“In terms of wilderness preservation, Alaska is the last frontier. This time, given one great final chance, let us strive to do it right. Not in our generation, nor ever again, will we have a land and wildlife opportunity approaching the scope and importance of this one.”— Mo Udall
Preface: Going back in time…
Terribly sorry for any reader that has been following me or just likes to absorb stories. This one took place in early July (leaving Seattle on July 5, 2021) and was written during and immediately following the trip. Publishing this post hinged on the Rainier post so with that out of the way, I’m now ready to get this out. Please forgive the tardiness and the out of order nature of the posts. Thank you!
Wow, where to start. It seems lately I’m not able to sit still long enough to focus on writing anything and because I’m on the go right now, I’m doing so much that all of the writing is piling up! Well, let’s start to chip away at these things and set about writing something…anything…and see where this goes.
This is the first week since my nephew passed away that I have intentionally taken time to go somewhere alone. The emphasis there is on alone. I’ve been worried about being up here by myself and was reminded throughout this trip that the way I’ve set this up, I’m not really alone very much. I’m still breaking down multiple times a day for random and not so random reasons relating to his passing. To find comfort, I wear his hat or take it with me on all of my adventures — with the exception that I didn’t take it on Rainier, but I had his harness with me so there was that. If I stop for too long, the emotions become overwhelming and I need more space in-between to process it all. I hope one day I can write about all of the things relating to this but for now, everything that comes into my life has a hint of Josh behind it and while it warms my heart to think somehow he’s with me, I’m in tears at the same time missing him so much.
And now the tears are flowing and I brought it on myself by bringing it up. Lol. I try not to fight it anymore and let the tears fall, but the emotions behind them are still kept in check for the most part so I don’t absolutely lose it every time this happens. I need this time to adjust to this new normal amidst a lot of “new normal” transitions. And, while I’m working on this part of myself, it’s not my intent in this post to go deeply into things there. I put it out there to give context to everything I’m experiencing and so you, the reader, won’t be surprised by any references or situations that I describe as I go.
Now, with that out there, let’s get to my adventures in Alaska.
Back in 1997, my good friend from college, Tim, was heading to Alaska, driving with his brother, Len, with a goal to make it to Prudhoe Bay and see the 24 hour sun, among other things. They got as far as Fairbanks and opted out continuing north. Fairbanks gives you 24 hours of daylight but the sun does dip below the horizon for a few hours in the night so to me, that’s not the 24 hour sun I was hoping to see but for them, considering the additional drive of about 12+ hours (on top of 40+ already done and to be done again for the return trip) wasn’t worth it. The Dalton Highway most likely was in worse condition at that time than it is today, with portions of the road now being paved.
Tim inspired adventure and together we did some adventurous things. I learned how to play pool, how to have fun with Jeeps (I still remember the 8-ball he used as the clutch head) and how to dig a jeep out of a mud hole in dress shoes after getting stuck while on a simple off-roading adventure we took one night while I was visiting his family’s home for dinner. I learned about horses because of the horse pasture near his home, how to drive a Porsche because his dad owned one and about fast cars in general…including classic cars. I learned about wine and foreign films, travel, and the idea of moving west. Looking back, I wish I had been able to join them in that Alaska trip (perhaps we would have made it to Prudhoe Bay in the end!), but then I wouldn’t have this adventure to share with you now. 😊
Fast forward to the late 90’s during a time when I wanted to go abroad and experience another culture, not just go sightseeing and be a tourist. I was already a rock climber but I wasn’t yet traveling for climbing. When the opportunity arose, I took it and found myself moving to Sweden to live for 2 years. I honestly didn’t think about where the country was located or what it was about, I just volunteered myself without hesitation and off I went.
It was then that I got my wish and learned another culture deeply, even learning the language fluently enough (at the time) to understand and hold conversations. I met and fell in love with a man who had the best family in the world. He was a bit adventurous and we had a lot of fun, including visiting an ice hotel and taking a sled tour through an aurora lit night during the winter equinox above the arctic circle in a place called Kiruna where we saw no sun the entire day…not even a blip! It was fantastic and the experience made me wish I had planned to do the same during the summer equinox so I could witness the 24 hour sun while I was there. We did that trip just before moving to the States and I never made it above the arctic circle again until today. It’s been years that the idea has been in my mind and a few years in a row now trying to find people interested to take this trip with me until I finally pulled the trigger and went by myself.
