One of my all-time travel dreams was to take a cruise to Alaska along the inside passage.
Another of my all-time travel dreams was to drive the Al-Can (apparently now named the Alaskan Highway. Not nearly as fun to say, but whatever. I don’t make these decisions).
It is not necessary to travel with someone, of course, but if you have a Travel Buddy, it makes travel all the sweeter. You have someone to talk to, you have safety in numbers, you have someone to reminisce with once you return, you have someone to share the cost of travel, and a heck of a lot of places are cheaper if two are splitting the cost, vs. one alone.
For example, cruise ships. If you are traveling alone, you must pay a single-supplement fee when booking your cabin. If you have a Travel Buddy, you don’t.
It really helps if your Travel Buddy has a taste for adventure, and a strong willingness to think outside the box. Luckily, mine has both these qualities, because of what happened next.
You see, we decided to combine both of these wonderful trips (cruise, road-trip) into one glorious Alaskan adventure.
But we had trouble figuring out the logistics.
Part One was easy: book a cruise, sail from Vancouver to Alaska, get off the ship, but don’t fly home.
Part Two was harder: find something to rent that we could camp in and drive back to Washington State on the Al-Can Highway. It wasn’t meant to be harder, but we ran into a snag: everything we tried to rent was not possible to drive home. Why? Because driving home from Alaska would entail driving through Canada. Which meant we would be crossing international borders. Evidently a big no-no as far as rentals are concerned. We tried cars, vans, RVs, nothing.
This was a big bummer, because by this time we were both really excited about the trip and making lists of all the parts we wanted to see, such as Denali National Park, the Kenai Peninsula, the Fairbanks State Fair, etc.
Then, unexpectedly, I had an epiphany.
I know who will rent to us, and let us cross Canadian borders!
We called them that day, and sure enough, they were willing! So we booked our cruise, booked our U-Haul, and waited.
We packed a little differently than most folks for the cruise: one suitcase each for the voyage, and one large, over-sized duffel bag for all our camping gear on the way back.
I won’t load you up with a lot of stories about our cruise, odds being great that you either have heard someone else’s story, have seen pictures, or have even taken the cruise, yourself. But everyone has their own tale to tell.
I guess one way ours was a tad different was this small event: our wonderfully attentive waiter was named “Indy.” No, nothing like Harrison Ford. Anyway, on the last evening Indy stated that he hoped our journey had been a pleasant one, and asked if there was anything more he could do for us. I said, well, Indy, there is one thing. At dinner every night, the whales have appeared and everyone has been excited to see them. But they are always on the opposite side of the dining room, and we can’t ever get a look. Could you just once, for tonight, have them come on our side of the ship? Indy hung his head a little and said he would see what he could do. We all laughed and forgot about it. But at the end of the meal, darned if the whales were there one last time, but on our side of the room! As we were pointing and laughing, amazed at the site, suddenly there was Indy, jumping up and down, yelling, “I did it! I did it!” Best. Waiter. Ever.