Thursday, April 26, 2012

3 Weeks!

Alright!! It is down to 3 weeks from today! I can't believe it is getting so close! I am all done with my college classes (eek!) and now all I have to do is pass a big national certification test and then I can focus on packing and getting ready! Today I went to Target (one of my favorite stores) and picked up some accessories and travel toiletries.  They have all those cute little travel size bottles of stuff--love it! I am still looking for a good, but not expensive, backpack, but other than that, I think I have everything I need to take with me! I also picked up a sleep mask--someone recommended that  since there will be around 20 hours of daylight when I am there! I didn't even think about that...not being able to sleep because the sun won't go down! Haha!

Next week I will work on reservations for some of my activities--want to make sure I get to do everything I have planned.  I have also done some research on renting camera lenses and have found a really neat website called  They have every DSLR lens ever and you can rent them for a couple of days or a couple of weeks! I really want a zoom lens for my Canon so that I can get some good shots of far away wildlife and other landscapes, however....they are ~$1000....yeah.  So at this rental website, for 2 weeks its about $50! Sweet! They ship it to you and then you just ship it back when you're done! Sounds like a deal to me!

I am so excited!! Can't wait until graduation and then 4 days later--Alaska! Heck to the yes! And just for the heck of it, I will leave you all with a glorious picture of Anchorage!

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore. Dream. Discover."  --Mark Twain

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Itinerary Planning, Part 2

It is now officially less than 30 days until I will be leavin' on a jet plane! I can't believe it! I have so much going on, that it still seems so far off! I still have my last week of classes, a final project, and a big national interpreting test that I have to pass before I can really focus on tying up any loose ends and making sure everything is in place.  Anyways, I left off with the first half of my itinerary last time, so...

Day 5:

This is my outdoor adventure day! I have found a really cool place to go horseback riding (which if you know me, this is one of my favorite things ever!) that goes through the mountains and over creeks, and all sorts of neat scenery! I also am planning on trying kayaking! I have never done this before, so it should be an interesting experience.  The place I want to use will spend time teaching you the basics and then you use a tandem kayak so hopefully I will survive! : )  And actually, I have had my first "hiccup" with the planning in regards to this company.  I emailed them to make a reservation and what was the response? They don't have anyone else signed up that day, and they need at least 2 people to send out an excursion...Haha! I guess that is one drawback to traveling solo! Making reservations sometimes needs 2 people! Hopefully someone else will sign up soon...I really want to learn how to kayak! 

Day 6:

Dog Sled Ride Day!!! Yes, I will be riding on a dog sled!!! ...ok a summer version of a dog sled, i.e., on wheels, put will still be pulled by a team of mushing dogs!!! One of the most famous Iditarod families runs a program where they tell you all about the race, how they raise the dogs, and what being on a dog sled feels like! Oh, and you get to play with Husky puppies! I will unfortunately have to head back to Anchorage later this day to get ready to head back home...this will be a sad day of my trip... I will be leaving Alaska late in the day and will get into Seattle late that evening, so I will be spending the night in Seattle to head out the next day to Indy. 

Day 7:

I will have a little bit of time in the morning to maybe grab some more good Seattle food before catching the long flight back to Indy.  It is going to be a depressing trip home, so be ready for sad updates, tweets, etc! Hopefully I will have learned a lot, have some sweet pictures, and tons of memories to share and treasure! Can't wait to share my adventure with all of you! 

27 days!! 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Itinerary Planning, Part 1

So you all are probably wondering just what the heck I will be doing in Alaska...if not, well, too bad cause I am going to tell you anyways! My favorite part, the doing! It has been hard for me not to get to tied down to my itinerary so it will remain flexible and dependent on several factors once I get there.  I have things I want to do, but who knows? Maybe once I get there I will find things I didn't read about in the books and will completely change my plan! That's the great part about traveling solo! If I want to spend more time in one place than I originally planned, I CAN! Why? Because I am running this ship! I am captain of this adventure! : ) Tonight I will let you in on the first half of my itinerary, I will save the rest for later. :)

Day 1:

I will be leaving Indy bright and early in the morning!!! (6:55am!)