Backstory – Logistics
While I’ve wanted to do this for a long time, I imagined I would do it similar to Tim and Len and drive up and explore. Unfortunately, right now the Canadian Borders are closed and because of the Pandemic, there are no rental cars easily had around Alaska. If I was going to do this, the best chance I had was to find a tour operating with room for 1 and go with them. Luckily, there were 2 chances for me to go, both within the timeframe that would allow me to see the 24 hour sun. It’s not cheap to take these tours, but flights to Alaska from Seattle were inexpensive that doing the math (gas, food, lodging, time, rental car cost), it was cheaper with a higher quality experience to do it through a tour company.
However, finding a tour company operating was difficult, let alone finding one with an available space. Northern Alaska Tour Company ended up being the best option. In the end, I can say I am really glad I went with them. While my trip is nearly over, it’s already been more than I could have imagined. It’s not the same type of adventurous outing I’m used to, but it had it’s moments and my goal for the 24 hour sun was met. Bonus, 2 friends from Vegas were working in the oil fields when I was in Deadhorse so I got an unexpected treat to visit with them one night, which was probably the other biggest highlight of the trip. The rest of the tour was information overload because there is a lot to learn about this landscape and the impacts of climate change, political stances and ignorance not to mention habitat resiliency.
Looking back at how I got here and the experience I had here, it was amazing. I journeyed with some amazing people, together fighting the onslaught of mosquitos as we went. I saw some amazing landscapes and experienced the arctic once again, from a different perspective. Most importantly I stayed up for 24 hours, twice! to capture the 24 hours of the sun above the horizon. It was an experience I’ll never forget. Part I of my story follows, enjoy!
Day 1 – Get to Alaska
This shouldn’t sound as dramatic as the title, but with the heat in Seattle, it had been difficult to sleep the days leading up to my departure. Planning to stay up for 24 hours requires a front loading of sleep but that wasn’t happening for me. I wanted to sleep on the plane to Fairbanks, but was afraid we’d fly across the Alaska Range and I’d miss it. That first night in Fairbanks I had planned to finish my Mt. Rainier summit blog but found myself taking care of too many other things that I went to bed late and was up early with only a few hours of rest. It was the first night in a long time when I felt comfortable and wanted to stay in bed longer.
Sleep deprivation isn’t an unusual thing for me. I’ve always been known to run on little sleep but you have to remember circumstances surrounding this time. It wasn’t long ago that I wanted to pass out from daily exhaustion and felt I could sleep day in and day out but 1) couldn’t actually rest to achieve that end and 2) I would refuse to let myself do that and waste a day. To help with that, I invited people to stay in my guest room. I knew I’d feel guilty sleeping all day if someone was around so it was a way to force myself out of bed, when I didn’t want to and was exhausted or too depressed and could just lie around avoiding life, regardless of how much or how little rest I was actually getting. So now here I am enjoying the bit of sleep I was able to get, unburdened by the emotional stress and embracing how good it felt; also wondering if I would get out of bed because this time, of all times, I wanted to stay and enjoy the feeling of being nestled in this bed of feathers (this Best Western bed was amazing!). But, my 24 hour sun objective meant more to me than this so out of bed and onto Day 2 I went.
Day 2 – Arctic Tour Begins
I made it to the tour with plenty of time to spare, something lately I had not been reliable about. My tour was made up of older travellers (older than me, some retired and some not). Everyone was a couple except me, which was another reason I was worried about being here alone. Too much time with myself that I don’t want just now. Being the lone person meant that seating arrangements got tricky for both the plane and the van transportation. It all sorted itself well enough but honestly, I could have done with the back seat on the first leg out from Deadhorse back to Fairbanks because I’d just been up 24 hours! Lol. Having the front seat as we meandered our way down the Dalton “highway” from Deadhorse to Fairbanks and wasting it dozing off was not my ideal way to soak up the scenery. Therefore, I tried hard to stay awake and take full advantage of what I was offered.
The flight to Deadhorse was 2.5 hours and despite the clouds and rain at times, there was a lot to see: from the rolling hills of Fairbanks, to the tundra of the Yukon, the Brooks Mountain Range, the North Slope Borough, and finally Deadhorse. Here is where I learned about Permafrost and vegetation, bird migration, the gold rush, and Alaskan oil.
