Travel Day: East Hampton to Denali

Our Fire and Ice trip began with a 38 hour journey to the depths of the tundra. Unfortunately, that tundra was Newark Liberty International Airport. New York snow, stronger, heavier, and more cumbersome than the snow in Alaska, covered the runways and turned our departure into an overnight adventure. After hours of sitting on the plane, getting off the plane, singing a karaoke version of “Stand By Me” with the Alaska Airlines gate agents for the entire terminal, and getting back on the plane, all in hope of taking off, the pilot finally called it quits and rescheduled our flight for 9:30 the next morning. So instead of spending night 1 in Alaska, we had to spend it in lovely Newark; unfortunately we didn’t know where. The sweet Alaska Airline crew understood our situation, offered up a closet in the airport to stuff our sixty oversized bags into, and put us up in a Hilton Hotel for the night. But even the trip to the Hilton wasn’t a breeze. The air train took a solid 40 minutes to show up, and Skelly (code named Yellow Jacket) unfortunately realized he misplaced his wallet and passport and we did not find it until the following morning—phewf. At last the air train showed up, and about 25 children (and one random Newarkian) smushed into a tiny train car for an uncomfortable ride to the hotel shuttle. Just when we thought we would escape the cold and get to our beds, we had to fight to the death with other strangers to fit onto the small shuttle buses and arrive at the Hilton. After about 45 minutes of waiting, we went to our rooms and finally got a good nights rest—or more like we got a good few hours of rest. At 9:30 the next morning, we finally took off and six hours later we were in Seattle. We landed there and looked at our boarding passes for the next plane and noticed that we had 13 minutes to get off the plane and hustle to the other terminal to make our connection. Three and a half hours later, we were finally in beautiful Fairbanks, Alaska where the temperature was a balmy 39F, almost twenty degrees warmer than New York! Once we collected all our bags (none were missing!), we realized that there was no way we were going to fit all 60 of them plus 35 of us into five suburbans. We strategically stuffed all of the cars to the brim of people and bags, but there were a handful of bags that were not going to fit. Thankfully, Walgreens and AutoZone had the right tarps, bungee cords (and candy) to fit the rest of the  bags on top of the cars. With all five CB radios hooked up, we finally ascended into the mountains on the icy roads, each car blasting music and constantly bantering on the CB’s. After another two hour drive, we were warmly welcomed by Becky and Vangie at the Denali Touch of Wilderness Bed and Breakfast—a remote and comfortable log cabin—with a wonderful dinner and plenty of cozy beds and hot showers. After our delicious dinner, we slept soundly through the night to regain our energy for a busy day of dog sledding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing!

Nikki Betuel

Our extensive collection of luggage

Our extensive collection of luggage

Napping at Newark

Napping at Newark

airport

The snow-covered Newark runways

The snow-covered Newark runways

Our drive from Fairbanks to Healy

Our drive from Fairbanks to Healy