Wednesday, July 22, 2009


11 pm about 15 minutes out of Fairbanks just getting ready to descend. Massive river flowing from the snow melt off the mountains. They call this "braiding" Follow river to the right, once the map loads and you zoom out a few clicks, to see the source.

Arrived into Fairbanks last night 11:30 local time, 3:30 CST. Was still light enough to drive without headlights.
Hailed a taxi and for a 5 mile drive to the Holiday Inn Express shelled out $29! WOWSA!

This trip started a number of years ago. Lynn and I have always wanted to go to Alaska, almost worked up here for a summer back in the late 70's when we were living in Oregon and I was logging. Our plan then was to live in a logging camp in SE Alaska and save enough money to get a down payment on a house (little did we know if we'd have waited a couple decades down payments wouldn't be necessary, but that's a different topic left for a different time). The logging outfit I was working for heard about that plan and offered me a down payment if I'd stay working for them. We paid them back over the course of a few years and we never ended up going to Alaska.

But the thought was always there. Lynn wanted to do a cruise in the SE but I was not excited about a cruise. After a year or so of just talking, our oldest son suggested we look into using the ferry system. That seemed a good compromise. These ferries go everywhere and they hold up to 500 people and 80-90 cars, so they still have that "big boat" feel but with more flexibility.

Original plan was for me to ride the motorcycle to Seattle and Lynn fly out and we take the cycle up on the ferry, but that got kabashed early on based on cost and actual advantage of driving a bike around vs. taking trains, coaches and ferries. The ferry rides would be a big part of it, so spending $$ to haul the bike around just didn't add up.

Long story short, we found a company that will put together trips. We got info on one starting in Fairbanks and ending in Ketchikan. We looked it over and liked the idea, but decided to put the whole thing together ourselves adding the local activities we wanted to do as we learned we'd be paying the normal price for them, anyway. Lynn spent a lot of time on this but she enjoyed it and is good at it. Found a book for $75 or so for a lot of "2 for 1" deals on whitewater rafting, tours, places to stay and many other activities. We figured the money we saved on the book and putting it together ourselves would allow us to do that many more activities. Bush plane flight into glacier country maybe?

We were able to use Northwest/Alaska Airlines FF miles to fly into Fairbanks and out of Ketchikan and also points for 5-6 Holiday Inn nights (at $150-200 a night it adds up) so we figured that was the way to go.

We found the biggest thing was that the Cross Gulf Ferry only runs twice a month from Whitter to Juneau, so we scheduled that first and built around it. NW/Alaska Airline had some blackout dates so a 2 week trip turned into 3 weeks! Damn!

Ran into Tom (BIL and canoe buddy) and Matt (went on the Canadian canoe trip last month) as they were on the same flight from Milwaukee to MPLS. They were in MKE on work and we flew out from there after my brother dropped us off and took our jeep to his place, thereby saving us 3 weeks of parking (note to self: owe Jeff a beer.)
Lynn and I had a couple beers with Tom and Matt in the MPLS airport after getting off the plane, reminiscing about the recent canoe trip. Matt has some great sailing coming up in the Caribbean....I'm jealous!
A Great way to start the Alaska trip, for sure, running into these guys.

Didn't even get out of MPLS airport and Lynn found a baby to hold!

Left MKE at 3pm CST, arrived in Fairbanks 2:30 CST so almost 12 hrs. to get here via MPLS and Seattle. Flying into Seattle was gorgeous. I've flown in and out of there before, but the weather conditions were great and Mt. Ranier and many of the other Cascade peaks were in full view, not to mention the islands off of Seattle and the San Juan islands.

So, more later, gotta get out there!

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