I’m sure my family members will have their own unique story and experiences about getting to the point of full-time RV’ing. Mine was Alaska…… and Alaska left fingerprints on my soul.
So for the Summer of 2012 my friend Jonny “Eagle Scout” decided to “drive” his sons and elderly father, to Alaska to go to a Boy Scout summer camp. Last year he went to Hawaii (which included camping for a month, driving into a cone of a volcano, snorkeling, and roasting a pig in the ground (with the locals)). After missing out on that, I decided when Seth crossed over to Boy Scouts we would go on Jonny’s next summer time adventure. The destination was Alaska (color me there).
Driving 10,000 miles, crammed in a pickup truck, with three adults, four kids, and gear for a month, was not my idea of fun (especially the part about spending a week in Dakota shooting prairie dogs and working as ranch hands castrating bulls (always an adventure with Jonny)). So I cashed in my frequent flyer miles and flew to Anchorage with Seth. The plan was to have a week of adventure before camp, then a week of boy scout camp, and then a week of more adventure. Three weeks in Alaska (yea!!!)…… Major trip to the wild frontier without my wife and girls – for three weeks – and having fun (Boo!!) – more on that later.
Alaska, the daylight, all the time. Sure I’ve heard about it, but to really experience it! We got into Anchorage at 1am, to the hotel at 3am. It was still light out! I love that. Now the adventure begins. We went fishing during Salmon runs, deep-sea halibut fishing, geocaching in the snow (during summer), rainbow trout fishing, camped in Denali National Park, watched fireworks (midnight 3rd of July), did a 3,000 runner “midnight sun” marathon (during the summer solstice), saw moose, bear, caribou, panned for gold and camped (we camped everywhere we went).
We met great people along the way (a fishing tour guide family, wonderful boy scout counselors, an Alaskan home school family, a lovely christian couple running their own popcorn/motorcycle rental business, and a retired dog sledder). Of the 23 days there, we camped for 20. Seth and I traveled from Anchorage to Cooper Landing to Homer to Anchorage to Denali to Fairbanks. Then from Fairbanks back down to Seward to Homer to Anchorage to Denali to Fairbanks (and we only saw a fraction of Alaska)!
So there you go, that was our cool “guy” adventure, we did it, we did it all! When you think of Alaska, thats what we did. However, I kept having this nagging feeling about MJ (hey, no nagging wife jokes, she doesn’t nag, she “suggests”) and the girls being left at home. Them not being with us, them not experiencing this. How do you underplay how awesome Alaska is (because you can’t), its just that wonderful! How do you share and tell stories? “When we were doing x,y,z” – you know, when you girls were left home. I hate that…..
Getting back to Alaska
I now want to go back. I want to go back badly. I want to go back with the whole family. I want to go back to the land of midnight sun, salmon runs, bear, moose, and people. I want to go back to the true “last frontier”, and I want to meet Sarah Palins dad (I’ll blog about that one day).
Seth was asked to volunteer next summer at the Lost Lake Boy Scout camp. I bet Brooke could do it too (her being in venturing and on a rifle team). I want MJ and the kids to see the wildlife, pan for gold, go fishing. I want them to experience Alaska as I did.
Plus, I would like to go for the entire season (May – Sept.). Not just vacation weeks, but to spend the entire season (in the never-ending sun, living life) – while working, homeschooling, keeping a family unit, and experiencing all that is Alaska.
So how do you do that?
Travel: Could fly (4-5k for family tickets). Could drive (90hrs, 5K miles – one way)
Shelter: Staying at hotels (expensive – seasonal hotel rates are around $200/night). Could rent vacation home (again, seasonal rates, lots of money, high cost for four months of stay). Could camp (cheaper, but cannot maintain work and homeschool life). Could rent an RV (I saw more RV rentals in Alaska than anywhere else in my life). Looking into RV rentals, gulp, wow, they are expensive. Renting an RV might make sense to avoid an RV purchase and transportation to Alaska, but wow, the rental, with mileage, with gas.
Conclusion: A multi-month trip to Alaska (for a family of five) could cost in the 10’s of thousands. Going again for just a few weeks (no frequent flyer or hotel points), again the costs are up there too. I certainly do not want to permanently move to Alaska. The lack of light alone during the winter would do me in, and the coldness would do MJ in.
How can I ease my way up there, and ease my way back down (migrate)? What about seeing more than just Alaska? How about the Grand Canyon, or Yellowstone? The great redwood trees (I want to drive through one) or standing on the foursquare. Sliding down the sand dunes, or white water rafting in the Colorado? All the lakes, beaches, woods, and mountains? What about being a true snowbird?
a seed of an idea……..