19.08.2015 - 19.08.2015
This would be our first Alaska trip. I had booked it a year ago and it was here before we knew it. My travel agent was taking a group on this trip. Usually Jim and I travel alone. Would we be sorry to be in a group. I am not a fan of bus trips or organized groups. Usually I spend hours researching and planning tours to do. This is the first time I left it up to my friend Michele and travel agent. I made very few decisions before the trip This would turn out to be one of the best organized and ran trips we have done.!!!!!!
Travel days are always long but at least you are always excited when starting the trip, We left home and drove to Chicago and tried a new place to eat before getting to the airport. We ate at Hubcaps and really enjoyed this 50's diner. They have swing dance during the week, We would love to try it sometime. Ballroom dancing is a hobby of ours. We arrived at O hare at 230 for a 450 United Flight. We had gotten lucky and had pre check so we were through security in no time. I had brought one large checked bag 48# and two carry on luggage. I hoped I had brought the right type of clothes, I am used to warm weather vacations. Layering is the key, I found a long sleeve shirt and vest was all I ever needed and a light weight coat that folded up in to its own pocket. Uneventful flight except I did not realize it was a 6 and !/2 hour flight, Ugh at least the movies helped pass the time.
We arrived and took transfer bus to Anchorage Marriott down town. Once you got off bus they had your room keys ready and we did not have to check in just went to our room. One nice thing on land portion we never had to handle our bags except to put outside our hotel room and they would be picked up.
A group of 12 of us went out to eat at Humpy's. Food was good. Service excellent our waitress took our order for all of us and never wrote anything down. Several people had salmon burgers. They had several beers on tap and we had our first Alaskan white beer which we enjoyed. We got to bed at 330 am our time withe the 4 hour time distance.
Tuesday June 23
We got up early and took a walk around Anchorage. The thing that impressed us was how beautiful the flowers are. You forget they are getting 23 hours of sunlight this time a year so the foliage is full and much further along than in the lower 48.
We boarded the Wilderness Express just a few blocks away. I had read about the glass domed cars but it exceeded my expectations and then some. What a great way to travel and view the scenery and photo opportunities along the way.The bar and dinning car were top notch.
There had been bad forest fire recently with evidence in the picture.
This was the mug shots of our group. What a fun group of people that we enjoyed getting to know.
The Wilderness train.
The rail construction began in 1904 but was not really successful until President Woodrow Wilson was given authority to build in 1914, They changed the starting point to Ship Creek and that is when Anchorage was developed.The railroad would take 4 years to complete.We would pass through towns Wasilla, Willow, Talkeetna, and we would get off at Denali Park Station.
Alaska was purchased from Russia in 1867 for 7.2 Million and became a territory in 1912 and the 4th state in 1959.
It was a 8 hour ride but the time went fast. The dining car was like going back in time and I felt like I was on the train like when filming White
Christmas. I had blueberry pancakes with birch tree syrup and reindeer sausage.Jim had seafood special with Alaskan crab, shrimp, scallions and havarti cheese with potatoes and biscuit. For lunch we had sandwiches and Jim had Reindeer chilli, The bloody Mary and coffee drinks were outstanding.
Denali Park Village was our home for the night.
We started out on a hike and was enjoying when we heard a loud crack of thunder and made it back to the lodge just in time.
We went to Michele and Dougs room and I helped her make up snacks for the Denali trip tomorrow. We got into her Jack Daniels Cinnamon fireball and did not eat supper. To bed at 1000,
Our tour started early at 0515 Thanks to Michele we had a pop tart breakfast! We were ready to start the Denali Natural history tour and tundra wilderness tour.We would go deep into Denali National Park and see moose, wolves, caribou and Dall sheep among the spectacular backdrop of valleys and mountains.We upgraded to the Tundra Wilderness Tour for an additional 63$ a person This 8 hour tour is on converted school bus 53 miles one way. It was led by out driver Jen who was very experienced and provided a narrative. they also have a camera that allows them to zoom in and show us things on pop down screen. We got a snack box and water to eat along the way.
