Obviously, there's the lack-of-daylight factor. And the preponderance of wide-bodied wildlife on the roadways. Or the thought of having to change a flat..and it's minus 20...and you're alongside an icy road at 3:30 p.m...and it's pitch dark...because it's winter in Alaska.
I suppose that while you're replacing that tire, you might catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis dancing overhead, or Brent Sass and his sled dogs might glide by and offer assistance.
So you could hold out for that.
But mostly, this Cat Herder wouldn't do it for fear of a total nervous breakdown every time one of these Alaska DOT alerts showed up in my inbox, which happens frequently this time of year.
From the relative bright, sunny balminess of the home office in Spokane, these alerts are met with interest and recollection of our own time in the 49th State. But were I launching the next day with an 8-vehicle road rally, I'd be just a little freaked out!
So never fear, Midnight Sun travelers: June will provide good weather, tons of daylight, and relatively mammal-free roadways.
The aurora will have to wait for another time.
Travel is the Best University!
So says the wall at Hostal Masaya in Bogota, Colombia. And Cat Herder couldn't agree more!
Thanks to the beautiful landscapes, friendly people, good public transportation, and decent food and lodging at decent prices, Colombia gave us a great vacation over the holidays. Happy to see that the country has a robust land conservation mentality with numerous National Parks nationwide.
And there could be nothing more therapeutic than "turning off" the North American news and settling into a different way of life. Happy to say that my Spanish skills are still there and, as usual, created as many problems as it averted. (I am finding that sometimes it pays to be an English-only gringo, especially in the big city where hawkers are trying to sell you everything from bus tours to soccer jerseys to magic brownies.)
Anyway, it's always nice to to be reminded that travel can be so much more than a passport stamp and a few photos. At its best it's a new pair of glasses with which to view the world, a different rhythm to your day, new friends who do not speak your native tongue. It's finding creative ways to stay cool in a sweltering, un-air-conditioned apartment, crossing a boulder-strewn river in a little taxi to arrive at the remote coffee plantation, drinking juice made from fruit you've never seen before, playing strange games like Tejo, made fun by the gunpowder blast and cheap beer that comes hand-in-hand with the experience.
Thanks for the memories, Colombia. And to my fellow Parkwest travelers, I'm looking forward to getting back to the "U" with you this year.
Cat Herder (aka Marisa) has been guiding pilot tours in the American West for over twenty years. Keep tabs on your Parkwest pilot friends, National Park news and other tidbits here!