Jul 042011

First off today, I want to thank all of our veterans for giving us the freedom to enjoy this Independence Day!

Yesterday’s blog post, Alaska Is Not For Us, brought some interesting comments and e-mail. While I was not surprised by the several e-mails from blog readers who told me I was wrong, and that to miss an RV trip to Alaska was a real mistake, I was surprised by the e-mail and blog comments from readers who agreed with me. It seems quite a few people feel the same way.

When I wrote that blog, I knew that a lot of RVers, many of them good friends, would disagree with me. And they had some very good points to make. My dear friend Sharon Del Rosario, who is traveling in Alaska this summer, and whose blog we have been following, had some interesting reflections on my blog post, and her feelings about Alaska, in her own blog post Would You Take You RV To Alaska?

Another friend heard from was Dennis Hill, owner of the RV Driving School. Dennis and his pretty wife Carol have been to Alaska several times, and this summer they are leading an informal caravan of friends, including Sharon, mentioned above. While Dennis is an excellent photographer, he doesn’t claim to be a wordsmith. But I think once you read this e-mail he sent me, which I am pasting in below with his permission, you might disagree with him, because Dennis does an excellent job of explaining that Alaska isn’t just a place, it’s a state of mind. Here are Dennis’ comments, in italics: 

Very interesting blog today about Alaska. Internet has not been a problem for us, with or without the Datastorm (two way internet dish). Maybe a little inconsistent a few times, but that was due to me usually not wanting to walk/drive to the campground’s WiFi area if I could not get out with my Datastorm.  

Yes, there is wildlife in all states. They just a little more abundant up here, in almost all of Alaska, not just certain areas.  We have seen moose and bear quite often, and sometimes a little too close for comfort. True, you can do that in the lower 48, but not as much as up here, and just about on a daily basis.

Not including Anchorage or Fairbanks, and maybe Wasilla, these little towns (and there are many), are mostly throwbacks to the pioneer days, both in appearance and the peoples’ attitudes. This is more the norm than the few. A Virginia couple pulling about a 30′ Airstream got stuck on to a guardrail coming into this park this morning. Alaskans were first to rush out and make sure everything was all right, and then helped him get his RV off the side of the guard rail. Who watched? RV vacationers in the campground from many different states. I was kind of surprised, to be honest with you. These Alaskans remind me a lot of Escapees, to tell you the truth. Can you imagine an entire state of Escapees (except Anchorage and Fairbanks)?

Boondocking or a campground with hookups – we have done a lot of both, more than some of the others in our little group. No big deal, and each has its advantages, as you know. You know what freedom of movement means to us fulltimers. If someone doesn’t like getting a little dirty, or wants a supermarket or WalMart, or fast food or chain restaurants on every corner, don’t make the trip. If people come up here expecting to get good deals on "stuff" – don’t come. If people expect it to be easy and that everything will go right – don’t come. If people want to feel like they are living part of the pioneer history, and see it being lived everyday, just about – then come.

YES, it is expensive. Fuel, camping, food, tourist things, in that order. All can be cut back except fuel.

Roads – there is less construction and bad roads in the 6,000 mile trip than on any 6,000 miles in the Lower 48, hands down. The problem is people and their driving habits, usually speed, and I don’t feel a need to go into any of that.

An Alaska trip seems to take a another step beyond fulltiming, and I just can’t describe it. It’s like trying to describe the Grand Canyon to somebody who hasn’t seen it. It’s that feeling what ever "it" is.  We come up to experience "it", not just to visit "it", what ever "it" is.  Does that make sense?

This is not meant to be negative to those who wish not come up here. It’s an attempt to explain why people come here, and especially us. Leading this loosey goosey gang of ours up here has really been rewarding. Seeing them get all excited about this or that, and wanting to see and do everything is so neat.  They are experiencing "it" also. It’s like a fulltimer answering questions from newbies about what’s it like to fulltime.  "Well, it’s …………."

I think between Dennis and Sharon, you can see Alaska from another perspective. And neither viewpoint is right or wrong, because each of us looks at life and the world through our own eyes. As my friend Sharon said so well in her blog, “Alaska isn’t for everyone! And isn’t it great that we’re all entitled to our own opinions, likes and dislikes, preferences and tolerance levels? It’s what makes us unique and interesting, sometimes also different and unusual, just like the places we’re touring!”

Thought For The Day – He who hesitates is probably right.

