Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Flying to Alaska for a Wedding, Part 1

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Flying to Alaska for a Wedding, Part 1

After one summer month in Alaska last year (please see my last post in  April, Part 1, and my second post in May, Part 2, of this year), we thought we would not be coming back till maybe after five years because it is too costly to get here, whether by land, air or sea! But here we are again because, Cristine, Bill’s youngest, emboldened by our success, finally went to the Net where she met Mitch. On Sept. 6 they ventured on a first date (the same day we were at the Arctic Circle!). Exactly a year after, we are attending their wedding at the Upper Perennials section of the Alaska Botanical Garden!

That morning, low clouds hovered around Cristine’s home in Anchorage.  It was a very pretty sight but not good for a garden ceremony.  Lo and behold!  At around 2-3 PM, the time of their wedding, the sky cleared and smiled at all the pretty blooms around. The small happy party proceeded to have great steaks at the Lone Star SteakHouse.  Then the couple disappeared for their honeymoon at the Alaska Frontier B&B noted for the jacuzzi and sauna right inside the matrimonoial bedroom.

In over a year, from Alaska to Mexico, Yosemite to the Everglades, and the Smokies to Yellowstone, we had seen elk, deer, bear, alligators, python, mountain goats, dall sheep, wolves, etc. but had not seen a single moose!  There was one time in Northern British Columbia but we were not that familiar with our Nikkon SLR yet and he escaped! This time around though, they were right in Cristine’s lovely backyard (Cristine is an exceptinal plant lady) and our rented RV was parked there!  We were so happy!   

You can join a cruise ship through the Inside Passage to get here but not only does it cost a lot but you also lose your freedom to roam the last frontier. Driving your RV through the Alaska Highway allows you to go to more places but, with the cost of gas at $4.50 to a gallon in some parts, it is not only a very expensive way, but also the slowest!  Flying is costly but, since we are holders of Alaska Airlines loyalty cards, we got a companion certificate for just $99 or a little more than buy one get one free.

So we stored M’A ‘turn at Thunderbird Resort in Monroe, Washington and flew to Anchorage on Sept.3. But we had to figure out how to lower the cost of lodging (0 on a cruise or if you brought your RV).  All rooms for two were from $99/night and up plus more $ for a rental car. So we saw the beauty, and the logic, of renting an RV (many Europeans tour North America in RVs)!  Since it was almost off-season, the rates are from $79/night + mileage or, what we finally got, $89/night (unlimited mileage), for any size RV.  
We chose a small 22-foot Class C because it would 1) fit nicely in Cristine’s driveway, 2)have reasonable mpg, 3) be easy to maneuver even in city streets, and 4) be self-sufficient to take to places we were not able to go to the year before.  In short, as we have become accustomed to, we rented an apartment and a car all rolled into one.  It was a brilliant decision because when Cristine used it to make her finishing touches.  And when they went for their honeymoon, we also took off to see Soldotna/Kenai, Seward, and Talkeetna (Part 2). 

Next Stops: Soldotna/KenaiSeward, and Talkeetna, Alaskao