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First Time in Alaska

A Family Discovers Our 49th State

totem pole at anchorage cultural center

We are the Dawsons. Our family consists of Joe (consultant), Gabi (customer service manager) and JJ (high school freshman). We lead busy, active lives that seem to get busier each year. We love to spend time together at the beach, in the mountains or simply 'hanging out' but it gets more difficult to carve out that time as JJ gets older and more involved with his school and friends. The one thing we ALWAYS do is take a really fabulous summer vacation - just the three of us - and we take turns planning the trip. This past summer (June 22 to July-08-2007) Joe's dream to visit Alaska came true. (check out our photo by the totem pole at the Anchorage Cultural Center!) His vision to visit the entire state was daunting and is why it took us over a year to plan the perfect summer vacation on our first time Alaska trip.
map of south central alaska
The first thing we did was try to find some help in planning our first trip to Alaska online and while there were some helpful websites we had so many questions. How do you decide what part of Alaska to visit? Should you take a cruise or create your own special Alaska tour? We explored visiting Point Barrow and Prudhoe Bay, Fairbanks, Anchorage, the Inside Passage, the Kanai Peninsula (Seward, Homer, Whittier and the Kenai Fjords) Denali National Park, Mount McKinley and driving the Alaska Highway. We also had to decide whether cruise ship, tour bus, Alaskan Railroad, motor home or some combination was best for us. The distances are great and vacations are all too short - so serious consideration and decisions had to be made.

Our interests differ and so the trip had to include something for everyone. We needed river rafting, boating, flightseeing and paragliding combined with natural beauty, glaciers, wild animals (maybe fishing for salmon or halibut?) and a native cultural experience. We love photography and photographing Alaska would be a dream come true! We wanted to 'see and do it all' - and be able to afford it.

Part of the plan was to identify what and when to make reservations. We had to decide what to take and how to pack it so we had the right clothes and equipment when we needed them. We wrote up a day-by-day itinerary with dates, times and contacts. How all this planning worked out is summarized in our trip diary with detailed pages for Anchorage sightseeing, the Alaska Railroad to Denali National Park, our first time renting a motorhome, and our motorhome visits to Seward, Homer, and Kenai Peninsula. Souvenirs, art, crafts and other items you will find in Alaska are featured in the trading post page and, if you have questions or comments, you can send us an email.

We think our self-made vacation package worked out very well and...

We hope you agree!

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