Sunday, February 14, 2016

AK or Bust! The Genesis

Last Spring my best friend, Chad, moved to Alaska because he wanted to live the dream of the rugged outdoorsman living off the land out in the harsh terrain and desolation of a place as remote and dire as Alaska.  His wife gave him the extra push he needed to make it actually happen too!  They quit their jobs, stored their stuff with family, cleaned out their apartment in Milwaukee, and flew to Alaska with just what they fit in their two rolling suitcases.  They live in Anchorage, but they're up there and had basically nothing to get reestablished with.  They had the balls to go out and do something crazy, and that's the kind of gutsy move you don't see very often most of the time.

The wild and desolate wasteland... oh wait
I've always thought similarly to my buddy, Chad, and we also have the same ideas about living off-grid somewhere remote where we can be left alone by the majority of the world.  I've also always had a desire to see the glorious landscapes I've heard about and seen pictures of in Alaska.  I take pause at moving away from everyone I know and care about, but it's always been a draw for me.  Now I know someone up there who happens to be my best friend, and I see no good reason why I shouldn't go stay there for a while.

I also want to go on some photo excursions up there
The original plan was to save money from April '15 to April '16, and head up there right at the end of Spring.  I was even going to transfer my job up to a local parts store chain, so I wouldn't have to worry about finding work once I got there.  I hoped to work and use my weekends to go exploring in the back country of Alaska.  I promptly never saved a thing and blew all my money on car parts, tools, and a sweet Canon T5i camera.  While I would hesitate to label those things as mistakes, I also failed at my goal and let Chad down at the same time.

And I didn't get any aurora pictures
On New Years Day 2016, I was thinking about things including the awesome trip we're taking this May, and I started to think about Alaska.  As you'll read later, the trip in May has a $20/week savings plan to pay for itself attached to it from January first until we go.  This sparked some math, and according to my most likely flawed calculations (I'm not a stellar mathematician), if I pushed the trip back a year and saved $20/week from January first 2016 until April 2017, I'd have roughly $1500 to get me there.  It's about a 3700 mile trip one-way, and figuring 15mpg at $3/gallon times 3700 miles... I figured that'd be enough... to get there.

Only 68 hours, 3700 miles, and two border crossings away...
That's right; I'm driving! I mean, this is a car blog.  Why wouldn't I want to drive 3700 miles through Canada on the Al-Can highway from Milwaukee to Anchorage via Canada and Fairbanks?!?  If that wasn't enough, I figured I was gonna need a sweet all-capable 4x4 to get me there and take me four wheeling in the Alaskan countryside once I got there.  What better vehicle than a 4x4 Ranger chassis and cab that my friend had parted out and had sitting in his yard?!

It's a little rough...
Is it bad that the cab to 100 yards from the frame?
Worthless 2.8L V6
Wouldn't really need that bed either
I wanted to build a wicked rock crawler out of this thing with trimmed cab and a tubular flatbed and a roll cage tying the whole thing together.  I wanted a 347 stroker motor, manual valvebody automatic, built solid axles with lockers, a built-in tool box, room for all my stuff, the whole thing powder coated and skid plated, and lights everywhere.  This thing would be the ultimate trail rig... someday and with thousands of dollars strained through it.  It'd be the Ranger to end all Rangers.

And very multi-terrain oriented!
And so I'd take this Ranger from the rolling hills of Wisconsin all the way up to Alaska and hopefully to the Arctic Ocean to see how far North I could go.  I planned I would leave in the spring of '17 stay a year and a half (to experience a Summer, Winter, and Summer, because I doubt I could leave at the start of Summer), but as I learned with my saving for the original trip, not all thing are meant to be...  Stay tuned

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