As the clock starts ticking down to our departure we are getting a little bit more serious about making concrete plans. 

We decided selling our car and flying to Alaska and purchasing a new car there to drive home in the spring might be the best option, but guest what?  The airlines aren’t transporting dogs because of….

You guessed it: CORONAVIRUS

And we have two dogs—Louie and Envy.  And even if the airlines were flying dogs I really didn’t want to put Louie through a flight.  He is a high anxiety dog to start and he is fifteen years old.  Although he is technically in good health he has definitely aged and the stress of it just might be too much.  Envy is only four and totally chill (she is retired Seeing Eye Dog that we raised as a puppy.  After we returned her for training to the Seeing Eye she was chosen to be a breeder and is the proud mother of thirty something pups.  Which makes me the proud grandma of thirty plus pups, but I digress…)   The important thing is that flying to Alaska is now not an option. 

I, thus, emailed the Canadian Border Patrol and explained our situation.  They basically told me that entry is on a case by case basis determined in person at the border.  Which really doesn’t confirm anything, but they also bold faced the line that transit through Canada to Alaska for essential purposes was permitted.   They also sent me a ton of information on transporting dogs through Canada as well as contact information for their public Health Agency with information on quarantine.  They said that it was the public health officials that determines need to quarantine for fourteen days.  SO all that makes me a bit more confident.  I mean if it was a definite no why highlight that transit to Alaska was permitted or send the info on the dogs or give me info on the public health? Right? Am I crazy? It might be ok?

So here we are with The Plan: 

  • Close on the house August 14. 
  • Drop my plants off with my son.  (He doesn’t know this yet, but he loves plants so I think it will be ok. He’s in the seminary studying to be a priest though and will be on a spiritual year next year so I just need to check that he will actually be able to care for them….)
  • Make a socially distanced stop at my parents house.  I want them to come to Alaska for Thanksgiving or Christmas, but let’s be real not many people are jumping up and down to travel to Alaska at that time of year.  We are on the more insane side of the scale…
  • Stop at Steubenville for a college visit for ES.
  • Drive west doing some Trail of Tears stops
  • Drive north doing some Little House stops
  • Stop in Fargo and get enough non perishable food to survive a quarantine if necessary.
  • Pray. 
  • Cross the border early in the morning at Pembina, ND (hopefully)
  • Drive north

At that point things get a little more sketchy: 

  • If they don’t let us cross over we will just rent something in North Dakota for a bit and go from there.   
  • If they let us in an make us quarantine we will drive about ten hours to a predetermined cabin to sit for two weeks until the quarantine is over. 
  • If they tell us we can drive straight through we will drive ten hours each day to get through as quickly as possible because now is not the time to take it slow.  I think it’s probably about 45 hours to the Alaska border so hopefully we can get there in 4-5 days.  We will go slowly and do all the touristy things when we move back at the end of the year. 

The Plan requires we get a new car.  (we have an all electric car) After much discussion we have decided it’s just a lot safer and quicker to get a normal car.  It’s more likely they will let us in because traveling the last stretch of the Yukon highway will take forever without superchargers.  If they let us go through I can pretty much guarantee we will just need to go as quickly as possible.  And although I wish all of this was a lot easier and the border was just plain open and we could take our sweet time and enjoy the beauty of Canada I completely respect the regulations they have imposed.  I think they are doing the right thing to protect their people and I will be grateful if they let us through.  The last thing I want to do is spread this horrible disease.  So we will get a new car and either sell the electric one or leave it with my parents.

So that is where we are in The Plan.  I know God probably has plenty of adjustments to The Plan, but somehow just having something in writing still brings me comfort.

UPDATE: Decided today to drive all the way to Montana on the US side of the border. I think we can get through Canada in 34 hours from the border crossing there. This may switch up our Trail of Tears bit until we return at the end of the year, but we will get to see Glacier National Park this year……

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About Mary

Mary Stephens holds a degree in international affairs from Georgetown University and a Masters in Teaching from the American University. Mary spent almost twenty years homeschooling her four children and is now navigating post homeschool life in Alaska. She offers personal insights, recipes, homeschooling tips and tricks and travel advice on her website penciltreks.com. Mary also owns Christopher Travel, a luxury travel company specializing in exquisite vacations around the globe.

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