Almost two years ago, we started talking about ways we’d like to celebrate my upcoming 40th birthday, my brother-in-law’s 5oth birthday, my graduation from grad school, and my sister’s and her husband’s (the same one with the birthday) 20th anniversary–all of which were happening at various dates in 2009.
We finally decided to go “way up North” to Alaska to celebrate our milestones. We talked to people who had been there; we talked to travel agents; we searched online; we talked amongst ourselves. At one point, both my sisters, my brother, and all their spouses and kids were planning to go.
A year passed and three of the initial nine cruisers dropped out. We had six months left to plan. We ordered travel guides (The Milepost 2009: Alaska Travel Planner @ http://tinyurl.com/yhn7yma), books (Alaska For Dummies @ http://tinyurl.com/ygw7jzk), and cruise information.
Our plans firmed up and changed, ebbed and flowed. A standard cruise-and-land tour just didn’t seem quite right, nor did a wilderness adventure (we’re not the types for either of those things). Three more cruisers dropped out; it was down to just me and my sister and her husband.
In the end, we did what we usually do: we settled on a date (the last week of August), made a reservation for a rental car, and flew by the seat of our pants from Greenville to Houston to Seattle (brief stop; not a real layover) to Anchorage. Coming into Seattle, we had a fantastic sighting of Mt. Rainier rearing up through the clouds–a far better view than I ever had during a visit to the city the previous March.
Got into Anchorage around 11 pm their time, which felt like 3 am our time. We were reunited with our luggage, including my enormous suitcase that had already been dubbed “Bertha” for her mighty size and holding capacity, picked up our minivan (selected for its ability to hold the three of us plus Bertha and whatever else we picked up along the way), and sallied forth down Northern Lights Boulevard toward downtown Anchorage.
Swung through the drive-through at a Burger King (we fly 3,000 miles from home to end up at BK!), scarfed some comfort food, checked into our hotel, then “checked out” for the next few hours to sleep while it was still dark.