The Final Frontier (An Alaska Trip Report - UPDATED 11/22)

Captain_Oblivious

DIS Dad #257, Galactic Salad Dodger
Joined
Nov 10, 2008
The Final Frontier

Twelve years ago, I won the lottery.

I don’t generally win lotteries. For one thing, you typically have to buy a ticket to win, and I generally prefer spending my money on actual goods and services rather than flushing it down the toilet, so I don’t usually buy lottery tickets. Thus, I’ve only won two lotteries in my lifetime. The first was the lottery for admission to our local charter school, in which my daughter’s name was drawn as one of the lucky ones. You probably don’t care about that one.

The other one was pretty special. In summer 2009, I was selected as one of the “winners” who would be given the opportunity to attend a practice round of the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.

A cynic would point out that even when I win the lottery, I still end up paying money.

This was back in the days when you had to write an actual letter to submit an entry, as opposed to now when it’s all online (and I’m sure the odds of winning are much, much worse). Nevertheless, it was an exciting time and probably the last lottery I’ll ever win.

We ended up turning that opportunity into a week-long trip through Shenandoah National Park, the Carolinas, a day at the Masters, a visit to Congaree National Park, and capped it off with a stay at the Outer Banks in North Carolina, getting the kids their very first Junior Ranger badges at Kitty Hawk National Monument. That was in April of 2010. My daughter, Sarah, was 8 years old. My son, David, was 6. At the time, my youngest son, Scott, was 4. And Andrew was still an accident waiting to happen a few years away from taking his first breaths.

That week-long adventure was when we began exploring this country as a family (and keeping track of our travels). In the 11 years that followed, we’ve been through several jobs, a fourth kid, a global pandemic, several minivans, and all sorts of trials and tribulations. Perhaps most notably, we’d been to 49 states as a family (except for Andrew, who had missed out on Hawaii and had 48 to his credit—hey, you snooze, you lose).

In the summer of 2020, we were finally ready to cross the last state off our list. The timing was perfect, as Sarah was just graduating from high school and we’d finish the 50-State Quest just before she left for college.

Then they closed down the world for a year.

In the summer of 2021, we were finally ready to cross the last state off our list. The timing was less perfect, and there was still a great deal of uncertainty regarding COVID travel restrictions, but those who were able had received our vaccinations and were ready to get back to traveling.

This bunch of goofballs was finally going to visit Alaska.



Me: Mark, age 46, highway engineer, meat-and-potatoes guy, movie nerd, perpetually disappointed Philadelphia sports fan.

Julie: 4th-grade teacher, brownies-and-ice cream girl, football fan, book nerd, demonstrates incredible tolerance for idiots in her household.

Sarah: Age 19, graphic design major, artist, former field hockey captain, spicy food connoisseur.

David: Age 17, high school senior, into car design, Formula One racing, and baseball.

Scott: Age 15, high school sophomore, loves statistics and data analysis, F1 racing, and football.

Andrew: Age 7, 2nd-grade student, loves using family members as human jungle gyms, asking questions, not listening to your answers and repeating the questions, leaving messes for others to clean up, and getting away with murder as the spoiled youngest child.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading about our latest adventure!

Coming Up Next: There are remote locations, and then there’s Gustavus, Alaska.
 

franandaj

I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!
Joined
Nov 15, 2009
Am I First? Will be back to read!

Edited to Add:

Twelve years ago, I won the lottery.
I thought you were going to say when Julie agreed to marry you!

We ended up turning that opportunity into a week-long trip through Shenandoah National Park, the Carolinas, a day at the Masters, a visit to Congaree National Park, and capped it off with a stay at the Outer Banks in North Carolina, getting the kids their very first Junior Ranger badges at Kitty Hawk National Monument. That was in April of 2010.
OK, well that sounds kinda cool too.

except for Andrew, who had missed out on Hawaii
Well technically he was there, not trying to start any arguments, but depending on where you place the beginning of life. :rolleyes1

In the summer of 2020, we were finally ready to cross the last state off our list. The timing was perfect, as Sarah was just graduating from high school and we’d finish the 50-State Quest just before she left for college.

Then they closed down the world for a year.
Yeah, I think a lot of us were in a similar boat. Not getting 50 states, but lamenting the world closing.

This bunch of goofballs was finally going to visit Alaska.
Yay for the goofballs!

I hope you’ll enjoy reading about our latest adventure!
I will! Can't wait for it to start!
 
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juniorbugman

<font color=blue>New car vs another cruise?? THAT
Joined
Aug 22, 2001
This bunch of goofballs was finally going to visit Alaska.
Glad your group of goofballs finally got to cross the last state off the check list. (well almost all of them) I will be reading along.
 
