Upcoming Alaska Trip

Old May 17th, 2016, 03:59 PM
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Upcoming Alaska Trip

As promised I will share the basics of the trip my wife of 40 years and I are taking to Alaska.
Feel free to chime in on any must sees that I miss.
Memorial Day we drive from Central Oregon to Seattle (Sea-Tac) and check in to an airport hotel.
5/31 0400 we leave the car with a valet and get the shuttle to the airport. I'm hoping we don't have 400 zombies in front of us. The plane leaves at 0600. We arrive in ANC about 0830 Alaska Time.
Pick up luggage and head downstairs to our rental car.
Head to Jackie's on Spenard Road for a big breakfast (anything better?)
Tour downtown Anchorage for a few hours. Lunch at the red umbrella food stand (reindeer sausage).
When we've see enough of downtown we head to our hotel out at Eagle River.
6/1 back into the city to see anything we have missed including the Wild Berry chocolate shop which has the world's tallest chocolate waterfall (3400lb of melted chocolate). Log a couple of geocaches including the virtual for the chocolate shop.
6/2 Leave Eagle River and gas up at the Fred Meyer on the corner. Head through Wasilla all the way to North Pole AK which will be 6 hours plus time to stop and stretch and take some pictures.
It's good that we will have over 19 hours of daylight in early June. Pick up sandwiches before checking in to the B&B in North Pole.
6/3 Get an early breakfast and grab our lunches and drive back to the entrance to Denali.
We have a 10AM reservation on a shuttle bus out to the Eilson Visitor Center. We are always hoping to have good weather on the mountain for some great pictures. We will likely see some wildlife on the shuttle bus trip out or coming back. Drive back to the B&B after Denali.
6/4 Walk or ride the (free for seniors) bus around Fairbanks to see some museums including the one at the UAF campus. Back to the car and I'll get a couple of the farthest north geocaches I'll ever find.
There is an Earth Cache at the spot where Pedro Felix found gold along the Steese Highway. It is legal to pan there. There is also a spot where you can sign a log book and actually touch the Alaska Pipeline (virtual geocache). head back to the B&B for our last night in North Pole.
6/5 (Sunday) We go to church in North Pole. DW wants to go to mass at St. Nicholas. I'll go to the Presbyterian/Methodist. We'll grab a quick lunch and then head for Palmer via Delta Junction.
If we have the time we may stop to see the yak farm before we get to Palmer. Reservation in Palmer.
6/6 Check out of Palmer and head back through Anchorage to Homer with a side trip to Hope for another geocache. We have a reservation at another B&B in Homer with a view overlooking the bay.
6/7 See as much of the Seward Peninsula as we can including a visit to the toe of the Exit Glacier (another Earth Cache) north of the town of Seward. We may also find the time to take a boat trip to see another glacier. Head back to the B&B in Homer for a second night.
6/8 Check out of Homer Stay & Play and head back through Anchorage back to Palmer (Eagle Hotel). See anything we missed in Anchorage or Wasilla. Eagle River is not available for this night.
6/9 Thursday Check out of Palmer Eagle Hotel. Get gas at Fred Meyer in Eagle River and head back into Anchorage. Turn in rental car at the airport by 7:30PM. Have a great meal at the airport. Check in for our red eye flight back to SEA (leaves 12:30AM).
6/10 morning back in SEA and pick up car and head back to Central Oregon. We intend to collapse in our own bed Friday night
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Old May 17th, 2016, 04:35 PM
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Just curious as to why you are going to Palmer at the end of your trip, as opposed to staying a night in Girdwood, for example.

Whittier is spectacular, just so you know. We just went on a glacier cruise there this past weekend, in beautiful weather.
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Old May 17th, 2016, 05:44 PM
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It is the Kenai Penninsula, not Seward. Idk, I think the day trip from Homer to Seward and the Exit Glacier is too much driving for the day. Spend the day around Homer. Then plan a night or two in Seward. I loved Seward. The setting is so beautiful. The Kenai Fjord trip is wonderful. We did the 8 hour trip. The longer the better.
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Old May 17th, 2016, 09:43 PM
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Do Seward on your way back. Use the second full day to take a boat trip across Kachemak Bay to Halibut Cove, or Seldovia. Driving to Seward and back from Homer, in one day, will be too much.

I am still puzzled about the Eagle Hotel, and trust me, as a resident, you will not be missing anything in Wasilla, lol.
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Old May 18th, 2016, 03:58 AM
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Tom, I'm shocked that you're not taking the train to Denali. What's up with that???
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Old May 18th, 2016, 06:09 AM
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I got a good deal on a rental car that I reserved before the cruise boats set their schedule.
I would have gone back to Eagle River if there was a room available for the last night.
Their was nothing I could afford available in Seward so I stuck with Homer.
I am earning 50 Amtrak Guest Rewards points per day on the car rental.
I am earning Wyndhan points at the Microtel in Eagle River.
The arrival of a couple of cruise ships to Alaska during the time we are in Alaska made prices go up and availability of moderately priced rooms go down.
If I ever go back to Alaska I probably will ride the Alaska Railroad to Fairbanks and rent a car there to go back to Denali.
Does anyone know about the paddle wheeler in Fairbanks and whether it is worth the price?
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Old May 18th, 2016, 06:38 AM
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Have a great meal at the airport.