515 was an early start but we were treated to this
It got exciting fast when we saw this large moose close to bus
Scenery between sightings of animals
Next up would Be a caribou going the other direction that would get startled and turn around and come right at us.
This cute little guy was posing for us while he ate.
Another colorful caribou
Polychrome Pass gets it’s name from the colorful volcanic rocks that you can see from the overlook, but the name could also be applied to the colorful vegetation
Toklat River is an area of merging glacial rivers and towering cliffs. Dall Sheep are often seen on the steep rocky hillsides and grizzlies sometimes graze the riverbed’s soapberries or grassy hillsides.
The only thing about the land portion that I had a complaint about is after 8 hour Denali tour they had you get on bus again for 4 hour ride to Talkeetna. Even with all my extra padding in my rear it was way toooo long.
We walked 2 and half miles to the picturesque town of Talkeetna. We ate caribou burgers and caught the shuttle back to lodge.
Talkeetna Lodge was beautiful we had a late start of 10 am. We got up and walked early and then ate breakfast with Art and Sally and Phylis and Chuck..
Walk before breakfast
Turnagain Arm is a waterway into the northwestern part of the Gulf of Alaska. It is one of two narrow branches of Cook Inlet, the other being Knik Arm.
Our group from land tour and bus driver Nick
We stopped in Anchorage for lunch on our own and then was on our way to Girdwood 40 miles south, We were staying in Hotel Alyeska by far the nicest with a view unsurpassed by glaciers, free shuttle by cable car to top with unbelievable view.We stopped for a drink at 7 glacier restaurant.
Aerial tram at Alyeska
Trails and view from top
Supper was in Garwood at chair 5
Hike in morning
While eating breakfast was treated to moose and baby coming to pond to take a swim
We left at 10 am to take bus to Seawad
We had tickets to Seward Center included
We got to Millennium for cruise at 115 and was on in 5 minutes we were in room 2059
after life boat drill Michele asked us if we wanted to go to Qsine
With an ipad you take a culinary journey. Dishes are made to share. Each person orders one. are favorites were spring rolls, sushi lollipops,painters Mignon, Lava crab, disco shrimp, treseviche.Lots of fun and laughter. We got done at 1030 pm
Hubbard Glacier We would enter Yakutat bay and see sweeping mountain vistas, hanging glacial valleys, icebergs and glacier This tidewater glacier may be a bit of sleeping giant. Off the coast of Yakutat—200 miles NW of Juneau—Hubbard is certainly gigantic: it's more than six miles wide where it meets the ocean.
It’s also been very active in the past, having had two major surges in the past 30 years. Those surges were big enough to cross the bay, turning the fjord into a lake and threatening to flood the coastal town of Yakutat.
For now, the glacier isn’t surging, but you could say that it’s a pretty light sleeper— it does calve a lot. The face is up to 400 feet tall, and icebergs 3 to 4 stories in height aren’t uncommon.
Granted, most of that ice is below water, but the ice can be so thick that cruise ships can’t get too close. In the right conditions, however, your ship might be able to get within 1/2 mile of the face.
We had a pub crawl with Michele and Ester and a poker run with prizes and finished up in back of boat to watch approaching of Hubbard Glacier
Up and ate breakfast in dining room
Formal night is much more casual in Alaska. Most wore jackets and some tuxes
our waiter \
Larry and Terri =https://photos.travellerspoint.com/690915/3517E4ACEF4116011445E988442E1CD7.jpg]
Terry and Chery
Jack and Karen
Doug and Michele
Jim and Cindy
Juneau Sunday June 28th
Juneau is the only state capital that is inaccessible from a car--you have to arrive via cruise ship, air, or ferry.