Being able to wade out into the Arctic was definitely something. I love water and by that I mean I love being by it, on it, looking out over it, and sometimes in it. The day was warm by arctic standards (45/50 F?) and the sun was mostly out, which helped make it feel warmer than it might have otherwise been. The water turned out to be warmer than the air temperature, which surprised me. Some people from another tour stripped down and waded out into the water. The problem is, in this area, the water level is quite shallow for a long way out so if you want the Polar Plunge, you kind of have to just lie down into the water rather than dunk yourself or dive in as you normally would in deeper waters.
After wading out, I found the furthest, isolated section of the embankment to sit and soaked it all in, including admiring the different smooth rocks and the tiniest of sea shells I have ever seen. Our tours were flexible with timing, in that I never felt rushed to conclude a moment like that. And, I could ask for more if I wanted. It seemed like everyone was open and willing to give the time to someone if we had it to spare. I mean how often will you find yourself at the tip of the northern world?
In fact, there was another woman traveling in our tour group who mentioned how she’s always the last person to be done with whatever and people are often waiting on her. Our tour guide graciously commented how slow of an eater he was and that she needn’t worry about rushing because he’d probably still be the last person done. I chuckled at this conversation and had to pipe in that her sentiment is how I often feel. Somehow people are always waiting on me, though I’m doing my best to be ready on time.
Anyway, I digress.
Back to the story. Lunch.
A Surprise Encounter
I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on food while traveling because it’s expensive at Deadhorse and ColdFoot. This is because food has to be transported in and it’s a long way to go to bring that food, which makes it cost more. And, because I never know what meals will be like, I try to pack my own food. Unfortunately, we had a weight limit on our bags for the flight from Fairbanks to Deadhorse. This meant, I had to make sure I brought food that it didn’t put me over the weight limit. So, I didn’t have a lot of it to bring. I did manage with my breakfast (oats and a protein drink), lunch the first day was leftovers from home (day 2, probably still good, right?), and dinner was bought at the place we were staying. Paying for 1 out of 3 meals seemed reasonable enough.
When we arrived into Deadhorse, I was really hungry and because I’d brought my own lunch, I decided not to wait for lunch with everyone else and ate in my room after checking in. We had time to kill before we met our tour guide for the rest of the trip and until lunch was ready at the kitchen. After eating and getting situated, I made my way back to the kitchen intending to sit and socialize with everyone but not everyone had gathered nor had anyone started serving themselves. Earlier because of the mosquito onslaught, I had borrowed some bug spray from a worker there and when I caught a glance of him in the hall decided that with this delay I would run back to my room and grab it to return it to him before I forgot later.
On my way back to my room, I noticed an additional van and Tacoma truck parked blocking the direct path to the stairs leading to the entrance to the building I would be staying in. There was a larger gap between the Tacoma and the van so I started towards it. When I approached I noticed a man standing next to his back passenger door listing a bit. Immediately I think he’s drunk or high or something and consider going between the two vans instead. That thought was a flash in my mind when before I could take any action one way or the other, the man lets out an unseemly moan and falls plank back into the the van and onto ground convulsing.
Crap! I’ve let my CPR cert expire and I’m re-certifying in another week. What do I do for seizures again??? Crap, oh crap, crap, crap!
He was safe enough where he was so I sprint back to the kitchen, called out for Scott the worker I was about to return the bug spray to and told him to come immediately, we have an emergency. I sprint back to the young man and continue to watch him seize unsure how to help. I seem to remember that I shouldn’t put anything in his mouth, or stop the convulsions….was there something else? Oh god! Why did I have to feel so helpless in that moment?
Within a few minutes my tour guide, Tim, had arrived and Scott was on his mobile phone with 911. Paramedics were on the way.
At the same time, another girl had arrived and she was on her mobile with her mom, an ER doctor. Her mom tells us to turn him on his side. The convulsions had stopped but he wasn’t yet conscious. He had some blood and foam coming out of the corner of his mouth and his hands were still clenched though his limbs were limp. We turned him on his side to prevent him from choking on anything in his mouth or throat. And, to prevent him from collapsing forward, while the other girl set about lying his head on his one arm on the ground, I adjusted his other and held it and his shoulder comfortably, yet firmly, back. His breathing was rattled as he lay there for a long time. Then, all of sudden his breathing became restful and his body relaxed.