Err, there are not the choices at the ANC airport that you might assume. Instead, make a reservation at Simon and Seafort's downtown on L St., and enjoy the inlet view, before the short drive to return the rental car.

I hope you are in a mileage program, with a board room at the airport, since you are in for a lonnnng wait, once there.

Alternatively, you could have dinner at the Millennium and watch the floatplanes come and go, stroll along the lake, and cab back across the road at a later time, on a nice evening.
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Old May 18th, 2016, 07:11 AM
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Is Chili's with bottomless salsa and chips a better choice than the Norton Sound Seafood?
I think I will have seen all that I want to on my third or 4th time in the city.
Lets hope that we can have a meal (maybe not great) at the airport after we turn in the car at 7:30 and be able to get to our gate by midnight.
Any reports about Jackie's on Spenard for or first breakfast?
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Old May 18th, 2016, 07:37 AM
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The paddle wheeler in Fairbanks was a nice way to spend half a day until we flew back home, but I totally don't know how much it cost.

We boarded the ship, the captain had a friend who was a bush pilot who did a water landing and take off in front of the boat. Then we stopped close to the shore at the Bucher home to see sled dogs and puppies and had a demonstration of them at work. Then we went up to where there was a reproduction of a small village with a salmon wheel in front and several buildings. The crew/docents were Native Alaskan girls who go to the University in Fairbanks but at least one of them lived with her family who still lived mostly the old style. She had bagged a caribou the day before to fill the family larder.

We had an hour or so to explore the "village", watch demonstrations, including some with huskies
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Old May 18th, 2016, 07:48 AM
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>

About 6 hours total. Not fun.
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Old May 18th, 2016, 09:08 AM
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At least 3 of the 10 days I plan to be driving at least 6 hours with at least 45 minutes of walking twice during the day.
The Earth Cache at Exit Glacier involves using the GPS to measure the rate that the glacier is retreating since the 1930's.
Along the trail are signs that show where the toe of the glacier was in various years.
I'll have to be out quite late to get a good sunset picture.
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Old May 18th, 2016, 09:25 AM
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Lets hope that we can have a meal (maybe not great) at the airport after we turn in the car at 7:30 and be able to get to our gate by midnight.

No worries there. You will have a good three hours to kill while waiting. ANC airport is relatively small, compared to larger metro airports.
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Old May 22nd, 2016, 05:46 AM
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Topping for other planners traveling to Alaska this year.
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Old May 23rd, 2016, 07:36 AM
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I really don’t like this trip/itinerary. Have you looked at and plotted it on a map? You are duplicating many routes/drives by ‘basing’ yourself . You are driving too far in a day on many of them. You are spending too much time in Anchorage and not enough time in the better AK communities.

Head to Jackie's on Spenard Road for a big breakfast (anything better?)
- I like Snow City a lot better than Jackie’s, but they are two different styles. Snow City is more a ‘gourmet’ breakfast (reservations necessary), and Jackie’s is a ‘greasy spoon’ type. Comparable to Jackie’s, and I think better is Kava’s (searchable).

“Tour downtown Anchorage for a few hours. Lunch at the red umbrella food stand (reindeer sausage).When we've see enough of downtown we head to our hotel out at Eagle River. 6/1 back into the city to see anything we have missed including the Wild Berry chocolate shop which has the world's tallest chocolate waterfall (3400lb of melted chocolate). Log a couple of geocaches including the virtual for the chocolate shop.”
- ANC is great but the rest of AK is way better, I’d recommend doing the rest of AK first and if there was time left over, then touring ANC.

“6/2 Leave Eagle River and gas up at the Fred Meyer on the corner. Head throughWasilla all the way to North Pole AK which will be 6 hours plus time to stop and stretch and take some pictures.It's good that we will have over 19 hours of daylight in early June. Pick up sandwiches before checking in to the B&B in North Pole.”
- Your 6 hours of driving is very low.You will be slowed by traffic, construction, scenery,etc.

“6/3 Get an early breakfast and grab our lunches and drive back to the entrance to Denali. We have a 10AM reservation on a shuttle bus out to the Eilson Visitor Center. We are always hoping to have good weather on the mountain for some great pictures. We will likely see some wildlife on the shuttle bus trip out or coming back. Drive back to the B&B after Denali.
- From NP you’ll need near 3 hours to reach Denali (possibly more) & 3 hrs back

“6/4 Walk or ride the (free for seniors) bus around Fairbanks to see some… along the Steese Highway. It is legal to pan there.”
- if you intend to pan,make sure you are not on someone’s claim!

