While the spring warms in Arizona, we’re gearing up for what might be dubbed “Destination Alaska 2010.” We’ve allotted May through August, and possibly into September, for our first trip to Alaska. Hopefully, this time frame will be enough to leisurely explore the areas we’ve chosen. We’ll enter via the east route, Montana into Alberta, and return the west route, British Columbia into Washington. For several reasons, we’re putting more effort into our planning for this trip.
For example, there’s planning for the portion of the trip in Canada. Do we have auto, rv and medical insurance coverage? Are our passports current? Will we have, or want to arrange, cell phone service for the Canada portion? What items are restricted from transportation over the border? These questions, plus others on the list, are all answered now. In fact, last week when I was using my passport to go to Mexico from Yuma, I noticed that it would expire before our scheduled return through Canada. Renewing it jumped to the top of the priority list – obviously. The Internet to the rescue once again. It didn’t take long to find this very informative website: http://travel.state.gov/passport/. But, guess what? 4-6 weeks is the standard processing time for a renewal. Oh no, that won’t work for our plans to cross into Canada on or about May 1. Wait though….there’s info on “Expediting” If you need your passport in 2-3 weeks, there is a way. Pay an extra $60 fee, in addition to the $75 renewal fee. Also, include $14.96 overnight delivery charge with your payment for the return of the passport. And send this package to a special address in Pennsylvania (via another $15-20 overnight delivery). Actually, if you have an even shorter timeframe of travel, there are regional offices, i.e. Tucson, Chicago, L. A., where faster processing is possible. That requires proof that you are leaving the country in less than two weeks, such as, a hotel or rental car reservation. We decided to go with the option of overnight delivery in 2-3 weeks. I need it. So I put the package together in a day. And now I am tracking the progress online through the website above. In a week’s time the news is that my passport is in the “final stages.” It’s been another one of those learning experiences, right?
Besides out-of-country planning, we’ve been whittling away at a to-do list ……oil changes, tire checks, and stashing a few extra belts and parts. Friendly advice tells us that it is wise to be prepared in case trouble pops up when you aren’t near one of the large cities up north. Hopefully, lengthy and/or expensive repairs will be avoided.
Speaking of advice and information, we’ve gathered quite a variety. Reading materials, both printed and online, have helped us become familiar with the routes and every aspect of the country. Of course, people sharing personal tips is priceless. The list of possibilities for outstanding nature and wildlife experiences grows daily. Every time we turn around we’re reading or hearing of another route or location that sounds appealing. We’re devouring camping and travel guides, studying maps, and soaking up blogs. The Great Alaskan TourSaver booklet is patiently waiting for us to pick which scenic float to what glacier or other types of adventures we’ll select. Since “going to Alaska” is an extremely popular theme with rvers, we have had many generous and enjoyable conversations with friends and strangers about their favorite town, bear-siting spot or mountain view. It’s clear that the planning for our first Alaska trip is an experience of its own.
And we sure would like to hear more from anyone who has more to tell us. There’s still time.