Packing for Mom's Bucket List

My mom announced a few months ago that she wanted to drive to Alaska. We live in Dallas. That's over 15,000 miles... just in case you were wondering.

My mom, Gloria, is a 72-year-old widow who's had 3 hip replacements. Yes, three. My husband, who is not known for generosity (Don't worry, there is a GREAT, amazing man in there), told me to quit my job and take my mom on her bucket list road trip. So I walked out of my corporate job of 7 years for the last time this past Friday afternoon. It was surreal and liberating and terrifying - all at the same time. 

Back to the trip...

My mother, bless her heart, just wanted to "wing it" and stop at all of the interesting places until she got to Alaska. [Some backstory: approximately 25 years ago, my grandmother and three of her best friends set out on an overnight trip that turned into a road trip to Alaska (from South Carolina). They had the time of their lives.] So we asked her one night, what's the one thing you want to see in Alaska (and showed her A LOT of internet pictures). She said, "Denali". I burst into laughter and said, "well, that's something we have to plan." I called Kantishna Air Taxi the next day. They had 2 days at the Skyline Lodge in August remaining when I called in April. I booked them immediately and told my mom there was no backing out: we were going to Alaska. 

The more research we did, the more I realized, trips like this are usually planned a year or two in advance: not a month or two in advance. Accommodations (that were reasonably priced) were scarce in many areas, so we decided to camp in some places, because dropping $800/night on a condo in Jackson Hole is unwise when you just quit your corporate job and for assorted other reasons. Camping was a good alternative, because my husband and I already have a lot of gear, so only supplemental necessities remained. We've been planning and scheduling for the better part of a month now and still have so much to do. This past weekend we went to one of my favorite stores, REI: where mom was consumed by the thought of needing everything from snow pants to a hand crank radio to freeze dried neapolitan ice cream. (In true REI trip fashion, we ate the ice cream before getting home.) Note: I do the same thing every time I go to REI. I want all of the things. 

Here is our packing list (excluding my mom's clothes, because she still can't decide what to pack; we leave in 11 days). (Strike that. 4 days, at the time of this post.):

Camping gear

  • Thule car top carrier that we bought second hand from a friend (Thanks, Scott!)
  • Mountain Hardwear Drifter 2 2-person tent
  • 2 - REI Trekker 1.75 sleeping pads (I borrowed Trey's and my mom will use mine. The bags have the same numbers, but Trey's is definitely bigger than mine.)
  • REI sleeping bag (I have no idea the rating on it... I've had it forever.)
  • Kelty sleeping bag (Mom got a deal on Amazon and since weight wasn't an issue, this bag suited her needs perfectly.)
  • 1 - Yeti Hopper 40 cooler (We have the original, but I've linked the Hopper 2 new version.)
  • 2 - Kelty Redwing bags that Trey and I each had way before we got married. The link is to the new version.
  • 1 - 7 day BearVault
  • 2 - Jetboil Flash stoves plus 2 - 230 gram fuel canisters and 1 - 100 gram canister
  • Katadyn water filtration system (just in case)
  • 2 - Opinel No. 8 pocket knives
Some of the gear

Some of the gear

Photography Gear


Let me state, I feel like I am packing way too many clothes, but my husband (who I'm sure wants to discourage me from buying anything on this trip) continues to doubt this. Noted that I do need a pair of gloves.

Typing all of this was exhausting, but I'm beyond excited to get this show on the road.