Traveling to Alaska was one of the most epic adventures I have ever tackled. It took me over a year to plan a month long trip and was originally meant to be myself with three other people in a rented car tramping freely around the state. I can’t even give a number to how many times a route had to be changed or someone would drop out or to come to realization that one of my bucket list stops was not going to be possible during this trip. There were moments when I swore that I was never going to figure out the Alaska Marine Highway schedule – tip: skip the website and call the AMHS office!
In the end it was simply me, my friend Robert, my xterra – Teddy the Bean – and Alaska, my 49th state. It was perfect and better than planned!
The epic adventure began with a three thousand mile cross country trip from hometown, New Jersey to Seattle, Washington. Five days driving west, admiring the changing landscape, two mini Montana adventures and three friendly hitchhikers before arriving in Seattle to pick up Robert who was flying in from Florida. The first thing Robert said to me when I picked him up was “I hope you are prepared for this, I’m not!” That was when I knew that we were going to have a memorable adventure.
We made our way from Seattle to Bellingham – the I-5 bridge collapsed a few days after we crossed over it, scary – and spent a day collecting all the camping gear that we both procrastinated to purchase. Our plan was to board the ferry at the Bellingham terminal and enjoy three days of scenic views as we make our way to Juneau. Robert and I both thought it would be better and cheaper to camp under the solarium with other more adventurous travelers and it was the best idea!
I first met Robert at a 2010 Travbuddy Iceland meet-up in Reykjavik. At the time I didn’t get much of a chance to get to know him, it was a large and rowdy meet up; but I instantly thought he was a really cool guy who clearly knew how to have some fun. He was the first person to accept my invitation to drive to and around Alaska and the only person who stayed when everyone else dropped out. Standing on the 8th deck with Robert and the rest of the solarium campers I knew that it was a blessing that everyone else dropped out. Not because the trip would be less amazing with the others, but I came to realize something that I had missed during past road trips with larger number of people. I realized that traveling with a larger group almost and unintentionally cuts you off from everyone else around you. Robert and I were able to mingle more with locals and other travelers because it was only two of us. We were more approachable and had more time to approach others. Additional people and then we might not have been quite as social. Not rudely anti-social, just more content with our group and maybe less aware of those around us. A smaller group allowed the freedom to make connections outside the group.
Robert and I met many new people on the ship, but I will save that for the next post.