1 Girl & 2 Dogs Drive Cross-Continent, Part 5

This is the last part and it doesn’t quite seem real yet that I’m done with my gypsy lifestyle (for a little while anyway.) My dogs don’t quite believe it yet, either. It does help that I am very obviously not packing things up, quite the opposite, but they get very nervous and sad every time I have to go somewhere and am not taking them with me.

After I spent some time visiting my sister in Flagstaff, with her adorable dog and cats, I headed east with a couple of pit stops. I took some time to check out the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert. I’d driven right by them several years ago but this time I made the detour intentional and it was well worth it. It’s sad to not that so much of the Petrified Forest has been looted by visitors, so who knows what it used to look like a century ago. The Painted Desert was incredible, even at midday, and I’m sure is even more beautiful at sunrise or sunset.

From there we headed across New Mexico, with stops in Albuquerque to pick up some of New Mexico’s famous hatch chiles, and then into Texas.

The next morning we headed further east and it was my longest day of driving. The plains gave way to more greenery and we managed to get into Little Rock before Vanness closed for the day. I wish I had taken more pictures, but I was just so excited to be near a cornerstone of the fountain pen brick-and-mortar stores in America that I got a little star-struck. I admired their enormous selection of pens and inks, and also baking supplies, before deciding that I really wanted another Lamy Al-Star Blue-Green. I lost mine in Afghanistan and have been sad about it ever since.

I picked a hotel nearby and when I checked into my room, it smelled awful and seemed really dingy. I’m not one to ask for a different room, but the smell made me gag. It turned out I’d mistakenly booked a smoking room instead of a non-smoking room. My non-smoking room was instantly much, much better and there was a Mexican restaurant in the parking lot, which was very convenient for dinner.

My last real stretch of the trip was Little Rock to Atlanta for the 2017 Atlanta Pen Show. One of the things I dislike about moving east is that I lose and hour every time I cross a time zone, and I dislike driving at night so it makes it harder for me to stay up later and get up earlier to get the driving hours in.

The Atlanta Galleria Wyndham was by far the nicest hotel I stayed at the entire trip and it was nice to cap the trip off with a bit of a splurge. The beds were soft, the toiletries smelled nice, and my dogs loved the floor to ceiling window overlooking the parking lot where they could watch the people go in and out. Although pet friendly, they had the highest pet fee of any hotel I stayed at. I probably would have gone somewhere else except it was the same hotel at the Atlanta Pen Show and the convenience was too much to pass up.

Now that I’m home, I’ve got lots to do before the movers come. I realized yesterday that, in a huge  lack of foresight on my part, I had only packed two t-shirts. TWO. It’s over 80 degreees every day here. I don’t know what I was thinking. Once my washer and dryer get delivered I’ll feel more free to start working out since I’ll have a way to de-stink my clothes.

Five Things


It’s a Freebie Friday which means I get to ramble! There are so many things running through my head lately. I’ve been busy painting the interior of my house and trying to get everything situated as quickly as possible before I head back to work. I also visited my local bike shop earlier this week for cleaning supplies for my bike and between those two things I have lots of time to think and overanalyze everything in my life. So here are a few things I want to change, try out, learn, and work on for myself in the next few months.

  • New bar tape. Mine is/was white and is pretty dingy and grungy looking now. It came with my bike and goes pretty well with the bike’s purple frame, but then, white goes with everything. I know there’s grippier tape and I’d like to find something a bit more fun than white.
  • Aero bars to go faster! This is a only-sort-of-kidding thing. I’m actually sort of scared of going faster on my bike because I don’t want to go so fast that I feel like I can’t stop quickly and easily and don’t want to break myself. While I know these are so you can go faster more easily, I think they’d also be more comfortable because after a while I start running out of hand and arm positions on my bike.
  • Learning to flip turns in a pool. When I took swimming lessons as a kid I always prided myself on being fastest at swimming laps, but my secret was to launch myself using my legs from the ends of the pool which gave me strong start and let me stay ahead. I’d like to learn how to flip turn because not only does it look cool but it’s seems easier to keep the flow of a workout. I’m not sure how to learn this without looking like I’m drowning but I’ll figure something out.
  • Meal prep lunches during the work week. I’m pretty good at meal prepping for dinner and my breakfasts are usually fairly standard but lunches tend to be a mishmash. Either I’m totally prepared and it’s packed, or I’m not and end up running to the commissary for lunch. I’d like to be able to prep a week’s worth of healthy pre-portioned meals for lunch so I make it easier on myself during the week.
  • Using essential oils in my daily routine. I’ve been a bit of a skeptic about oils. On the one hand, I love how they smell but I’m not convinced they really work. A woman I know has been singing their praises for several years and I decided I would try some out. I’m 100% sure I won’t give up any of my other products, but it would be nice to try some new things out and all the more so if it makes everything smell nicer.