Arriving in Seattle around 10am their time...gonna have some jet lag probably since Seattle is 4 hours behind...and I am actually spending the first day of my trip in Seattle.  Really excited about checking out the mecca of foodies/urbanites everywhere!

Hope it's this clear when I am there! 
1st thing in Seattle? Attempt to ride their monorail to my hostel (which is right across the street from Pike's Place jealous. : ) ) Maybe then take a trolley tour of downtown seattle then head over to the Pike's Place Market for a food tour!! Heck yeah! 

This tour takes you around the market, sampling all sorts of foods along the way! Fresh Clam Chowder to local wine and cheese! Oh. yes.

After the awesomness that is the food tour, hopefully I will get to do some exploring and possibly a ferry ride out into Puget Sound..if time permits!

Day 2:

I will have the morning to grab some fresh local/organic breakfast and do a little shopping before boarding my plane to Anchorage.  The flight from Seattle to Anchorage is about 4 hours, I don't think I will be able to stand my excitement!

Once I get to Anchorage and hopefully haven't passed out from sheer beauty of the surroundings, I will grab my rental car, and make my way to my next hostel.  Then I will have some time to just chill and probably go to bed early...I have a feeling I will be quite tired.

Day 3:

Anchorage Farmer's Market!!! They have this every weekend in the summer and I will just happen to be there when it is going on! So excited! I hear they have reindeer jerky?

Some shopping around Anchorage and then it is off to Seward via the Seward highway, one of the most beautiful drives in all of America.  There is so much to see and do along this road, that I am planning on making a day of it and just taking my time getting down to Seward--should be fun! After getting into Seward, I will be checking out the SeaLife Center (an aquarium/rescue program for wildlife) and grabbing some fresh Salmon for dinner!

Day 4:

This is my whale-watching day! I will be taking a whale-watching tour out into the Gulf of Alaska/Kenai Fjords National Park to see glaciers, whales, sea otters, sea lions, and all other sorts of wildlife! This tour is an all day thing so that will take up most of my time, but definitely going to find some more good seafood when I get back to shore!

I hope I get to see one of these beautiful Orcas! 
So there ya go, the 1st half of what will hopefully be an awesome trip! Let me know what you think, or if I should add anything!! 31 days left! : )

Friday, April 13, 2012

So I'm Definitely A "J"

This semester in one of my interpreting classes, aptly titled "Personalities in Interpreting", we have been talking a lot about the different Myers-Briggs personality types.  If you are not familiar with them, I would highly recommend googling it and maybe figuring out what you are.  It is super helpful once you figure out what type you are because then you can understand why you do the things you do, and analyze all your friends! Anyways, I am an ISFJ. (look it up) I already knew that I was an introvert (I), but the other three letters I didn't know what those meant.  I have laughed aloud a few times this semester because of how spot on my letters are in regards to what I do.  For J side.  J stands for "judging", but this is not judging as in looking down on others, but it means that I am highly organized, like order, make decisions quickly, and like to have control over my life...yeah definitely me. But I didn't realize just how much of a "J" I was until I really started doing some hardcore planning for Alaska.

I entertained the idea of actually going on a trip for about a month before I somehow ended up deciding on Alaska.  And as I mentioned in my previous post, it was a quick decision and I can't remember exactly why I chose that state.  I knew this would be my first solo trip so I didn't want to go out of the country quite yet until I knew for sure I could actually survive on my own...but I also wanted somewhere that was adventurous and far away enough that I would feel as if I was leaving the country.  So....where better than Alaska?? Which just happens to be 3,088 miles from Indianapolis.  In other words, I could get to England if I headed out the other direction. So yeah, far enough for me--for now. : ) Once I made my decision about where to actually go, my organized, "research everything, plan for everything", side jumped into overdrive! I started doing preliminary research towards the end of October. Yup, you read right. 7 months ago.  I told ya, I'm not messing around! Alaska's a big state! (2 times the size of Texas and 1/5 of the entire size of the US) I had to narrow down where I would actually be going.  So what did I do?? Head to an introvert's most cherished place, the library.

