Essentially, I have wanted to go to Alaska for decades. One of my best friends from college did a year in Juneau right after college, and I toyed with visiting her then. At the time, the logistics to get to Juneau seemed overwhelming. Looking back, I'm not sure what it was about the logisitcs. Long flights? It couldn't be the "no direct flight" thing, because I wound up flying to San Francisco that summer to visit another friend instead, and I'm pretty sure it wasn't a direct flight since I was a poor grad student and didn't have a ton of money to pony up for direct flights. Anyway, in this case I sort of proved the idea that "youth is wasted on the young". Almost 30 years later, and I still sort of kick myself for not going to Alaska then.
Why go now? Well, this year is a milestone birthday year for me, and Chretien asked me how I wanted to celebrate this birthday. The answer was easy. Alaska, finally.
However, even with this trip, we aren't going to Juneau. I started doing some serious research on Alaska in January or February of 2016, and for five of us, it didn't take me long to rule out a cruise with an extra week in south central Alaska. The price of flights, plus cruise, plus another week in Alaska was way over the budget I set in my mind...and what complicated matters was that there was just too much to see in south central that one week to devote to it, after a cruise, would never be enough. So, I scrapped the idea of the cruise/land combo and decided to concentrate our two weeks on a land-based vacation. I figure, Chretien and I can go back when the kids are all off in college in 10 years or so and do the cruise without them. They should be more than happy with the land-based Alaska trip, right?
Once that decision was made, I started doing all sorts of research...the Alaska boards on Trip Advisor and Cruise Critic became nightly reading, and I started keeping notes and shaping itineraries based on all the fabulous reviews I'd read. Can you tell I enjoy this sort of thing anyway?
I had all sorts of options--RV or rental car? McCarthy or no? Homer? Seward? It was a big puzzle and I was having a lot of fun trying to shape a trip that would allow us to see the highlights of Alaska while taking into account the ages of my kids and not breaking the bank or running us too ragged.
By late spring, I had an itinerary of towns that I think would work. With two weeks, we could not fit everything in, but we could cover a decent amount of territory. I had to keep reminding myself that just because Alaska is one state, I wouldn't expect to go on a two week vacation in the Lower 48 and drive through numerous states all in that time. Everything I read kept reminding me of the distances between places, so I tried to honor that.