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Nick Russell

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  10 Responses to “Alaska From Another Perspective”

  1. Happy 4th!
    Never say never. You know that as well as anyone. We were headed west this summer, and here we are in Ohio headed east. No problem. We’ll get there. Our summer tour plans are written in pencil on a cocktail napkin. They were written in Jello, however that would not make an acceptable copy.

  2. It all boils down to “Different Strokes for Different Folks”. I have no interest in doing a cruise ship but i know lots of folks that love them. It seems like every time i turn around my brother and sister in-law are going on a cruise somewhere. We lived on Maui for almost 11 years and hated to have to come back. I would love to be able to retire on Molokai in a few years but don’t know if i will be able to afford it. I am surprised at the number of people that i have met that either don’t like, or don’t want to go to Hawaii and would never want to visit or live there. Quite a few of them were stationed there in the military and of course most of them wanted to be somewhere else, (home! ) no matter where they were stationed. There are a lot of people that love NY or LA obviously, but those are places i avoid like the plague. :>)

  3. Dennis nailed “it!”

    Crystal and I discovered “IT” while touring Alaska in 2006. There are lots of reasons to justify not going to Alaska but once you’ve been there you’ll quietly chuckle and walk away when you hear friends common sense reasons for not making the trip,

    And they’re right! It doesn’t make sense. Anymore sense then all these years you, and I, and most of your readers, have spent crisscrossing the US in our rigs.

  4. Sounds like you may have some volunteers to lead a seminar on ‘IT’ in Yuma next spring.

  5. Happy 4th! And my thanks to all who have served in our military to maintain our way of life and allow us to continue to enjoy our freedoms here.

    I’ve been following several of the bloggers traveling along with Dennis and Carol on the Alaska trek this summer. My husband and I hope to make the trip one day. The reality of the photos and the posts from everyone helps to clear away some of the fog of not knowing what to expect. It’s helped me to conclude that if we are willing to full-time traveling 6,000 miles in the lower 48, or ramble around Canada, it’s not that much of a stretch for me to accept us wandering up to Alaska for a few months. So, thank you for all that good information.

    It’s also been a delight to follow you, Nick, and Miss Terry, along the Pacific coast and learn about the little towns you’ve explored this summer.

    Best wishes to all for good roads, good health and lots of fun.

  6. THANK YOU to all those serving and and have server in the military. This is from a fellow “brother” who server in Vietnam.

    I have been following Dennis’ blog also. It is most interesting seeing those places we saw in 2010. It is a BIG adventure but not for everyone — just like “fulltiming”. No one is right or wrong for their choice to go or not to go. In the middle of our trip last summer I thought “what are we doing up here?” Before we got back to the lower 48 we were talking about going back.

    We left south Texas late March 2010 and when we returned early December 2010, we had logger over 17,000 miles on our motorhome. What a great trip — for us.

  7. Happy 4th of July, We hope everyone enjoys the day, when enjoying your picnics and the fireworks take time out and remember what this holiday is all about. The troops that have fought to keep this country free. God Bless our troops. Dennis blog was right on.

  8. Toss this in. I went to Alaska, driving my own rig after my husband died. As I was driving along I would say to myself “Bob would have hated this”, but I loved it. I was probably one of a handful to see Whitehorse 3 times on a trip to Alaska. The motorhome lost it’s power steering & power brakes coming into Haines Jct from Haines down that steep mountain. Glad I didn’t know I had until I got to the parking lot of Hadley Gen. Store.

    Then I went to Newfoundland with my “new Bob” and WOW. Loved it even more. Want to go back but it is very far away from southern AZ.

    We will go as far as Tok next summer then return via the “Over the Top”. BC is awesome, as is the Icefields of Alberta.

  9. I had to go back and read both posts before making a comment. My hubby would love to drive to Alaska, even applied for a job in Skagway but I just don’t have the confidence to drive that road. Now give me a cruise from Seattle or Vancouver, BC to the inside passage of Alaska – I would do that in a split second.

    I am so glad we are all different – think how boring our lives would be if we all did the same things.

    Have a great day!!!

    And like you said, thanks to all who have served and are serving now in our military to continue to allow us the freedoms that we have.


  10. Well for somebody who says he isn’t a wordsmith, I think Dennis nailed it pretty well. Alaska isn’t just mountains and trees and wildlife, just like the Grand Canyon isn’t just a big hole in the ground, and the Florida Keys aren’t just water and sand and palm trees. Each place has its own personality, its own heartbeat, and to really experience it, you have to go there. Excellent essay, Dennis!

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