The month of March is a great time to be in Alaska’s Interior, especially for those of us who live here. The short bitter cold days of Alaska’s long winter season are by March well on their way toward becoming the long, warm days of summer. The sun that is in such famously short supply during the winter months is now returning at the rate of seven additional minutes each day. That’s almost an hour of additional sunlight gained every week! The additional sunshine and the higher trajectory of the sun combine to create increasingly warmer temperatures and by the end of the month the snow is starting to melt quite rapidly, creating slushy, muddy roads and localized flooding. As a result, April is not my favorite month in the Interior. So why would I leave the excitement and anticipation of spring in March instead of departing during the sloppy, muddy days of April? Two reasons, really. First and foremost, I reckon I’m just ready to go somewhere NOW. Although I thoroughly enjoy winter in Alaska, I’m a guy who likes to travel and for the most part I haven’t done any real travel since last fall. Secondly, I don’t do short trips. Unlike most of you who have real jobs most of the year, I have an unreal job that lasts just five months per year. During the winter I fill in with odd jobs here and there but the bottom line is that this isn’t a vacation. The way I see it, I’m just taking my life out on the road for awhile. My primary job in Denali National Park starts up in early May, so if I were to wait until April to leave, I’d have just one month to travel. While I realize that for most people that amount of time would be more than sufficient, for me it’s not. Any of you who’ve read my past trip reports know that during the spring I’m usually out and about for a good two months. This trip won’t be any different. I don’t return to Alaska until April 28th. Between now and then I’ll have flown 74590 miles, ridden over 3000 miles of rail and driven over 3000 miles around the Desert Southwest and Florida. I’ll also find time to enjoy four days of really good music while camped out along the Suwannee River in northern Florida. Mileage running will account for slightly less than half of the total air mileage. All of the train travel will be in First Class. All of the driving will be done in full sized automobiles, preferably Dodge Chargers or Chrysler 300s. This is gonna be fun! This particular trip report will cover my journey from Fairbanks, Alaska (where the temperature got down to -23°F on the night before I left) to Cape Town, South Africa (where the temperature topped out at 27°C during my brief stay). It will involve First Class air travel between Fairbanks, Alaska and Johannesburg, South Africa aboard Alaska Airlines and Cathay Pacific, followed by First Class rail travel aboard Shosholoza Meyl’s Premiere Class train between Johannesburg and Cape Town. Now I realize that these days photo reports have become the most popular format for trip reports, and while that’s all well and good, I prefer to actually write my trip reports. In this way I feel I can better describe and bring to life the pleasures of International First Class air and rail travel as I experience them. When it comes to trip reporting, my intent is not so much to entertain you with my story as it is to bring you along for the ride, and writing accomplishes that better for me than a simple collection of photos. For some of our more well traveled brethren, my style of writing results in a report that is more detailed than they would like, especially about the onboard experience, the details of which are by now mind numbingly mundane to them. I understand but I also make no apologies. My trip reports are directed toward those for whom a flight in First Class is still a special treat to be anticipated and celebrated, not simply expected. Any stiffs out there who just want the basics should go find themselves a copy of Business Traveller Magazine and check out the Tried & Tested reports. As for the rest of youse, go find yourselves a comfy chair, a favorite drink and perhaps a small plate of something tasty to snack on. This trip report is poised at the head of the runway and cleared for takeoff.