My first summer in northern Canada and Alaska was a real eye opener for me. I had very little money and was making the trip in a little Geo Prism and a tent. I left from Michigan's Upper Peninsula. I had a car top carrier full of dehydrated food, a trunk full of tents and gear, and a backseat full of sleeping bags, a dog and a 6 yr old.
I wanted to see ALL of ALASKA so that I could come home and shop "online" for a piece of land there knowing what the general area and terrain was like in a given location. I ended up going 11,000 miles that summer. (My car died about 60 miles after returning home) ~ that was a close call. Sure glad I didn't head up to the Arctic Ocean like I was thinking at the time.
Since my journey really started after crossing the Canadian Border, I quickly found us in very rural countryside heading north from the Canadian border. We drove in 20 hour stretches looking for a camp ground only when we were completely exhausted of looking at mile after mile of countryside. We had a goal of getting into Alaska as quickly as possible. Prior to crossing the border we had spent the night at a camp ground was in Northern Minnesota. We had pulled in around midnight, set up our tent quickly, thinking we were going to FINALLY get some sleep.... WHAT WERE WE THINKING? Sleep is NOT something you get on an adventure!
About a half hour after we arrived at our first campsite a van drove up to our peaceful setting, it was full of some interestingly intoxicated occupants who were certain they were suppose to meet us there. We reassured them that we had NO IDEA who they were and that they were the last thing we needed for company in our endeavor to get a good nights sleep. We urged them to depart, which took some convincing but they did finally leave and we had our trusty double barrel shotgun join us for the night instead. So wearily we turned in to once again try to sleep. Suddenly there was a loud SMACK on the water behind the tent ....There was a large canal behind our tent and unbeknownst to us it was inhabited by very large carp or gar jumping from the water and coming down with an awful tremendous SMACK. That went on all night until day break. So we awoke almost rested and headed north. We crossed the border in the middle of the night around 2 am in North Dakota. The Canadian border guards had a million questions, (really just 2 questions asked a half a million different ways. Namely why were we coming into Canada and when are we leaving...welcome to Canada! This was doubly interesting because we had a son with us who was born at home and didn't have a birth certificate at the time. This bit of information would come into play later, however with some explaining they let us cross.) The border agents kindly let us in with the small $25 fee per firearm , so lightened our wallets of about $150 right off the bat. We traveled hours and hours into Saskatchewan where you you could see so far across the horizon that you could see the curve of the Earth! Its easy to see there how so many millions of bison/buffalo could roam those vast prairies. The prairies are enormous! There's just no way to describe how you can drive for days and never reach the horizon. Coming along a back road we spied a sign for a camp ground at a lake. So we turned off expecting to come upon the campground within the first couple of miles. A few miles further on we see another sign telling us to turn at the road up ahead, after about 17 miles of signs we finally arrive at the campground to find a bewildered hostess who had no idea what to charge for two people and a kid in a "candy wrapper" (a tent -in bear country), so she tells me to wait a second while she calls the owner and I hear her whispering, "yeah, they're wanting to stay in a candy wrapper, how much do I charge them?" This was our first initiation into bear country where people, sane ones anyway, just didn't camp in tents. The owner arrived at a price which included all the cut campfire wood we needed and just a tip that we should keep our food packed away, there's been a couple bears off and on around the campsites, particularly in the back more secluded areas such as we had asked for....Well that was comforting!
As it turned out we spent a couple of months wandering around Alaska after leaving Canada and never saw a bear near our tent. We were assaulted by storms so bad the winds pushed the roof of our tent down into our faces as we slept, rain that poured like a river requiring a second tent to be put over the first to keep out the driving rain, motes to be dug to divert the raging torrents coming off the tent. We had a moose cruise past the side of the tent on the one foot of space of the tent pad that stuck out past the tent. It was pretty unnerving to think of hooves carrying 1200 lbs just inches from my face. There were the unknown silent things (probably bears!)that we could neither hear, see, or smell that sent our dog into a barking ruckus in the middle of the nights, but overall our tent stay was fairly uneventful. The Alaskan nights (mind you its still broad daylight at night) in June and July did surprise us by dipping down into the 20's and 30's in some places particularly in higher elevations.