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A chilly Solo Trip.

by Katelyn Casteel about a year ago in fact or fiction
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A story that partly may or may not have happened.

Anchorage Alaska 2015

Sometimes you find yourself believing you already know everything, right? You’re young, you’ve survived this long getting into trouble without your parents finding out. Doing all kinds of “ungodly” activities you will absolutely not be telling your grand children one day. And every now and then, you just do something do impeccably bold that you are suddenly the topic of all of your friends and family for weeks. This time, instilling the fear of yourself being kidnapped to all of your friends, coworkers and loved ones. The first person you would tell, is your favorite coworker, they’re your safe space at work right? There shouldn’t be too much cold hard judgement there. But then you tell them, and they look at you with this blank expression you’re dying to try and read before they squeal at you “What? Are you CRAZY?”. You just told them you’re going to Alaska on your own to meet some guy you met online all by yourself, essentially flying across the country through various airports and cities. Alright, okay, cool now you are afraid to tell anyone else but you of course, still are determined to go. You see that you have about 13 days left until your flight that you booked. You even opened a credit card to be sure you could go. Smart right? We’ll determine that later.

Time goes on, and you’re sitting in your living room smirking like a dork at your phone because you’re noticing that you only have 5 days left. You probably should of told your family that you currently live with that you are leaving for 10 days to Alaska on your own. So, your relative asks you “what are you staring at” and you are hesitant to answer because you know there will be a lecture afterwards. But, you realize that its now or never to say something before you get reported as a missing person. So you blurt it out “I’m going to Alaska in 5 days and I need a ride to the airport”. Wow, what were you thinking? A ride to the airport? You think that your relative is just going to drop you off cheerfully to what she will think your fate is? God you must be out of your mind! Your relative confusingly pleads “Can you please, please repeat what you just said to us?”. And you then rebuttal, “you did hear me correctly the first time”. And then world war home edition breaks out where you’re claiming your maturity and decision making skills because you’re 20 something and making a name for yourself. Your relative is explaining how much of a dope you are being and how you’re making a grave mistake and how they will not be helping you get to the airport and believe you should not go because it is dangerous and unwise. But, you’re 20 so who can really stop you?

After days of hashing it out and revealing to the rest of your coworkers that you are leaving you almost doubt yourself, you’re packing your bags in almost terror. You normally are very good about pushing away negative thoughts and anything that goes against your desires and ambitions. But, you then watch a few episodes of your favorite show and chat with your love interest some more and sleep it off.

You wake up, your bags are packed up ready to go, and your relative surprises you and is going to take you to the airport. You have a suddenly pleasant conversation with your relative as you pull up to the airport drop off area. You see your airline, Delta, and get overly excited. You’ve barely been anywhere in this world and you’re traveling from one side of the country to the other! You say your goodbyes and reassure your relative that you will be okay and nothing will happen and you will be back before they know it. You depart her car and enter into the check in desk for your flight. You’re different because you are EXCITED to travel through TSA rather than anxious to get out of it. It excites you to see the luggage traveling through the X-Ray machines and to be able to move through the interesting new spinning X-Ray scanner. Once you’re through with security, you get to travel through the airport terminals. How exciting you are to pass all the nice restaurants conveniently placed and over-priced for your pleasure. But you don’t ever go to any airport and pass up a $6 bag of M&M’s for the flight or the closest Starbucks.

Now we play the waiting game. You hear all these bells and whistles and alerts for people needing to board their flight. You want to desperately listen to music while waiting, but your phone battery is at 60% and may not last the whole flight with music with no charge. You have a charger, but everyone’s already using every possible charging port except for the one facing away from the crowd and terminal enterance. You can’t get distracted with music cause you may miss your boarding call. You don’t want to do that. So, no music it is.

You finally get to your seat, you’re SO excited, and so far nobody is next to you. Life is exciting right now. You have someone a seat away from you, no big deal, you hope he isn’t smelly or obnoxious of course. It’s time to buckle up and make sure all of your belongings are tucked away, its finally here! Nothing is in the way of this adventure any longer. You love, and I mean absolutely LOVE watching the plane take off. Some may call you psycho for it, but that is okay.

You finally arrive, you check in with your AirBnB to be sure that everything is ready to go. Your ride awaits you and it is everything you hoped it would be. You are filled with excitement from viewing the snowy white mountains and miles of blinding whiteness among the glistening lights of cities clustered together in tight little knits. You’re thrilled to find the culture of people who live in the rugged wild winter. The first stop is this cute AirBnB though.

You find that this place is even cuter in person. It is a little basement apartment with everything you need to survive. A full kitchen, bathroom, and a bedroom along with a living room with Netflix included. You spend a lot of time looking for activities to do and the first thing you find is a muesuem in the city of Anchorage. You love this idea so you go and explore Alaskan history. You see beautiful Canoes which hold ancient secrets and sturdy value. Eskimo attire, which is totally expected. And casts of ancient sled dogs who were beautifully preserved and cared for.

