the bird, then fling a giant booger at it.

    Best wishes!
    And, as someone wrote above, please keep writing and give us your impressions of the areas you drive and stay through.

  • Take the road from Whitehorse to Skagway for TOTALLY AWESOME scenery it would be a crime to miss.

    Stay at the Historical Guest House B&B in Whitehorse.
    Eat at Antoinette's down the street.

  • Wave to my old house as you go through Edmonton. Christ, I'm so glad to be back in B.C. again. The only province that's more boring to drive through than Alberta is Saskatchewan.

  • Looks like your Tennessee segment is going to miss Knoxville, but if you choose to come see our fair city let me know. We can at least drink a couple of beers. Plus we've got kind of a big University here. Apparently you're into that sort of thing.

  • If this isn't planned as a cannonball run I can recommend a number of places along the way (some more, some less). If you have two extra days consider detouring through Cody, Wy and its museum, then through Yellowstone before turning north into Montana The trick to driving in Yellowstone is to do it before 9am when the RVs start to move. You see amazing amounts of wildlife along the road at dawn. Were it me I would exit Yellowstone via the Beartooth Pass Highway back to Red Lodge and then North. An amazing road. Once in Canada there is a very well-preserved Lancaster Bomber in Nanton, Alberta before you get to Calgary. Sounds like a great trip!

  • A Different Nate says:

    For some reason I thought you were going north to south rather than the reverse, in which case my instructions will be rather backward.

  • Kevin NYC says:

    For the love of a bleeding god man are you insane? Why? There is only a small fraction of time you will enjoy yourself… you will drive and drive until you are dulled to the trip.

    Are you going alone? Worse! What kind of car are you renting? A fuel efficient compact? Eghad! You will be miserable and sleep in bug infested motels and eat egg after egg cause its the only thing they can cook correctly. Eh edibly.. that and meatloaf and potatoes.

    Why florida? The penis?

    Here.. fly to ashville north carolina and spend a few days.. drive a rental to somewhere you an get the train from through st loius into montana.. like billings.. then rent (or buy) a van and buy a mattress and a stove and head out across the north to vancouver.. then get rid of the van and get a ride on some sort.of boat.. head north.. fly in a float plane… get to wasilla so you can take advantage of the tax free walmart and then fly home…

    Seriously. Spend you money and time having fun instead of driving.

  • I will fifth the recommendation for Minnesota. I can't make any promises, but you're highly unlikely to end up in any woodchippers.

  • Diamond Dave says:

    Looks like you're going thru Orlando. We've got a guest room that you're welcome to if you'd like.

  • Second Stephen Johnson's recs re Alberta, all of them. Seriously, take the Icefields road. It'd be a crime to drive just over the horizon from that through endless flat fields of yellow canola. Don't you get enough of that in Illinois? (Different crop, but same tune.)

    Join everybody recommending Minnesota. Sandhills of Nebraska is amazing in a quiet way. I don't know if you have the option to time your trip to when the cranes are doing their thing.

    If it were me, I'd figure out a way to avoid all the driving through the hugely boring bits, but maybe you enjoy the process?

    As for telling us all about it, yeah, that'd be nice for us. But for you, you should probably just head on out and forget everybody. Then you can feed us reminiscences later in a series of NPFridays.

  • PhoenixRising says:

    is correct, in part.

    …consider detouring through Cody, Wy and its museum, then through Yellowstone. Get there via the Beartooth Pass Highway in Red Lodge, MT. Arrive early, drive through the Lamar Valley at dawn and again at dusk. It's America's Seregheti. Bison, assorted herdbeasts, coyotes, foxes. Wolves. Grizzlies. Black bears. All these, and assorted fish, before 9am.

    You will never regret it. We go to Yellowstone & Grand Teton in even summers.

    Suggested 2 day plan: arrive at midday, get a cabin at Tower/Roosevelt (the Teddy is strong in the area; the Man Himself saw and shot a bighorn from above the falls), enjoy the Lamar Valley; hit Canyon midday. Leave the park south to Grand Teton. You can stay at a lodge or cabin there as well, if you don't have a tent. If you do have a tent, set it up at Lizard Creek. Some of the best sites in NPS are in Teton, facing Jackson Lake.

