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Trip Report Alaska Trip Report - August 2011

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Wanted to give everyone an idea of our trip (not a cruise) up to Alaska.

Some caveats:
1) Weather can be varied (we had days sunny, no clouds in 70's and others rainy, super cloudy and in low 50's)
2) No mosquitos (seriously, we spent a lot of time near water or typical mosquito areas but I didn't get bitten once)
3) We wanted to balance activities, nice accomodations, and good food

8.7 - Arrive in Anchorage
Stayed: Anchorage Sheraton
Dinner: Dami Sushi
Anchorage is nice but not a whole lot to keep one there. 4th avenue is a bit cheesy and seems to cater to cruise traffic. We got in at 5:30pm so this was a good place to spend the night and grab easy dinner. Dami was good, run-of-mill sushi. We were suggested Cafe Paris

8.8 - Drove to Seward
Stayed: Holiday Inn Express
Dinner: Resurrection Roadhouse
Definitely eat at R.R...best dinner in the Seward area. Holiday Inn Express is super easy and conveinent but typical Holiday Inn. Has free breakfast and clean rooms. Try to get a room facing the water

8.9 - 8.12 - Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge
S: Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge
B/L/D: Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge
Major Highlight of the trip was this lodge. Amazing setting and really well run. It's in the heart of Aialick Bay. Call Alaska Wildland Adventure and book this now. We stayed 3 nights and wish we had done 4 nights. Saw a bear catch/eat a fish just off the deck of our personal cabin. The meals were amazing considering the lodge is in the middle of nowhere. Staff was great and the sea kayaking/hiking was amazing. Pricey but well worth it. Take a 2 hour boat ride to get there but see tons of widlife, etc.

8.12 - 8.14 - Seward, AK
S: Alaska Saltwater Lodge
D: Ray's first night, Resurrection Roadhouse second night
We used Seward as a base to explore more of the Peninsula. We visited Exit Glacier and the SeaLife Center (could miss the SeaLife Center). Also found wireless at the Sea Bean Coffee Shop. Good coffee/Ice Cream. The Saltwater Lodge was a bit non-descript but a fantastic location right on the water at Resurrection Bay. Nice alternative to the Holiday Inn Express however. I'd suggest you ask for one of the waterfront rooms.

8.14 - Whittier, AK
S: Sheraton Anchorage
This day we drove from Seward, via Whittier, to Anchorage. While in Whittier we did the 26 Glaciers Cruise. Had we not done the Kenai Fjords trip, this would have been well worth it. It felt very touristy on the boat. You get a hot meal (fish and chips) and there is a cash bar. The weather was very cloudy so didn't get the dramatic views of Prince William Sound we hoped. If you are not doing a cruise, avoid Whittier. It's a bit of a dump and there didn't appear to be any hotels or restaurants that were worthwhile. Also, there is a big tunnel that is one way for cars so be sure to check the schedule

8.15 - 8.18 - Talkeetna, AK
S: Susitna River Lodge
Talkeetna was a neat little town. It's a 2.5 hour drive north from Anchorage and, as it's a stop for the cruis ship trains, it can get overrun some times with cruise traffic. We really enjoyed the town though and the cabins at Susitna River Lodge were perfect. You're right on the river, have your own room/bathroom, and the cabins are well equipped. From Talkeetna we did a flightseeing tour with Talkeetna Air Taxi which was the 2nd major highlight of the trip. We booked in advance though that didn't seem necessary as most people just book if the weather is nice. Also, we didn't book the glacier landing but as everyone else that booked that day did, we got "upgraded" for free. Many of the travel brochures you'll see in AK have discounts in them for the Talkeetna Air Taxi and K2. Here we also went fishing with Troy at Bonefish Charters. He was fantastic and we caught a LOT of salmon. Nothing like standing in a river in Alaska catching salmon. He has worked for all the other guides in town and really knows the best spots. He also has a jet boat which makes getting out to the spots pretty fun. We chose not to have any of the fish sent back but he'd do that for you as well. Also, be sure to eat at the Roadhouse restaurant in Talkeetna. Love the biscuits and gravy but only get the half portion. We also drove up to Denali National Park from Talkeetna (about 2.5 hours one way). The park has a great visitor center but as the cruise ship train drops off there, there tend to be a lot of folks milling about that you wouldn't expect get much further from the park's entrance. Be sure to also visit the sled dog area up the street from the visitor center. Certainly better than going on one of the "sled dog rides" you see signs for as you drive around.

Happy to elaborate or answer any specific questions. To summarize:

Don't miss;
1) Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge
2) Biscuits and Gravy at Roadhouse in Talkeetna
3) Flightseeing over Denali
4) Fishing with Troy at Bonefish Charters out of Talkeetna

Can miss:
1) Whittier
2) Holiday Inn Express in Seward
3) Anchorage (except as a place to stop through)
4) 26 Glacier Cruise

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