Shortly after the Submersible Death Trap embarked upon what would turn out to be Surge Deployment 2007, I got to thinking about my family's trip to Alaska in 1999, immediately after I graduated from high school. I went on that trip reluctantly, and at that time, came away from the twenty-three day trek unimpressed, probably due in no small part to the fact that most of the nights were spent in campgrounds or on roadsides in the passenger seat of Mom's minivan. But as time has worn on and I've gotten older and wiser, the memory of the trip has behaved in the manner of a fine wine or a rare cheese - it's gotten better with time. And in that last weekend in March, it occurred particularly to me that we hadn't really gotten all of Alaska. We only reached the southeastern part of the Last Frontier; we didn't come anywhere near Fairbanks, Anchorage, or Denali National Park. And it was then that I decided that there would be a Second Alaska Adventure, to be undertaken in the summer of 2009, shortly after my departure from the Seagoing Military Force.
With yours truly at the helm, there will be many differences between this road trip and the camping trip of eight years ago:
- Total length. As I mentioned above, the previous trip took twenty-three days, and we covered just over 10,000 miles on land. This trip will encompass over 16,500 driving miles, spread over nine and a half weeks (67 days, to be exact).
- Advance route planning. In 1999, we pretty much drove until we felt like stopping for the day, and found a nearby state or national park or other campground and set up shop for the night. On this trip, the entire route, including where each day will end, is determined (subject to change, of course - I've already altered it a few times).
- Less per-day driving in the continental U. S. Yes, we may have reached Alaska in barely more than a week last time, but we definitely missed out on a lot over the course of the trip. The route plan is designed for spending a morning driving from one city to the next, and using the rest of the day to sightsee and enjoy the nightlife.
- An emphasis on cities. There are no truly "podunk" towns scheduled for this trip. Of the cities I've selected, some are places with some sentimental value (i. e. Memphis, Charleston, Portsmouth, and Groton), but most are simply cities or states I've never been to - or have been to, but haven't truly experienced.
- No camping whatsoever. There might be an overnight roadside stop in the far north of Canada, but otherwise, it'll be 21st century lodging for the duration.
The full itinerary for this trip is here. The dates on this document are tentative, primarily subject to the scheduling of my high school's ten year reunion, but this trip will happen. There's no doubt about it.