Planning My Next Big Adventure to…Alaska

On May 16th I have to be in Wasilla, Alaska for my nephews’ graduation. The ‘twins’, as they have been called their entire life, will be graduating from the same high school that my sister and I graduated from nearly 25 years ago. So, I’m headed back home.

I’ve been trying to figure out how I’m going to get there, what I’m going to do, and how long I’ll stay.

How I’m going to get there?

Moose in My Parents Yard - 2008
Moose in My Parents Yard - 2008
  1. Flying is always an option, but I checked tickets this week and they are around $500. Shoot…I only paid $366 to fly to Belize recently. Plus, if I fly I have to leave my dogs at home which cost me $35 per day (a bargain…they love the gal who stays with them). If I only go for 10 days then already I’m out $850.
  2. Driving to/from Alaska is something I did three times as a teenager. Twice as a family in a motorhome (down and back) and once with my Dad when he bought a car in the Seattle Area. Every time we drove growing up, we used The Milepost.  I’d do that same thing for this trip.  It’s approximately 2300 miles each way to drive. My car will get 17mpg (I have a mid-sized SUV) in rush hour traffic (probably even better on the highway) and I figure I can average the cost of fuel to $4 per gallon (since Canada is more expensive that the US). That would mean driving would cost me about $540 each way. And, it would give me the option of taking my dogs and staying longer.
  3. The last option is driving one way and taking the Alaska Marine Highway Systemthe other. This is the most expensive option, but it’s also the most interesting since I’ve never seen Southeast Alaska. The cost for one way on the ferry would be $815 t o $1150 depending on the length of my car…I need to measure it. Whether driving or ferrying the amount of time it will take is about the same and in both options I’d have to drive at least part way through Canada.

What I’m going to do?

I’m leaning towards #2 right now and if I can figure out a cheap way I would consider #3 as well. Driving is appealing to me because I’d like to camp in some of the spots we did when I was younger and then share that with everyone via this blog.

Bald Eagle in Ninichik
Bald Eagle in Ninichik
  • Kenai Peninsula (where my parents currently live)
  • Anchorage, Wasilla (where my sister currently lives), and Palmer
  • Whittier and Portage (the glacier has changed so much from when I was younger)
  • Willow and Talkeetna
  • Petersville and Denali National Park
  • Fairbanks and North Pole (they have an amazing museum at the university)
  • Chena Hot Springs
  • And…I’d love to cross the Arctic Circle (I‘m not even sure this can be done…easily)

Of course, there’d be places along the route from Washington to Alaska that I’d want to stop, but I haven’t thought that far ahead…too many decisions already.

How long I’m going to stay?

Depending on how I get there, I’ll stay 10 days to three weeks.  If I fly, it will be 10 days or less.  If I drive, I’ll stay longer.

What do you think?

Feel free to leave me comments or suggestions.  Or, if there is something you’ve always been curious about in Alaska let me know and I’ll try to fit it into my travels and write about it in this blog.

9 thoughts on “Planning My Next Big Adventure to…Alaska

  1. Ok, so AlaskaGirlAtHeart… I also live, like your sister, in Palmer. I love it. It’s the only place I’ve ever felt like part of a community. Every year, I go on a road trip inside of Alaska. I’ve been to every place you have on your list. If you want to see Alaska, the road trip from WA and back is too long to allow for enough time to really get to explore, but you have enough experience to know that. I adore the marine hwy, but I’m not made of money and the timing limitations on the cross gulf crossings never seem to work with my schedule.If you need a fourth opinon, don’t hestitate to ask. I <3 the public use cabin system because it's a completely different experience that most tourists never see, and it's a very affordable alternative. Anyways, like I said, you can pick my brain. I've done some upscale ideas, but I tend to be a moderate to budget traveler range. My mind set is more into the doing than the having.
    p.s. some mental visual appetizers for your return. When I was at work today, and a pair of mature bald eagles were perched on a cottonwood limb over a customer's home. Just perched sitting, scanning the neighborhood. Majestic. Beautiful. and just another everyday sighting in the life of a professional door bell ditcher in the 49th state.

    • Sounds like you really love Alaska…I do too. I think about moving back someday, but work keeps me in Washington for now. My sister actually lives in Wasilla…where we grew up. I’ve been to many of the places on my list too, but it’s been a long time. Luckily my parents have decided that they want to do some sightseeing this summer, so they will be bringing their motor home most of the places I want to visit and I’ll be tenting it when that option is not available (or sleeping in my SUV which I specifically purchased for its car camping abilities). That will really help with the travel costs. The public use cabin system is a great way to see Alaska. But, as you mention my time in Alaska will be relatively short. I haven’t finished making all my decisions, but I have decided to drive. There are a lot of places I want to see along the way (some of which I last saw when I was a teenager). I’m estimating that my drive up will take five days (my dad and I once did it in three days in November…that was an experience). I’m limited to five days because if I miss my nephews’ graduation my name will be MUD. On the way back I’m thinking seven to nine days. I’ll have just over three weeks for this trip. When I talked to my mom today she suggested skipping part of the Kenai Peninsula this time since I was just there a couple of years ago. That way I’ll have more time up North. There is still a lot of planning to do. Once more of the details are worked out, I will definitely post a follow-up. Thanks again for keeping an eye on my blog. It’s nice to have people from the Great North take an interest in my travels.

    • By the way, I corrected the posting to actually reflect where my sister lives…I’m not sure what I was thinking when I originally wrote it. But as you know…Palmer or Wasilla…it’s all the Mat-Su Valley. All very beautiful.

      • I’m actually reading your blog for your information about Belize since I will be there later this year. Your family will be a great resource for information.

      • If you have any questions about Belize that you don’t find on this site, let me know. If don’t have the answer I can probably point you to someone that does. You will love it there.

    • Short Answer (what I carry today): Nikon D3100 w/Nikkor 18-200 street lens and Benro A-0690 tripod. And, an Olympus Stylus Tough 8010.
      Long Answer: Most of my photos taken after spring 2011 are taken with a Nikon D3100. And, the underwater (or rainy day) photos I take now are with an Olympus Stylus Tough-8010. Previous to purchasing these cameras I used a wide variety of point-and-shoot. The pictures in this post were taken with a Kodak DX7590 (had it for years)…I don’t use this one anymore. The first time I went to Belize (in 2010) I had the Olympus and a Panasonic point-and-shoot backup, but the Panasonic is pretty much retired now that I have the Nikon and Olympus. I bought the street lens so that I wouldn’t constantly be changing lenses (previously the camera came with an 18-55 and a 55-200). My tripod works for now, but eventually I might want to get something even more compact and/or lightweight.
      By the way, I can’t comment on your blog…something is not right about my WordPress credentials and I haven’t had time to figure it out. For your street photo of Caye Caulker and the photo the San Ignacio market it looks like you are doing some interesting post production work. Can you briefly explain how you made them look like paintings?

  2. I think you should drive! I think you should take full advantage of this opportunity and spend as much time up there as possible and bring your dogs! Spend good time with your family and do as much sightseeing as possible!

    • Thanks. I agree. I’ve already asked for the extra time off work. My fingers are crossed.