Planning Alaska – I


After literally – not figuratively – years of fantasizing, it looks as though this summer we’ll be taking the driving trip to Alaska.  In that rarest of coincidences, it appears that this year, we will finally have both the time and the money saved up to go.

I’ll take a week to drive up, starting our early Sunday morning and arriving in Anchorage on Friday.  Susie will fly up to meet me, and we’ll spend a little over a week in Alaska itself.  From there, we’ll take the Alaska Ferry back down to Washington, spend Shabbat in Seattle or Portland, and drive back to Denver from there.  We’re planning on backing it up to Labor Day weekend so we have two days to drive back without taking any additional vacation.

I’ve got most of the driving route there and back planned out.  Coming back is both easy and boring, since we’ll be using interstates the whole way.  Charles Kuralt said perhaps the single most memorable thing about these roads, “Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything.”  That’s about right, but we’ve got to cover roughly 1400 miles in two days, do and for speed, there’s just no alternative.

The way up is a lot more interesting, and I’ll be doing my best to avoid interstates.  The intent is to drive across Wyoming, and then take non-Interstates up to the border, and then to Calgary.  Then, the Icefields Parkway from Calgary, and the Yellowhead Highway across northern British Columbia.  From there, the Cassiar Highway north through the mountains to the Alcan, and the Alcan into Alaska.

Going that way, it’s about 3500 miles from Denver to Anchorage, so I’ll need to average about 600 miles a day, but anything shorter is less interesting.

My original plan had been to drive from Edmonton to the Alcan, and then take the length of the Alcan, but the more I looked at it, the more I realized that, being a wartime military highway designed for speed, it adhered to the Interstate Routing Principle: anything interesting just slows you down.  So since it’s unlikely I’ll be driving this again in this lifetime, I opted for the more scenic route.

That much driving involves a lot of gasoline, and while gas prices are low now and not expected to rise too much, I’ll probably end up hedging the price of gas through UGA, the gasoline price ETF.  The idea isn’t to speculate, in which case I’d just buy calls, but to hedge against a steep rise in gas prices between now and then.