Road Trip: St. Paul to Skagway, AK

On Friday, my mom, sister and I will set off on a long road trip: St. Paul to Skagway, Alaska (then to Juneau by ferry). According to our friends at Google, it is 2760 miles. Why, you may be asking are we doing this? Well, we all love road trips and my niece and her husband live in Juneau so we’re going to visit them.

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As I was getting ready this afternoon, I got to thinking about some of the many road trips I’ve taken over the years. Here are ten of the best:

1. Karachi – Islamabad – Karachi (Pakistan). We used to do this one very summer (in the 1969’s), following the Grand Trunk Road. In the early years, we drove a Land Rover; later on it was our trusty green and white VW Microbus (the favorite of hippies).

Exactly like ours -- now in a museum!

Exactly like ours — now in a museum!

2. Karachi, Pakistan – Kandahar and Kabul, Afghanistan – Islamabad, Pakistan – Karachi. My family did this in the summer of 1968, when Afghanistan was relatively peaceful and still ruled by a king. The highlight was going through the famous Khyber Pass.

3. One month road trip around Western Europe in the summer of 1970. We flew from Pakistan to Munich, and went straight to the VW factory to pick up the station wagon my dad had ordered. We drove it through Europe for a month, then dropped it off in Hamburg where it was put on a ship and sent to Los Angeles. A month later, we picked it up there. We then drove it all over the US for a year, before returning to Pakistan. (Us, not the car)

4. Numerous road trips between Minnesota and California over the years. It seems that during the times we were in the US, we were either living in California and driving to Minnesota to visit relatives, or the other way around.

5. My last year of college I was in a musical ensemble that toured the US. We gave 60+ concerts in 32 states in 6 weeks — from Minnesota to Colorado to Maine to Florida, then back to Minnesota.

6. In 1990, I took my then ten-year old niece on a road trip to Washington, DC. Suffice to say, I did all the driving.

7. In 2003, I took my mom on a road trip around Lake Superior. Duluth to Duluth. I highly recommend it. In fact, I’d love to drive around all of the Great Lakes.

8. St. Paul to Santa Barbara by back roads. I did this with my mom and sister in 2007. Since we had done the drive so many times, we just wanted to do something different. It’s a gorgeous drive across Nebraska if  you get off  I-80 and take Scenic Highway 2 across the northern part of the state, through the Sand Hills.

The last two are road trips I took in China.

9. Beijing – Pingyao (Shanxi) – Pingyao. An American friend had a red jeep, and off we went.

10. Beijing – Xanadu – Beijing. “Xanadu” is the western name for the ancient summer capital of Kublai Khan. The remains of the city are 8 hours north of Beijing, in the grasslands. We hired a car and driver to take us (again, a red jeep).

What fun or epic road trips have you taken? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

Map source: Google

Image source: Wikimedia

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9 thoughts on “Road Trip: St. Paul to Skagway, AK

  1. Since we’re talking old stomping grounds, I have two:
    1. Tonghua, Jilin to Ji’An (and back): It’s not a long trip to Ji’An, which is right on the N. Korean border of China, but besides being able to look across the river (and walk half-way across the bridge on some days), there is WONDERFUL Ji’An KaoRou. It’s like Korean BBQ but even better. I don’t know what else the town is known for other than having a good deal of Korean minorities (as they would say).
    2. Peoria, IL to Starved Rock Park: This trip takes you along a beautiful 2-lane road (mostly) through some lazy and/or crazy hills (for a river valley, especially in Illinois) with glimpses of the river along the way. The river just pulls you towards it. I liked crossing the river at different points. But the real treat is hiking at Starved Rock.

  2. Back in 1993, back when our kids were small (5 and 7), we took a 2-week road trip from Indiana to Wisconsin to Oregon, going through the Badlands of S. Dakota, Custer State Park (lots of bison!), Yellowstone, and along the Columbia Gorge – in a ’78 VW camper van. 🙂

    In 2011 Wendy and I drove from London up to the northernmost tip of Scotland, to a tiny village called Tongue, driving along the famous “single-carriage” (one-lane) roads in the Highlands. Absolutely gorgeous scenery!. After spending 4 days at my Scottish clan’s ancestral home, we drove back to London by way of Newcastle where, when we stopped to visit a friend for lunch, our rental car got broken into and our backpacks, which contained our laptops, were stolen. But nothing else. Yep, that was an unforgettable trip!

    Oh yeah, there was one other road trip in 2004 (you might remember this one, Jo!) from Kashgar to Karakul, overnighting with a Kyrgyz family, all of us (including Wendy & Alana) staying with the Kyrgyz family in the same room in the (concrete!) yurt, with yak head and hooves in the room next door, digging the car out of the freshly fallen snow the next morning so we could make the return trip to Kashgar. Since it was by taxi, maybe it doesn’t qualify as a road trip, but it was certainly memorable! 🙂

    • Ah Mike, I remember that road trip well. I just ran out of ones to include on this. I thought that cold night on the yurt floor would never end. And what fun sleeping next to that severed yak head!

  3. in 1991, we packed every inch of our 1979 vw camper, then climbed in with our 3 kids, and set out from oregon to see our country, and as many friends and relatives as we could manage. for six weeks, we drove, camped, and stayed with loved ones. we had many wonderful experiences, and a few surprises, one of which meant we got to stay at your folks house while our van got a new something. we saw everything we could possibly see, and arrived home again after 12,000 miles and many rolls of used film. good thing, that film, as we hit our emotional “saturation” levels many times. it was our very best road trip of all time, and our thirty-something kids still talk about it. blessings, and please come back to oregon!