Cozy Home, fish eye photograph of the interior of Wabi-Sabi Overland by Michael Fuchs
Life

Travel Update

We have officially been living in Wabi-Sabi Overland for over 3 months now, and it definitely feels like home. There are a few things I occasionally want that are impossible to have in our 75-square foot environment (like a place large enough to stretch out my lower back), but there have been solutions to all those desires so far (go outside!). It has been a freeing experience to be a human on the earth. The sound of rain on the roof (something rather unheard of in poor, dry California these days), fresh air, wildlife, people we have met, and miles upon miles of uninterrupted wilderness have been a balm for my spirit.

Yukon, Canada, photograph by Michael Fuchs

Yukon, Canada, photograph by Michael Fuchs

We had the pleasure of enjoying a stunning double rainbow just a few miles south of the arctic circle along the Dempster Highway in Yukon, Canada. While the sun never truly set, the sun just sort of skims the horizon all day, so from one end of the rainbow to the other was a very short span. This was also my favorite spot to camp along the Dempster – in total we spent 3 nights there – because there were Dall sheep in the area.

Dall Sheep, photograph by Michael Fuchs

Dall Sheep, photograph by Michael Fuchs

This Dall sheep walked right by our truck as part of his daily routine every day we were there. We only saw 2 male sheep on our drive up the highway, but on the drive south we saw females with their young along the hills. They were much more cautious about our behavior and would quickly scamper away if we ventured outside at all.

Arctic Ocean at Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories, Canada, photograph by Michael Fuchs

Arctic Ocean at Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories, Canada, photograph by Michael Fuchs

We drove the Dempster Highway because it is one of only two roads in North America that cross the arctic circle and go to the Arctic Ocean. We were some of the very first people to drive the road this summer. In the winter, there are river crossings that are frozen over that can be driven across. Then there are months where the passage across those rivers is too dangerous as that ice thaws. After the thaw, there is a cable pulled barge and ferry to get vehicles across. We camped by the Peel River crossing for 36 hours and watched as the cable used by the barge was strung and tensioned for the summer season this year. We think we were the 3rd or 4th vehicle to make it all they way to the Arctic Ocean in Tuktoyaktuk this summer. When we arrived in early June, the ocean was still frozen solid, which I was not expecting at all!

Tire rotation above the arctic circle, photograph by Michael Fuchs

Tire rotation above the arctic circle, photograph by Michael Fuchs

You can read all about how we made Wabi-Sabi Overland, our home away from home, on its own blog, but we put a lot of care, thought, and planning into making the truck and living environment everything we would need. As you know, my sewing machine has come along for the journey with me and I have been enjoying the sewing I have been able to do while we travel. One aspect about living in a vehicle is it needs regular maintenance, just like a house does; the maintenance tasks are just a bit different. So, when your truck needs its tires rotated just after you’ve crossed above the arctic circle, it’s time to dig in and get the work done. Besides, how many people can say they’ve done their own full tire rotation above the arctic circle?

Brooks Range, Alaska, photograph by Michael Fuchs

Brooks Range, Alaska, photograph by Michael Fuchs

After driving the Dempster Highway, we made our way into Alaska. We have spent about 2 months driving almost all of the accessible roads in Alaska, including the second road in North America that crosses the arctic circle and reaches the Arctic Ocean, the Dalton Highway. The Dalton Highway was built for the oil pipeline and we weren’t sure what to expect, but the pipeline is underground for just about half of the distance.

Brooks Range, Alaska, photograph by Michael Fuchs

Brooks Range, Alaska, photograph by Michael Fuchs

The Dalton Highway goes through the Brooks Range and we thought the Brooks Range was a beautiful place to slow down and spend time. We saw a wolf at one of our camp sites in the Brooks Range, and we spent an hour watching a large grizzly bear eating berries from that same camp site. Not to worry – the bear was quite far away and on the other side of the Dietrich River. So far that my husband couldn’t get a clear photograph of the bear, but it was fun to watch it amble and clearly move from bush to bush.

Prudhoe Bay, Alaska

Prudhoe Bay, Alaska

In total, we spent almost 3 weeks above the arctic circle this summer. We were able to stop and help out several other travelers along the roads. From using our onboard air system to blow rocks out of the brakes of a car to help it continue on the dirt road to stopping in the rain to help change a tire in the cold and mud, it is all wrapped up in the memories I’ll carry with me about the trip.

Musk Ox, photograph by Michael Fuchs

Musk Ox, photograph by Michael Fuchs

The most magical time in the arctic for me was the afternoon we were able to spend with a herd of about 30 musk ox. They were resting for the afternoon on a rocky island along the Sagavanirktok River. It was a privilege to get to spend those hours watching them rest and socialize.

Kings River, Alaska, photograph by Michael Fuchs

Kings River, Alaska, photograph by Michael Fuchs

I’m grateful for my awesome Wellies that I’ve used to stay drive and explore rivers.

Cable suspension bridge along Gulkana Glacier Hike, photograph by Michael Fuchs

Cable suspension bridge along Gulkana Glacier Hike, photograph by Michael Fuchs

I’m grateful for the hikes and walks we have taken in the wilderness. I may be slow to cross a cable suspension bridge with wooden planks above a gushing glacial melt river, but when it’s about to rain after hiking to a glacier, you can bet I move a lot more quickly than when I crossed over the first time. Plus, I knew I could do it, right?!?

Cozy Home, fish eye photograph of the interior of Wabi-Sabi Overland by Michael Fuchs

Cozy Home, fish eye photograph of the interior of Wabi-Sabi Overland by Michael Fuchs

And I’m very grateful for our cozy and homey living environment. My husband and I both agree: it wouldn’t be the same without the quilts and pillows I made!