1G&2DDCC Part 4

(I wish now I had picked a shorter title as I’m tired of typing it out!)

Once off the ferry, I made a couple of stops. First, I visited the Oiselle headquarters in Seattle. I wanted to get a couple of things for warmer weather since my household goods are going to be delayed. The woman working in the store was so friendly and helpful. I ended up getting the collared roga dress (it has pockets!) and a Sarah Attar tank that was so light and comfortable. 

I also picked up an audio adapter for my iPhone and have been happily listening to audiobooks since. 

Once done, I headed in a southeasterly direction and figured I’d drive until I was a little tired. I ended up in Pendleton, Oregon which I learned is where the Pendleton Wool Mills is headquartered. I’ve seen the beautiful Pendleton blankets around the southwest and at national parks and as luck had it, they had an outlet store where they also sold seconds. I picked up a really nice sweater for P, a beautiful woolen blanket, and wool socks for both of us. They had so much to choose from and I could have spent a lot longer in there if I hadn’t still had a long drive ahead of me. 

From there I crossed into Idaho and then Utah. I was getting pretty tired and really wanted to make it to Salt Lake City, but was willing to settle for anything before that too. I hadn’t expected there to be so many farms and long stretches between gas stations and convenience stores. I spent the night in Ogden, about an hour from Salt Lake. 

Easter morning I woke up and my plan was to go to church and then come back and pack everything up, but my dog were getting so anxious as I got ready that I ended up packing everything and them into the car and they just waited the hour while I was at church. 

From there, we headed south and into Bryce Canyon National Park. Utah had so many natural things I wanted to see but I knew I wouldn’t be able to see them all with the time I had. I picked Bryce Canyon and Zion because they were both nearby to each other that I thought it as doable. 

I didn’t plan for how long I’d spend in Bryce Canyon or how far I’d have to go to find somewhere to stay. Plus it was Easter Sunday and in Utah, it seemed like everything was closed. It took me an hour and half to find a place to stay that allowed pets and I think I ended up eat Taco Bell for dinner because it as open and I was starving. 

The next morning I looked at my travel plans and realized I wouldn’t be able to squeeze Zion in if I wanted to get to Flagstaff that night and so the park justice, so I skipped it. Still, the drive was so beautiful along the Vermillion Cliffs highway into Arizona. Utah and Northern Arizona are so beautiful. 

I really enjoyed my drive down to Arizona. My sister lives in Flagstaff so we decided to take our dogs to the dog park and catch up and afterwards we went to dinner. It wa so wonderful to catch up with her and our dogs got plenty of energy out by running around, smelling things, or whining impatiently while hovering next to me (Zane.)

I’ve been staying at Wyndham properties most of this trip but broke from it to stay at a Motel 6. All the Motel 6s in Flagstaff are super nice and very affordable. They were also on the better side of town than the Wyndham properties that were available that night. For some reason I didn’t sleep well that night though. I don’t know if it was the time zone changes, or if I was still pumped from seeing my sister, but I kept waking up so I just decided to get up around five and get going. I only had a few more days until the trip was over and I was ready to finish it. 

Taking Pets on the Alaska Ferry (Part 3)

I wanted to write this to give some other pet owners a more updated perspective on taking pets on the ferry. It’s been a few years since I did it last and I haven’t seen any updated accounts since then.

To take pets on the ferry (and take them through Canada) I had to get their vet to sign off on them being healthy. He had a form for it since it’s pretty common in Alaska, but when I moved up here I was living in Georgia and had to tell the vet what I needed. Basically the form says the dogs have had their rabies shots and are healthy enough to withstand a range of temperatures. The form has to be within 30 days of the beginning of the trip, so it was plenty of time.

