This was one of my more "planned" trips, which just means I had some idea of where I was going and the audacity to book a room before I landed. I learned the hard way that there is a severe lack of hotel availability during the "winter season," and a lot of independently owned hotels and restaurants close up. In a stroke of luck, I found a hostel that was willing to host me, had great reviews, and was able to work with my incredibly loose travel plans that come with the non-rev adventure.
The non-rev gods were on my side, too, and I managed to make every flight on my original itinerary - including an ATL-MSP segment that looked absolutely impossible. I made a new friend on the last leg from MSP-ANC, who used to live in Anchorage and was a great resource for Alaskan information. He also offered me $20 to trade my window seat for his middle seat and never paid up but I'm hoping I at least got a few karma points in the bank.
After a quick pitstop in the Alaska Airlines Boardroom to charge my phone and have a bowl of soup, I picked up my car ($8/day from Enterprise! Praise the offseason!) and ventured to new home sweet home, exploring a little along the way. I was thrilled to meet John Forbes in person after emailing about my reservation and pleasantly surprised by my room at the Bent Prop Inn. The Bent Prop Inn is a thriving backpacker's hostel in the summer, and in the winter it shuts down most of the building to take in locals who would otherwise be on the street in sub-zero temperatures.
I had no real plans for the next day except to drive along the Seward Hwy. I'd heard from multiple people that it is an amazing drive, so I hopped in the car as soon as the sun started to come up (which, by the way, is much later in Alaska than home) and just started driving south.
The drive was, in one word, incredible. I took a lot of pictures, and they are really the best way to understand how beautiful the entire day was.