You then find the stores and local shops of the adorable town and the first thing you notice is a large taxidermy bear. Now, you aren’t the biggest fan of hunting but you absolutely respect the culture. So you admire the art and proceed to look at souvineers. You pick this lovely sled dog keychain which has movable legs that says “Alaska”. It’s perfect.

You then decide to find a local restaurant to eat because you realize you’ve traveled for about 22 hours with only M&M’s to hold you over. The first place you find is cute and resembles a large cabin resort. Moose heads on the wall, real wood furnishings, and fake snow indoors of course. They even have a coat rack for you to hang your 42 pound survival gear on.

You then find the menu and notice it is extremely different than what you find in Florida. You find Moose and Bear on the menu, which at the very most, you would find Gator in Florida. You don’t really have a taste for Moose, whale or bear so you go with your basic gut and go with a chicken soup. It was very good!

You then cozy up in your apartment rental and then look for things yet again to add to your itinerary. You decided then that you wanted to view the city from a mountain. So, what do you do? You find a local truck to rent (with chains of course) and trek your way up the closest summit you can find! This is when you learn how important chains are for trucks, odd right?

Now, you aren’t used to mountains, yet alone mountains with no guard rail along with snow and ice. So, at this point you’re terrified and concerned that anything could happen and this is the fate everyone was talking about but didn’t expect. People thought you were going to get kidnapped, murdered or lost but here you are worrying that you might plummet to your death.

You did it, you carefully traveled upward curvy, steep and icy roads until the best overlook presented itself. You step carefully out of the truck and onto the settled untouched snow. You want to smile big but the cold crisp air prevents you from cracking even the slightest grin. But you’re so full of joy that tears begin to emerge from your eyes, the glistening snow doesn’t quite match the sparkle in your eyes when you view the scenery above the city. You see the ocean in the near distance, surrounding mountains towering over the twinkling town in which you were just discovered.

You spent quite a bit of time up there, you saw the delightful sunset over the waters and ice and you decided it was time to safely journey back down to your rental. You were cold, and exhausted still from the travels. Once you return, you find out what you are doing the next day. You are going to watch a real dog sled race start! There was a place you seen when you left dinner that had a sign, how amazing would that be.

Today’s the day! Mush mush, get up! Time to go spot the action with our most favorable furry friends being the star of the show! When you get there you notice a lot of excitement and urgency on people’s faces. You notice the dogs are lunging and longing to be on the go! They really want to pull that sled, they are barking, yapping and jumping for the que to depart. Once the race begins they dash off leaving snow rushing from the back of the sled. You find yourself fascinated until the dogs fade in the distance and they are far out of sight.

That was amazing, but now you are cold again! Luckily, there are coffee shops all around you that are fun and great to visit. Once inside, you are welcomed by those who seem to know everybody by name and know that you do not live there. They welcome you, and let you know their daily specials and thank them for sharing. It’s a wonderful cup of coffee, there isn’t much to do outdoors all year long so their indoor activities and dining options are phenomenal. After leaving there, you find yourself going to check out a movie theater. What better to do then to see a movie in cold weather? During this movie, you talk to a local who mentions that the next night the northern lights are to be very visible and you should make the trip. It is about 2 hours from where you are staying, but you have never seen the northern lights! So, now you have future plans, score.

The movie was great, the popcorn, not so much. But now you’re excited for the trip to go through the valley of Eagle River where you are literally surrounded by ginormous mountains and followed by a beautiful river. It’s time, you’re going! You’re racing time to reach the peak of the Northern Lights which is about 2 am! You are a little sleepy, but you have music blasting to help you stay focused. Once you get there, you are right on time to view the vibrant green lights. You’re in awe, this is amazing and now you definitely do not regret any decisions to go here. Especially not minding to text your friends and family every day who are checking on you to make sure you are alive. Some of them even made code names to be sure it was yourself texting.

After various activities and exploring, you find yourself homesick. Missing the beach, and warm weather, along with your cat. You are excited to go home the next day. After days spent at the rental painting your discoveries, making new dishes and jotting down memories, it finally comes time to pack your belongings and check in for your flight.

You’re sad that it is almost over, but you are very excited to be in your own bed again, with your own routine and belongings. So, you find solace in the check in reminders for your upcoming flight. You make sure to venture out into the city of Anchorage one more time to be sure you’ve touched every corner of every street possible! You spoke to locals, you smelled the air. Life is complete. But even though you’ve made it this far, you’re still the main cause of anxiety for your friends and family. They are worried for your airport travels since you have to travel to multiple airports. You, on the other hand, absolutely adore the multiple stops and layovers. You enjoy spending time every where you land and the atmosphere of a busy terminal.

You board your flight home. You let everyone know you survived and that you are on the way home! Everyone is excited and ready for you to arrive. You get a window seat, which you are happy with, and watch as the mountains fade in the distance listening to your favorite tunes.

Although you risked some danger, you experienced life to your fullest at those moments. You took the plunge and traveled cross country. You tackled the impossible and you left yourself a little debt. However, there can be far worse reasons to have debt! So take this memory, take this journey, and be sure to be brave again to take a journey, but plan it out better next time! Okay?

fact or fiction

About the author

Katelyn Casteel

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