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North to Alaska

Misty Fjords National Monument in Southeast Alaska

On my kitchen table, there is a pile of Lonely Planet guidebooks to various places. Many times, I will page through the books carefully reading about the places to visit, the best places to sleep, and even the best restaurants.

Lately, I have been spending a lot of time daydreaming about Alaska. I have planned several possible itineraries:

  • Southeast Alaska: Ketchikan, Prince of Wales Island, Wrangell, Sitka, Juneau, Haines, and Skagway.
  • Central Alaska: Anchorage, Mount McKinley (Denali), Fairbanks.
  • Southwest Alaska: Anchorage, Seward, Homer, Kodiak, Katmai National Park and possibly Unalaska/Dutch Harbor.
  • “Bush” Alaska:Nome, Fairbanks, Deadhorse, and Barrow.

All four itineraries would cost much more than my usual vacations, especially as many involve charter flights on float planes, rental cars, and trips using the Alaska Marine Highway ferry system. I can probably fly the 6,100 miles (9,900 km) to Argentina for half of what any of the above would cost me.

Why don’t I take a cruise? The thought of being with the same group of strangers for a week or more, leaving the ship only to take “baby steps” trips ashore would drive me off my rocker. I have always entertained some contempt for cruise passengers, referring to them as “boat people” and insisting on communicating with them only in Hungarian. (I have a thing about strangers: I can put up with them on a day trip, but only in small doses.)

If I had the money, I would start by going to the Alaska panhandle first. There would be a lot of rain, but it would be beautiful—and there is all that great fish to eat!

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