    Then get back in the rental car and be amazed by how ugly the rest of this great nation is until you get to the Keys.

  • PhoenixRising says:

    On reflection, you really want to hit Glacier/Waterton on your way. Head down the western slope in BC, enjoy the Okanagon, then come on down to I-80 in Wyoming via Yellowstone and Teton.

    On a third thought, how much is the rental car for 3 weeks?

  • Jack the Cold Warrior says:

    Kevin NYC might be right.

    Be careful on the Atlanta Beltway, they drive crazy there.

    If you plan on getting off the main roads in the wilds of the west, Canada, and Alaska, be sure to prepare a survival kit, sleeping bag, water, compass, and GPS. An ELT is another good idea.

    Enjoy the trip, take your time. Maybe 4 weeks instead of 3…

  • Trapper Dan says:

    Stay indoors as much as possible (especially at night) and grab a copy of Horace Kephart's "Camping and Woodcraft" and look up 'insecticides' in the index. Be prepared, the skeeters, ticks, chiggers, and flies are mean and nasty the farther north you go. Good luck. You're about to be prey to critters you won't even see coming.

  • Proving once again that as soon as you mention you're going somewhere, everybody in the room has a better route.

    All I'll say is bring booze. Some of these places you're going through don't make it easy to get a cocktail.

    Oh, and bring a couple of rolls of toilet paper. Just sayin'.

  • Lot of Minnesota partisans – and, yeah, it's a nice state. Lots of family from there. But if you skip Montana you will be sad.

  • And TBQH if I were doing this trip I'd cut across Louisiana and Texas and then head up through NM and CO – better scenery and things to do (although that part of Missouri isn't bad).

  • Great, now I'm playing around on Google Maps with the journey between Deadhorse and Key West. I guess I need to go on a road trip. I would say, for the US part, consider I-10. You could hit New Orleans, or bypass it (I like it, some people don't, YMMV).

    Then, you'll go through Houston (whatever, if you cross the North American continent, sooner or later you've got to cross the flat part, and at least Texas has good BBQ). You'll go through El Paso/Juarez which is a real eye-opener if you've never been to a US-Mexico border city.

    Then, head north up I-25. Take a detour down highway 60 at Socorro and check out the Very Large Array. Yeah, you've seen it in movies and pictures but it's still pretty impressive in person, especially if you've got a soft spot for Big Science. Now, from there you've got a selection of charming little rural highways that take you into southern Utah, and you can pop into the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Aka the cool, hipster side of the Grand Canyon.

    Or, you can go north toward four corners. Just bear in mind a lot of that area is part of the Navajo Nation. There's a lot of wonderful scenery and culture but you can't just blunder around, you need to give them advance notice and in many cases you'll need to hire a guide.

    In Utah you can pick up I-15, but don't, whatever you do, miss Zion national park. Pictures do not do it justice. Central Utah is a bit meh but just north of Salt Lake is Promontory, where the transcontinental railroad was completed. It's kind of fun partly because it's fairly out in the middle of nowhere. And depending on the lake level you might be able to see the Spiral Jetty as well.

    You can pop over to Twin Falls, Idaho, where the Snake River goes over a waterfall bigger than Niagara, and it's just lurking in a city park. Or head straight up I-15 through Helena, Montana's charming little capital. But better head west on I-90 to Missoula, then North on 93 past Flathead Lake, Kalispell, and on through Glacier NP. That gets you on the right side of Canada, and you can check out Banff and maybe some of BC. Otherwise you'll drive through Saskatchewan and Eastern Alberta which is basically the same thing as Texas or Nebraska but with wheat instead of corn and road signs in km instead of miles.

  • I've heard of this so called Minnesota Miracle, but is it any better than California? San Ysidro to Maine Summer 2016? I've got a room for you in North San Diego.

  • You'll be going through some rough territory that — there's no other way to put this — isn't real civilized, and doesn't have much to do with civilized society. The climate is extreme & brutal, and the people can behave unpredictably, often with great hostility. If you insist on travelling in these regions, do yourself a favor. Play it safe and don't rouse the natives. I.e. no hoodies, no Skittles, no melanin — and pack some sunblock.