Only 3 of about 20 books I checked out

I researched everything from Juneau to Barrow and everything in between. I ultimately wanted someplace  that I could get to by car, which quickly narrowed it down to only a few cities. I also wanted someplace that I could see a little bit of everything Alaska had to offer--mountains, whales, culture, and more mountains. Anchorage it was. However...believe it or not, most of the books I read said the best thing to do in Anchorage was to leave. Huh? Really? The biggest city in Alaska and I was supposed to just say hi and leave? Turns out Anchorage is super commercialized and to see the "real Alaska" you have to get out of the city.  It just so happens that there is one of the most beautiful, most scenic highways in all of the US headed right of Anchorage into Seward and the Kenai Peninsula.  Sounded perfect to me.

After having my head in a travel book of some sort for the next 3 months, I finally had enough information to satisfy my "J" personality. Thus began the gathering of travel brochures for specific things I would want to do.  What did Anchorage have to offer? What exciting things could I do while there? mean more research? Haha! Yup. But this was the fun part! Highlighting, circling, and tearing out anything I wanted to do! And because I am going by myself, I got to pick whatever I wanted to do! My itinerary started to come together. Slowly, but surely, I finally ended up deciding on what I wanted to see and do. (And boy was it hard, there is so much to choose from!)

Free Travel Brochures! Tip: hit up the local cities ".gov" websites and they usually have an offer for a free travel guide!
Alright, so research done, activities picked out, next logical step for organization?? Create a color-coded travel itinerary/binder. Oh yes. I went there.  

Awesome! Makes my heart smile to see those dividers. : ) I know, I know, I'm weird.  But fellow "J"'s will get me.  This is my trip bible.  I have my printed reservation confirmations, hostel/inn information, important contact information, and each day has their own section.  Also, at the back I have included pertinent medical information and a medical release form in case something were to happen while I am away from home. I will get into more detail on my itinerary later, but you get the idea of just how organized anal I am. And even though my personality does play a big part in this research and organization, I feel it is so important for me to be as prepared as possible and know as much as I can before I step foot on that plane.  Especially because I am going alone.  Knowledge is power and if I can have half the battle already won before I even start, I am guessing that will make the trip that much smoother.  We'll see... : ) 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

36 Days Left!

I am taking my first SOLO trip in 36 days!!! Yes. I said in alone...just me, no one else.  That means no parents, no siblings, no one to tell me what to do, no one to ask their opinion, no one to answer to, no one to ask directions if I get lost...but let's hope that doesn't happen! :)  Solo.

A year ago, I made a bucket list (that I am still adding things to) after I realized I didn't want what most Americans want.  I didn't want to just go to school to work for the next 40 years. I didn't want to get stuck in a rut of monotony. I wanted stories to tell, I wanted to take advantage of my youth, my singleness. I wanted to live. I wanted to experience everything this world has to offer and, to me, a significant portion of being able to "experience" things means traveling.  About 80% of my bucket list has stuff that requires me to get out my comfort zone, out of Indiana and see this earth.

I couldn't tell you the exact moment I decided my first trip would be to Alaska, or really why I so definitively made that my first choice, but in 36 days, I will be leaving the corn of Indiana and replacing it with the snow-capped mountains, turquoise blue glaciers, and stunning wildlife of Alaska. I really can't put into words how excited I am! It really hasn't sunk in yet that I will be doing this whole shebang by myself, or that I will be over 3,000 miles away from home, but I couldn't be more thrilled to get my first adventure started!!