I’ve completed one of the major milestones of my trip – I’ve made it to the Arctic Ocean! After a 450 mile drive up a gravel road, I arrived this afternoon at Deadhorse, Alaska, a support town for the oilfields of Prudhoe Bay. I really can’t believe I’m here. I kept shaking my head while driving up the Dalton Highway, just flabbergasted that I’d actually made it so far. And while I have some entries for Canada and Alaska saved up for next week, I just had to write today. I actually found a cell phone signal here, and with the wonders of the Internet, I can keep you all in touch. On the other hand, I’m sure this upload is going to cost a fortune, but why not, eh?
Deadhorse is on the northern edge of a huge plain of tundra called the North Slope. The town itself is pretty dusty and dirty, consisting of mostly pre-built structures that have been shipped here. The noise of big trucks is constant and there is activity everywhere. Unfortunately, you cannot get to the ocean by yourself. You have to take a commercial tour. After passing oilfields, pump houses, Alaska Pipeline terminals, dorms and airports, you finally end up on a small gravel dock jutting out into the ocean. There, all I could hear was wind off the ocean and creaking of the last of the ocean ice. It was kinda cool as I was the only person on this particular tour and I could spend as much time as I wanted.
Alone, I hiked to the end of the pier and gazed out over the ocean, imagining I could see the 1200 miles to the north pole. I stripped off my shoes, stuck my feet into the frigid water and realized that it was all south from here. Not only the rest of my trip, but everything I’d known was south of here. Someone could say their whole life was heading that direction. After all, I’m thirty-two years old, without a home base, single sans prospects, no clear path to a new job and I’m spending all my savings. But today the sun is shining, the geese are flying overhead, there are Little Debbie Nutty Bars in the truck and a whole lot more adventuring to do. This trip has exceeded all my wildest expectations. So, as I stand here on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, I can truly say I am looking forward to heading south…
Welcome to the next part of my trip, everyone! Next stop, the Amazon River via Patagonia!