You Cannot Love Life Until You Live the Life You Love

That was my fortune from a fortune cookie after eating dinner at Molly Woo's ( Trust me. I'm living the life I love. In less than twelve hours I'll be on my way to Alaska. But before I get to that point, first I have to pack; and that is proving to be a challenge.

Packing for Alaska in Winter is a major undertaking, unlike traveling in the lower 48. In addition to the usual suspects you pack when you go on vacation which I'll discuss below, there's that additional step of carrying important documents and contact info and making sure the right people have them before leaving. In my case, I'm sending itineraries (flight info, rent a car info, lodging reservations and phone numbers) so that should the unthinkable happen, my family will be able to backtrack and hopefully track me down.

Packing for Alaska in Winter with the intention of carrying on all luggage so it doesn't get lost on any connecting flight and disrupt the entire trip is an added complication. Let's face it, I just bought over $600 in winter clothing so I can survive three days at 40 below in a worst case scenario, and so that I'm comfortable dogsledding at 20 below and snowshoe hiking in Denali, also at 20 below. It would kind of be a problem if that clothing disappeared in a checked bag gone astray.

And then there's the food. Almost 11 hours between check-in at Port Columbus and arrival in Anchorage, assuming no delays. No meals are served on the connecting flight to Minneapolis and none are served on the six hour flight to Anchorage from Minneapolis. That's a long time to go without a meal, so I'm bringing tuna lunch kits, Dole pineapples in lime jello, Jif Peanut Butter, Nutri-Grain Bars, PowerBars, and a six pack of Propel Fitness Water in addition to everything else. (At least I'm off to a good start for the 3 day supply of food I've been advised to keep in the car, right?)

In any case, just so you can get an idea of the clothing I need just to go dogsledding or snowshoeing or to keep warm if the car dies, here's the list (which I'm also publishing for the airline's benefit should my bags still get lost and I need to make an insurance claim):

1. Wool Army Blanket
2. Down Sleeping Bag
3. Smart Wool Socks
4. Polar Fleece Gloves
5. Down Mittens to wear over Polar Fleece Gloves
6. Polar Fleece Face Mask
7. Ski Goggles
8. Wool Skull Cap
9. Rash Guard as a Base Layer in place of a cotton t-shirt
10. Patagonia/Lotus Thermal Layer Shirt
11. Polar Fleece to wear over Thermal Shirt
12. Thin Lotus Paddling Jacket Shorty (kind of a rain slicker, but super thin, light, and designed for paddling sports--kayaking or rafting) to act as a wind and water barrier.
13. Columbia Ski Jacket System
14. Thermal Underwear
15. Mountain Hardware Chugach Pants
16. North Face Shell Pants
17. Lowe Hiking Boots

Sounds like a lot of clothes, and it is. But it's not as much as you would think and most of it packs into a really small volume. I'll probably wear fewer layers while snowshoe hiking since I'll be working and generating heat. But for dogsledding when you're pretty much holding on, I've been told you need all the warmth you can get; and the same holds true if you're stranded in a car.

Other than that, I'm just wearing jeans and a really heavy hooded sweatshirt from the Columbia Yacht Club in Chicago and the Columbia Ski Jacket on the plane. I'm bringing extra pairs of wools socks, a few t-shirts, and underwear. It's Alaska in winter. There's only six hours of daylight. It will be pretty dark most of the time. So there's no need to try to make a fashion statement by packing heavy, right? But when I get to Anchorage, I still need to buy an aluminum camp cup, matches, more food, water, candles and an ice scraper for the car.

Isn't all this amazing? When I go whitewater rafting, I usually just wear river shorts, a t-shirt and sandals on the way to the river, and after rafting I just change into equally light weight river shorts and another t-shirt. BIG difference! But it's all good because this is part of the adventure. Packing for this trip will be the first memory of the trip. And that's what my fortune is all about, right? Taking this trip is part of living the life I love. It's fun. It's new. It's exciting, and without a doubt, it'll be one of the most spectacular trips I'll ever take in my life. The plane leaves in less than twelve hours, but the adventure has already begun.

Thanks for reading.


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