Spur of the moment
My upcoming vacation comes sooner than expected. In fact, it was a sudden, spontaneous decision. A ‘spur-of-the-moment’ kind of trip. Since it was quite urgent, we didn’t want to go abroad. Somehow our ‘domestic’ destination has turned out to be one of the most exotic and remote destinations in the world! Right here in the land of the US of A.
It is a land of contrasts. It is America’s largest state in terms of land and wealthiest in terms of cash reserves, yet was bought from Russia a century ago for only a penny. (Well, not literally ‘a penny’, but still.) Its median household income is ranked behind only industrialized Maryland, New Jersey and Connecticut. Yet it is still mostly untamed, and some Native Alaskans in remote areas still follow subsistence way of life like their forefathers. The only place in the world where residents get paid from the government; not the other way round. The state does not tax its residents and even pay them annual ‘dividends’ out of its $40 billion state fund. The state capital, Juneau, is the only capital city in the world that is not accessible by land. You have to go there by plane or cruise. Welcome to Alaska.
The land of glaciers and fjords
The legendary Alasaka Railroad
And even Santa Claus
Trip Planning & Lodging Arrangements
This was the most difficult task. Since most businesses are only open 3 months of the year, they are either fully booked (months in advance) or unreasonably expensive. Savvy tourists should plan an Alaska trip at least 6 months in advance. But I only had less than two weeks…
After 100 e-mails and phone calls to 30 different B&Bs all over Alaska, I finally got ourselves confirmed accommodations for the whole trip. Seriously, it was a tedious task especially if you’re under a time constraint like me. And even stressful. (After this experience, I now appreciate the comfort and convenience of instant online hotel reservation much more.) You basically ‘pray to God’ that your dream lodging still has availability. And then the wait. (The time difference between Alaska and the East Coast is 4 hours.) 12 to 24 hours later, you’ll wake up to check your inbox for the news from each place. For a hot spot like Seward, most of the replies were bad news. A few good news came with much higher prices than published! And then my worst news. MY dream lodging (that I had prayed to God for) is no longer in operation. What a pity. It has a gorgeous lookout like this.
And a sky loft like this
It also looks as magical at night as it does during the day.
It was love at first sight. It was going to be the most beautiful place we would be staying in Alaska. So I called immediately for availability, just to hear an answering machine saying that they no longer operate the B&B business. And my dream was shattered! Just like that. They should have taken the website down so that no more innocent people would be lured and led on by its perfect beauty, hanging on to hope and impossible dream. (Enough dramatization for today…eiei.) So I had to end up booking a
same old boring Best Western instead.
At least, I had some luck at Judy’s Touch of Class, a B&B in Anchorage. Reasonably priced accommodation with rave reviews from TripAdvisor. (Though I depend more on my own
psychic judgment than on reviews on TripAdvisor since they disappointed me greatly from our recent Quebec trip.)
Our host, Jim, happens to be a pilot and owns a Cessna 182. So if the weather permits, we will be flying with him. Since my husband is also a pilot, he’s so looking forward to it.
Last night I had a few cruises booked. Today I will have to finalize my reservation with the Alaska Railroad which I had some issue booking with them last night. Will have to wait for the Alaska time to call them though. And we’re leaving tomorrow! I still haven’t started packing. And more importantly, I still haven’t bought a rain jacket! (A must for the cool, rainy Alaskan summer.) But I’m not too worried. Saving everything for the last minute is kind of exciting ;)
Last but not least, I have to thank my personal trip advisor who has dedicated his time giving me all the useful details and advice from his own experience, helping me plan the trip, having a look at my itinerary and commenting on it. Without you, the planning process would have been more difficult for an urgent trip like this. Thank you.
Keep posted for my Alaska trip journal!