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Flossbolna

Sea days are just so relaxing!
Joined
Sep 8, 2006
Am here for my semi annual check in. Hi @Steppesister!

now back to reading the intro.

lovely introduction. I think I read a trip report about that trip to Augusta. I am so not into golf, but I find it fascinating to read about your love for the sport that it becomes interesting again. I can’t believe that I have been along for all those trip reports. Can’t wait to read all about the Grand Finale!
 
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SoccerDogWithEars

DIS Veteran
Joined
Mar 20, 2005
I'm here!!! And going to try and stay here.

Perhaps most notably, we’d been to 49 states as a family (except for Andrew, who had missed out on Hawaii and had 48 to his credit—hey, you snooze, you lose).
I mean, technically he was in Hawaii if memory serves. Which it might not. I have a toddler, and she takes up most of my brain power.
 
  • QueenJen

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Sep 2, 2012
    Yay - the trip report for your 50th state. Very interesting read about how this started (I don't recall reading that in a previous report).
     

    Steppesister

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 27, 2013
    Twelve years ago, I won the lottery.
    Woot!
    ANd yes, we do care. That's a pretty big one.
    Thus, I’ve only won two lotteries in my lifetime. The first was the lottery for admission to our local charter school, in which my daughter’s name was drawn as one of the lucky ones. You probably don’t care about that one.
    Me too. Probably about $5.00 worth total.
    The other one was pretty special. In summer 2009, I was selected as one of the “winners” who would be given the opportunity to attend a practice round of the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.
    Nice!! I think I remember that, but you invited the golf haters (not really a hater, per se... but...) to skim. I did, but loved, as always, the entirety of the rest of the TR. If memory serves. Which it often doesn't.

    A cynic would point out that even when I win the lottery, I still end up paying money.
    Checking in for the cynic roll call!
    Nevertheless, it was an exciting time and probably the last lottery I’ll ever win.
    You can't win, if you don't play.... 🎼
    And Andrew was still an accident waiting to happen a few years away from taking his first breaths.
    :lmao:

    I laugh because I have one too.
    That week-long adventure was when we began exploring this country as a family (and keeping track of our travels). In the 11 years that followed, we’ve been through several jobs, a fourth kid, a global pandemic, several minivans, and all sorts of trials and tribulations. Perhaps most notably, we’d been to 49 states as a family (except for Andrew, who had missed out on Hawaii and had 48 to his credit—hey, you snooze, you lose).
    And I think I've been around for all but one. Maybe?
    Then they closed down the world for a year.
    :sad2:
    Me: Mark, age 46, highway engineer, meat-and-potatoes guy, movie nerd, perpetually disappointed Philadelphia sports fan.

    Julie: 4th-grade teacher, brownies-and-ice cream girl, football fan, book nerd, demonstrates incredible tolerance for idiots in her household.

    Sarah: Age 19, graphic design major, artist, former field hockey captain, spicy food connoisseur.

    David: Age 17, high school senior, into car design, Formula One racing, and baseball.

    Scott: Age 15, high school sophomore, loves statistics and data analysis, F1 racing, and football.

    Andrew: Age 7, 2nd-grade student, loves using family members as human jungle gyms, asking questions, not listening to your answers and repeating the questions, leaving messes for others to clean up, and getting away with murder as the spoiled youngest child.
    What a GREAT group of people! Hard to find such a homogenous, well-rounded bunch who so collectively hate veggies. ;)
    Am here for my semi annual check in. Hi @Steppesister!
    HELLO!!!! I thought we'd lost you forever!
     

    pkondz

    Brace yourself for immediate disintegration
    Joined
    Mar 9, 2007
    I'm here, but I'm just far too tired to comment right now. Or even read.

    I'll be back later when I can tell left from right. (Makes reading easier.)
     
  • Captain_Oblivious

    DIS Dad #257, Galactic Salad Dodger
    Joined
    Nov 10, 2008
    Am I First? Will be back to read!
    :welcome:
    Indeed you are! You get a gold star.

    I thought you were going to say when Julie agreed to marry you!
    Well, that would be the brownie points answer. But I'm just touched that you think we're that young!

    OK, well that sounds kinda cool too.
    That was a fun week!

    Well technically he was there, not trying to start any arguments, but depending on where you place the beginning of life. :rolleyes1
    So while my personal opinion is that life starts at conception and therefore yes, he was technically there...our rule is that in order for the state to count, your feet must touch the soil within the state borders. This clearly did not happen for Drew.

    Yeah, I think a lot of us were in a similar boat. Not getting 50 states, but lamenting the world closing.
    I think cabin fever was probably even more contagious than COVID.

