Things we got for the trip to Alaska
Let me start off by saying that Alaska is not a foreign country, though it may seem like it with the amount of prep and planning people do, us included. Canada is, which, unless you ferry it both ways, but it is similar enough to the US that one barely notices one is in a different country. The border crossing and the money are dead giveaways though.
We have been planning a trip to Alaska for years. No, really, YEARS. Our first time up here was on a cruise in 2000. We fell in love with the place and vowed to return. We did that in 2007, again on a cruise though we added a week of land time to the end of our trip. And it was then that our plan was hatched: we would buy a boat and drive ourselves to Alaska. From 2007 to 2010, I learned everything I could about boating, Alaskan waters,and places to go. I bought navigation maps. We bought a boat. It was a Very Small Boat, a C-Dory 22, but we spent our weekends and vacations on the boat, learning everything we could and adjusting to life on water. We had a plan.
Then one day, a thought occurred, somewhere around 2011. If we had an RV, we could hike. It would be just like the boat only ‘bigger’ in that we would have all the land to wander on, too. Admittedly, anchoring out in a boat is much easier than boondocking in a land yacht, but the premise is the same. So we bought a small trailer. We loved it so much that we bought a bigger trailer to go to places farther away for longer times. And then we quit/retired from our jobs and went on the road, aiming for Alaska.
We knew we needed land navigation aids for the trip. Our first purchase was The Milepost. So far, it has been an invaluable tool on the various roads through Canada. And, it gave me something to do on the long days anticipating the trip. We are using the 2013 edition which, so far, has been pretty accurate. Some of the construction areas have moved and a few new places have popped up along the way but, for the most part, it is dead on. We have even spotted wildlife EXACTLY where it said to watch out for wildlife. Pretty cool!
When we last purchased cell phones, we made sure to get Global capable cell phones. Two days before we crossed into Canada, we added a Canada Plan to our Verizon plan which gives us our talk minutes, unlimited text, and 100mb of data per month for $15 per month. We have our data turned off right now, as we haven’t needed it, but the texts and minutes are great to have, especially when the bank cuts off your credit cards. We have been lucky enough to keep our Verizon unlimited data plan, which will get great use in Alaska when we find cell signal. If you are buying a cell phone, I highly recommend getting one that takes decent pictures. Mike’s phone takes wonderful daylight pictures; mine sucks no matter how much light there is. So, he takes all the facebook pictures, and I post to the blog.
Much of Canada and Alaska doesn’t have cell service. More places than you would think in the US don’t have cell service. As a ‘just in case of emergency’ measure, and to keep in touch with family, we got a DeLorme InReach. It is a two way satellite messenger, allowing us to send and receive text messages anywhere in the world we can access the satellites. It is also a tracker and an emergency beacon with an SOS button just in case the crap hits the fan. As long as we can push the button, help will eventually show up. If you are curious about where we are or where we have been, check out our DeLorme page: Mike and Courtenay’s Big Adventure. As you can see, we have been from the Florida Keys to almost Alaska in less than a year.
Honestly, for the trip to Alaska, you don’t need more than that, and could probably use less. The weather so far has been warm and dry, warmer and drier than Washington state, so we haven’t needed polar fleece, mukluks, or other foul weather gear. Of course, we have only been up here a little over a week, but weather reports show 80 in Fairbanks. And, they have plenty of food in Canada and Alaska, it just may cost a little more. We did buy a Sea Eagle inflatable kayak to test out on some of the lakes or slow moving rivers, to see how we like ‘boating’ in Alaska. But other than that, all you really need is a desire for adventure and a little flexibility.