The Push To Alaska

7 Jun
2012
Posted in: Air Travel, Alaska, Schedule
By    15 Comments

I’ve wanted the trip to aim towards Alaska since we first envisioned it. We’re on our way north now, but we’re having second thoughts. Things aren’t really lining up as perfectly as we thought. For one, a year just sounds like a lot of time, but given 50 states, if you spend a week in each, there goes your year. It feels like we’re running out of time. Meanwhile, fun things keep popping onto our calendar. We want to:

  • Go to a wedding in Sonoma on August 4th.
  • Go to a wedding in Wisconsin on September 8th.
  • Visit Boise later this month.
  • Go to London in September.

Wait, what? Yeah, London. Lisa’s wildly generous friend and former co-worker is setting us up as house-sitters while he’s out of town. London! We also want to visit Seattle and meet up with my mom and one of her good friends. And then there’s Alaska. Right now we’re in Utah pointed north. The route is getting tricky to visualize. Here’s what we’re thinking. We need some help.

Our first thought was to miss the 8/4 wedding and spend July and August tooling around Alaska. We’d drive up, take the ferry back, visit Seattle, and everything would be wonderful. Problem is, Alaska is really fucking far away. It’s 2,400 miles from Seattle to Anchorage. It’s 2,400 miles from Seattle to CLEVELAND. That’s about 100 gallons of gas, about $400, just to get there. And we want to go to the wedding. And then there’s London.

So then we figured we’d hit the 8/4 wedding, push to the lower tip of Alaska before the wedding, hit Seattle on the way back down, and head to Wisconsin for a quick 9/8 wedding appearance before flying to London from Chicago. Tickets to England right now seem to average around $900. Expensive but worth it. Seattle to Prince Rupert, BC is 1,000 miles, we could ferry to Ketchikan. There’s also a ferry from Seattle to Ketchikan, that’s $240 per person, more if we bring the van, one way. No van means we’d need round-trip tix. Expensive again.

There’s also Hyder, Alaska, a place we could drive to and basically dip our toes in Alaska. No seaside though, just the closest town you can drive directly to in Alaska. Seems to be there explicitly for that purpose. Meh.

Since the ferry prices are steep, we figured, why not just fly to Anchorage? That’s an option. Tickets end up around $500-600 each. Kinda expensive just to say I’ve been to Alaska. We’d have to rent a car, etc. Tickets from cities other than Seattle are only a bit more.

Up until this point, we’d figured that flying to London from Chicago would be best. We could leave our van somewhere for free. Chicago is a major airport, so we assumed it’d be cheaper. Turns out, it’s not that much more to fly to London from the west coast. But that’d mean missing the Wisconsin wedding.

However we slice it, Alaska complicates things. We want to go, but we’d be half-assing it if we rush it. We could just put it off … make it our NEXT big trip. Fly to Anchorage then. Rent a Jeep. Climb Denali, shoot a bear, etc. Hmmm. We can do everything else (we think) if we skip Alaska. We may not get to spend a ton of time at the September wedding (we need to be in London the next day), but we’d be there for at least some of it. And we’d be able to leisurely explore the northwest, something we’ve been looking forward to. Tough call.

Any ideas?

  • http://www.livecollarfree.com/ James Schipper

    I’d skip Alaska this time. Set aside time to see it. You’ll never get to experience it all, but you really don’t want to rush through it if you don’t have to.

    • http://drivinginertia.com/ Paul David Olson

      Agreed … reluctantly. 

  • Ctmikolaj

    You need to not only go to Alaska, but also to Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands before you can consider your journey complete. 

    • http://drivinginertia.com/ Paul David Olson

      Just need to convince Lisa we need a big boat. 

  • http://stewsbrew.wordpress.com/ Stew

    Paul and Lisa, I’d wait until you’re back to “workin’ for the man” and then do Alaska as your next big adventure.  As you’ve noted, it’s huge and it is far away.  Perhaps wait until you can devote 3 weeks to exploring – take a cruise ship one way from Vancouver to Anchorage – that will burn 4 days, knock around Anchorage for a couple days, take bush planes from place to place (have you seen “Flying Alaska” on Discovery channel?) – that would be an amazing trip.

    I know of several people who have driven the Al-Can highway from Seattle to Alaska – and about 2000 of that 2400 miles is one AWFUL drive – huge trucks going 80mph on a gravel road, spitting golf-ball-to-baseball sized stones at your headlights and windshield.  I’d say skip the drive on that road.

    But definitely go to North To Alaska - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfmsx0T7vmw

    But not now … 

    • http://drivinginertia.com/ Paul David Olson

      Yeah — someday!

  • Gary C

    Didn’t you forget about a lay over in Hawaii? 

    • http://drivinginertia.com/ Paul David Olson

      Honestly, we did try to work this in an one point. 

  • Marie

    Hey, road warriors, wasn’t one of the points of this amazing adventure to NOT go nuts with deadlines and checklists? Skip Alaska.

    Bonus: You have a perfect answer for the wiseguys back in the real world who are going to want to know what you plan to do next.

    • http://drivinginertia.com/ Paul David Olson

      Good points!

  • 3500Leavitt

    Trade Rocky in on a tardis, do it all?

    • http://drivinginertia.com/ Paul David Olson

      Maybe a Delorean …

  • Barb

    All good advice.  Take it easy and keep it sane.  Jane and I did a bit of a trek in the Olympics and it’s worth a longer stay.  You also have to get to Walla-walla!

    • http://drivinginertia.com/ Paul David Olson

      Sanity and wine — that’s the new plan. 

  • Katherine

    I grew up in Ketchikan, AK & I don’t recommend it as your only visit to the state- especially as it is very expensive.
    My boyfriend & I are taking a month to drive up the Al-Can, tour around Alaska- & then settle into Anchorage for the winter. I wouldn’t recommend anything shorter if you really want to explore.