    Yay for the goofballs!
    Our family motto!

    I will! Can't wait for it to start!
    I guess I'd better upload some photos...

    Glad your group of goofballs finally got to cross the last state off the check list. (well almost all of them) I will be reading along.
    :welcome: Thanks for joining in!

    Am here for my semi annual check in. Hi @Steppesister!
    :welcome:Magdalene!


    lovely introduction. I think I read a trip report about that trip to Augusta. I am so not into golf, but I find it fascinating to read about your love for the sport that it becomes interesting again. I can’t believe that I have been along for all those trip reports. Can’t wait to read all about the Grand Finale!
    I believe I actually wrote about that one on a different blog many moons ago. You've really suffered quite a bit if you've read all of them since then!

    Hey, can you tell your husband I've been trying to respond to his text about Alaska and I keep getting messages that they aren't being delivered? Not sure what the problem is.

    :welcome:Liesa!

    I'm here!!! And going to try and stay here.
    :welcome:Annie!

    I mean, technically he was in Hawaii if memory serves. Which it might not. I have a toddler, and she takes up most of my brain power.
    This is true. However, according to the family state-counting bylaws, it does not count as an official visit.
     

    Captain_Oblivious

    DIS Dad #257, Galactic Salad Dodger
    Joined
    Nov 10, 2008
    Yay - the trip report for your 50th state. Very interesting read about how this started (I don't recall reading that in a previous report).
    :welcome: Jen! I figured it made sense to go back and recount how this whole thing started.

    Woot!
    ANd yes, we do care. That's a pretty big one.
    That was a really cool letter to get in the mail, I gotta say.

    Me too. Probably about $5.00 worth total.
    When they come around the office for Powerball tickets, I usually say there has to be the one guy who didn't chip in for the news story later. I'll be that guy.

    Nice!! I think I remember that, but you invited the golf haters (not really a hater, per se... but...) to skim. I did, but loved, as always, the entirety of the rest of the TR. If memory serves. Which it often doesn't.
    Heck, you're always welcome to skim as much of this garbage as you'd like! I know I drone on way too long at times.

    Checking in for the cynic roll call!
    :wave2:


    You can't win, if you don't play.... 🎼
    I wouldn't mind winning the Masters one again. The odds are so much worse now, though.

    I laugh because I have one too.
    Quite a few of those floating around...

    And I think I've been around for all but one. Maybe?
    You have definitely achieved Gold Star Status among frequent readers.

    What a GREAT group of people! Hard to find such a homogenous, well-rounded bunch who so collectively hate veggies. ;)
    The kids are a bit more adventurous than I am. Well, the older ones. I'll happily eat my carrots and broccoli...as long as they're cooked.

    Otherwise, I can't help it if it all tastes terrible.

    Tell me you have T shirts made with "50 States Done" for the fam and Andrew has a "49 States Done" all for himself........
    :rotfl2: I like this idea!

    Maybe we can get a series of shirts that when we stand next to each other reads CONGRATULATIONS ON REACHING ALL (not you) 50 STATES

    Oh, and :welcome: Dan!

    I'm here, but I'm just far too tired to comment right now. Or even read.

    I'll be back later when I can tell left from right. (Makes reading easier.)
    :welcome: pkondz! Get that rest.
     

    pkondz

    Brace yourself for immediate disintegration
    Joined
    Mar 9, 2007
    I don’t generally win lotteries. For one thing, you typically have to buy a ticket to win, and I generally prefer spending my money on actual goods and services rather than flushing it down the toilet,
    100% agree.
    For years, everyone at the office chipped in for the lottery draw. Everyone except me. Every now and then, I'd walk into the room with a soda or chocolate bar or what have you and say, "I got this with my lottery money. What did you get?"
    They played a couple times a week at $5 a pop/each. When the prize was big enough, they'd chip in extra.

    After about 15 years of that (when due to attrition/retirements it ended) their net winnings? Nothing.
    Thus, I’ve only won two lotteries in my lifetime. The first was the lottery for admission to our local charter school, in which my daughter’s name was drawn as one of the lucky ones. You probably don’t care about that one.
    Not true. That one is very, very important.
    The other one was pretty special. In summer 2009, I was selected as one of the “winners” who would be given the opportunity to attend a practice round of the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.
    Know that one is a big one for you. :)
    And Andrew was still an accident waiting to happen a few years away from taking his first breaths.
    :rolleyes:
    That week-long adventure was when we began exploring this country as a family (and keeping track of our travels).
    So that's how it all started.
    (except for Andrew, who had missed out on Hawaii and had 48 to his credit—hey, you snooze, you lose).
    :laughing:

    Or... perhaps you could say that was poor planning on the parents' part?


