A Bucket List Experience in Alaska

I have been back from Alaska for a week and away from my blog longer than that.  The Alaskan trip was all I could hope for.

To refresh your memories, this trip was sponsored by my Dad, organized by my sister, and joined in by 32 total family members spanning four generations.  (But for a broken ankle limiting travel, another family of three would have been included.)

We flew to Vancouver, toured the city for a couple of days, then cruised on Princess from Vancouver to Whittier/Anchorage, stopping in Ketchikan, Skagway, and Juneau. After the cruise, we took another three days to visit Denali National Park and Seward.

I’m not going to summarize the entire trip. You can learn a lot about the ins and outs of cruising and visiting Alaska at other sites, include cruisecritic.com and cruiseportinsider.com.  I will encourage you to add Alaska to your bucket list if you have any interest in the wonders of nature and wildlife in general.

You may recall that I was determined to take this trip carrying only a single back pack to store all of my clothes and gear. I earlier wrote about test packing my bag for that trip. The only items I added to the list since the test pack were a lightweight sweater, another pair of socks, another pair of boxers, some lighter weight denim pants. and two spare camera batteries.  Still, the entire bag weighed only 18 pounds.

My one bag travel experience worked well overall. I wore everything in my bag except my rain pants (we had great weather) and my swimsuit/shorts. I hand washed clothes three times, all in a bathroom sink. I put my portable clothesline to good use. The last night in Anchorage before flying home I threw a few things in the dryer just to be sure I could pack them without worrying about dampness.

No one commented about seeing me wear the same shirts two or three times. No onc said that I smelled funny so I guess my washing and odor-resistant clothes did the job!

The only downside to traveling with a back pack as my only bag was my availability to carry bags for those who overpacked, including my wife and one of my nieces, who checked two bags and had two large carry-0ns. I can’t really complain about that because everything else went so well.

I was somewhat concerned about my eating on the trip. Cruise ships provide huge temptations for overeating. I was fortunate.  I weighed 158 pounds before I left and 158 pounds when I returned. I did cheat some on the ship away from my Paleo diet, eating desserts (mostly gluten-free) and drinking some beer. I offset that by doing a lot of walking on the ship and in port. I also managed to work in 6 different yoga sessions while we were away.

I took hundreds of photographs but at the same time tried to be mindful of what was around me and let the experience connect to me without a camera lens intervening. I believe I struck a good balance on that.

Another goal I had was not to buy any souvenirs. Mission accomplished. I came home with the same stuff I left with, no more and no less. Hopefully, my mind will maintain the memories of this awesome trip for a good while, with the photographs serving as a backup.

I wanted to learn a lot about Alaska while enjoying it. I read a book about Alaska for our family “book club.” I also made it a point to quiz the various bus and boat drivers who guided our shore excursions, as well as locals we came in contact with. (A cab driver in Skagway who was a lifelong resident was overflowing with local knowledge.)

Now that I’ve checked Alaska off the bucket list, it’s time to add something else. After all, I’m only 62 years young!


  1. says

    It sounds as though you had a wonderful time. I was wondering how the one backpack experiment was going to work out! Perhaps I’ll try the same thing one of these days. Alaska looks like a beautiful place to visit.

  2. Frank Rutherford says

    I live near Seattle and have enjoyed many Alaskan cruises. I have seen a variety of weather, both in Southeast Alaska and in and around Anchorage. I have in-laws in Anchorage who help out on that end. I would love to take the Alaska train sometime for part or all of the run from Seward to Fairbanks. I am glad you had a great time. My son and his family also cruised to Alaska from Vancouver this summer and they also said the weather was great. There is so much to see and experience. Thanks for your report.

  3. DinahKate says

    I am curious about how a sponsored trip works. It’s really hard to get far flung family together and a shared trip or destination has a lot of appeal. Maybe you could do a blog post on how to organize such a trip? Do the sponsorees contribute? Is sponsorship based on need? How do you avoid ill feelings if everybody isn’t treated exactly the same? Does the sponsor choose the destination or is it a group decision. Do sponsorees contribute in other ways like making arrangesments, etc.?

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