Zane took the ferry with me when we moved up here but this was Sophie’s first time. The dogs have to stay on the car deck while we’re underway but I could take them off for potty breaks when we docked in port. Some of those port calls were very, very quick. Like 30 minutes quick. It’s not much time to potty two dogs and also try to feed and water them. I made sure I took the dogs off the boat every chance we got. We lucked out and had a nice long port call in Sitka and the ferry docked right next to the Sitka National Historical Park and the Tongass National Forest. I took both of them for a long, long walk to tire them out since I felt bad about them having to stay cooped up in the car.


Tongass National Forest and Sitka National Historical Park just across the street from the ferry terminal in Sitka

Honestly, they slept the whole time. I’m always joking that Sophie in particular is the laziest dog I have ever met. She spends 90% of her time laying in her dog bed and sometimes won’t even pick her head up to look at you, she just rolls her eyes in your general direction. Now I joke that she was training for this trip and the ferry especially. Zane slept the whole way last time so I made sure I got them both a nice, big fluffy dog bed for both of them for this trip. They had the entire backseat of my hatchback, which wasn’t huge, but I also made sure they had all the space up front if they wanted it. They preferred sleeping in the dog bed though. Every time I came out they were fast asleep and I’d have to wake them up. Sophie would yawn and lazily get up, Zane would get up right away and start dong his excited, happy whine and herd me. I think they would rather be in the car than a crate on the car deck, too.

I mentioned before they both were anxious that I might somehow forget them if they weren’t in the car. I should mention that I have never forgotten them, but they aren’t convinced my past performance is indicative of future success. Zane in particular was really concerned and as soon as I started packing the car in Alaska he went and sat in the backseat and refused to move. So that they got to stay in the car while on the ferry I think helped assuage their worries a little.


Handling the walkway like pros

For the most part I was able to stick to their normal schedules and feed them in the morning and at night with potty breaks. I picked up some calming supplements and pheromone collars for them before we started the drive. I don’t think the collars, Adaptil, made by the same folks who make Feliway, did anything but they dogs both seemed to like the pumpkin flavored calming supplement by NuPath that also promised to deliver “greater bioavailability.” Likewise, I don’t think the calming supplements by the brand Well & Good did much and Zane mostly refused to eat them. Sophie is a pig and will eat anything. If nothing else, they liked NuPath’s pumpkin flavor and I think it helped keep them regular. Zane is prone to nervous bowels and when he’s freaked out, well, more freaked out than usual, he gets the runs. I think that he didn’t was due to the supplement this time. Also, it and his usual high-value dog treats were the only things I could count on him eating. He didn’t want to eat much unless in the car or if I hand fed him.


Waiting to go down to the car deck

While underway the ferry did deck calls about four times a day at 8:30 am, 2:30 pm, 8:30 pm and 12:30 am. They were all announced except for the 12:30 call which was a silent call so people could sleep. They’re only 15 minutes, which isn’t a lot of time, and you can walk your pets around on the car deck and encourage them to do their business. When we came up last time, Zane went a full 24 hours before he went which is pretty typical for dogs on the ferry. This time Zane peed on the ferry deck the second day while we were waiting for the ferry bridge to lower, and Sophie did her business as well. Sophie is part street rat so I figured she would likely have an easier time peeing “inside” because she does it at home whenever she doesn’t feel like the weather outside suits her.


The most full the car deck was on our trip. Our last trip it was jam-packed.

Some people kept their dogs in a crate, either on the back of their car or on the car deck itself. It also looked like the Malaspina had a couple of crates for people to use on a first come first served basis, probably for people who walk on with no vehicle. The last time I took the ferry there were even two cats who spent the trip in a big crate on the car deck; I can’t imagine what that trip was like for them. I opted not to bring my cat because he is a nightmare to drive with and I felt bad about the prospect of keeping him cooped up for several days on the ferry. Instead, P gets to fly down to Georgia with him in a few weeks.


When you smash your car in Juneau, you have to tow it via ferry to Bellingham for repairs

Overall, it really wasn’t bad. Both dogs were a little attention-starved and Zane refused to eat his regular dog food while underway but both were drinking water fine and gobbling up treats so I wasn’t worried. The worst part is the 31 hours between Ketchikan and Bellingham where the dogs can only do their business on the car deck. Since previously Zane refused to go for over 24 hours I decided to try to train them to pee on command. Whenever I’d walk my dogs and they’d potty I’d tell them “go potty” and praise them for doing it. I don’t really know if it helped, but I walked them around on the car deck urging them to “go potty” and neither of them had any issue so maybe there was some Pavlovian effect to my urging.  Some of the other dogs had a lot of trouble with going “inside” and many will just hold it.