  • Adding to Stephen Johnson's recommendations, try to stop at Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump in southern Alberta. And if you like Star Trek, the small town of Vulcan, Alberta is fun.

  • Seconding what @zaphod said. Please take lots of pictures and write a few words along the way for Facebook/Instagram/G&T Updates. Also seconding the recommendation to take your time and get out from behind the wheel. You'll miss everything that's worthwhile if you stay in the car staring at the freeway. Good luck and Bon Voyage!

  • The only time I've been in Alaska was in February. It's hard to enjoy the Northern Lights when you can't feel your feet. You shouldn't have that problem. Seeing the Arctic Ocean frozen solid was impressive, as was the guide's advice – if we saw three black dots in the distance, run for the van. Polar bears are fast.

    If you make it to Barrow and the Mexican restaurant is still there, eat somewhere else.

  • Pack a survival kit.
    Pack an eprb/sat phone
    Sure it's the Great White North, but pack water
    Set your itinery and set how long you can be over due.
    Vehicle recommendations:
    Land Rover Defender NOT a Disco
    Land Cruiser
    If you can splash out get a Unimog.
    Don't forget a winch.

    Have fun!

  • Where is this starting from Deadhorse? It's better to start in Deadhorse otherwise it's all uphill.

  • On the Land Rover.
    Might I suggest buying a second hand one. Owning with looking to sell afterwards gives some latitude.
    You want to get the one that has the spare on the bonnet. Having to crawl under the vehicle in rain and mud to change a tyre…
    More importantly, my friends who take great pleasure in breaking things for living have found that era—even when abused 2nd hand—nearly impossible to break. You can, but you have to know what you're doing. Something to do with that era being built to withstand getting kicked fully out of a C-130.
    You can either sleep in the vehicle or sleep on top of it if you want to see the stars. This is important unless you don't mind some of the cuddly—read aggressive—critters trying to nibble you nose off.

  • Phil Koop says:

    If you really do go through Calgary, then unless you have a strong personal reason to visit Edmonton, you should definitely do what everyone is saying and drive the Icefield Parkway. Seriously, it is spectacular, many times worth the marginal increase in travel time. Stop at the glacier, see what's left before it all melts! (It used to come almost up to the highway.) Yes, Banff is a shiny and expensive resort town of the type that you likely find most irritating … it doesn't matter. The Parkway makes up for that. Besides, the drive from Calgary to Edmonton is nothing special.

    Also, it looks like your route takes you close to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. Perhaps you were considering stopping there? It it were me, I would.

  • Phil Koop says:

    Also, while we are diverting you from your chosen route, why not suggest leisure activities you dislike? :-)

    As Stephen Johnson hints, there is excellent hiking out of both Banff and Lake Louise, which are on the suggested detour. Even if you hate hiking, you should stop and view Lake Louise if the weather is fine. If you are feeling a bit more ambitious, then the guided hike up to the the Burgess Shale (a short detour from Lake Louise) is totally worth it.

    Incidentally, there are hotels between Lake Louise and Jasper – you don't have to drive it in one trip unless you want to.

  • Couple days late, but I'm going to second everything EJ said. Even if you don't want to go that far south, though, I'll repeat what I wrote on Facebook: Take I-70 to Denver, then either I-25 to Cheyenne or 287 to Laramie, then I-80 to Salt Lake, then I-15 north. If you want to do Southern Utah (which I highly recommend; if you can't make Zion at least stop by Arches or Canyonlands, neither of which would be far off the way in this route so you could easily stop into Moab for some gas, some food, and a quick hike to Delicate Arch/drive to Dead Horse Point), then take I-70 east from Denver, then north on 191/I-15 toward Salt Lake City. And bonus, if you stop in SLC, I'll buy you a beer or three and tell you where to get excellent Mexican food.

  • I'm from Minneapolis, MN and while I would whole-heartedly encourage a visit through MN, your alternate route shown takes you through perhaps the dullest major highway route in the state (94E from Fargo down to Mpls).

