Saturday, April 26, 2008

North to Alaska!

We just traded in 100,000 frequent flyer tickets for 2 1st-class tickets to Anchorage, Alaska! We'll be there from August 20 - Sept 6 (15 good days, 2 travel days).

Thought I'd send out a call for travel advice. It's extremely expensive and most things need to be booked NOW (or last month, really) because apparently hotels & national park tours book up pretty quick during the 4 month tourist season. A vague plan is taking shape, something like:
  • 3-4 days in Anchorage
  • Drive Talkeetna / Denali / Fairbanks. At least 2 days around Denali, maybe a night in Talkeetna.
  • 2-3 days in Fairbanks, visit Chena Hot Springs
  • Drive to Valdez, a few days in Valdez, including visiting Kennicott & Copper Mountain
  • Back to Kenai Peninsual somehow - maybe ferry? maybe drive back up and turn left at Glennallen?
  • 3-5 days on Kenai Peninsula - whale watching, glaciers, kayaking, bears, etc. - would like to stay at a B&B or lodge or something remote & quiet
  • Anchorage overnight and fly back.

Any inside secrets to share? Tips & tricks? Send 'em my way in the comments!

Friday, April 04, 2008

MSM Day 3

This was definitely my favorite day so far. We started the day on old US 70, which has been closed off to traffic for what looks like at least 20 years. No cars, no buildings, just us and nature. 4 miles of remembering why I love the NC mountains and hiking! And not only was it beautiful, it was a gentle downhill slope the entire way. Fabulous. We didn't see any wildlife, only heard a few birds and something larger crashing through the bushes. The hillsides are still pretty barren, although the laurels are just about to burst into color.

To see pictures of today's hike, click on the flickr badge on the right side of the page.

The road ended at the Pisgah National Forest "Old Fort" picnic area where we met up with the support van. From there, we walked into the town of Old Fort. Unable to resist, we stopped in for a quick break at a local coffee/art house, and ended up spending quite a while there. Good coffee, interesting local art and crafts, and very interesting people. There's a possibility we'll be in their local rag next week - we were talking with someone with connections to the paper and an interest in publicity.

It's always fun to watch people's faces when they ask how far we're hiking, and the answer is "to Wilmington". Everyone is interested in the story and seems to be captivated by the idea of walking across the state. We often hand out pedometers and give the website URL out, and I believe the folks we talk with will participate. Yay!

Not only am I enjoying myself of this portion of the walk, I'm developing a greater respect for and understanding of the work that the company is doing toward cultivating healthy lifestyles and choices. Conversations on the road are giving me a glimpse into the motivations and passions that drive our policy, and I find that I 100% agree with and support those motivations. What a good feeling!

During the final mile of the day, the rain that's been predicted since Monday finally hit. The worst part of the rain may be the splashing as the cars go past. Ick. We start at 8 AM on day 4, hoping that the next wave of thunderstorms will hold off until the afternoon.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

MSM Day 1, Asheville + 12

Wooooo-hooo, we made it through day 1! The kick-off was at the Asheville town hall at 12 noon, and we walked about 12 miles and ended around 5:30. Remember all those predictions of thunderstorms and torrential rain? Not a drop!! Check out those beautiful Carolina blue skies.

This is so completely different from what I'm used to. My typical hike is a path through nature, not a path through civilization, but I'm getting used to the copious amounts of trash and cigarette butts and car fumes.

Lunch - peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and fresh fruit!! Sigh...could life get any better?

Today's odd finds:
* At the end of a residential driveway at the top of a mountain in Asheville, a sign reading "Dead End" with a picture of an alligator, and a dusty old boot hanging from a tree a few feet away.
* A newspaper box nestled on the side of the railroad tracks (no street anywhere nearby, just the railroad track). Like what, the conductor is going to stop the train, hop out onto the trestle, deposit $0.50, and pick up a local paper to read?
* Charlie Chaplin grafitti!