For many people it’s the easiest way to travel above the 60th parallel, by simply visiting Alaska’s largest city (with about 300,000 residents). At higher latitudes, the summer days are longer – just like the winter nights. However, the scenic beauty of this state is somewhat larger than life – especially for anyone who hasn’t had much time in the great-outdoors. The mountains are big, the sky is big, the wildlife is big, pretty much everything is big … except the population.
For some, a cruise is the preferred way to visit Alaska – just like my parents did some years ago. For me, I like to get out on the road and drive out past the city limits, past the semi-rural homes and lifestyle farms, to see what the country really looks like. I have spent lots of time out in remote mountains, and was truly invigorated by mysterious lure of the Alaskan mountains … and warrants a much longer visit than what I was able to tack onto my work trip.
Winters are cold but manageable for the well prepared. The spring brings new life after the dark winter, but almost certainly is noted by snowmelt runoff and resultant mud. Summers are very pleasant, with long days to enjoy to the full. However, I visited when the autumn leaves were turning, and the snow capped mountains were adorned with green and yellow.
Alaska is too big to adequately capture in a few photos. I suggest that you go and see it for yourself – and take a drive out into the truly great outdoors.
As some may know, the Traveling Dad is moving home base from Atlanta, Georgia in the USA, to Christchurch, New Zealand. I am taking a senior role in the infrastructure reconstruction following the significant earthquakes in that region since late 2010. It is expected that I will actually have more time with my family, more time for blogging, and more time for family travel – instead of the significant amount of international travel that I have been doing for work over the last few years. Today I thought I would simply offer a few thoughts about making an international move.
– If it’s just you and your backpack, it’s fairly easy to pack and go (speaking from experience). An international move could be the greatest education you ever get, as it teaches you about yourself and about others.
– As a young couple without kids, it’s also relatively easy to make an international move … just make sure you’re both in agreement about making the adventure together. Troubles will come, and flexibility is essential … but in the future you will probably remember those times as your greatest adventures. At this time in your life, you can probably sell everything you own and start again in the foreign land of your choice (it’s a lot cheaper than moving a bunch of furniture around the world).
– When you’re a family with children, an international move is a significant event. This is what our family is doing at present. Once the move is decided, there are many details to work through – too many to comprehensively cover today. If a sea voyage is required, don’t trust the moving company that gives you a quote based on land costs (yes, we did get one). I would also recommend taking the time to downsize, and ensure that you keep only the things that are most important such as – memorabilia, items of sentimental value, things that are “irreplaceable”, items that are expensive to replace in the new country, and items which will make your new place feel like “home”.
Please take the time to sign up for updates. I’ve been asked by many people to write more about our various travels and activities, so hope to have more time with my new job. Having traveled extensively, I believe I have enough material to write for a very long time.
Don’t be afraid to venture overseas – the world is much bigger than your country of origin.
This title may not mean much to you, unless your country made the list. However, most people appreciate the pleasure of meeting friendly people during their travels instead of rude ones. The following report makes for an interesting read:
This indicates that the friendliest countries are:
1. New Zealand
3. South Africa
5. United States
Early American history is everywhere in this charming and somewhat eclectic community on the banks of the Missouri River. Lewis and Clark passed through shortly after setting out on their historic journey west, recording that;
Upon entering the Village of St. Charles, a crowd of spectators welcomed the party. Exploring the French village, they found the community of 450 living harmoniously. Last minute adjustments were made to the vessels cargo and …With three cheers (Bon Voyage) the Corps proceeded up-stream into unknown territories. (16-21 May 1804)
Thereafter, early American settlers would leave St Charles on to the Santé Fe and Oregon Trails. While the early trappers and traders found this an ideal place for commerce, discovery and adventure, the same can be said for modern day visitors to the region. You can stroll along the brick paved streets and shop in the largest designated historic district in Missouri, discover some boutique dining atmosphere in one of the many patio setting restaurants, or if you’ve got some time on your hands – take an excursion on the water, bike/walking trail, or check out the event calendar for something special that’s going on. Those who are inclined can visit the casino, although I found it more invigorating to be outside and soaking up the 8-10 blocks of South Main Street.
Most people know about the Gateway Arch in St Louis, just a 30 minute drive east, and many people have heard of Branson, Missouri, four hours to the southwest; but I found St Charles is a hidden gem that I’m glad to have visited, and would love to have stayed longer. The family friendly ambience was unmistakable, and the town had character that is deeply rooted in a rich history of adventure. Even Daniel Boone lived here later in his life, serving as Judge and Commandant for five years prior to the Louisiana Purchase. Remnants and replicas of the early settlers’ lifestyle help keep their inspiring stories alive.
Red barns have proclaimed the “See Rock City” message across the Southeastern United States since the 1930’s. However, although the number of visitors is quite high, I suspect that a relatively small percentage of people who have driven past one of these iconic and inventive early billboards, have actually paid a visit. Even I lived just six miles away for 3-4 years in the early 1990s, and never once visited. All that changed this past autumn when I took my wife and daughter for a weekend away – something that’s nice to do when the boys are off camping with the Scouts.
The Rock City Gardens were a surprise to me. Having lived nearby I was familiar with the “See Seven States” location, but I didn’t realize everything else that was contained within the 14 acre gardens (it seemed so much bigger). The massive rock formations were like a giant playground with panoramic views from 1,700 ft above the Chattanooga Valley. Over 400 types of wildflowers, shrubs and trees are contained in this unique and fantastic place
Our daughter just loved the Fairyland Caverns and Mother Goose Village, although the 1,000 ton balanced rock, swing-bridge, 100 ft waterfall, and “Fat mans squeeze” were also favourite stops along the way. The attention to detail was reflective of the eight decades which have been invested into the original mission of “creating memories worth repeating”. The official website, www.seerockcity.com says it best in a portion of their vision statement, “Rock City remains a national treasure of botanical, geological, and entrepreneurial significance”.
There is a lot to see, so don’t rush. Allow yourself at least a couple of hours to enjoy the sights along the various walking paths.