Last Summer, I entered a contest on the Hilton Garden Inn Facebook page on a bit of a whim. It was late, I was doing research in Facebook (or avoiding homework, more likely), saw their “Life’s Ultimate To Do List” contest and was curious about the consumer experience on the back end, so I entered it. Yes, the social media geek in me entered a contest just to see the back end of it.
Fast forward a few months to when I received notification from Hilton Garden Inn that I was one of eleven winners for the contest. I couldn’t believe I’d won, since it meant I’d be going to Alaska on a cycling adventure. See, riding a bike in all 50 states has recently been added to my bucket list, so when I entered the contest, I shared that and picked the state that I thought others would laugh at and would never win. Everyone wants to go to Hawaii or Florida or California. Who would have thought they’d send me to Alaska!? I never expected to win (doesn’t everyone say that about a contest?), and purposely picked a place where no one would go nor send me. The entire concept of this trip was just crazy to me and here I was, going. To make it even more insane, the trip had to be completed by December 31…and I wouldn’t be able to take vacation until after Thanksgiving.
And so began the #AlaskaAdventure. Once I established I was going during the Christmas holiday, I started researching gear, bikes, and my destination. Dayna and the team at Emanate PR planned all of the details of my travel and accommodations in Anchorage (the Hilton Garden Inn leg of the trip), and I took their hard work and extended three days into ten. I worked with Aaren at the Alaska Railroad to craft the perfect solo adventure and to see as much of Alaska as possible. Billy at Arctic Cycles took care of my bike and gear needs. Nick connected me with his Alaskan friends including Valette, John, Marian Call, Karen, Michael, and MANY others. And I started preparing to be very, very cold. The Alaska Adventure proved to be the trip of a lifetime, complete with a bike ride around Anchorage, a 14-hour train ride through the Alaskan wilderness, and a trip into the Arctic Circle.
I traveled by myself to a place few people ever dream of going. I met people who were more generous with their time and energy than some “friends” of mine. I saw some of the most stunning scenery in the world. I stood outside in unbelievably cold temperatures and watched the Aurora Borealis move in the sky. I encountered a moose. I took nearly 3,000 photos. And I crossed Alaska off the list.
Thanks to Hilton Garden Inn for giving me the opportunity to take this adventure. Thanks to Ann who very, very generously lent me her expensive camera since I didn’t have one of my own. Thanks to everyone who supported my wild adventure, offered ideas and suggestions, and followed along on the Alaska Adventure. I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed capturing them.
If you want details about any part of my adventure, I’m happy to share – just leave a comment.