I loved the pace of the day today. We ate breakfast with Doug and Michele in the dining room. We got off the ship at 1030 and got tickets for van to take to Mendenhall Glacier for 20$ a person. This would be one of the least expensive days of trip. When we got there we could walk around and take trails to get closer. You could do this at your own pace and there would be a van to take you back. On route to glacier we saw our only cub bear but no pictures because in the van.
Mendenhall Glacier lies just 12 miles from downtown Juneau, which explains its popularity. Visitors can walk to Mendenhall Lake at the foot of the glacier via the wheelchair-accessible Photo Point Trail. Several other trails offer opportunities to view the glacier and the wildlife of Alaska's Tongass National Forest. Admission to the trails and glacier viewing area is free; the Visitor Center charges a small admission fee during the summer months.
Tonight's entertainment was in my opinion the best of the cruise. Yulia and Alan Reva from the National Olympic team of Russia the most sought after dancers and acrobats who together form a unique and breathtaking performance full of charisma and incredible acrobatic skills.
Skagway means home of North wind.The White Pass and Yokon Route was born in the Klondike Gold rush of 1898, Some prospectors chose the shorter but steeper Chilkoot Trail. Others choose the longer less steep White pass trail. Three thousand horses died on the white pass trail. Men immediately began to think of easier ways to travel and the Northern Pacific railroad would be built up the canyon of the white pass. One hundred thousand men and women headed north. Only 30 thousand made it. Only a few hundred would become rich.
In only five months between July and November of 1898 the United States Mints in Seattle and San Francisco received ten million dollars of Klondike Gold. By 1900 thirty eight million dollars had been recorded the result of the largest gold rush the world has ever known.
. We got off ship and did White pass scenic railway on our own 20$ each. We took van up and train down the pass. James was our driver up and a great story teller, He had us mesmerized and the van was church quiet while he was talking. His story was of a friend passing and what was left to him from the box on the piano. He had an accent from Ireland and we learned later he was a retired priest from Ireland. I was glad we did the van up and train down instead of round trip on train. It was nice getting out at water falls.
ICY STRAIGHT POINT
Icy Strait This is the real Alaska small town. Not a lot of cruise ships go to Icy Strait Point and that is what makes it so special only one ship at a time. Michele had the whole whale watching excursion booked with our group. We went 15 miles out and it was mesmerizing watching the pod of whales hang out,
We took a nature trail and walked back along the water and even saw a whale close to shore.
We landed on lake and got out on pontoons to soak up all the beauty.We had originally had a float plane scheduled for today, Five days ago 9 people we killed when they crashed into mountain in Misty Ford. Our excursion was cancelled while they were investigating incident. Floatplanes are the way of life in Ketchikan. Jim still wanted to go but we had relented it was not to be. We were just planning on wandering around the cute little town. We got a text from our travel agent who is always working and wanted to know if we were still interested. She had found a reputable floatplane company, We got off ship and went to check then out and decided to go. Lightening could not strike twice right. What a great time it was a clear day so not so misty in Misty Fords. We ended up going withe Michael and Patty who were in Micheles group. Thanks Michele for making one of Jim's bucket lists come true.
I went in to get a shower and regret I missed this lovely walk Jim did after seeing the pictures
Michele had a private martini tasting and it was great to get together one last time
Thursday was cruising the inside passage
Friday Vancouver, We met at 0830 and Michele had gotten us a bus to transfer us to airport. Several peoples luggage was over 50 pounds and Jim help the ones in our group with his handy scale.
At airport we were pre checked again. I saw them looking and looking at my suitcase. Sure enough when they opened it had all the liquids that were suppose to be checked. I sighed and the TSA lady said you can not carry this on.I looked at Jim who had made the mistake and said well I guess my perfect husband of 36 years is not so perfect. The lady looked at Jim and smiled and winked and said I think he is still perfect you two get out of here.We thanked her profusely and were on our way.Great ending to wonderful vacation