And Alaska Makes 50

As a lot of my friends and family know, there are several travel related goals that I have set for myself.  I would like to visit Australia, Italy, Spain, Cape Town, Rio, all of the countries in the caribbean, and all of the continents, as well as all fifty states before age 50.  Well, I am pleased to announce that as of 16 January 2014, I have officially checked off one of the items on my bucket list- I have completed my 50 X 50 tour (well ahead of age 50).  


For four days this month, I braved the cold to journey to Anchorage, AK to get the Alaskan experience.  Well, an experience indeed is what I received.  The first thing that I learned is that you only get  4-6 hours of daylight in Alaska during the month of January.  It is a little weird when the sun doesn’t even come out until like 10a.m. and then it sets around 3p.m.  Crazy.  I kept my blinds closed initially to block out the light, but when I would awake at 8a.m. there was no light to wake me up at that time.  During the time of my visit, the temperature hovered around 46 degrees and all of the locals were complaining that it was “way too hot”.  I found myself looking at them with a side eye because anything under 85 degrees is freezing to me.  

I rented a vehicle for purposes of exploring the terrain, but really did not need one because the hotel had a shuttle that would provide transportation to most of the places of interest.  On my first full day in Anchorage I took the shuttle to the local Walmart.  Can I just say that I have EVER met a Walmart that i didn’t like.  It didn’t hurt that there is NO sales tax in Alaska.  My type of place.  Of course my intention was to go into Walmart to get my shot glass (I get one for every place I visit), get a couple of snacks to enjoy in the room, some canned soup to microwave for dinner and lunch and some frozen fruit for my smoothies.  Fifty dollars and ten grocery bags later, I emerged from the store with everything under the sun.  As I said, I never met a Walmart I didn’t like.  I swear that place is kryptonite.  After my little sojourn to Walmart, I took a little siesta before going to pick up my rental car later that evening.  

The second day of my visit, I decided to take a drive out to portage glacier because I of course wanted to see a glacier.  Well, about ten minutes into my drive I noticed a huge monstrosity of a beast on the side of the road.  I didn’t know if it was bigfoot, a really huge bear or something else.  Good thing there were not that many people on the road as I did a complete 360 to take a second look.  Since I could not figure out what the “creature” was, I continued on my journey to go see a glacier.  The trip to the Portage area took approximately one hour and I was so geeked when I arrived arrived at the trail leading to glacier.  That was until I got stuck partially along the trail.  I was driving on ice just fine and then I tried to advance up a snow covered area— no go.  So, of course, I was going to back out and depart the area.  Well, the car didn’t share the same plan as I did and the tires just started spinning as I dig myself deeper and deeper into the snow.  Did I mention that I rented a little economy car?

So, how does one get out of this situation?  You do what you would do in a standard shift, even though you are driving an automatic- rock it.  So, I went through about twenty minutes of putting the car in drive and then quickly backing out in reverse.  Eventually I was able to get in the tracks of a vehicle that had been there earlier and took one last reverse before putting the peddle to the metal and gunning it up the hill.  Mission accomplished, I made it out of the snow and back on to the main road to get back to Anchorage.  On the way back to Anchorage, I was able to take a picture of the welcome sign for my journey book.  

On my third day of travel I took the hotel shuttle to the downtown area.  On the way to the downtown area, the shuttle driver took me to an area where I could see a reindeer.  I have never seen a reindeer in my life so I was kinda expecting it to look like Rudolph.  Needless to say, this thing was not cute at all.  However, it was quite an experience seeing a reindeer for the first time.  One that I will not forget.  I visited the Egon center and browsed around a bit, checked out the ice sculptures in the park and had lunch at one of Anchorage’s famed restaurants.  The food was good at the restaurant, but the service was lacking which is why I chose not to give the name of the restaurant.  

On my fourth and last day in Alaska I returned to Walmart for one last trip.  I also went to the local mall in Dimond and took in a movie.  The movie was just horrible, so I definitely will  not provide the name of that.  My last meal was at another seafood restaurant where the food was highly overpriced, the portions were small and unfortunately the food was not that great.  Oh well.

Overall, the trip was good.  Don’t ask me why, but the people in Alaska were EXTREMELY friendly.  Like uncomfortably friend.  I think the reason why that threw me off was because I live in the northeast and people do not really fancy each other too well.  Like you avoid eye contact at all cost.  So, it was a pleasant surprise to find that the natives were very kind and friendly.  Though I will not visit again– primarily because I cannot stand the cold and the limited daylight really makes you crazy, I would recommend that people actually check it out.  Especially since there is no state sales tax.

Bottom line, mission accomplished on my 50 X 50.  Next goal to accomplish, visiting all of the countries in the caribbean. 



The ability to travel

On this day, 20 January 2014, when we reflect upon and celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I want to express how his sacrifice paved the way for me to see the world.  Most people recall that Dr. King gave his life to ensure that ALL people are treated equally.  That all people have access to housing, education, healthcare and the basic essentials in life.  However, as a result of his marching and sacrifice, I have the ability to see the world.  As a woman who travels by herself quite frequently, I took it for granted that I could just hop on a plane and go to europe, the caribbean, or visit the fifty states.  But, this weekend, it occurred to me that women did not always enjoy this luxury and, in some countries today, women still have to stay several steps behind a man; cannot drive a car, let alone rent one; and do not have the same freedoms that I have.  

Some will say that the women’s suffrage act provided the ability for me to have the opportunity to travel.  The women’s suffrage act help give women a voice, but Dr. King’s life of service and ultimate sacrifice helped amplify the voice.  Today is a day to give thanks that this man championed the cause of justice for all, knowing that he would not see the fruits of his labor.  I must be totally honest and say that I am not willing to lay down my life for another.  Sorry, it is just the truth.  Unfortunately, although things have improved since Dr. King’s time, we still have much dissension and division in the land that is supposedly “indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”.

So, as we reflect on the life of a great man, let us not take for granted these freedoms that are afforded to us as women.  Yes, it is well documented that women continue to make 75 cents to a man’s dollar in the workplace, but strides have been made.  If we continue to live out the dream that Dr. King so eloquently spoke of more than fifty years ago, who knows where we can go— together.  If we continue to give peace a chance, maybe our middle eastern sisters will no longer have to sit in the back of the car and they too can have the option to travel and see the world from the front of the vehicle.

Dr. King, rest in peace and thank you for your sacrifice.