How do you prepare for a trip to Alaska?
Is Alaska a vast wilderness or is it a secret luxury enclave?
Does Alaska have Dunkin' Donuts, a CVS or a kosher delicatessen? Do they have television? How is the poor traveler to know?
We have all heard adventure tales of ice and snow and blizzards. What do you wear? Should one overpack and take every warm item in the closet? With the new airline restrictions on baggage ($15 for all baggage not placed in overhead bins) should we overpack or underpack?
We will be there the first week in July. That is the season of the White Nights, long daylight hours. Will the polar bears be there to greet the cruise ship when we land in Juneau, the state capital? What of the Eskimos, the igloos, the kayaks and the blubber?
On the cruise ship, Holland American Lines' Ryndam, there will be a formal evening and I will have to pack a Tuxedo, a cummerbund and a bow tie. No room for earmuffs, scarves and mukluks. I Googled the weather. It will be 51 degrees Fahrenheit and plenty of rain. Again, how does one pack?
Some history of Alaska. The 49th state to enter the Union. Alaska was purchased from Imperial Russia on March 30, 1867. The Secretary of State, who did the deed, was William Seward. The price of purchase was $7,200,000 or approximately 2 cents an acre. It soon became known as Seward's Folly or Seward's Ice Box. They disparaged the purchase with talk of caribou, salmon and polar bears. Wilderness! Eskimos!
Today, we are on the brink of a huge oil discovery in the north of Alaska. It is called ANWR. It is the Alaskan National Wildlife Reservation. Some senators are against it and some for the pipeline.
The Alaskan slogan is "North to the Future," and it is known as "The Last Frontier." I sincerely hope that I can get this feeling of adventure in my eight days in Alaska.
Incidentally, I am traveling with my wife, Lorraine, my two grandchildren, Rachel and Eli and my daughter, Cara, who are going to meet us at Vancouver, Canada, where the cruise starts and finishes. Having grandkids on a ship is wonderful. They can't escape too far and you always see them in the dining room.
In two weeks my column on my Alaska trip will appear.
As they say, "Bon Voyage " and "Anchors Aweigh,"