If I did it again, I might bring along some of those dog potty pads that are supposed to encourage dogs to pee on them and possibly even mop up some dog pee from a land potty break and keep it to encourage them to pee on it during a deck call – though then I’d also have to find a place to keep a urine-soaked rag. One man had a little toy poodle and had pee pads for her, though I think he might have used them inside his car in case she just really needed to go and couldn’t wait. I’d also try to train them to drink from a roller ball bottle, like a big hamster one because although I left a small dish of water in the car but I was always afraid it would spill and I don’t know if either of them drank from it since they always accepted water when I offered it during the deck calls.

Roadtrip Songs


I’m from the age of mix tapes. If you liked someone, you made them a cool CD of songs that made you think of them. I’ll never forget a guy I dated who made me a playlist of country love songs that I listened to over and over again until I’d nearly convinced myself I liked the music.

I don’t make CDs for people anymore, mostly because P likes metal and I…don’t. But I do make playlists for running and working out and also for driving cross-continent. Here are a couple of my favorite songs for road tripping.

It’s a sort-of love song, but I like the chorus of “I got a little bit longer, I got a ways to go.”

I really like the whole Walter Mitty soundtrack, and I like this song a lot. It’s uplifting and inspiring and about getting out of your comfort zone.

This has been one of my favorite songs for a while. It’s about “home is where the heart is.” I like to try to whistle along with it, to my dogs’ confusion.

Does anyone remember Matchbox Twenty? I like this song because it reminds me to remember how far I’ve come even when it seems like I have so much further to go.

I admit, I love Moana and have been listening to the soundtrack on repeat. It’s just such a good mix of hope and struggle and I can’t stop, won’t stop listening to it anytime soon.

1 Girl & 2 Dogs Drive Cross-Continent, Part 2

I knew I wanted to take the ferry again when I found out I was PCSing back CONUS. Alaska is unique in many respects, one of them being it’s the only OCONUS duty station you can drive to. I was hoping to take the ferry out of Whittier, which would have been an easier drive down past Anchorage (and a final delicious meal of pizza and local beer at Moose’s Tooth) but the Kennicott was delayed in repairs and the travel agency wasn’t able to book it for me so I ended driving back through Canada to the Haines ferry instead.

The best way to think of the ferry is less of like a cruise and more of like a hostel. It just seems to prevent any disappointments or being underwhelmed with the trip. The boats are designed to transport people and goods after all, so while there are port calls, don’t be surprised if they’re short. There’s no running around the decks like on a cruise ship or spa or formal nights. And like a hostel, it’s cheaper way to travel and see some new places you’d be hard-pressed to visit on a budget. I don’t know a single cruise line that you could get a week-long trip through Alaska for $220 (the price of a single traveler with no pets, vehicle, or cabin during the winter season.)


Bridge deck recliner lounge

I was somewhat fortunate this trip in that I was traveling in the off-season. Last time I took the ferry it was July which is peak tourist season. I found out I was moving to Alaska a month before I moved and because of the timing all the cabins, called staterooms, were full. This time I was glad to get a stateroom. Although I wanted one with a window, the Army is committed to buying the cheapest option (though to their credit, they did pay for the ferry plus the rest of my move) so I got an inside stateroom instead. On the plus side, the stateroom still came furnished with linens and had an en suite shower and toilet. The biggest downside was the water was lukewarm at best though I discovered if I cranked it all the way to hot it would get cold so the sweet spot was a little before that point. It wasn’t hot but it was good enough.

There is a heated solarium on the aft upper deck with lounge chairs and some people pitch tents and tape them down to the deck with duct tape, but I didn’t see any tents this trip. I saw a few people sleeping in the lounge chairs, but most opted to sleep inside. Overall the ship wasn’t very crowded. I don’t know if that was because it wasn’t the peak season or because we were headed south or both. The ship I was on, the M/V Malaspina, is the oldest of the fleet. The last time I took the ferry I was on the M/V Columbia, the fleet’s flagship (flagship ship?). There have been a lot of changes since then. They closed the bars in 2014 and the gift shops as well. That was pretty sad. The bars were really nice, they served mixed drinks and local Alaskan beers on tap and since it was state run they bartenders didn’t accept tips. I met a lot of interesting people in that bar. The gift shop sold various things that people tend to forget – band aids, toothpaste, Dramamine, and also some Alaska ferry merchandise. What little is left has migrated to the cashier’s booth of the cafeteria.

