This week, I met two women from Indiana outside the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau's Log Cabin Visitors Center in downtown Anchorage. In one of those "six degrees of separation" moments, I mentioned that my grandmother lives in Odon, Ind., and they knew about Odon – which is not a big place. Joyce Blackwell is from Fishers, Ind., and Linda Higgins is from Carmel, Ind.
Q: How long have you been here?
Linda: We left home at the end of May and we got into Anchorage just a few minutes ago. We got into Fairbanks three days ago. We left Indianapolis and we went through Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota – we saw the Corn Palace in Mitchell -- we went through the Badlands, then Wyoming and Montana. We then crossed into Alberta -- we went to the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, you’ve got to go there -- then into B.C., the Yukon and on to Alaska.
Joyce: It'll be six weeks before we get back to Indiana.
Q: That's a long drive; did you encounter any problems?
Linda: When we got to Fairbanks, I looked up at the motor home and said, "Those are my drapes showing." The window was broken. So we looked around and bought a tarp. We didn't have to get a blue one or a green one or a brown one, we got a white tarp, so it matched. We put it on and we're still going.
Q: What are the highlights so far?
Linda: We've seen so many animals. We were in the campground at Denali and we saw a mother moose with two babies. She charged some people.
We’ve seen some real wildlife, not just Joyce and I. We've seen black bears and grizzlies. We were sitting waiting for the bus to take us down the road at Denali and a fox went right by us.
Joyce: It was so quick we couldn’t get the camera out.
Linda: I think seeing all the wildlife and the beauty of the mountains has been the best so far. Remember, we live in Indianapolis – it’s flat. All the mountains are amazing.
Joyce: We almost saw the top of McKinley. There were clouds around the top of the mountain. We watched it for an hour with the clouds going up and coming back down. We never saw the top, but we’re lucky to have seen what we did.
Linda: Plus, I just think it smells better and feels better up here than in Indianapolis.
Joyce: Your large city isn’t that large. Indianapolis is much bigger than this. But you don’t have the big skyscrapers and large office buildings that crowd out the view. You have a "period look." It’s just like small-town America, only a little bit bigger.
Q: Has anything surprised you?
Joyce: Everybody has been so nice. We’ve met so many people. And there is more of mix of different kinds of people here than in Indianapolis.
Q: Where are you headed from here?
Linda: From here, we go south. We're going to Seward and to Homer. The Spit, you've got to see that. Then we go back around and down to Haines Junction. Then we catch the ferry south.