    So unless you plan on diverting even further east all the way to the North Shore and above, I would honestly say Montana and Wyoming would not be worth missing unless you haven't been to Minneapolis.

    Oh, and don't even think about the I80 through WY and NE… you'll want to murder your eyeballs.

  • I gotta second what Luke said about I-80. I drove a garbage truck from the UP to Frisco in 1990. The truck had a 55 mph governor on it and it took me nine hours to cross Nebraska.

    I have never recovered.

  • The Jack of Hearts says:

    Perhaps bringing along a micro-cassette (or digital) recorder to dictate occasional thoughts and observations as you drive would be useful and interesting.

  • I dunno why so many people are suggesting safari vehicles and satellite transponders. I guarantee the second-most common vehicle you'll see (after the ubiquitous pickup truck) will be the rural poor person's ride: a fifteen to twenty five year old Neon or Cavalier or Accord with rust holes and bald tires. If they can get around, a shiny new rental car is a couple of orders of magnitude better.

    Don't leave food in the car in bear country: they will not be polite when then open the doors to get it. Stop every ninety minutes and walk/jog around for five minutes. This will keep your back much, much happier. Spend an extra hour at the rental lot picking out a car: you'll be living in it for a few weeks. Taurus SHO seats don't fit me at all, for example–I'd be far happier in a Focus or even a Fiesta. I'd take a Cruze over an Impala or a Malibu, too, but I like smaller cars.

    iExit is a handy phone app you'll want–it lists amenities adjacent to interstate exits. The database lives on your phone (or iPad) so you don't need cell access. A lot of Canada does not have 24-hour gas stations; plan accordingly. Watch for moose–you really, really don't want to hit one.

  • If you're planning on staying overnight in the Banff / Calgary area, the Moraine Lake Lodge is fantastic. Get a cabin; they have fireplaces.

  • I'm curious about logistically how your going to do this. Rent car where, drop off where, cost of one-way rental?

    As for the route, the western part of South Dakota is topographically interesting, and the I-90 route will allow you to bypass Nebraska.

  • Steve in the ATL says:

    "I drove a garbage truck from the UP to Frisco in 1990"

    Sluggo, quick question: WTF?

  • Jex and I own a theater in St. Paul that would be happy to host TacoCon Twin Cities.

    Please make this happen. #tacocontwincities

  • basement cat says:

    Don't forget to stop at the Parthenon in Nashville, worship at the feet of the giant Athena statue, visit the folks at Hatch Show Print, and get some hot chicken at 400 Degrees.

    On the other hand Kevin NYC might have a point, why not just skip the drive and go to Asheville, NC? As the t-shirt slogan says, 10,000 lesbians can't be wrong.

  • For the love of a bleeding god man are you insane?

    Kevin NYC was reading my thought bubble. Seems like you lost a bet, or are trying to win one. Niether scenario seems attractive.

  • Carry snacks to keep yourself entertained on those long stretches of nothingness. Preferable are the kinds of snacks you eat one-by-one. And yeah, watch for bear/moose/elk. Bear will eat you. Moose and elk, should you hit them, will kill you.

  • Kevin NYC says:

    Just popping back in.. happy to see at least two people here think that driving all that way seems… painfull.

    Did you say three weeks? And how many miles? And what is that per hour and a 12 hour day? Let me.go to google…

  • schmitt trigger says:

    Bring a stash Crystal Meth or Oxycontin…..those are better than cash in some places. :-)

    Now seriously…drive the Icefields Parkway and visit Lake Moraine, Lake Louise and what remains of the Athabasca Glacier.

  • Chicagojon says:

    If you don't have one already I will be sending you a in-car dash cam to document this great voyage. Whether you go full vlog with updates or just have it for yourself is your call, but seriously — you need a camera. Contact me on FB or email or whatnot.

  • Freecookies says:

    Doing that route in June? No real comment.

    Doing that route in January? You had better take a camping stove, some freeze dried food, several blankets, thermal underwear, a heavy coat and some footwarmers or you might be in trouble.

  • Don't expect to actually drive to the arctic ocean shore unless you are part of a tour. It's state property*

    *leased by BP, ConocoPhillips, etc. with access denied by rent-a-cops.

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