Alaskan Expedition

Posted February 16th, 2010 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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PHOTOS: Alaska

We spent a wonderful 7 days in Alaska  last June, packed with activities and experiences that would take several pages to describe. So, instead of writing a lengthy day by day , hour by hour travelogue, I’ll share some of the more noteworthy experiences that we had : watching  wildlife (both terrestrial and aquatic) in their natural wild habitat, seeing the glaciers from all possible angles and a “you-have-to-do-it-once-in-your-life” trip to bear country—each of which I’ll describe in detail in the next three posts.  But before I delve into the depths, here is a brief outline of  the whole Alaskan expedition.

TurnAgain Arm

13th June 2009: Landed in Anchorage at around 5pm, drove down along the Turnagain Arm with breathtakingly beautiful scenic stops at Potter’s Marsh and Beluga Point to Girdwood. We had a surprisingly upscale gourmet dinner at Maxine’s Bistro and stayed over night at wonderful Bed and Breakfast called “Alyeska Creek Guesthouse”, which we had all to ourselves.

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14th June:  We spent the morning at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center where we saw a preview of all the animals that we would later see in the wild and spent the  afternoon on the 26 Glacier Cruise aboard the Klondike express at Whittier.  After the cruise, that evening we drove up to Denali National Park.

Mt. McKinley

15th June: Spent the entire day viewing Denali National Park using the national park’s bus tour. We managed to see the tip of Mt Mckinley , although it was difficult to discern its triangular peak  from the clouds that swirled below the mountain Relaxed in the evening at our B&B –Juhl House

On top of the Glacier

16th June:  On our way to Seward, we stopped for a short flight to actually land on a glacier near Talkeetna, guided by the folks from FlyK2. We reached Seward that evening, and stayed at the Sea Treasures Inn by the seashore.

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17th June: Cruise at Seaward Kenai Fjords National Park , Dinner at Ray’s Waterfront and a hike in the evening to the Exit Glacier about a mile from downtown Seward — an extremely tiny town but will some excellent wall murals painted all across the town.

Sandhill Cranes

18th June: Spent the morning at the Seward Sea Life Center where we saw all the wild marine animals that we had seen the previous day in captivity, and spent the rest of the day driving  to Homer with frequent stops along the Russian river – where there were the largest crowd of people that we ever saw in Alaska—all intent on salmon fishing. We spent the night at Crane’s Rest – where there we spotted a sandhill crane family, that didn’t take too kindly to Seejo’s photography.  Dinner at a quirky little restaurant called Café Cups

Bears playing around in the wild

19th June:  Possibly the high point of the entire Alaska Trip: the Bear Viewing Trip by Emerald Isle Tour to Hallo Bay, Katmai National Park, followed by  Dinner at Homestead Restaurant—with some of the sweetest shrimps ever eaten by us followed by a drive back to Cooper’s Landing which is about halfway to Anchorage

Portage Glacier

20th June: Drive back to Anchorage , stop for a bit of gold panning at Indian Valley Mine , a glimpse of the Portage Glacier and then the red-eye flight back to Washington DC via Minnesota

There have been enough National Geographic specials that describe the natural beauty, the diversity of wildlife in Alaska, the culture and customs, so I was quite prepared for the lack of population (only around 600,000 people in a state that is just about as large as the rest of the United States), the spectacular scenic beauty, the wonderful seafood  but despite all of that there were three things out Alaska that especially remain with me when I think of Alaska:

  1. Although I knew that Alaska was home to a lot of wildlife, I was surprised to note that the dividing line between human life and wildlife is almost non-existent. Animals including moose & bear manage to wander quite close to the  main towncenter with a frequency that is to be seen to be believed.
  2. We reached there around June 13th and left late night on June 20th – just a day before the  longest day in the year. What that meant is that there was daylight for almost 24 hours when we were there. It was kind of  bizarre to see the sun just about to set around 2:30 am;  twilight would set in but before it became totally dark, dawn would be around the corner.
  3. Glaciers! We knew that they would be there but knowing that in an abstract manner and seeing them absolutely everywhere were two completely different things.

In the next few posts I’ll describe our  Glacier trips, our excursion to bear country and the wild-life that we saw in Alaska.

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