Two weeks in Alaska

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Sep 9th, 2008, 07:14 PM
  #1
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Two weeks in Alaska

We just got back on 9/5 from our trip to Alaska which was terrific. There were some aspects that were, however, much better than expected.

For the first seven days we were on the Volendam cruise ship from Holland America that leaves from Vancouver. It made stops in Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway.

In Ketchikan, the weather was rainy but not enough to cancel our Misty Fjords Flight/Float trip. The seaplane ride was terrific and the scenery even in cloudy weather was spectacular. Going back on the boat, however, we had choppy waters. But it was worth the flight trip and we had decided to take just one because of the expense.

In Juneau we spent a lot of time in Mendenhall Glacier. The weather began clearing up and by the afternoon it was actually sunny out. The glacier was spectacular as was the setting. We caught the shuttle bus that goes directly there up and back. The price is $7.00 each way. Before getting to the glacier center, there is a walkway that is just beautiful. Many people saw bears there- we didn't!! Lots of salmon in the river.
When we returned we went to the Salmon Hatchery - something I had never done before. It was a very quick tour but interesting and you really do learn quite a bit about the life of a salmon and how they come back to the exact sight years later.
Skagway - another cloudy day! We took the Skagway railroad up to White Pass and back. We booked this through the cruise ship. However, in the afternoon I booked for myself, a hike in the Chilhoot Trail and Float trip through Southeastern Tours. The trail they take you on is the same trail that prospectors took to get to the gold! This was before the railroad was built. All of them going had to have a year's supply of food with them. When you see this trail, you just can't imagine how they did this. The weather held out and was actually warm by afternoon.

As for the cruise, it was my first and probably my last-it's just not for me. People brag about the food- there is plenty of it, but it's also pretty mediocre at times. Breakfast and lunch turned out to be much better than dinner.
We did go through Glacier Bay and College Fjord and had two spectacular sunny days. It was gorgeous and we saw the calving.

Landing in Seward, the weather was, however, really bad. Bad enough that Renown tours which we had signed up for, had to limit their Kenai Fjord tours to just the Bay area. Unfortunately all we saw were a couple sea otters and that was it. No whales. That was a disappointment.
That night we took the train to Anchorage (stunning scenery)and then a taxi to our hotel out near the airport- the Puffin Inn. You should know that it took quite a while and several phone calls to get taxis to come to the railroad station. They are not lined up there, so you need to call when you arrive. The Puffin Inn was okay for the one night we were there. Very basic.
We rented a car at the airport and then on our own went to Denali stopping at Talkeetna for lunch. By that time we had a full view of Mt. McKinley, which is also known as Denali. It is stunning and extremely moving to see this. We had lunch at Wildflowers and walked around this small delightful town a bit. There were some people selling some interesting crafts.
For the next three nights we stayed in at Touch of Wilderness B&B about 13 miles North of Denali. It's a great deal for the room and a great breakfast. Very hospitable and the inn itself is cozy and relaxing. Barbara will provide (for a fee) lunch to take with you if you're going on the shuttle which we did. We went as far as Eileison. Saw bears, moose, caribou, dall sheep and even a fox. Once again the weather was fantastic- even warm and we had a crystal clear view of the mountain. At Eileison I went on one of the free ranger tours which was really good and quite educational.
We also spent the next day at Denali's free sled dog demonstration which was a lot of fun. Then we rented ATV's- something we had never done before. That was quite an adventurous ride.. almost turned over and when that happened the guide decided I had enough. That was okay by me. It was worth the experience.
In Denali we ate at the Black Diamond which we enjoyed and twice at Rose's diner, which is great fun- very down home and reasonably priced.
All in all I would say Denali was the highlight of our trip. It was overwhelmingly awesome and humbling at the same time. It was hard to turn away from the scenery.
I'd like to thank everyone on this forum for their help. This is a trip that we had tried to go on several times, but health reasons prevented us from doing it before.
If anyone has any questions, let me know.
Susan
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Sep 10th, 2008, 03:21 AM
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glad you had a great time but so sorry the weather ruined the sealife cruise since that was one of our favorite trips.
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Sep 10th, 2008, 03:34 AM
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Sorry about the weather - I think you would have enjoyed the other places more if the weather had cooperated. We were in Alaska in June and it rained most of the time - but not as nasty as your weather.

We have been on 4 cruises and our Alaska cruise was so different from the warmer ones that I wouldn'e even put it in the same category - all fun, just very different. Other cruises I have enjoyed hanging out in the sun on a deck, just sitting in the sun reading - and there was more to do on board than eat.
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Sep 10th, 2008, 05:30 AM
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cd
 
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Thanks for the trip report susan, I too am sorry it rained on some of your parade! Sounds like you still had a good time.
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Sep 10th, 2008, 10:34 AM
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Renown tour was a good tour we did when in Alaska. I guess you can expect a little bad weather here and there, if you are in Alaska for two weeks. Sounds like you had a good trip and saw a lot.
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Sep 10th, 2008, 07:33 PM
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Just to clarify. We really only had two bad days of weather where it rained heavily. The rest of the time was either cloudy or either sunny. Sorry if I gave the impression that the weather didn't cooperate. It did, considering the reports I had heard previously about the weather.
As for the cruise. I am used to independent traveling so it was a huge change for me. However, I'm glad I had the experience.
Thanks for the comments
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