This was the moment when all was still around us and everyone waited for the paramedics to arrive. There was nothing to do but wait so I started to breathe again and was instantly overwhelmed with the memory of Josh. This feeling of inadequacy, helplessness, that there was nothing I could do, that I couldn’t protect or help him, that he was alone…and my heart was breaking as I looked down at this man and it took everything within me to not drop a tear. Even though I was grateful we had someone here that could help, this situation triggered the helplessness I’d felt with regard to my nephew. I couldn’t help thinking “What if it had only been me?” This man was lucky there were others that could assist in helping. Helplessness is a terrible sinking feeling and someone getting hurt or dying on my watch feels like the ultimate tragedy. I will have many more questions for my up and coming CPR recertification class that this incident won’t be lost on me. Next time, I’ll be more prepared.
He laid still and calm for awhile before springing up in a terrified surprise.
The two of us women had been the only ones touching him. She kept checking his pulse and kept his head on his the arm that was on the ground. I kept firm pressure on one shoulder so he knew I was there and to make sure he didn’t fall back into the van again until he sat up. We helped him sit up despite encouraging him to lie down until the paramedics arrived. He was so startled and confused that he kept trying to stand up and get away. I kept watching his face, he had sunglasses on but I could see the pupil of one eye and it didn’t yet look right. I handed him a rag, not sure where that came from now, but he didn’t fully comprehend something had happened to him until he wiped his face and mouth and saw the blood. Then he stopped resisting and simply sat there uneasy, staring at us.
When we asked him some questions, he was very confused and had difficulty answering. I checked his head and he had an abrasion on the left side but no gash. It took awhile, but the paramedics did finally come and do some more testing on him before transporting him for further tests at the local clinic. In the end, they med-evac’d him to Anchorage. I really hope he is ok.
With the excitement of the incident over, I met up with my tour guide and tour group and we began our plan for the day. By evening, I was eager with anticipation to meet up with my friends and just see familiar faces. Some of my friends work on the oil rigs and spend chunks of time up there. It’s a treat for them as well, to have someone they know show up and say hi! The mosquitos made it tricky to really sit around and catch up so it was a short visit but fun all the same.
Throughout the day and into the night, I tracked the sun trying to capture the late night hours and “witness” the 24 hour sun — a sun that never dips below the horizon during the peak summer months (literally 2 months time!). Since I didn’t have the proper camera equipment (tripod, tracker, etc.) to stage this, I had to adjust throughout the day and figure out how to make this capture work. If it didn’t work this time, I had only one other chance to do it in Utqiagvik later in the week.
I was already tired from not enough sleep that I crashed easily around 10 pm worried I would not wake up as planned. I had an alarm set to wake me every 1 hour, which would be my timelapse timer. I had already been taking photos on the hour since arriving, but now I had to wake up around quarter to the hour every hour until it was time to get up and snap a photo in the same location in an attempt to track the sun all night. It was not easy since it was cloudy and at one point the sun lit up above the clouds making the sun’s location indiscernible. The entire event was disorienting. I got some stunning images, though nothing that I can stitch together that makes sense. The early morning hours were the worst because the clouds were thick and visibility impaired.
Having never done this type of sleep regiment before, I was surprised at how tired I was throughout the next day. I mean, technically, I slept 6.5 hours but the sleep was interrupted so much that the discontinuity of it must have made it seem as though I hadn’t slept much at all. Driving from Deadhorse to ColdFoot was going to feel like a massively long day. The drive itself isn’t too bad if you go directly, but we were a tour and we will make many stops along the way. In fact, we left Deadhorse at around 7 am and didn’t get into ColdFoot until around 7:30 pm. You can get to Fairbanks in that amount of time with limited stops.
Day 3 – The Dalton Highway (Deadhorse to Fairbanks)
The Dalton Highway is not really a highway at all. It’s a transport throughway whose sole purpose is to bring food and supplies from Fairbanks to Deadhorse for the oil workers. In order to excavate oil that far north, there needed to be a way to transport goods on a regular basis. The road was built quickly and has regular maintenance and improvements done on it ever since. Most recently, the stretch of Dalton up through where we stayed when in Deadhorse is now paved. Just outside of town on the way south, there’s a long stretch being worked on that might be getting paved as well. All-in-all, don’t consider taking this road without serious preparations.
