Note: The subject line is only a slight exaggeration.
After a not so bright and early wake up call, I packed up the majority of my bag before heading down to the lobby for a free breakfast. It was pretty decent! Any place with a make your own waffle bar is a-ok with me. We all stocked up on more goodies for the road later, including muffins and bagels. Hey, we had no idea when the next meal was. We ate when we could!
The group gathered in the lobby at the requested time and the last person to show up was the guide. Not sure how I felt that would bode for the rest of the trip, but at least everyone else was there! I hate waiting for people. We loaded up the trailer and settled into the van. I am really picky about where I sit and at first chose the seat next to the window, 2nd row from the back. I thought that might be good. We had some stops to make around town first, the first being one of our many visits to the Fred Meyer on Northern Lights Blvd. to get our first batch of groceries. I grabbed the other American in the group and claimed we would shop for lunch food, meaning sandwich stuff and snacks. No one knows a good American lunch like the people who live it! It was tons of fun to throw in whatever we wanted to eat with really no disregard for content or price. My favorite type of shopping! Bagels and loafs of bread, tons of meats and cheeses, some cheap peanut butter (which our guide took back and picked out his own brand, as we soon learned that was something he was really picky about) and crackers. And peanuts. And trail mix. And more crackers. We bought a “gallon” box of goldfish and a few boxes of cheese-itz. No one does cheese crackers like Americans. This was also the place to grab lunch for the day and my fellow American found these awesome lunch bags and the kids one was perfect (and $2 cheaper!) so I took that one. After reorganizing the food in the trailer, we were off to REI for last minute gear.
I knew I wasn’t going to be in the best shape for this trip. I own no waterproof stuff and I wasn’t about to spend money on something I would never use again. The trip notes said there would be laundry at least once a week, but it’s really not in my nature when traveling for only 2 weeks to think about doing it, so I packed enough for 2 weeks. Unlike my tent-mate, I don’t really care how I look in pictures, I don’t mind wearing the same sweater every day. Now underwear, socks and t-shirts are another thing so I brought enough for 2 weeks and just rotated amongst my 2 sweatshirts and only down (but not waterproof) jacket. My bag was one of the bigger ones, but I didn’t care. At our REI stop, I noted three things I wanted to buy, that were somewhat suggested by the guide the night before. And all three things were super helpful and I am actually really glad I bought them! First up was a $17 pair of socks that were all wool, which pretty much means they are sort of waterproof. This is the thing I probably could have lived without, as I only wear socks once before washing and since I didn’t plan on doing any washing, I had to think about when was the best time to use them when they would make the most sense. Story coming later on the day I made the decision to wear them and why I choose correctly! Will I ever wear them again? They were super comfy and maybe I’ll bring them to SF and wear them there, as my current sneakers aren’t waterproof by any means. Something I didn’t really need, but my tent-mate had one and it was so cool was a collapsible water-bottle. It was a pouch that gets smaller the less liquid you have! So perfect for me who drinks tons and tons of water and had to deal with the empty big bottle. Now it gets smaller the more I use it! I got the “grape” (purple) color. I love marketing term,s they just crack me up. And finally, the item I used the most, a waterproof rain jacket. I grabbed the cheapest one and used it the most. It was perfect for throwing over my sweatshirt in a freak rainstorm when I didn’t want to carry around my huge down or when it wasn’t that cold (on those rare days). This I’ll probably wear again, at some point, on those rare rainy days in LA when I don’t want to deal with my down, now I have a great alternative! All of these items came to less then $80, which made me happy. Since I knew want I wanted and grabbed it all and left, I found a coffee house that served my new favorite coffee so I had to grab a cup before meeting up with the rest of the group outside REI.
And then we were finally off to Homer! We made a bunch of stops both at lookout points and roadhouses along the way for food and bathroom and to stretch our legs before we finally arrived at the Homer Spit campground. The beach was full of rocks and that was where we were going to pop our tents to sleep. After a quick lesson on how to put them up, TM (tentmate from here on out) and I got ours up, but we couldn’t agree on which side was higher, so we ended up sleeping head to toe, which I actually liked better! We each used different entrances and I think that helped up get along much better in the long run. After the tent and air mattresses set up (we were 5 short so the guide had to trek back to Anchorage a few days later to get more but luckily, there was another tour with another company who had some spares in the meantime, yay Alaska hospitality!) we pitched in for dinner and had a delicious chicken dinner by the beach. I proved my true Californianess by decking out in wool hat, sweatshirt, down jacket, mittens, jeans and FLIPFLOPS! I was a bit worried about my sock situation as my shoes were not water proof and neither were my socks, so I made the resolution to not wear my shoes and socks unless I had to. And since the first day we spent it in the van, I wore my sandals all day, no need to waste a pair of socks on that! And I was okay. This proved to be my typical camp outfit for the trip.
The campsite was fine. A bit far to the bathroom for me, and stumbling over rocks to get there wasn’t the best. But loads of stalls, tons of sinks, plenty of paper and outlets to charge up. Showers were in a different house and you had to pay the front desk $1 and she’ll buzz you in and you got a stall and unlimited time. Each stall had a bench too! I didn’t want to leave my phone in the bathroom (even though Alaska is one the safest places I have ever been, you’ll hear more about that later) so I asked the office if I could charge it there and she directed me to an outlet under the shelf where I left my phone for a few hours for a quick charge.
The activities begin tomorrow!