There is a decent amount of reading material in every ferry terminal and on the ship. It reminded me of the book selections I found in the pax terminals and MWR space while I was deployed, though with significantly less romance novels. Most people read or looked out the windows while we were underway.

The Malaspina had a fore and aft lounge, a move theater with several movies a day put on, usually a few educational Alaska films during the day and a fun movie at night, and a cafeteria. I remember the prices being expensive when I moved up here, but since then my pricing appreciation has changed. I brought my own food again this time, but better. I had a variety of freeze-dried meals, dried fruit, Picky Bars, Bobo’s Oat Bars, and a French press and coffee grinder along with a Jet Boil. Last time I was running low on funds and so we ate Ramen, oranges, and Velveeta macaroni and cheese for four days. I still can’t stand Ramen or Velveeta.


Forward lounge, with great 360-degree views of everything 

One night I decided I wasn’t feeling like my food options so I ordered dinner from the cafeteria. it was surprisingly good and came with plenty of sides, which was good since I was so hungry. I had a full meal and drink for $16.50, certainly not bad at all by my estimation. The prices for sides and breakfast items seemed a bit steep, but not unreasonable if you’ve ever seen the prices in a remote coastal town. They still provide free hot water from either the coffee machine inside the hot line or after hours from a pay machine by the condiments. It also makes espresso and lattes for a small charge. There is also still a free microwave at the back. I used some of their condiments but tried to be conservative with what I took. The coffee on board was only $1.50 and you got a free refill as well if you keep the receipt.


Dilled halibut with grilled asparagus, brown rice, and a roll all for less than $20

I got a little seasick last time during the channel crossings so this time I opted for some Sea Bands. I’ve had good luck with Dramamine in the past, but you have to take it before you get sick and also I didn’t want to be drowsy all the time.

About an hour past Ketchikan you’re back in Canadian waters until about an hour before you dock in Bellingham. I bought a daily international plan from my cell provider that charged me a flat fee of $10 a day for international service. It was still very spotty but it was nice to be able to send text messages and updates on how our dogs were doing.

It was nice to be able to get some sleep in between tending the dogs and just admire the scenery without also having to drive. I’ve heard driving through Canada is also beautiful but I can drive all the time, I can’t always take a ferry to get where I need to go.

1 Girl & 2 Dogs Drive Cross-Continent, Part 1

I figured I would break my trip down into four parts five parts because that’s almost how I think of it, plus a fifth section just about taking pets on the ferry. I think of it in two main parts: Alaska and not-Alaska, but both of those would be too long so I’ve elected to break them into two more parts each with another part about taking my dogs on the ferry. This is the first part.

When I realized I would be driving out of Alaska alone, I was a little concerned because not only was it still snowing but it was also still below freezing and I worried that slick roads coupled with remote highways would spell disaster for me. I decided the safest thing to do would be to break up the trip over several days. Haines is only about 14.5 hours away, but you cross into the Yukon, then British Columbia, before coming back into Alaska again. I checked the road conditions and although they didn’t seem bad from the websites, I decided it was better to be safe than sorry.

I drove the four hours to Tok the first day and spent the night in a motel next to a restaurant called Fast Eddy’s. The roads were fine and I passed several trucks towing snow machines back from Arctic Man. The dogs were mostly good about the trip. Zane spent the first two hours nervously panting and shaking in the back of the car before he settled down and went to sleep. Both dogs were so happy but sort of confused when we got to Tok for the night. It’s been a long time since either of them moved and the last time either of them moved we all moved together.

The next day I was undecided where I’d end up. I had planned on spending the night in Destruction Bay or Haines Junction, but even with my stopping to take pictures of everything I thought was vaguely interesting, I got to Haines Junction around 2:30. It was only another two hours to Whitehorse and I wanted to eat real food and also look for an audio adapter for my iPhone so I headed up north.