First, know the rules of the road. Truckers have the right away. Yield to them. The road isn’t big enough for both you and oncoming traffic. Install and learn how to use a CB radio to communicate with other potential travelers and truckers on the road. This comes in handy to let a trucker know he can safely pass you, to signal safe passage for blind spots along the road, to alert traffic when pulling back onto the road after a stop, or any other reason that might hinder a truck’s progress.
Don’t try to speed down the road, yourself. You are likely to hit a pothole or drive over something and pop a tire. Drive cautiously. Wild animals will be on or near the road at some point and you don’t want to find yourself screeming around a corner right into a moose.
Have a satellite phone as backup to the CB radio in case you breakdown somewhere. There are literally no amenities, except an occasional outhouse, until you get to ColdFoot. Perhaps you could layover at the Yukon river but services would be limited, for example, you might find other people there willing to help you and food, but otherwise, there’s nothing. ColdFoot also doesn’t have much to help with a broken down vehicle, but, they have rooms, food, and the ability to call for help and maybe finding someone who would offer the possibility of hitching a ride to Fairbanks.
Make sure you have adequate provisions with you in case you need to sleep in your vehicle for the night. If possible, pull well off the road. Emergency gear should include a warm blanket, food, and water. Oh, and most importantly, insect repellent. 😊
There are some major points of interest as you travel down or up the Dalton (most people travel up, just leave it to me to do things “backwards” 🙂 ) such as crossing the continental divide in Atigun pass, crossing the famous Yukon river, and crossing the Arctic circle. While these are spectacular moments to take in, don’t forget to wonder at the landscape you have been passing. Some of those “small” trees are very old and those mountains look really tall because the tree line for growing trees is so low, and what about the Brooks Range and the North Slope tundra? Each zone has something unique that will fascinate you. Take the time to experience and take it all in. There’s no other place like this on our planet.
We did all the things you would expect for a tour. We learned about the landscape, the major markers we should pay attention to, the oil pipeline, wildlife, and more. Our guide, Tim Walker, was great! I really enjoyed the experience even though it was a long drive (one that can be done in a day, but that we stretched over 2 so we could maximize what we would see and experience). Taking a tour, especially with a guide as knowledgeable as Tim helps take the stress off the drive and you can leverage his keen eyes to spot those mountain sheep, lone wolves, foxes, and all kinds of birds for you. The tour really keeps your mind busy and your eyes sharp and that makes the drive go by quickly.
Here we are crossing the Continental Divide where water to the North flows to the Arctic Ocean and water to the South flows to the Pacific Ocean. We stopped at Atigun Pass to enjoy the moment and snap a quick photo. North Alaskan Tour Company thought of everything! Tim quickly pulled out a sign to mark the moment and snapped the pic for us. It sure was cold up there! Summer seemed to already be ending and it was still early July. 😐
There’s an old mining Inn at Coldfoot that we stayed in. The rooms are cozy and nearby there is a fuel station (maybe the only one we saw from Fairbanks to Coldfoot and from Coldfoot to Deadhorse), and a restaurant serving a buffet for breakfast and dinner. Dinner this night was good and I was pleasantly surprised by the salad option.
Nearby in Coldfoot is the visitors center that hosts a good overview of the region, wildlife and information on the pipeline, dinosaurs, Coldfoot, and more. I highly recommend a stop here and in case you forgot a hat or gloves, they have a small gift shop too.
There is a small post office next to the restaurant so if you want to buy postcards either from the restaurant or visitors center, you can buy stamps at the restaurant and drop them in the mail slot at the post on your way through. Note, if you can, buy stamps in Fairbanks or Anchorage at a grocery or post office if you are in town. They were $1 each in ColdFoot.
Because the Dalton Highway had been and still is, primarily a transport road, everything in ColdFoot and Deadhorse is brought in a long way and that cost is passed on to the consumer. Therefore, expect a bit of sticker shock as you purchase any food or goods. Northern Alaska Tour Company includes housing and transportation throughout the trip as part of the cost of the tour, but food and miscellaneous purchases are not included.