    Take that any way you want. :rolleyes1
    David: Age 17, high school senior, into car design, Formula One racing, and baseball.

    Scott: Age 15, high school sophomore, loves statistics and data analysis, F1 racing, and football.
    They must've loved the last race.
    Who do they cheer for?
    I hope you’ll enjoy reading about our latest adventure!
    I always do!
     

    irene_dsc

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 1, 2007
    Thanks to whoever mentioned that you had a new TR going (maybe on Liesa's TR?) so I can follow along! So exciting that you finally got to go to Alaska!
     

    Captain_Oblivious

    DIS Dad #257, Galactic Salad Dodger
    Joined
    Nov 10, 2008
    :welcome: Randall!

    100% agree.
    For years, everyone at the office chipped in for the lottery draw. Everyone except me. Every now and then, I'd walk into the room with a soda or chocolate bar or what have you and say, "I got this with my lottery money. What did you get?"
    They played a couple times a week at $5 a pop/each. When the prize was big enough, they'd chip in extra.

    After about 15 years of that (when due to attrition/retirements it ended) their net winnings? Nothing.
    Yep. Same story here. I started telling them that the news media would need to be able to interview the one guy who didn't chip in, so I'd fill that role. Still waiting for my interview.

    Not true. That one is very, very important.
    It was certainly important to us.

    Know that one is a big one for you. :)
    It was really cool to do that one time. I'd love to go back.

    So that's how it all started.
    I figured it was appropriate to go back to the beginning there.

    Or... perhaps you could say that was poor planning on the parents' part?


    Take that any way you want. :rolleyes1
    Incredibly poor planning. The worst.

    They must've loved the last race.
    Who do they cheer for?
    Dave said it was an entertaining race. I saw the sprint for qualifying on Saturday but was tuned into the British Open on Sunday. The sprint was fun, though.

    David likes the McLaren team, so he pulls for Lando Norris. Scotty chose the Alpine team, so he's watching Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon. I think they both shied away from Verstappen and Hamilton because they wanted to pull for the underdogs (or had a favorite car maker). I chose to pull for Charles Leclerc because when the announcer said his name it sounded like John LeClair, who played for the Philadelphia Flyers. This should demonstrate my total knowledge of the sport.

    I always do!
    Hey, thanks! Your check is in the mail.

    Thanks to whoever mentioned that you had a new TR going (maybe on Liesa's TR?) so I can follow along! So exciting that you finally got to go to Alaska!
    :welcome: Irene! Glad you found me!
     

    ymxbfalcon

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 1, 2012
    I don't post all that often, but I've been reading your trip reports for years. I can't tell you how helpful you've been to my husband and I as as we've planned our own road trips. I was so happy to see that your family was finally able to complete your quest to reach all 50 states, and I can't wait to read about your adventures in Alaska!
     

    auroralark

    Lives for vacation
    Joined
    Sep 28, 2004
    I've never posted before, but wanted to finally said hi! I've read all your reports, and they're great! Really looking forward to this one.
     

    pkondz

    Brace yourself for immediate disintegration
    Joined
    Mar 9, 2007
    Yep. Same story here. I started telling them that the news media would need to be able to interview the one guy who didn't chip in, so I'd fill that role. Still waiting for my interview.
    ::yes::

    I used to tell them that they'd be jealous because they'd all quit and I'd get all the overtime!
    I figured it was appropriate to go back to the beginning there.
    :thumbsup2
    Incredibly poor planning. The worst.
    ;)
    Dave said it was an entertaining race. I saw the sprint for qualifying on Saturday but was tuned into the British Open on Sunday. The sprint was fun, though.
    I missed the sprint. Didn't even know it was happening until it was over.
    David likes the McLaren team, so he pulls for Lando Norris. Scotty chose the Alpine team, so he's watching Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon.
    I used to root for McLaren. Ayrton Senna's team. It pains me to see how far Williams has fallen. They used to win championships (1980, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997). Now they're also-rans.
    Alpine, huh? Interesting choice, for sure, although I'd love to see Alonso do well. 7th last week was a good finish, I thought. And he's been in the points most races. My loyalties in F1 are pretty fluid. It changes from race to race. Although... I'd like to see a Ferrari win again.
    I think they both shied away from Verstappen and Hamilton because they wanted to pull for the underdogs (or had a favorite car maker).
    That's pretty mature of them, I think.
    I chose to pull for Charles Leclerc because when the announcer said his name it sounded like John LeClair, who played for the Philadelphia Flyers. This should demonstrate my total knowledge of the sport.
    :laughing:
    Hey, thanks! Your check is in the mail.
    Woot!
     

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