Bishes Go to Alaska
There is so much to say about the amazing trip we took this past month. It has been at least 12 years since Randy and I were last in Alaska. It was great to see this beautiful state again, AND explore it with our boys Tucker (7) and Bailey (10). We went with our friends Beth, Travis and Logan (10) because we promised to make the trip together years ago when Tucker turned 7. I love that they remembered that and poked us last year to start planning. Going to Alaska with 3 kids over the 4th of July took a little more effort than I am use to. I now understand that planning is key to a happy vacation at this stage of life. We don’t get as much vacation time as we would like, so there is A LOT of pressure to make every vacation great. Also I naturally like to sit on the beach and read, while Randy is more of an adrenaline junky. We may have spent several months in therapy to address the damage that vacation planning, and Tamara's love of hiking (insert sarcasm), did to our marriage. With that said, I never thought we would be able to travel together so happily, but we’ve discovered that well-planned vacations with lots of activity = a happy vacation for both of us.
Alaska only has about a 6 week summer tourist season. When we were looking for hotels the rates literally doubled over night. We couldn’t stomach paying $800/night just in hotels. Luckily, we were all on the same page and equally thrifty, so we decided to rent an RV. I wish I had recorded the number of sideways glances and skeptical comments we got leading up to our trip. We were all prepared to have moments of annoyance and frustration in our small living quarters, BUT IT WAS AMAZING! I seriously would do the whole trip ALL OVER AGAIN.
Before I share a few highlights, I do have to put out the disclaimer that we were blessed with beautiful weather. It only drizzled on us two days, once on a travel day and again on a mountain hike. We couldn't have planned it better and never felt stuck in the RV. We did take advantage of the clear blue skies by adding adventures to our itinerary like an air tour and zip lining. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be in this beautiful place with a such a clear view of Denali (formerly known as Mt. McKinley).
Now for my highlights...
Our environment is changing so fast. This wilderness will likely never look the same. I wish that I had more meaningful details to share about the changes to the glaciers and effects of warming, but I am not a scientist so my brain doesn’t really retain that info. I don’t really understand the arguments against Global Warming or have a compelling argument to address it. Nonetheless being in Alaska after 12 years away, I could see it and feel it. It was obvious and something that could not be ignored. As a parent it really struck me that if my kids ever make it back here, it will look very different.
Seize the moment. This has not always been my strength. We are still pretty new to family vacations. Actually with the exception of Maui before we were married and Costa Rica on our honeymoon, Randy and I have not done much traveling together. We just didn’t have the resources (or $ for therapy as referenced above) while we were younger. It took us some time to get to a point where traveling was an option. This is one of the biggest blessings of growing older. Vacations like these really make all the “adulting” we do on a daily basis feel worthwhile. I am learning to throw caution to the wind a bit and take advantage of cheap tickets, friends who want to travel with us, and beautiful weather. Being the practical person I am, I can always talk myself out of something. This stage of life for me is about learning to say yes and leap out of my comfort zone.
Great Alaskan Holiday is the BOMB! We laughed so hard every time we pulled our RV into a campground to see half a dozen other green Great Alaskan Holiday stickers. There is a reason for their popularity though: great customer service and well maintained RVs. We felt really prepared and confident on the road. Added bonus - they provide transport to and from the Anchorage airport. Score!
Plan to spend some $$. Alaskan wilderness is an extreme environment that most of us are not accustomed to. The weather around the mountains changes quickly and big game is everywhere. If you are not prepared, you can easily find yourself in a precarious situation. Plus, it is really difficult to travel from out-of-state and show up with all the stuff you need (like bear spray). So hire a guide or use an adventure travel outfit! They are SO helpful and equipped with the gear and the knowledge to keep things fun. For budget travelers, the sticker price can be hard to swallow, but there is so much you cannot see from the road. Here are some links to vendors we used and would recommend:
Denali Zip Lining for ziplining adventures outside of Talkeetna;
Sheldon Air for air tours around Denali from Talkeetna;
Denali Outdoor Center for rentals and guided adventures (like rafting trips) in/around Denali; and
Kenai Fjords Tours for boat tours out of Seward.
eCart is the BEST! I use eCart at my local grocer every week. It has saved me SO much time and money. Its no surprise that I was super excited when I discovered Fred Meyer had an online shopping option. We had a HUGE shopping list. Thanks to Fred Meyer's online shopping, I spent a couple hours doing my grocery shopping from home. After we picked up the RV in Anchorage, we pulled into the parking lot and had our $650 worth of groceries delivered to the RV. We did go in for a few last minute essentials, but I know it would have taken us hours to get through our list in this mega store.
So step out from under your oak tree, seize the moment and take a vacation to Alaska! Its beautiful and worth all the planning. Its changing so fast and you don't want to miss it. I am not sure where the Bishes will go next, but I honestly can't wait to start planning. For now, we will stay local, enjoy some weekend getaways and life in the bubble. I'm forever grateful for real estate that allows me to be a mommy first and accommodate my hubbys' work schedule. So cheers to work that allows me to live this life! Thank you supporting my business and following my journey.