“6/5 (Sunday) We go to church in North Pole. DW wants to go to mass at St. Nicholas. I'll go to the Presbyterian/Methodist. We'll grab a quick lunch and then head for Palmer via Delta Junction.”
- a beautiful drive. If you’ve time when going thru Paxson, head the 1st 20 miles in the Denali Hwy (this part is paved)

“6/6 Check out of Palmer and head back through Anchorage to Homer with a side trip to Hope for another geocache. We have a reservation at another B&B in Homer with a view overlooking the bay.”
- count on 8 to 9 hrs behind the wheel of your car today

“6/7 See as much of the Seward Peninsula as we can including a visit to the toe of the Exit Glacier (another Earth Cache) north of the town of Seward. We may also find the time to take a boat trip to see another glacier. Head back to the B&B in Homer for a second night.”
- IMO It’s unreasonable to make day trip to Seward from Homer.

“6/8 Check out of Homer Stay & Play and head back through Anchorage back to Palmer (Eagle Hotel). See anything we missed in Anchorage or Wasilla. Eagle River is not available for this night.”
- more time in ANC?

“6/9 Thursday Check out of Palmer Eagle Hotel. Get gas at Fred Meyer in Eagle River and head back into Anchorage. Turn in rental car at the airport by 7:30PM. Have a great meal at the airport. Check in for our red eye flight back to SEA (leaves 12:30AM).”
- You’ve already been through Palmer?
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Old May 23rd, 2016, 07:37 AM
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"I'll have to be out quite late to get a good sunset picture."
- It's the middle of June. It won't get dark (unless it's overcast). There won't be any good sunset pictures.
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Old May 23rd, 2016, 08:33 AM
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I too am not very keen on this plan, but it sounds like arrangements have all been made and aren't changeable at this point. True?

IMO you're spending way too much time in the Eagle River/Palmer/Wasilla corridor. No offense intended to locals, but there's so much more you could do and see with the same time elsewhere. Just sayin'.

Why North Pole? Or is the whole Fairbanks part of the trip based on geocaching targets? Doing a day trip to Eielson from North Pole sounds nothing short of exhausting. And what if the weather's socked in?

Returning to Anchorage via Glennallen and the Glenn Hwy is lovely, but if you want really spectacular scenery, the Richardson Hwy south from Glennallen to Valdez is probably (my view) the most beautiful road in the state. I would happily forgo the Denali Hwy spur in order to head past Glennallen (maybe 90 min.) to Thompson Pass. Either way, this will be a grueling road day and no mistake.

It's probably too late for alternative suggestions, and you'll have a great time regardless. Fair warning, you'll probably get the bug and be planning your next trip before you know it.
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Old May 23rd, 2016, 08:53 AM
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Here is the Earth Cache page that says it is OK to pan in Pedro Creek. https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/...3-49fed70476d0
I am perfectly happy to drive up to 8 hours on a couple of days with 7-8 hours outside the car sightseeing and 9 hours at a hotel or B&B.
The moderately priced suitable rooms in many places were booked when I checked. I'm guessing the cruise ship operators snap them up for their customers.
I may switch the visit to Seward to the day we go back to Palmer.
My 2 sources say that it takes 6 hours to go from Eagle River to North Pole Alaska. We will make several stops to stretch and pick up lunch for the next day.
Legal sunset in Anchorage is 11:25PM on June 9. I'm hoping for a good sunset from a window at the airport.
Thanks for the breakfast suggestion. I'd rather go to a greasy spoon than a place that takes reservations for breakfast.
The geocaching website is good for getting driving directions to the caches from an address you pick.
I'm doing Earth Caches on the road into Denali and at Exit Glacier near Seward. I would have spent a night in Seward if it was available.
I just found out that the Costco in Anchorage has gas so I'll skip the stop at Fred Meyer on the way back to Anchorage.
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Old May 23rd, 2016, 08:56 AM
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IMO you're spending way too much time in the Eagle River/Palmer/Wasilla corridor. No offense intended to locals, but there's so much more you could do and see with the same time elsewhere. Just sayin'.

Yes, that was my thought as well, in addition to some exhausting day driving. A few hundred hotel points is no comparison, to an easy trip to Whittier, then an overnight in Girdwood or Anchorage, vs. another slog up the Glenn Highway to spend a night.

My opinion is based on an Alaska resident viewpoint. I realize it's your time and money.
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Old May 23rd, 2016, 02:05 PM
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Thanks jetset1. I saved about $30 by switching to a cheaper place on the east side of Anchorage (Arctic Tern Inn) for the last night in Alaska.
There was nothing available in Girdwood for that night.
I will stop in Girdwood to see the folks at the USFS Ranger station and let them know that I'll be starting on Monday with the USFS in Oregon as a fire lookout.
They have a nice ammocan geocache in the Ranger Station.
I'm hoping to log at least 10 geocaches while we are in Alaska.
Any chance of a GTG with an Alaskan resident?
[email protected]
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Old May 23rd, 2016, 02:21 PM
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Yes Gardyloo I/we will likely go back to Alaska to see whatever we missed. The next major trip will be to Hawaii so that I can join the 50 state club.
I have found geocaches in 42 states over the last 11 years.
The reservation is set for 10 AM for the shuttle ride into Denali (paid). The mountain will probably be socked in but we should get some wildlife pictures.
There is a well hidden small geocache hidden on "Old No. 5" in Palmer. I'll look for up to 15 minutes before giving up.
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