Day 4 – Wiseman
Just outside of Coldfoot is a village called Wiseman. It’s a place that had limited access and a place where people still live, relatively, off the grid. We had the opportunity to visit the village and get a tour from a local. There we learned a lot about how to live on permafrost, with short summers, and limited means. Jack, our host let us visit his home, and several of the structures he and his wife have on their property. We toured his garden, learned how he knows when to plant and how to get things to grow quickly given the short growing season. We also learned what foods grew more heartily than others.
Everything about life in Wiseman is about efficiency. It’s expensive to have electricity so insulation, the right kind of light bulb, heating elements, food storage options, etc. are critical to sustaining life, especially during the long nights and harsh winters. I was impressed with the innovations that went into making their life pretty pleasant, given their situation. For instance, learning how to store lingonberries or potatoes will make them last a long time. I’m so used to these things going bad quickly but it’s my ignorance for how to store them properly that makes them go bad so soon. You would think growing up in a family with generations of farming that I would have picked up a thing or two. Mind you, we weren’t farmers, by the traditional sense, but as an immigrant family, we knew how to be efficient to survive with very little and living off the land and hunting were two functions we used that paralled the lives of those in Wiseman.
Not only did we learn about how to live in a village like Wiseman, Jack taught us many things about the natural habitat surrounding him. We gained a new appreciation for how to react in a bear encounter, what’s happening with the Bighorn Sheep and other local wildlife due to relaxed hunting regulations (the pandemic didn’t yield much in the way of money for permits so this year they are making up for it). And the cost of our impact on the animals’ ability to survive and thrive. It was eye opening, to say the least.
The Yukon River
One stop you make on the way either from or to Deadhorse is a stop at the famous Yukon River. There is another restaurant with indoor/outdoor seating and proper bathrooms (a wonderful reprieve from the mosquitos at the various outhouses we stopped at along the way). Here we stayed for about 30 or so minutes and it was my first chance to get in a run! I was desperate to move and had already eaten my lunch in the car a little ways back so while others settled in for lunch or a walk down to the River, I noticed a good amount of space where I could run. The wind was blowing, which kept the mosquitos away and the sun was out. It was the warmest it had been since arriving to Fairbanks. Without changing clothes (I hadn’t washed them in 2 days anyway!) and knowing I was changing into fresh clothes (and washing these) in Fairbanks I pulled up my pant legs and busted out for a run. I didn’t time or log it, but I set my timer for 20 minutes and ran for probably 25. It felt great! Now I can say I ran along the Yukon river and Alaska Pipeline. Not a lot of pics, for obvious reasons. Lol
I’m sure my tour group thought I was nuts but I needed it. As we continued our tour, we stopped at finger rock, a marker used as an indicator of direction towards Fairbanks, or so the historical markers say. There I saw a field of granite boulders. Too small for any real climbing but a few of them I scrambled up to sit myself and look across the vast horizon and once again take it all in.
The last stretch of the drive went on forever but was broken up by more wildlife sightings, including a Moose and her calf. Returning to Fairbanks and checking into the hotel was a welcome break in the trip. A walk over to Fred Meyer to buy a few essentials for the last portion of my travels after washing myself and my clothes and setting them out to dry, followed by a simple dinner and the last bit of preparations before crawling into another luxurious Best Western bed. I hadn’t yet fully recovered from the 24 hour photography effort I set about in Deadhorse and despite wanting to be in bed early to fully enjoy the comfort, I ended up cutting things short. It was another difficult morning to get out of bed but all went well and even with a short stop back at Northern Alaska Tour Company to retrieve my Juniper Fund mug I left in the van the night before (thank goodness I noticed it missing), I made it with plenty of time for my flight through Anchorage to Utqiagvik (Barrow), Alaska.
The weather was patchy clouds and I wasn’t sure I’d see Denali on the way to Anchorage or Utqiagvik. I researched the flight pattern and picked the right seats for both flights and was not disappointed. Denali popped out from the clouds, much like Mt. Rainier does. I couldn’t miss it. And, bonus, as we flew from Anchorage to Utqiagvik, we flew so close to the mountain that I got some incredible aerial shots! See the next blog post to learn about this old Native town and my 24 hour sun project. Watch for the pics/video coming soon, too, because I’m super excited to share them with you.
The first part of my Alaska trip was over. Now onto Utqiagvik. Watch for Part II coming soon.
Thanks for the wonderful education, as well as the stimulus to make my own adventures.