When Old Glory had, just, 48 stars and I was a kid, I read about a road that went all the way to the Alaska Territory. I made a mental note to drive up there someday, like most kids I made a lot of mental notes, a few of them stuck, that trip to Alaska is one of them.
About 15 years ago a friend told me about a fleet of ferry boats operated by the state of Alaska. They serve seaports along the Alaska coast and down south to Bellingham, Washington. I think most of the boats accommodate two or three hundred passengers and some vehicles. The system is known as The Alaska Marine Highway. They don’t offer the amenities available on the cruise ships; they just provide basic transportation.
I modified that mental note. Someday I will ride one of those boats to Alaska and drive home.
A few months ago Patty and I decided the summer of ‘14 would be a good time to make that trip.
We looked at lots of brochures and even more websites. We talked to anyone who would listen. We checked the weather. When does the snow melt? When does the first snow fall? When we were completely confused, we picked a date. It just happens to be after the Midnight Sun and before the Northern Lights; if we’re lucky maybe we get a glimpse of those lights.
Another change to the old childhood plan; we are going to take the boat both ways, occasionally we do something sensible; this was one of those occasions.
We start this adventure in a few days. We’re hoping this guy will get us to the port in Bellingham Washington.
In addition to Alaska and a little bit of Canada we will see (mostly out the car window) parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and on the way home we probably add Montana and Nebraska to the list. We do plan to get out of the car and enjoy some of the Oregon coast.
This is our ride out of Bellingham to Whittier, Alaska.
The Chrysler has to ride down here in the basement.
I think Patty and I get to ride upstairs.
We will be in Alaska and the Yukon Territory about three weeks. We wanted to do it without advance reservations but we listened to some experience and reluctantly made hotel reservations (didn’t want to sleep in the car), those reservations are certainly subject to change.
The only scheduled activities are a charter bus trip to the back of Denali National Park and a plane trip out of Fairbanks that will take us inside the Arctic Circle.
We will see Ketchikan, Juneau and some of the other inside passage ports. We will do a little “bright lights big city”, Alaska style, in Anchorage and a few days later in Fairbanks. We will spend a couple days on the coast around Homer; maybe fish a little or Kayak in the bay. Then a few days with the tourists in Talkeetna and Denali, we’ll try hard to look and maybe even act like normal tourists. I really don’t think normal and tourists go together.
After the Arctic Circle and Fairbanks we will spend a little time in Tok and Chicken, maybe just kick back, relax and get to know some of the people that call Alaska home. We plan to drive the Top of the World Highway from Chicken, Alaska to Dawson, Yukon Territory.
I guess it is time for a little trivia; they wanted to name the town Ptarmigan, they couldn’t agree on the spelling so they just called it Chicken, and yes Chicken, Alaska is on the map.
From Dawson we will go through Whitehorse, YT and down to Skagway, Alaska. If the plan works we will get to Skagway in time to board the ferry for a relaxing 3 day ride back to Bellingham.
I suspect the trip from Bellingham home will be one of those get in, sit down, shut up, buckle up and hang on deals.
I’m sure we will make some interesting side trips and probably go see what’s on the other side of some of those pavement ends signs.
If the keyboard will cooperate and I can find some Wi-Fi I will do a little blogging along the way. If the words don’t flow maybe I can flood the site with pictures; Patty is a pretty good photographer and I don’t mind sharing my futile attempts. The plan is to use a good combination of words and pictures and sometimes a plan comes together.
Keep us (especially Patty) in your prayers.
Good Night and God Bless.