30 thoughts on “Travel Update

  1. What an amazing adventure you’re both on! I especially love all the wilderness shots and hearing about your time observing the local wildlife. Keep soaking up all that goodness 🙂

  2. Michele T says:

    Wow! What an incredible adventure! Thanks for sharing (-;

  3. vivian383 says:

    I am really enjoying armchair travelling with you, especially in the northern territory of Canada ! What beautiful photography of your travels and the wildlife of the area. Some of them will make stunning landscape quilts in the future!

  4. Glad to hear you’re having such a wonderful time on your trip. I really enjoyed reading your recap thus far and seeing all the gorgeous photos. Take care, Mary.

  5. What a journey! I loved our brief visit to Alaska but crossing the Arctic circle, double rainbows and a tire rotation along with stunning animals – what a gift. I am glad that it is working out for you and you are enjoying it to the fullest.

  6. Alison says:

    Oh thank you for the update! Love seeing all of those lovely wildlife photos! Happy trails!

  7. Thank you for sharing the update, Yvonne. What beautiful views and experiences you’ve had. Our daughter spent most of June in Alaska, part of the time conducting field research on shore birds in Utqiagvik (Barrow). She was able to go to Point Barrow, the northernmost point in North America. So you were both in the same area, though miles apart. Michael has captured some beautiful photos. I look forward to reading more in future posts!

  8. Liz says:

    Amazing! What an incredible story! You’ll cherish these memories forever. Are you planning to do this regularly?

  9. Wow Yvonne — It is so amazing to read about your experience. What a remarkable adventure for both of you — it’s a treat to see your photos. I feel like I’m getting a peek at landscapes that have only been seen in person by a few. Thank you for sharing all of this! Pretty incredible!!

  10. Noreen says:

    What a great adventure! I’m jealous! Your pictures are fantastic!

  11. Helen says:

    I really am full of awe and admiration. It’s the sort of journey many dream of but few actually do. The practicalities would be beyond us. Rotating tires ? We would have to get a man in ! Even the worry of breaking down and not having the capacity to fix it would be enough for me ! I have loved reading your blog posts , not always commenting so as not to give you more to do ! I have loved your journey and the wildlife by proxy x

  12. Lea says:

    Oh, what a joy this must be for you and your husband. The wildlife and nature are incredible. What gorgeous scenery to see all the time.

    And yes, I’m certain your quilts and pillows make a comfy, warm and inviting touch to your lovely home on wheels.

  13. ioleenkimmel says:

    What a wonderful journey you and Michael are on. Thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures. Your post brings backs memories of my years in Yellowknife, NWT. I crossed the ice bridge on the MacKenzie River, scary feeling when you can hear the ice cracking under you. Enjoy the rest of your journey and I look forward to your posts.

  14. slmrn1 says:

    What an awesome lifetime memory you and Michael are creating. Thanks for sharing your experiences and gorgeous pictures with us. I have been enjoying it so very much.

  15. What a wonderful way to travel and see nature in the wild. I have watched Ice Road Truckers and marvel at the frozen lakes they cross, to reach those so remote areas and provide so many necessities we all have on hand in modern civilisation.And to be able to sew, blog, and get those fantastic photos, a time that will be a wonderful memory later. Good sized lenses,they would be heavy and hard to hold steady.

  16. My dad used to do a lot of canoeing in northern Canada with a dear friend of his, and on one of their early trips they too saw a bear, and wanted a photo but the bear had its back to them. My dad’s friend, who apparently was far less sensible than your husband, felt this just would not do, but the bear just minded its own business and didn’t pay them any attention. Finally the friend got fed up and called out “HEY BEAR!” This got the bears attention, and it promptly turned around and headed straight for them, whereupon the friend had to hightail it back to the canoe and they paddles out into the river quite quickly.

    So anyway, don’t do that on your travels, and thanks for sharing such a great update!

  17. Patty says:

    Thanks for sharing all of this – these pictures are awesome! I particularly like the rainbow one.

  18. Such a wonderful adventure x

  19. aquilterstable says:

    Definitely a trip of a lifetime! Love hearing and seeing bits about it.

  20. Amazing photos of what must be an even more amazing adventure! Congratulations on having the gumption to pursue a dream that undoubtedly seemed impossible at times. Thanks for sharing it with those of us who live vicariously.

  21. Wow, you are on an amazing journey!!

  22. Kathryn Laposata says:

    Envy!!

  23. Alycia says:

    What an awesome adventure!! The Wabi Sabi suits you!!!

  24. Regina says:

    I have discovered your blog, your website, and most thankfully YOU…with the help of my dear daughters. I must most earnestly thank you for sharing the story and pictures of this recent adventure.

  25. What a fun post! So happy this adventure is going so well for you both. Really exciting way to live life for a while. Safe travels!!

  26. Kaja says:

    I’m happy you are having such a great adventure and making the most of the opportunities it is presenting.

  27. Tracy says:

    Thank you for sharing your trip. That is one of our absolute favourite areas – been on the Dempster twice and plan on driving to Tuc next year – flew there the first time past the Arctic Circle. We have always done it from Vancouver BC in 2 weeks total – drive drive drive – and drive by shooting 🙂 Hope to next year make it a longer trip.

  28. Cristin says:

    I love this! It’s so wonderful to see where you are at and what you are up to. The pictures are gorgeous!

  29. I love reading your IG, and seeing some (different) photos than what you’ve posted here, but it’s soooo much better on a bigger computer, to catch the full effect of that rainbow, the wildlife and the happiness on your face, Yvonne. I enjoyed this update and wish you many more miles of wonderful experiences!

  30. Thank you for sharing your awesome journey and those photos are fantastic!

I really appreciate the time and thought you take to comment, and I look forward to conversing with you. :)