The Road North – Part 1

Ever feel like staying still could kill you?

That’s how it seemed as I departed the Pacific Northwest. I had graduated the day before; posed for pictures, ate some great food, bid my visiting family farewell as I took them to the airport, and crammed my life into a car that I hoped would make the journey.

On the morning of departure, I reflected on three great years in Oregon. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the Northwestern United States. Far from it. The time spent there, studying and hiking and befriending outdoorsy folk, it all changed me for the better. But my mind (and perhaps my soul) craved more. More mountains. More oceans.* More exploration. I was itching for something more. So, why go north?

Throughout my education, whenever I met Alaskans, I was floored by their surreal depths, quiet humility, and otherworldly wisdom. Over the course of my final year at school, I slowly realized that I had to discover the mythical land they recalled with such passion. And heck, if Alaska didn’t have enough oceans and mountains to fit my needs, no place would.

Thus, when the time came to chart a career, I instead felt drawn to consider the physical pathways I’d traverse. And the only road that made any sense lay north.

North to Alaska

Getting out of the United States was easy enough. Eventually, it seems most roads in the Pacific Northwest lead to I-5. In prior years, that sprawling corridor opened up countless windows to adventure and had always seemed exciting. But this time, it felt mundane and insignificant.

The triviality of such a mighty highway likely came from excitement at the newness of what lay beyond. Or maybe it was dwarfed by the nearly 3,000 miles that lay before me. Either way, I couldn’t wait to hit Bellingham, Washington and enter Canada. Onward…

Sehr Gut
Top – The Milepost. An indispensable guide on traversing the Alaska Highway. Middle – A cheeky shirt an Alaska friend created, depicting our favorite professor and one of his epic (and butchered) German sayings. Bottom – Toes.


*  I’ve always loved oceans – or big bodies of water – and have never felt comfortable being too far inland. It’s like being trapped, confined, imprisoned. Friends have jokingly referred to me as a viking, I figure in reference to my stature or red hair, but perhaps these jibes come with a peculiar truth. As a lifelong rower, water has always meant a blissful sort of freedom. Mayhaps vikings of olde felt the same way. Also, mead is amazing.  😀


© Chasen Cunitz and, 2016

Use or duplication of this material without express and written permission is prohibited.

Alaska: Village to Village


  1. Thank you for sharing….as much as you are missed and loved nothing is better than the pure joy of living life on your own terms. The Godmother-Atheist

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