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  1. #1
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    Anchorage trip with Smart Alec and Pilot

    I just traveled to Anchorage, Alaska, for 4 days as part of a business trip, and my Tom Bihn products contributed to a successful travel, work, and sightseeing experience. While the workhorse of the travel portion of the trip was my Smart Alec, which easily held my clothes, toiletries, and chargers, my Pilot transported my electronics, work files, snacks, and water bottle. I was able to stash my Side Effect (starring as breakout purse) in the main Pilot compartment and a rolled up PCBP in the lower portion of the front side compartment (my sightseeing pack to hold extra layers, water, etc). For this trip, I finally tried the Mini SOS strap I had purchased for the Pilot, and it worked like a charm – now I understand why everyone loves the Absolute Strap so much! I had learned about the Mini SOS strap through the forum, as the Absolute Strap feels a bit long for me, but the completely extended SOS is just right. I was amazed at how the “give” in the strap really does make a load feel lighter.

    Anchorage trip with Smart Alec and Pilot-img_2670-jpgAnchorage trip with Smart Alec and Pilot-img_2671-jpg

    The first day of my trip was a fantastic experience, as AlaskaGirl was kind enough to meet me in the afternoon, and as we swapped travel tales and tips, we visited the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC), Earthquake Park, and scenic areas near the airport. I was extremely grateful that I swapped the softshell I planned to pack for a rain jacket at the last minute, as we experienced a mix of rain and snow at the AWCC. It was a treat to see a mother and baby musk ox and some other indigenous creatures, despite the weather conditions. I will add in a few photos from that first day from a scenic spot looking towards downtown Anchorage, plus a couple of views of the Chugach Mountains, the wonderful backdrop in Anchorage. My SE was my sightseeing buddy throughout the trip for exploring outside of the office.

    Anchorage trip with Smart Alec and Pilot-img_2663-jpgAnchorage trip with Smart Alec and Pilot-img_2607-jpgAnchorage trip with Smart Alec and Pilot-img_2610-jpg

    My second day the weather cooperated with a sunny day, so once I finished with work (thank you, trusty Pilot), I was able to take an evening drive to Flattop Mountain, where it was clear enough to faintly see Denali in the background, as I gazed over the city and other landmarks such as Mount Susitna aka the Sleeping Lady. Then I treated myself to a delicious Alaskan salmon dinner!

    Anchorage trip with Smart Alec and Pilot-img_2625-jpgAnchorage trip with Smart Alec and Pilot-img_2634-jpgAnchorage trip with Smart Alec and Pilot-img_2635-jpgAnchorage trip with Smart Alec and Pilot-img_2642-jpgAnchorage trip with Smart Alec and Pilot-img_2638-jpgAnchorage trip with Smart Alec and Pilot-img_2646-jpg

    My third day, after finishing with work, I was able to visit the Alaska Zoo before they closed for the day. I was very grateful I had packed my PCBP, as it held the extra layers I ended up needing, as the temperatures were in the 30s. I did feel a bit guilty as the coyotes looked at me expectantly as they closely watched me retrieve an extra layer from my backpack, perhaps hoping I had brought them a special snack. While I sometimes find zoos depressing, it was a good opportunity to see animals I would not have seen elsewhere, ranging from Dall sheep to Bactrian camels, wolves, wrestling brown bears, and Sitka deer.

    Anchorage trip with Smart Alec and Pilot-img_2649-jpgAnchorage trip with Smart Alec and Pilot-img_2657-jpg

    On my final day, I effortlessly packed up my bags, followed by a quick trip to the Alaska Museum. I very highly recommend the Smithsonian Artic Studies Exhibition there that displays a multitude of indigenous artifacts and integrates multimedia installations. For those with children, the Imaginarium had a huge variety of hands on exhibits that seemed destined to delight. Plus the gift shop has an extensive assortment of books and other gifts.

    Anchorage trip with Smart Alec and Pilot-img_2673-jpgAnchorage trip with Smart Alec and Pilot-img_2675-jpgAnchorage trip with Smart Alec and Pilot-img_2677-jpgAnchorage trip with Smart Alec and Pilot-img_2678-jpg

    I was quite pleased that I selected these bags for this trip, as every seat was taken on each of my flights. While I stowed my SA in the overhead compartment on each trip, it would have easily fit under the seat. I was also impressed that even with my SA fairly packed, I did not even need to use the waist strap - it was just that comfortable.

    Possible variations: if I were to make this same trip again, I might take my SA with my medium café bag and a folded up DLBC (mine is still on backorder) in the SA, as the Pilot may have been more bag than I needed. However, I will say that I love to fly with the Pilot, as it is so efficiently organized, and it is easy to retrieve everything I need from various compartments in flight. The advantage of having an MCB while in Anchorage is that I could have easily stashed a warm hat and gloves in the MCB, just in case conditions warranted those, as the SE was a bit petite for this. In a warmer climate, the SE works just fine.

    While the work portion of my trip may have limited my free time to explore the area, the bags I took contributed to making both the work and fun components of my trip run more smoothly. Now I am ready to go back and see more of Alaska in the summer!

    P.S. While I was able to resist the impulse, the museum's sign made me wish I could pet the musk ox!
    Last edited by NWhikergal; 03-21-2015 at 11:23 AM. Reason: Rearranging photos
    "Do one thing every day that scares you." - Eleanor Roosevelt
    "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." -Ferris Bueller

  2. #2
    Volunteer Moderator Alumni Ilkyway's Avatar
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    Your pictures just took me to a short trip to Alaska, thanks. Another post, where "just liking" seems to be not enough.
    I would have had a hard time to to pet the Musk Ox too ;-). How cool, that you got to meed AlaskaGirl! I am so looking forward to the Forum-Meetup in London myself. But honestly, I hope for a bit warmer weather.

    Ilkyway
    “Ankh-Morpork people considered that spelling was a sort of optional extra. They believed in it in the same way they believed in punctuation; it didn't matter where you put it so long as it was there.”

    By Sir Terence David John Pratchett from The Truth

  3. #3
    Forum Member Pokilani's Avatar
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    Fantastic pictures!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  4. #4
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    Wonderful! I love Alaska, and can't wait to go back.
    --Amanda

    Packing and gadget geek, collecting bags to disperse to my family.

  5. #5
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    NWhikergal, your photos are great! What kind of camera do you have?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kathy View Post
    NWhikergal, your photos are great! What kind of camera do you have?
    Kathy, I have to confess that I took all these photos with my iPhone5S with Lifeproof case. While I took an older Pentax camera also, my iPhone was so convenient to take fast photos that I mainly used that. I would love to upgrade to a nicer camera at some point with a real zoom, but for now this works for me.
    Last edited by NWhikergal; 03-21-2015 at 09:59 AM.
    "Do one thing every day that scares you." - Eleanor Roosevelt
    "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." -Ferris Bueller

  7. #7
    Forum Member binje's Avatar
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    Wonderful photos - I hope to go to Alaska sometime. Meanwhile, you have done a fine job of reinforcing my belief that I need a Dyneema Smart Alec.

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