Since I was in School I used the old idiom: “Life is like a round of golf; once you get out of one hole, you head to the next.” Without doing my best to call my family a “hole”, my next big thing coming is an 8 day visit from my parents, my brother, and my nephew. It is a trip of a lifetime for them, each visiting Alaska for the first time, and seeing the longest flight of their lifetime (up to this point at least) to get here and get back.
While I hadn’t hit anything of a routine yet, there is some things that are routine about their visit. Setting up the cleaning lady to make it look like I keep a clean house, having sheets/blankets/pillows ready, planning when the best time to fill growlers of beer, the usual. The big twist for this visit was some unexpected hoops.
If any of you plan a vacation to Alaska (even if you live in Alaska), figure out your plan and book early.
Let me make this clear.
When the family made a commitment to come, we talked about the plan and itinerary. They visit the first week in August. They were good to get their plane tickets well in advance (like in February), but then things went a little quiet in the plan. There was some talk of what to do and where to stay. I made the demand they stay at my house when in Anchorage (for my benefit to be honest, I would be driving around and the thought of adding 30 minutes every day to get to wherever their staying was annoying me). They wanted to visit Denali, ride the train, stay at a cabin somewhere, then see what else they could do. I banged out some thoughts, gave them some options. Then things went quiet for a bit.
Last week, I asked what parts of the trip they booked … and they said “the plane fare”.
Let the scrambling begin.
First goal for me was Denali, notorious for losing availability by mid-spring. Going into my search, I was basically assuming we wouldn’t get to stay there at all, maybe a day trip, maybe loads of me driving them back and forth. I looked at approximately 20 different resorts, cabins, hotels in and around Denali for the week they would be up. I found only one place that had the room for us for more than one day; a place at Mile 224 on the Parks Hwy (15 miles from the park) called “The Perch”, two small cabins supposedly complete with restaurant and saloon. Near enough to what we wanted that it was a shock it was there. No one I talked to has heard of it (which in Alaska isn’t a good sign) but we’ll see how it works out.
Second goal was to get them all down to Seward, where we could jump off to more fun. I expected this to be easier, since most of the Seward tourists were cruise ship people, and they either have a boat to sleep on or are heading to another location. This was a much bigger problem! I counted 35 different options I reviewed. I looked at vacation rentals, hotels, cabins, old rail cars, empty boats. I checked Moose’s Pass (a town 50 miles from Seward) and even considered looking at Soldotna or Kenai (2 hours away). In the end, I fell upon a website … and its a good one for y’all to know if you are considering vacationing in Alaska (specifically Seward):
Alaska Point of View Reservation Services: http://www.alaskasview.com
It basically is a one woman operation who finds out who has what available for vacations, then sets up the reservations for them. We got a place in downtown Seward (which is right on the docks where all the stuff happens), that is big enough for all of us … and I get to bring the dog.
Believe me, I am a guy who likes to wing it during vacations, but Alaska doesn’t work like that. Because the tourist season is so short, what we have available for tourists is limited – and runs out quick. It appears all of this is going to work out, but talk about panic to get to that point.
So … please please please please … if you are thinking about coming up ….