ten days, four trains, and a boat

That’s the plan.

This will be my tenth year visiting Alaska, and I decided to do something a little different. Though the truth is those two things don’t have anything to do with each other. I decided to do something different because I got tired of always doing the same thing; there was nothing intentionally artful about planning an adventure for year ten.

I’m leaving Fairfax on Wednesday, July 22. I haven’t yet decided whether I’ll ask Stewart to take me to the train station in Richmond or whether I’ll go with what I blurted out last summer: Next year I’m going to walk out of the house with a backpack and I’ll meet you in Fairbanks. Meaning no rides in cars. Meaning, mostly, that I desperately wanted to skip a year of grappling with the minutiae involved in renting out our house for a month — or as it turns out this year, skipping the renters and bringing in roofers. It’s messy either way. So.


Except there may be no practical way to get from Fairfax to Richmond without accepting a ride from my very kind husband who has been nothing but supportive of my decision to briefly run away from home. It’s the one part of the trip I still need to research: Can I get from Fairfax to the Richmond Amtrak station by bus? I don’t know.

The rest of it — two Amtrak trains, a five-day trip on a ferry, two legs on the Alaska Railroad, and a smattering of hostel stays between — is all mapped out on a spreadsheet. Stewart will fly to Fairbanks and pick me up at the station there.

Today I made my packing list. There are twenty-two twenty-five thirty-three things on it, including one small stuffed owl. I have a few weeks to figure out how it’s all going to fit.

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