I stayed in Whitehorse when I moved up to Alaska so I vaguely remembered the layout. I drove around for a bit trying to find the Best Western I’d stayed at before. I stopped and asked Canada’s Best Value Inn if they accepted pets, but they didn’t. I drove around some more before I saw a Days Inn that was also conveniently located next to a grocery store and on the edge of the downtown, which was perfect. I always take my valuables in at night, but I didn’t like the look of some of the people hanging around downtown.

The grocery store was a real treat. It’s possibly a little weird of me, but I’m fascinated by other peoples’ grocery stores. I love how food brings people together and so I find the places where local people shop to be really intriguing. I love seeing the varieties and familiar and unfamiliar brands. Canada definitely didn’t disappoint. The store was called the Real Canadian Superstore, if I remember correctly, and was similar to my local Fred Meyer or a Super Wal-Mart. It had clothes, cosmetics and health products, limited automotive and pet supplies, and an enormous grocery section. Sometimes I forget that Canada is actually a separate country. I’m just so used to thinking of it as a neighboring state. Since Alaska has no other neighbors, except maybe Russia, I just take the Yukon for granted. But Canada is SO different! For one, they have so much more diversity in their products. Their ethnic hair section had more than just products aimed at black hair. They had henna, Asian beauty products, and Indian beauty products. The white products still dominated, but it was so nice to see a wider range. Their food sections were equally diverse, though strangely their Hispanic section was pretty much Old El Paso taco kits like you’d see in the Deep South (yes, you Georgia.) Plus, all the road speed limits and distances are in kilometers. I discovered that there was no way to change my car’s units displayed so every time I saw a changed speed limit I’d have to do the math quickly. Whenever I wasn’t sure I just drove slower. I’m sure it was just really annoying for everyone else around me. The gas was also sold in liters (litres?) and not marked in dollars and cents like we do, just whole numbers. The going rate in Whitehorse was 119.99 for a liter. That doesn’t sound bad, except it’s something like six liters to a gallon so really that gas is six dollars a gallon. Ouch.


At the grocery store I bought some Sour Keys, which are my absolute favorite Canadian thing, and also some dried fruit to snack on. I remembered last minute that I did a Reddit gift exchange a couple of years ago and received some chicken dip mix from a Canadian and found it. It’s Swiss Chalet and I remember it being remarkable delicious. She told me it was a chain in Canada, but Whitehorse didn’t have one for me to try out.

I also made sure to stop at Tim Horton’s for breakfast the following morning before heading out. It’s Canada’s version of Starbucks but in non-American sizes and the coffee doesn’t taste burnt. Since I knew it would only take me about five hours to get down to Haines and my ferry wasn’t until late that night, I dawdled in Whitehorse as long as I could. I stayed in the hotel until check out time, I drove around looking for an audio adapter for my iPhone, I took the dogs on a long walk by the river. I had lunch. Finally, I had run out of things to do and felt like I should hit the road so we left Whitehorse and somehow I got turned around and we drove 45 minutes the wrong way. I don’t know how I did that when there’s only three roads into a place, but I figured it out and soon we were back on the right road.

Again, I stopped at everything that looked interesting and we saw a bunch of snow machines in British Columbia just before we crossed the border back into Alaska. We still made it to Haines pretty early so I grabbed a wrap for dinner from a local store and took the dogs to a park so we could all eat. I still had several hours to kill so I tried taking the dogs for another long walk until they obviously wanted to go back and sit in the car. Out of things to do and with two dogs who thought they’d be left behind if they weren’t in the car all the time, we went and checked in at the ferry terminal and waited for it to arrive.

Eating Healthy While Traveling

One of the hardest things for me while traveling is the lack of food options on the road. Several years ago I drove cross-country and ate only Taco Bell, gas station pastries, and 5-Hour Energy Shots.  Living like that is just not sustainable for me anymore. While traveling, I’ve developed a few keys to try to make better choices on the road.


  1. Pack your own food. Did you know you can bring your own food to the airport? I didn’t know this for years. Now I love packing myself a great meal to eat while waiting for my flight or on a layover. One of my favorite things to make is chèvre, spinach, avocado, and pesto between two slices of thick bread and toasted over a skillet until the sides are golden brown and the insides are warmed and melted together.
  2. Bring your own snacks to avoid binging on things like gas station pastries. Small snacks like grapes or apples are great for curing my sweet tooth cravings and keep me from wandering down the candy aisle when I’m paying for gas. I also like bars like Picky Bars or Bobo’s Oat Bars.


