If you’ve read any of my earlier posts or checked out our About Us page, you might have noticed that I work as a tour guide in Alaska. Since I live in Washington state, I thought you might like to know how that came about.
My work in Alaska goes back to 1993 when Dale and I took a bare bones tour to Alaska. We rode the Alaska ferry (known as the Alaska Marine Highway) as foot passengers from Bellingham, WA through the inside passage of Canada and Alaska to Skagway, AK. We spent time in each of the port cities where the ferry stopped; sometimes just for a few hours and sometimes for an overnight stay. When we were on the ferry at night, we slept in our backbacking tent on the upper deck, and when we overnighted over in port cities, we stayed in youth hostels. Now you can see why I call it a bare bones tour, but experiencing Alaska this way was the best introduction we could have hoped for to the 49th state. We got to see a lot of the “touristy” things, but also had the opportunity to meet many very interesting people and learn more about Alaskan culture than most tourists.
Once we got to the end of the water route, we boarded a bus and traveled the Alaska Highway (Alcan) for 2 days to get to Fairbanks, AK. We overnighted in a rustic hotel in Beaver Creek, Yukon. It was on that bus trip that I began to think what a fun job it would be to drive the highways of Alaska and the Yukon for a living. Little did I know that the very next year I’d be back in Alaska, doing just that. I ended up working for the same company as our bus driver from the previous year, so to this day I kid him about it being all his faulth that I’m working in Alaska!
The rest of our adventure took us by train from Fairbanks to Denali National Park for two nights. We went into the park on a backpacker shuttle bus the next day, and then finally on to Anchorage, again by train. All the while, we carried everything we needed for the 2 week trip in our backpacks. In Anchorage we rented a car for a drive down to Seward, AK for a sightseeing boat trip of Kenai Fjords National Park. Then it was back up to Anchorage, turn in the rental car, and head to the airport for our flight home.
Our trip was jam packed with activities, but even so, I felt like we had barely touched the tip of the iceberg when it came to seeing all there is to see in Alaska. I had fallen in love with the land, and I knew I’d be back. To this day, Dale and I both admit, this was the best vacation we’ve ever taken.
Tomorrow I’ll tell you more about my tour guide job – stay tuned!
So What’s the Take Away?
If you’re adventurous, you can plan an independent trip to Alaska, but you’ll need to spend some serious time making all the arrangements. We depended very heavily on the Lonely Planet Guidebook for Alaska. You’ll also need copies of the Alaska Marine Highway ferry schedule, the Alaska Railroad schedule, and a bus company schedule like Gray Line of Alaska. If you are not interested in booking all your accommodations, transportation, and attractions, you might be better off booking a tour with an experienced tour company like the one I work for – John Hall’s Alaska.