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A One-Way Ticket to Alaska (Part 1)

I’ve always been the person who wished real life was more like the books I read. I wanted more adventure, more danger, more magic. Well, I’m about to have my opportunity to have it all.

How we got here:

My younger brother is stationed in Anchorage, Alaska, and about two months ago he called and asked if I would be willing to drive through Canada with him because he was being moved to Colorado Springs. I, of course, said yes. This felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I couldn’t let go of. Fast forward a few weeks, and there was a mess up with his paperwork. It seemed like he wasn’t moving after all. At least, that’s what we thought. . .

The second week of October he called again. The trip is back on! Except now we’re leaving in three weeks and instead of driving in October before the snow gets too bad, we’re driving in November! No big deal, right?

Twelve Days to Lift Off:

I just bought a one-way ticket to Anchorage, Alaska. Yes! One-way! I took a picture of the price and sent it to my brother, “Are you super sure?”

He responds, “Yes.”

Click.

I can’t believe I just bought a one-way ticket to a state that feels a world away.

I have a four-and-half-hour flight to Seattle, a one-hour layover, and a four-hour flight to Anchorage. Did I mention the last time I flew I nearly threw up the whole way there and back?

Dramamine is at the top of my packing list.

Oh goodness, I need to make a packing list.

Ten Day to Lift Off:

I’ve looked at a handful of blogs, the Canadian government’s website, and thought back to every road trip and camping trip I’ve ever been on to create my packing list. I’ve sent it to my husband and my dad. Just when I think I have everything, I remember one more thing.

We’re expecting to be on the road for 10 days. Yep, 10 days in a cramped car with my little brother and his ten-week-old puppy driving to places we’ve never been, in the middle of a new country, in the winter. What could possibly go wrong?

Because we are traveling through some pretty remote parts of Alaska and Canada, we will only drive during the daytime. There are just 9 hours of daylight right now. When we add in bathroom breaks and food stops, we’re looking at about six-and-a-half hours of actual drive time.

I also have maybe an hour of experience of driving in the snow and ice. I live in Texas - a place where schools close when there’s even a chance of icy roads. With that in mind, we have to factor in that it will take us much longer because we’ll be going much slower navigating these road conditions.

It’s going to take us one day to get from Anchorage to the border of Canada. Then, it will take us about two days to get through each territory, and another two to three days to get to Colorado Springs.

Did I mention that if we can’t make it to a hotel, we have to camp? It’s going to be great!

Our "first-draft" itinerary.

Our "first-draft" itinerary.

Seven Days to Lift Off:

My husband and I went shopping today. I bought a set of base layer clothing, three pairs of wool socks, and this neat hand-crank radio/flashlight. I’m very thankful we already own a good amount of camping/survival gear, and even more thankful my parents got us a SAT phone and other miscellaneous items. The cost of this is starting to stack up, and that’s not counting the supplies my brother has purchased.

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Five days to Lift Off:

I started packing today…

By the end of this ordeal, I think I’m going to know all the TSA guidelines by heart. What can go in your check luggage vs your carry-on is getting pretty confusing, and my original packing plan has fallen apart.

I’ve changed my mind about which bag to take as my carry-on three times, and I have a feeling I’ll have to change it again.

As of right now, my carry-on contains every electronic I’m taking on this trip. Which includes:

  • Laptop & charger
  • GoPro & miscellaneous hardware
  • SAT phone
  • Radio
  • Flashlight
  • External hard drive

And a bunch of other odds-and-ends, as well as, everything I’m going to need easy access to on the flight (ie. my best friend, Dramamine).

My checked bag has all my clothes, hiking boots, camping/survival gear, toiletries, and my empty backpack. Hopefully, it arrives with me.

It’s weird packing to go to my brother’s knowing I’m going to have to rearrange and repack everything once I get to Alaska.

My carry-on will become my clothes and toiletries bag (easier to take in and out of hotels), my backpack will become my electronics bag (for easy access), most of the stuff in my suitcase will be dispersed to different areas of the car, and I think my suitcase will end up being my dirty laundry hamper.

Who knew that packing would require so much brainpower? Also, if you have even the smallest inclining to go on a crazy trip, save every useful packing hack you find. You don’t want to have to keep repacking…

One Day to Lift Off:

I finally finished packing. After a last-minute run to the store, checking and rechecking packing lists, and running around like a chicken with my head cut off, it’s finally done! My alarm is set for 5:45 am and I guess I’m as ready as I’m ever gonna be.

3 Hours to Lift Off:

While picking up my mom to join us at the airport, we found a small tear in my suitcase…

Luckily my mom had a suitcase about the same size as mine. After a quick suitcase swap and an even quicker breakfast, we were on our way.

The entire time I’ve been packing my suitcase, I’ve had this looming concern that my luggage would be over 50 pounds which would result in additional fees, but we made it in just under! You should have seen my face when the scale read exactly 49 pounds.


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Why are “goodbyes” so hard? When the idea of going on this trip first started, it didn’t occur to me that I would be away from my husband, my dog, and the rest of my family for about two weeks. This is the longest I will have gone without seeing any of them. I not gonna lie, I was crying going into security.

1 Hour to Lift Off:

I’m sitting at my terminal, typing the last bits for this post, and “denial” is the only word that comes to mind. I can’t believe I’m actually doing this. I can’t believe I’m flying across the country by myself, I can’t believe I’m going to Alaska, and I can’t believe I’m about to drive across a good chunk of the North American Continent.


Here’s to my craziest adventure so far!


See you later, Texas!


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