North to Alaska: Laying the Plan

Trip Start Jun 18, 2005
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Trip End Jan 01, 2006


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Flag of United States  , Washington
Saturday, June 18, 2005

I love it when a plan comes together. I don't know where my wacky ideas come from, but there they were, in my head, where they had rumbled around for years. North of the Arctic Circle (where the sun don't set) on the first day of summer. Rinse and repeat at the other end of the Earth. South of the Antarctic Circle on the first day of summer Down There.

OK, the plan. Hmmm, lots of guided trips offered to the Arctic Circle, Prudhoe Bay and oil pipelines and Eskimo villages and the oil-sated North Slope and the wilderness and, oh yes, the Midnight Sun. I decided to skip the hype and book my own flight. According to the map, and the stats, Barrow, Alaska won the prize as Northernmost Point in the US of A. So be it. Besides, Barrow offered polar bears.

In March, on the first day of spring, I reserved a room for June 20 and 21 at the King Eider in Barrow. Yes, I'd be in Barrow on the first day of summer. I booked my flight, and added some time in Fairbanks and Denali National Park, too. But I went further than that. I booked my Antarctic trip as well. A 19-day Chilean Fjords and Antarctic Christmas cruise. No way to wing that one alone. You gotta go on a cruise ship, or a research expedition. I work in a research office, but I don't have a grant to study Lichens of the Poles, or penguins, or anything. The main thing I have is CURIOSITY. I want to see it for myself.

The plan was laid out now. June 21 I'd be in Barrow, Alaska, northernmost point in North America, watching the sun move sideways across the sky, watching for polar bears, stepping my foot into the Arctic Ocean. December 22 I'd be at Cape Horn, southernmost point in South America, and (weather permitting, the brochure qualified) climb 121 steps to the weather station, manned by a few lonely Chileans. It's blustery there, where the waters of the Pacific and Atlantic meet. Even on the first day of summer! Then we'd cross the Drake Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula, a 35-hour sail. Christmas Eve I might walk on the White Continent; Christmas Day for sure. Now, surely that puts me into a unique 1% classification of the traveling population, wouldn't you say?

Today's entry picks up in April 2005. My 66th birthday! I got my passport photo made, filled out the Passport Paperwork, and paid the fee. The ball, as they say, was rolling.
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