Chris McCandless's Journey

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  • Birthplace: El Segundo, CA

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    Annandale, VA

    Chris moves with his family to Annandale, Virginia to be close to his father, Walt McCandless's new place of work in Washington D.C. Walt worked for NASA at the time and Chris's mother Billie Johnson worked at Walt's research facility. Attending high school from 1983-1986, Chris was academically and athletically talented, but lacked the patience required to develop in finer sports such a tennis. Chris took up running in high school and naturally was good at it.
  • Annandale, VA (cont.)

    Throughout high school Chris received mostly A's in all of his classes, except for one F in Physics. Chris didn't format his paper the way the teacher wanted him to, despite knowing the correct way to. Chris involved himself in various political and social interests, such as fighting Apartheid in South Africa and feeding the hungry people in his area. Chris was accepted into Emory College in Atlanta. After graduating high school, Chris went on his first prolonged journey in his Yellow Datsun.
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    Emory College

    During this time, Chris cut of ties with his parents after discovering his father's infidelity-laden past. Before starting college he turned down his parents offer for a new car, favoring instead his Yellow Datsun, in which he would take extended trips in whenever possible, even visiting Fairbanks, Alaska in 1989. Chris graduated college in 1990 with a 3.72 GPA, donated his remaining 20,000 dollars to OXFAM, and decided to travel to Alaska.
  • Sept 1990

    Chris hitches a ride from Wayne Westerberg to South Dakota, where Wayne offers him a job working at his grain elevator in Carthage. Wayne becomes Chris's closest friend in Chris's travels. After Wayne gets arrested for selling "Black Boxes," or devices that unscramble paid satellite T.V. channels, Chris decides to leave the grain mill and head towards Mexico.
  • Oct 1990

    Chris decides after finding a kayak to buy that he will paddle through the Colorado River into Mexico and ultimately ending at the Gulf Coast. His travels kayaking were particularly dangerous for even experienced kayakers. Chris successfully sneaks across the US-Mexico border and finds that the path to the Gulf Coast is blocked by swamps. Chris gets help from some Mexican Duck hunters who take him to the Coast. After a rough patch of water Chris abandons his kayak and returns to America.
  • Aug 1990

    Chris began his journey by changing his name to Alexander Supertramp and keeping a journal of his travels. Alex, with no money or car, decided to take up a job with Crazy Ernie. Ernie, a con man, refused to pay Chris. Chris then stole a bike from Crazy Ernie and pedaled to another area. Chris hitchhiked a ride from Jan Burres, and she instantly took a liking to Chris. Chris and Jan formed a close friendship in their short time together and Chris continued to send Jan postcards whenever possible.
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    Travels (pt 1)

    Immediately after college, Chris decided to head directly west in his Yellow Datsun, allured by the dangerous pull of adventure. In Arizona, he abandoned his car after a flash flood had soaked the engine. The Datsun was later recovered by Arizona police and used for undercover drug busts.
  • January 16, 1991

    After returning from Mexico, Chris is held up in immigration at the US border, where he is eventually let in after explaining his story but his handgun gets confiscated.
  • Dec 1991

    Chris heads to an old navy air base called "The Slabs" with Jan and her boyfriend Bob. The slabs served as a flea market of sorts for various other vagabonds. Chris helped with Jan's book selling stand and talked with anyone he met about his coming trip to Alaska. Chris leaves the Slabs with the intention to make one last stop in Carthage before finally heading to Alaska.
  • May 1991

    Chris decides to settle down for a bit in Bullhead City, Arizona, and take up the life of a McDonald's fry cook. Chris's co-workers found him to be a bit odd but a hard-working, consistent, and diligent worker. Jan Burres comes to visit Chris after Chris has settled down for a few months, but before she could reach him Chris packs up his belongings and decides to meet her on her way to Chris. Chris cites having "itchy feet" as his reason to leave Bullhead City.
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    Travels (pt2)

    Chris spends this time working odd jobs and traveling America on his way to ultimately end in Alaska.
  • Jan 1992

    Chris sets up camp outside of Salton City, CA, with plans of leaving to Carthage and then to Alaska. While hitchhiking into town to refill on supplies, Chris is picked up by Ronald Franz, an irritable 80 year-old with no relatives of his home. Ronald and Chris became friends and Ronald treated Chris like a grandson, leaving Chris a place to stay and teaching Chris leather working, and Chris made an elaborate belt of his travels. Chris's stay with Ron caused him to delay his trip to Carthage.
  • Mar 1992

    After heading towards San Diego in February, Chris train hops for a while then asks Ron to pick him up. Ron takes Chris as far as Colorado, and in the car ride there Ron asks Chris to be his adopted son, which Chris declines. Three days after being dropped of in Colorado Chris arrives in Carthage, South Dakota, to work for Wayne Westerberg who recently got out of jail.
  • Apr 1992 (Alaska!!!)

    Chris, after very difficult hitchhiking, arrives in Fairbanks, Alaska, on April 25th. He arrives at his final destination of the Stampede Trail on April 28th after hitching a ride from Jim Gallien.
  • July-August 1992

    Chris survived the remaining weeks through continuous hunting of small game such as squirrel and birds and by eating wild plants and vegetables. He soon became too weak to hunt after the wild potatoes in the area became bitter and inedible. Chris slowly starved to death in the bus, as the seeds he were eating were covered in a protective alkaloid. On August 12th he wrote the frantic note on a page detailing he was in need of help and that he was injured. Chris died on August 18th.
  • May-June 1992

    Chris finds the abandoned bus 142 on May 1st, and all he wrote in his journal was "Magic Bus Day!" Chris did not realize that this bus would be his final resting place. The Teklanika which he crossed to reach the bus was knee deep at the time of his crossing. For six weeks after his arrival, Chris has good hunting. Chris deemed continuation along the Stampede Trial impossible and thus set up camp at the Bus. On June 9th, Chris shot and killed a moose, but was unable to preserve the meat.