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Attorney leaves the Florida sun for the chill of the Arctic during six-month expedition

Senior Editor News in Photos
Mark Frumkes

Palm Beach Gardens attorney Mark Frumkes and his dog, Remi, traveled from Key West to the Arctic Circle in Alaska on a 19,865-mile, six-month odyssey across the continent that included stays in Baja, Mexico, and 22 national parks. “The people I met along the way were the best part of my trip,” he said. “They were so welcoming and inviting. It made being on the road that much more enjoyable.”

Of all the things the COVID-19 pandemic snatched away from everyday life, travel was the one that hurt Florida Bar member Mark Frumkes the most. The Palm Beach Gardens attorney, an avid explorer, was itching to take his next great North American adventure.

“Getting back from COVID, I wanted to take my Mercedes Sprinter van on a tour of North America,” Frumkes said. “Entry restrictions in Mexico and Canada made that impossible until earlier this year.”

On February 17, Frumkes cranked up his engine at the famed “mile-marker 0” on US 1 in Key West. What followed was a six-month, 19,865-mile odyssey across the continent, culminating in mid-July at the Alaskan Arctic Circle before returning home on August 3.

Frumkes crossed the country before taking extended stays in San Diego and Los Angeles with his traveling companion, Remi, his two-and-a-half-year-old German Shepherd. The pair journeyed from the California coast down to Baja, Mexico, for the annual “Back to Baja” sprinter van life festival on April 21-24.

The event hosted over 300 vans and overland rigs for four days and three nights of live music, excursions, incredible food, and unforgettable experiences.

Mark Frumkes Mercedes Sprinter van under the Trans-Alaska pipeline.

Mark Frumkes Mercedes Sprinter van under the Trans-Alaska pipeline in Alaska. Frumkes traveled across some of North America’s most scenic roads, including the ALCAN highway, the Klondike Highway, and the Top of the World Highway.

Frumkes’ valiant Mercedes van got back on the road for his expedition to the Arctic, traveling the Western half of the United States and stopping at 22 of the 63 national parks along the way. Which park was his favorite? That’s easy — Olympic National Park in Northwest Washington state.

“All national parks are great, and I highly recommend going,” Frumkes said. “But for my money, Olympic is the best there is. It’s the only park with three distinct ecosystems. It has the ocean, the rainforest, and the Olympus mountains.”

Frumkes, a University of Miami Law graduate, stayed at Olympic for several weeks as he awaited entry into Canada. He marveled at the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

“On Memorial Day, it started snowing at my campsite. I couldn’t believe I was standing in the snow at the beginning of the summer,” Frumkes said.

Upon entering Canada, Frumkes traveled across some of North America’s most scenic roads, including the ALCAN highway, the Klondike Highway, and the Top of the World Highway, before entering Alaska.

While many travelers come equipped with an expansive music playlist for long road trips, Frumkes settled for local news, talk, and weather stations along the journey.

“I love music, but I really wanted to immerse myself in the local culture of the places I traveled to,” Frumkes said. “Many times, I would scan from station to station across the dial to find something local.”

During the Alaska phase of his trip, Frumkes traveled the Dalton Highway through central Alaska. One of the most isolated roads in the U.S., Dalton runs parallel to the Trans-Alaska pipeline across the Continental Divide before ending in the unincorporated town of Deadhorse just inside the Arctic Circle.

At campgrounds in Canada and Alaska, Frumkes said fishermen would bring over fresh salmon from their catch that day. That made dinner a delicious experience most nights.

“The people I met along the way were the best part of my trip,” he said. “They were so welcoming and inviting. It made being on the road that much more enjoyable.”

News in Photos