It has been a while since we traveled through as picturesque a land as Alaska is. I’ve heard an awful lot about Alaska, its meadows and glaciers, but it is a land that has eluded me for atleast a few years now. the trip has been in the making for a good 7 years, and I am glad to be on a plane to wander the land for myself.
There is no plan for the trip – I should actually say that the only plan is to take an RV and wander throughout the state – or as far as the roads allow us to. It should be a first class adventure and we are prepared to boondock along the highways or on the “Bridge to Nowhere” – we ar prepared to look out for wildlife and for 20 hours of sunlight but as I realize after the trip, no amount of preparation can prepare you for a trip of a lifetime through one of the most precious and pristine landscapes on the earth.
I board an early morning flight to Portland, OR with a long layover before departing for Anchorage. The Portland airport is small, but has some nice restaurants for a quick breakfast. I lounge around and read a book – it is William Dalrymple’s The White Mughals – an excellent travel companion, sipping a whole lot of coffee to keep me awake for the long days ahead.
Before long, I am on board to Anchorage – the flight is uneventful except for the last half an hour when we cross over the Kenai peninsula and the Kenai Fjords – it is a breathtaking sight from the air. We coast along the Turnagain Arm and had I not lost myself in the moment, I would have fired up my camera and gone clicking. Nevertheless, the pictures are etched in my brain and can be recalled at a moment’s notice. The weather in Anchorage is perfect at 60F at 4PM in the afternoon. The air feels damp and I am told that it has rained for the last 32 days consecutively – a record of sorts in Anchorage. I take solace in the forecast for the next 10 days which looks bright and sunny.
I make my way to pick up the rental RV from ABC Motorhomes. It is the first time I have rented an RV and it takes me a little while to get used to the humungous dimensions of the vehicle. The rental staff is extremely friendly – and it is one of the few customer service transactions that you remember for a long time. The RV is a modified Ford F150 with a huge container attached to the chassis and equipped with all amenities I’d like to see in my own home – a TV, DVD player, refrigerator, 2 queen sized beds, a generator, cooking range, microwave, and of course a bathroom and shower. slowly, I make my way to a nearby Walmart and safeway to pick up some groceries and essentials for the trip – I have been advised that a mosquito repellant is a necessity and I make sure I have enough of it.
I make a quick stop at the airport to pick up my wife and our travels are underway. The air is still moist from the rains and there are some dark clouds in the sky. It is almost 10PM, and the sun is still about 20 degrees about the horizon, but since the rays are slanting, the temperature is not much higher than 50 degrees. The whole sky is golden in color and it is a beautiful sight. Towards the east, we can clearly see a rainbow that contrasts magnificently against the golden evening. We drive around downtown Anchorage and reach a parking lot just overlooking a hill with a clear view of the sunset. It costs us $12 to park for the night and it is short walk to the downtown. We walk to the downtown after sunset and it starts to drizzle – although the sun has gone down the horizon, the light does not fade away until much later.
We enjoy a nice dinner at Ginger – a contemporary thai restaurant in the heart of the downtown. The food is excellent and so is the service. The tandoori chicken skewers are awesomely fresh and a perfect pre travel dinner for us. elsewhere in the downtown, people are lining up outside clubs for a wild Thursday night of dancing and partying. We are too tired to join the crowd and decide to call it a day. On board our RV, we fire up the generator, and settle down for a cozy night’s sleep.