To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world.

(Title quote from John Muir)

I've been home for almost two weeks, and Bean's b-day got it's spotlight, so it's time for the rundown on my trip to Alaska.

I was off-duty July 4th weekend, and had the 5th off, so I decided to extend it a little on both sides and take myself on vacation. I had considered Wisconsin to visit family, and Florida to visit friends and my sister, but - much as I love my friends and family - the options just weren't dinging my bells.

I wanted to push myself to do something that scared me. Trekking around Alaska alone was the gutsiest thing I could think of to do as a solo trip. And I’ve wanted to visit the 49th state for a long, long time.

(Spoiler alert: I could *not* see Russia. From anywhere. Not from a back porch or from a mountaintop. I even tried with my spiffy new 75/300 zoom lens. No dice.)

Alaska has been calling my name for years. There’s just something about it that speaks to my soul; all that wide open space, all that natural beauty, all the wildlife … And it’s Alaska. One of the last truly great wild spaces on such an epic scale. Denali. Countless other mountains. Rivers and streams. Humpback whales. Black, brown and polar bears. Killer whales. Seals. Wolves. Bald eagles. Caribou. Moose.

I’m seriously wishing I was back there already.

I went without any real plan or itinerary, other than flying in and out of Anchorage and staying 4 nights in Anchorage, then driving down to Seward for a night before flying home. I reserved hotel rooms and a car, and winged the rest. And you know what? Traveling like that rules.

Actually, traveling solo kind of rules, too. Next time I go I’m bringing CD’s for the car, because there’s plenty of dead air as you drive around. But then you pick up some random station and listen to local public radio stories about Raven's Radio Hour, which I wish I had seen while there. And then that goes away and 20 minutes later you can indulge in some guilty pleasure sing-alongs with Journey and 38 Special (you know you know the words to both of those) as a staticky classic rock station penetrates the mountains all around you.

It's just an amazing place, and using Anchorage as a base was brilliant, if I do say so myself. There's just so much to explore within a 2-3 hour drive. In that time you can get to Seward or Talkeetna, on any of hundreds of trails and activities between them. You seriously can't drive more than 15-20 minutes heading toward either without somewhere to pull over and just walk in the woods.

I'll give y'all the day-by-day breakdown in the days to come. It's the most beautiful and amazing place; one I'll return to many, many times.


Julia said...

I agree with everything you have said about Alaska. That's why we went there for our honeymoon, and even then 2 weeks was not enough time.

kimberly said...

This sounds like a wonderful trip! I guess I'll have to add it to my list!

Rebecca said...

I'm so proud of you that you took the risk of solo travel. I love it, myself - did San Fran that way, and one other big city...and I have to say - the "no itinerary" part was the best ever! The only bummer thing about it, was not being able to capture a lot of photos with me in it..... aside from the random stopping of strangers to help me out ;)

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