Road Trip

For Memorial Day weekend, the McGaugheys will get on Interstate 90 and travel west for 639 miles (or so Mapquest says) to Sheridan, Wyo., where we’ll celebrate a nephew’s graduation from high school.

Those 639 miles translate into a driving time of eight hours and 59 minutes, I’m told, though that may vary due to road construction, meals, bathrooms breaks and any other number of factors. While I can’t say I’m excited about a nine-hour drive, we’ve done it before and we’ll do it again.

After all, that trip to Sheridan will serve as a warm-up of sorts for what will take place in mid-June, when we’ll drive to see my family in upstate New York. That journey rates more than twice as long as the trek to Sheridan; Mapquest puts it at 21 hours and 34 minutes, or 1,327 miles. Estimated driving time is 21 hours and 34 minutes. Estimated time I ingest first ibuprofen: to be determined.

The thing is, I really enjoy driving. Packed into a van filled with all kinds of luggage and crabby people who want out of the car, though, is something a wee bit different. I’d love to take the time to go on a long trip on my own, though I surmise that after a day or two I’d long for the company I didn’t think I’d miss at all.

A part of me longs for what my brother, Ian, is doing.

Ian is due to arrive in Worthington tonight after leaving Wednesday morning from his tiny cabin of a home in Bridport, Vt. He has been living there a little more than a year, and recently opted to not just take a new job, but adopt an entirely new way of life — he’s moving to Alaska.

If this relocation wasn’t dramatic enough, it’s not like Ian is moving to one of Alaska’s bigger cities, like Anchorage, Fairbanks or Juneau. No, he’s headed to a small island only accessible by plane or ferry.  The population of the community to which he’s moving? Less than 300 hardy souls. It’s like Dr. Joel Fleischman from the ’90s TV show “Northern Exposure” all over again.

Over the last few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about Ian’s move to Alaska on several levels. And the first thing that comes to me is the drive — all 4,510 miles of it, according to Mapquest. (His detour into Worthington will add a few on to that total.) The length of the drive is estimated at 82 hours, 51 minutes. The route? Well, I can’t begin to estimate just how amazing it will be.

Looking at the map, it becomes obvious that most of the travels are through Canada. Bridport to Minot, N.D., is 1,799 miles, leaving a significant component to the provinces of  Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and the Yukon. That’s unchartered territory for many people I know. (I’ve only been portions of  Saskatchewan.) It may also be worth noting that after passing through Edmonton, Alberta, which has a population of about 812,000, it’s still another 1,941 miles to Anchorage — with one only city of more than 35,000 people (Grande Prairie, Alberta) along the way.  Better make sure the car’s running right, bro.

I’m hoping Ian elects to write — and/or blog — about his trip. With his being an accomplished photographer and videographer, I hope he captures plenty of images, too. It seems like something that could well wind up on somebody’s coffee table at some point.

I long for the opportunity to drive solo to Alaska and visit Ian at some point, yet I also realize Becca and even my kids would love to see what the place has to offer. For right now, though, I’ll just be happy to make it through the Wyoming trip.