Traveling Back East.. Pulling Out Hair!

Post from July 26, 2013

For anyone that doesn’t live in Alaska (and before my east coast friends and family say it: Yes! I moved here, and I love it, but it doesn’t make traveling to the lower 48 any less difficult!), let me let you in on something. Traveling to the lower 48, is a pain in the buuuutt. I LOVE it though. It’s like traveling to another country. Sometimes, I forget what civilization is like, and I live in Fairbanks, not a village. I remember the first time I left Alaska to go back to the lower 48. I was headed to Colorado for some much needed Cramer family time and snowboarding. I had to change planes in Seattle. I was walking through SEA-TAC and suddenly realized how busy it was. Lines were long to get food, the airport was at least 8x bigger than Fairbanks and 4x bigger than Anchorage (that could totally be an underestimate) and there were cute men. Well-dressed men. Everywhere. I thought to myself – this is where they are hiding them?? The point is, leaving on vacation is always an adjustment back into civilization and that first time, was a little bit of a shock for me. I hadn’t realized how much I had settled into my Alaska style of living – Fairbanks style of living at that.
But moving on from the culture shock and re-entering society from Alaska, there is the stress of planning a trip to go back East, see friends and family, buying tickets – for planes, trains, buses, games, amusement parks, etc. etc. Figuring out rental cars. I am pretty sure I am balding in one spot where I keep pulling my hair out and graying in others. There is all the excitement of the things I plan on doing, but sometimes I think people forget how stressful it really is for the person traveling.
When I went home for the first time after moving to Alaska, it was for the holidays. I planned a 9 day trip home and it wasn’t enough. Some people I doubled up or tripled up. When you have a group of friends. it works out great because you can all hang out together. Right? Wrong. Not when everyone wants their “own time with you.” Come on people. Really? Was traveling 5000 miles not enough for you? But thus, the shuffling from one end of Virginia, to another, and back… it’s alot of work.
So here I am, on the cusp of another trip back East. As simple as I THINK I am going to make things for myself, I don’t make it simple. This trip I’ll end up flying to Cleveland for a long overdue trip to see friends. Then fly to Virginia because believe it or not, that’s cheaper and easier than renting a car from one state to another. The one way fees on rental cars are OUTRAGEOUS. That’s been my newest dilemma. Then I’ll venture around southern VA, NC, SC. Then I’ll take a bus up to see my family in VA because again, the one way fees on rental cars are OUTRAGEOUS. I’ll likely rent a car to get around while I am seeing family and friends there. By the end of my trip, I will have traveled through 6 states and will fly back to the Last Frontier out of Washington, DC. SIX STATES!
From experience, I know that 9 days is just not enough time. Another thing that people don’t realize is moving here means my glorious days of weekend trips is only possible within Alaska (well, I could actually venture over to Canada). Going back East is a minimal week long trip because no matter what, you have to include the 2 days of travel in the trip. So I’m taking nearly 3 weeks off to enjoy my home, my family and my friends during the summer. Oh blessed be the hot, humid month of August on the East Coast (what was I thinking there, btw?). But I do this. I shuffle all around. I venture across states. I take scary buses. I literally plan out my schedule to the morning and afternoon and nearly every day I am there to make sure I can see everyone and do everything I want to do The beach, kayaking, running (yes, crazy me is planning to run a 20k while I’m home), amusement parks (because Alaska doesn’t know what one of those is), hiking, baseball games, drag racing, and the drive-in movies. I do it because I love it and it’s worth it. But let me tell you, its not easy and my hair is taking the brunt of it.

Potomac River, 2011

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