From Alaska to San Francisco

Okay, since my last real update I have driven 4,000 miles from Alaska to San Francisco, spent a week in the middle of the Nevada desert for Burning Man, set up a house for 15 people in Berkeley, joined a sailing co-op, and am now working for CouchSurfing, designing about six web sites, and finding high return real estate property prospects for a guy here in Berkeley. Not that I have been busy or anything.

Right. Let’s begin.

Jim ( and I left Anchorage to start our drive, and quickly realized that this was going to take forever. Alaska is big, and Canada is bigger. We were waved through the border patrol by a bored looking guard who hardly glanced at our passports.


We passed a few cool looking glaciers on our way out, and the landscape was beautiful. A few miles into Canada, the roads started getting wavy. There were all these little bumps that were marked with red flags on the side of the road, but if you didn’t notice the little red flag you suddenly found yourself airborne with a seatbelt cutting through your stomach. It made for interesting wake ups for the person sleeping in the passenger seat.

We had the car packed about as full as we could get it. We both had our laptops, and I could just raise it above my head and push it back and it would stay, wedged between all the junk in the back seat of the truck. We took turns driving, rotating every tank of gas to start off. The first day we drove until around 3 am before pulling over and camping out on the side of the road for four hours. That day is a blur of landscapes as we made our way out of the Yukon Territory and into BC.

At one point late at night we started smelling an odd burning smell, and remembered that while we had bought oil and a filter to change before we left, we had neglected to do so. Jim also commented that his oil had not been changed in over 16,000 miles. Uh oh… So we stopped, leached some wifi while we waited for the car to settle and cool and changed the oil. About 20 min down the road the smell came back. Some searching led us to find that our DC converter which was powering our laptops and cell phones was literally melting itself. So no more power.

We stopped again that night around 3 am and camped out until about 9:30am before starting.

The only thing that had been recommended to us was some hot springs, which we stopped at for about an hour. They were great after two days of no showers, still wearing the same clothes we left Alaska in. As we left, a tour bus full of some older tourists showed up and we were very glad to be out of there.

The part of Canada we drove through was pretty bleak, but we stopped in Vancouver at a CS gathering, arriving very late and spending an hour and a half and a pitcher of beer trying to find anyone there who could host us, but the people left were all travelers and had no space. We ended up leaving Vancouver and crossing into the States around midnight. We were so sick of camping that we just got a cheap hotel right next to the boarder and crashed out until late the next morning.

We stopped in Portland to see one of Jim’s old friends and he gave us a quick tour of the area he works in. We stopped in some random stores looking for Burning Man gear, and somehow ended up in a few places that were S&M stores and fantasy shops. Not the kind of costumes we were looking for exactly.

The last night we stopped at a hotel in some random small town and went to some thrift stores the next morning. Got a good Burning Man jacket and some 70’s Oakleys for $5.00.

We rolled into San Francisco around 10:00pm and went to a CouchSurfer named John’s house to crash. We ended up staying there until we left for Burning Man, which will be a post of its own.

Read Jim’s blog for a good oil change update. (