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May 2016: This Is My Life Now

May 2016: This is my life now

Second month on the trip. It really has become daily life. I’m used to driving a lot and getting a new campsite every day. I’m no longer surprised that I’m actually doing this trip. This is my new life now. This month had some interesting statistics:

  • I have not slept in a building for a whole month
  • I have not eaten a single meal inside a building
  • I have only seen one person that I knew before this month (Jason)
  • I have not watched a single movie (back home I would watch 3 per week on average)

Besides that some other fun facts:

  • I have not worked for 100 days.
  • I have not seen darkness in over two weeks. The sun sets at around midnight now and rises again around 4.
  • I’m have driven more than 10000km in total

The good

  • The landscape: I’ve been driving/hiking through some great views: the big lakes in the Midwest, the endless prairie on the Trans Canada Highway and the insane mountains along the Alaskan Highway.
  • The driving: it’s actually so much more fun to drive this route than I expected. I started making loads of detours just to get some nice roads. I’ve gotten pretty confident driving in the mountains and on dirt roads
  • The wildlife: I’ve seen grizzlies (a bit too close), black bears, bison, moose, elks, hare, squirrels and much more.
  • The people: once I reached Calgary there were loads of people on the campsites. Many people are interested how I’m driving a Dutch car here. I’ve met loads of people that were about to go home who gave me their leftovers. I’ve also started to meet some people with similar or even bigger travel plans than mine. They have been on the road for years and have been giving me some great tips for further down the road.

The bad:

  • Van breakdown: as I described in painful detail, my van breaking down was a very deep low of the trip so far. I was tired, I was cold, I was done. Luckily, in the end it was fixed quickly and relatively cheap. Plus the support from all over the world helped a lot too!
  • Camera breakdown: to me almost annoying as a broken van. I love taking pictures during my trip, not having a decent lens is a huge pain. Hopefully I can replace it soon
  • The weather: the weather has been much colder than expected with way more wind and rain. Especially the first half of the month driving from Minneapolis to Regina were very bad. It was freezing at night, stops during the day made no sense because it was too cold/wet to enjoy.
  • Meeting people: as I predicted last month, the first half of the month was pretty lonely. I didn’t know anyone on the road and because of the bad weather the campsites were empty. This all changed after reaching Calgary and now there are loads of people everywhere.

The unforgettable:

  • Watching the sun set from my van on top of a cliff overlooking the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers at Wyalusing State Park campground, Wisconsin
  • Sitting in the 40C water in a hot spring in the forest after some long days of driving was great! (Liard River Hot Springs, Yukon)
  • Seeing a grizzly with cub at some 6 meters away: scary but looking back it was really cool. (Haines Junction, Yukon)
  • Hiking 25km in snow, hail, rain and sunshine with some great views of glaciers and mountains while singing songs in Kluane National Park Yukon
  • Girzzly Lake Campsite: sunny day, lakeside camping spot, impressive mountains as a view and a curious moose calf in Alaska

The Stats:

  • No days: 31
  • No. km: 8099
  • Countries: USA, Canada
  • States/Provinces: Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon, Alaska
  • No. Border crossings: 2
  • No. of places stayed at: 25 (all campsites)
  • Hikes: 8 (70km, 3200m elevation gain)
  • Books: 3
  • Movies: 0
  • New Beers: 6
  • Photos: 1746
  • Weather:
    • Days: warmest 28C, coldest 7C, average 14C
    • Nights: warmest 12C, coldest -3C, average 5C

The Plan
I made it to Alaska in time for my flight back to Europe for the wedding (not mine). So there I’m on track. I skipped a few places I wanted to visit but mostly because of weather reasons and not because of lack of time.

I’ve been getting pretty good at saving money. I can spend 3-4 days on campsites without power before I need to charge everything again. This saves some 5-10 euros per night. I got loads and loads of free food from the leftovers of other people which really helped too.

Daily costs for May:

  • Campsites: 20 Euro per night (plan was 28 Euro)
  • Food: 7 Euro per day (plan was 15 Euro, large part due to food donations and not going out for dinner/drinks)
  • Fun: 4 Euro per day (plan was 8 Euro, mountains are free!)

Total driving: After last month I re-added the 40% detouring in my kilometers for the New York to Alaska bit, changed the expected efficiency of the car from 9 km/l to 10 km/l and added 10% to the average fuel prices to account for the remote (expensive) parts of the countries I am visiting.

  • Total distance: 10497 km (plan was 10080)
  • Average fuel cost: 0.62 Euro/l (plan was 0.66 Euro/l)
  • Average efficiency: 10.6 km/l (plan was 10.0 km/l)

This adds up very nicely to being 50 Euro below budget on diesel.

Overall for camping, food, fun and fuel for the whole trip I’m now 20% below budget. Large part of that is in fun activities so I guess I’ll be doing a glacier hike or ocean kayak tour soon!

On other costs:

  • The car repair was a big one (250 Euro). Also the oil consumption adds up.I might have to increase the car repair part of my budget
  • Buying a temporary camera lens (and a proper one soon) also adds up to some 400 Euros.

Looks like I’m on plan, on schedule and under budget for the trip. If you have any questions on how my trip is going, drop them in the comments!

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