Gearing Up (and Down) for Alaska

We’ve got two weeks before we cross into Canada and start our journey north, which means that our stops these days are all about last-minute Alaska provisions. Aka: buying stuff! For people who don’t even live in a house, we sure do buy a lot of household goods.

Seriously, this is the haul waiting for us at Finn’s house in Michigan (thank you, Finn!). We started buying crap for Alaska in Brownsville, then had a load delivered to Karen’s house in central Texas, and we had a replacement tent delivered to Tracy’s buddy Dave here in Iowa. Really, it’s a never-ending trail of consumerism vice.

What have we ordered? And just as important, where are we going to put it?

Cold, Wet, Buggy Stuff

We’re prepping for miserable weather this summer, if accounts from past road-trippers hold true. I’ve bought wool under layers (I have that stuff, just not wool; now I have extra!), waterproof hiking boots (wait, I now have three pair?) gloves (a serious pair to add to the lightweight ones and two pairs of work gloves). Are you getting the idea here? Redundancy. Evil redundancy.

We’re adding to our mosquito gear as hard as we can. Spray for skin, spray for our clothes, a hat with a net for Tracy (I already have that), and a net for the bed.

We learned in Canada that no matter how carefully you step inside the trailer, mosquitos get in anyway; often they hitch a ride in my hair and on Banjo. And then they gather around the bed and attack your face all danged night long.

Since I took this photo, I’ve rigged the netting to hang up and away from the bedsides entirely so they can’t get anywhere near us. I bet we’ll accidentally pull it all down the very first night, but sanity is worth a try.


Yes, I’m buying stuff I don’t really need. But, dude, why go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip with only a crappy old iPhone as your camera? Tracy did loads of research and bought a hybrid camera: it does point-and-shoot but it also offers lots of customized settings without extra lenses. I’ve been watching how-to videos for this model on YouTube and am already overwhelmed, and I haven’t even opened the box yet. Kind of sounds like Alaska though: I’m told it’s going to be an awesome experience whether I’m prepared or not.

Waiting for us at Finn’s are three tiny house kits and a special outside bed for Banjo. No one gets left out of the spending spree.

Rig Stuff

Of course, Tracy’s thought of important, stuff, too. In Iowa we’ve gotten the truck brakes replaced earlier than we need them, seeing as how we’ll be towing the trailer on gravel roads for weeks at a time and away from repair shops. He’s bought stuff like silicon tape in case we poke a hole in the trailer, additional water jugs, truck air filters, a giant horn that will scare away wildlife. (I’m guessing that’s what’s up with the horn. At this point we’ve bought so much stuff we’re not even asking each other what it all is.)

Where Is All This Stuff Going?

Heck if I know.

When Tracy disgorged the truck bed so he could repack it with the new tent, he dislodged a bin of winter clothes we’d stashed a while back. That’s a big score of things I want in the trailer now, but, man, where’s it going to go?

We have one hanging space for clothes—about two inches in the closet that we use as a pantry—and I had clothes there that I laughingly thought should hang unwrinkled. So, I took out those nicer clothes to make room for my big winter coat. Alaska, you’ll be worth it.

What I know for sure is that I still own way, way too many clothes. I mean, three pairs of jeans?!? You have to understand though: I’ve spent my entire adult life looking for clothes that fit me because I am a fully formed adult person who wears the same size as a 12 year old. When I find clothes that fit, I’m not giving them up.

So, winter stuff moved inside, summer stuff moved to the truck bin. Here’s the trick though. Just like with the inside, we need to make room in the truck so we can access stuff even more easily, like if we have a breakdown. And we need to make even more room for the new stuff.

Losing Stuff

You guys know how we bought those fancy kayak lifts last summer in Wisconsin, the Hullivators.

They’ve been good to us, until the winds in the Midwest this spring pushed and pushed those kayaks, and they unsprung. In Missouri we had to emergency-pull-off and get the kayaks off in 40 MPH winds; Tracy had to fiddle with the mounts; we got those kayaks back up, and then we heard the thump and had to do it again in Iowa. This time the wind was blowing so hard and the fixing was going so badly that we gave up.

Goodbye, kayaks. Goodbye being on those amazing lakes in Alaska. Goodbye Tracy’s favorite recreational activity. We limped with them to Tracy’s friend in Iowa who will find a place for them to wait for us until we’re back in the Midwest next fall.

I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite kayaking memories on this adventure (Lake Superior, Lower Mississippi (Arkansas), Lake Kooncanusa (Montana), Florida Keys. Here’s hoping we’ll have more.

5 thoughts to “Gearing Up (and Down) for Alaska”

    1. I haven’t written about what happened or the decision because it’s such a bummer, it’s like we’re grieving. Tracy is the big kayaker of us, and he doesn’t even want to talk about it. Kayaking Alaska has been his dream. I see rentals, maybe!

  1. I have a camera AND cell phone and am always laughed at. But the cell phone is just a 2-lens, not a “pro” plus I’m a photographer’s daughter. I didn’t get the patience and passion genes from my dad, but I did get the composition and “take a million shots to get The One” genes (much easier and cheaper with digital than film!). And re: kayaks, perhaps there’ll be places to rent them!

    1. Ah, you are much more inclined to take good shots with your camera than I am; I have to learn this entire skill. I bet your photos are interesting! Re: the kayaks, yes, maybe we will find places to rent. Tracy just loves his kayak – it fits him and I think paddling any other boat will feel frustrating the whole way for him. Maybe better than nothing, though. Maybe! 🙂