    Smooth Caffeinator is my favorite

  3. Eat breakfast. I find if I don’t eat breakfast, I’m more likely to indulge myself because I’m beyond hungry. Even just the slim pickings at most hotels’ continental breakfasts can help keep you from making crazy choices fueled by hunger.
  4. Drink plenty of water. It helps your body regulate itself and juices and sodas have lots of empty calories with no concrete nutritional values. Having a water bottle in the car also helps to keep it available. If you don’t like the taste of tap water (it almost always makes me sick while traveling), they make water bottles now with filters in them so you don’t have to buy bottled water. header-image-bottle
  5. There are lots of good websites and apps that can help you decipher what’s really in menus at restaurants. I used Weight Watchers several years ago and I liked their app because it let me choose a restaurant and see how many “points” different dishes at that restaurant were.

Tri-ing to Move Cross-Continent

P is finishing up a house project that involves using contact cement that has us all a little loopy right now – do the dogs seem more tired than usual? Is there any actual oxygen left in the house?

I think I must be a little out of it because I signed up for a sprint tri two weeks after I get to Georgia and I uh, still have to get there.


5,214 miles. 14 days of travel. I like this map because you can see how massive Alaska is.

It’ll be my second time moving cross-continent, but the first time I’ve done it alone. Am I worried? Only a little. Once I make it down to the Lower 48 it will be a lot easier as nothing is as remote as living in the Alaskan Interior. The portion I’m liking the least is the stretch of highway through the Yukon before I get back to America – Canada does not maintain its roads nearly as well as the US does.

I’m taking the ferry, also known as the Alaska Marine Highway System, out of Haines and down to Bellingham, WA. I took it coming up here and I like it because I don’t have to drive, the Army pays for it, and you can get off and walk around in the port calls in places like Juneau and Ketchikan. I’ll do another write up about taking the ferry a little later in case anyone wants to know more about it. I’ve heard there have been a lot of changes since I was last on it so I want to see how different of an experience it is this time.

Training is going to be interesting while traveling. I have my bike and my running shoes, so I’ll be able to get some workouts in but the swimming portion will likely get shortchanged as I’m pretty sure I won’t have pool access for a while.



Lottery Races


This week it’s about five races you either need a lottery to get in, or can get in through a lottery system.  Some popular races are switching to a lottery system, such as Big Sur, because of how quickly they sell out and to give new runners an opportunity to run the race as well. The good news is that even though you may not get in a race through the lottery, they typically also offer the option to run for a charity and raise money for them, which is a nice way to raise awareness of the charity and help fundraise for them while still getting to run the race.

  1. Atlanta Track Club Peachtree Road Race. It’s the biggest 10K in the world, and insanely popular. It runs on the 4th of July every year in Atlanta and a yearly membership to the Atlanta Track Club gives you priority registration. I missed that since I didn’t find out I was moving to Georgia until the middle of February, so I entered the lottery. I’m not particularly lucky, but I was happy to get that congratulations email!ajc
  2. TCS New York City Marathon. I got in back in 2013 but didn’t realize how special that was or how hard it is to get in (Runner’s World estimates an 18% acceptance rate) and didn’t go (plus tickets from Alaska are always expensive). I didn’t get in for this year, so maybe next year?
  3. Bank of America Chicago Marathon. I’d heard this was a fun race and lots of other Volée are running it, but I was just not super excited about getting in this lottery. I waited to see if I got into NYC and didn’t but I’m still unsure whether I’m going to head up to Illinois this fall or not. There are a lot of other races I want to do that are much closer to home, but it is a lottery which means if I’m on the fence I will probably do it just so I avoid FOMO.
  4. Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Mile. I did this back in 2013 (a year when the blossoms were severely delayed so there were hardly any on the Mall) and it was a good time. The 10-mile distance is a good distance for me, easy to train for, but the crowded field makes it harder for a PR. It’s a pretty race and very scenic even if the cherry blossoms are shy.
  5. Big Sur International Marathon. Another pretty, scenic race. I drove the Pacific Coast Highway on my way up to Alaska and it was so beautiful. Running it would be even better. I already have a California marathon under my belt, but this would be an awesome race.