From Barnes and Nobel to the Arctic Ocean — By Jennifer Shipp
Alaska North America United States of America Trips

From Barnes and Nobel to the Arctic Ocean — By Jennifer Shipp

Fairbanks, AK
Camile reads comfortably in front of the fireplace at Barnes and Nobel in Fairbanks.

After our long, arduous journey through the northern United States and Canada, we’ve taken two days off to collect ourselves here in Fairbanks, Alaska. Yesterday, we indulged in Coconut “Bliss” chocolate ice cream bars and then sat for a couple of hours at Barnes and Nobel in Fairbanks, AK. Today, we skipped the ice cream bars and went straight for Barnes and Nobel. It’s a Monday, so Lydian, Camile, and I were even able to snag some soft, cozy chairs by the fireplace (which is burning vigorously, by the way, despite the fact that it’s July 8th.

Tomorrow, however, we’ll be leaving all the posh luxury behind to travel up north as far as we can go by car. It’s a 32 hour drive (according to Google Maps), round trip, to the Arctic Ocean and back to Fairbanks. We’re taking a tent and our sleeping bags, some food, and energy drinks.

The only motels along the way are quite costly and very basic. They’re the leftover lodging facilities for the oil pipeline workers, which sounds cool except that it would cost our group of four $400 per night to stay. John and I discussed the problem and decided that we were so close to the Arctic Ocean, it would be a big bummer to miss it and besides, we have an informal goal to drive the entire Pan American Highway from the tippy top of North America to the very bottom of South America. We’re letting ourselves do it in chunks as we visit different countries. We might as well cross this portion of it off our list. But spending over $800 to do it seems exorbitant and unnecessary, especially given that night never comes here in the Arctic regions during the summer months.

We all agreed that as long as we didn’t officially know what time it was, we could probably stay up for 32 hours with only short cat naps, snacks, and an occasional jog around the van to keep us going. John and I will drive, taking turns sleeping in the back. Lydian and Camile will alternately be responsible for John’s and my feeding, watering, and entertainment (we told them we may have to do sing-alongs) when we get tired. If things get dire, we’ll have a tent, some sleeping bags, and

Lydi at Barnes and Nobel
Unabashedly soaking up the comfort and warmth fireside in July at the bookstore.

bear spray. It will be an epic adventure.

Leaving tomorrow afternoon around 1:00 PM, we should reach Deadhorse and  Prudhoe Bay by early morning sometime, hopefully before 9:00 AM. It may very well be the pinnacle of isolation, but Deadhorse and Prudhoe Bay is only 1200 miles from the North Pole, which makes it a worthwhile destination, at least in the summer months.

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