Monday, June 17, 2013

Finding Alaska: Cruising Prince William Sound

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We went looking for Alaska last week, flying into the never ending days, into the alpenglow that never quite settled on the mountains, and the forest so thick you need some major orienteering skills, a map, and a compass just to get through it and not get lost. 

One of JR's and my goals is to visit all fifty states. I think we have about 10 or so left - mostly the Pacific Northwest and New England. We also had Hawaii and Alaska left so when I saw amazingly cheap flights to Alaska I jumped and off we went!

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Alaska is a crazy place to be - the cost of living is exceptionally high with food being outrageously expensive. The beauty is second to none, and the 24 hours of sunlight in summer will start to drive you just a bit crazy if you don't have a good eyeshade or blackout curtains. 

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We did Alaska on a shoestring budget - we chose one "major" outing (a glacier/whale watching cruise that was certainly the highlight of my trip - watching a blue whale breach is unlike anything I've ever seen before!), bought camp fuel and cooked most of our meals over that from the grocery store, camped inexpensively (hotels run between $150 - $300 a night!), only ate out twice (to the tune of $40.00 for an average dinner!) and chose lots of free activities - driving up as close to the arctic circle as we could get, climbing a mountain in Denali, lots of walking and hiking and looking.

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Packing for Alaska was a bit challenging - the weather is pretty unpredictable up there and every single travel source I read said to pack technical hiking clothing, quick dry, waterproof, etc. It's just not my style to look, for lack of a better word, like a superhiker head to toe in Patagonia and I have slowly culled most of that out of my wardrobe and replaced it with more everyday clothing that can double as hiking apparel. 

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The weather forecast was predicting sun for the first half and rain for the second half so I packed accordingly - the Barbour coat with the hood shoved in the pocket, a fair isle wool sweater, some t shirts, a few pairs of jeans, my hiking boots, some random shirts. It turned out to be almost 85 degrees the entire trip...so I only wore about half of what I packed. The sweater and jacket came in handy for an early morning hike and a boat ride but the rest of the time I wore a short sleeved shirt and a lighter chambray shirt over it to try to outsmart the massive mosquitos that own the state. By the end of the trip I was definitely sick of what I had to wear.

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All pictures taken in Whitter, AK. 

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