Did I mention that vacay was fabulous? Because it was! My expectations were low...I wasn't so enthused about going to Alaska. My mom picked - and the only reason she chose Alaska is because it was the only state she hadn't visited. LOL But it was sooooo beautiful! We were very, very lucky with weather, thank goodness. It was sunny every day and in the mid-60s/low-70s every day ashore. Everywhere we went locals kept telling us how lucky we were and what a good time it was to visit. :o)
So the beginning part of the trip was a few days on land at a couple of different lodges - one south of Denali National Park and one just north of the park (like right outside the park's gate, practically) - and then a (very long) train ride to our ship. We were told that Denali (or Mt. McKinley, if you prefer, both are acceptable...locals mostly just say The Mountain) is only visible about 20% of the time. It is really
tall, you know...20320 feet tall. Whoa. So it makes its own weather and is usually wrapped in clouds. What did we see during our three days nearby?
It was really sunny and mostly clear this day too but it was hazy in the distance...there was a forest fire somewhere not too far away.
Awesome, right? Odds of seeing The Mountain three days in a row?? Really
Next up, Hubbard Glacier:
It was chilly and breezy on deck but I didn't need a coat, just fleece and a scarf and I was fine.
Then Glacier Bay:
Again, fleece and scarf were all that I needed to be comfortable on deck. In fact, we ate lunch outside while we were sailing near the Marjorie Glacier.
There was a naturalist on board that was narrating from up on the bridge. She spotted a harbor seal floating on a small iceberg and told people to look for it by trying to spot something that looked like a sausage. LOL
Do you think her description worked? Do you see him? I think he looks like an eyebrow. :-D
Then we arrived at our first port: Skagway. We took a bus ride over into the Yukon first - gorgeous!
So there we were, cruising along on our way to a barbecue lunch, looking at all the pretty scenery when our bus driver/tour guide slams on the brakes and yells "Bear!" Yup, right along the roadside was a teenage grizzly. We scared him and he ran away but I managed to catch one picture of him. Yay! (Pardon the window reflection. I didn't have time to avoid that.)
After our bus ride and lunch, we rode a narrow gauge train over the White Pass back into Skagway.
A sample view that includes the engine!:
Next up - Juneau!
We visited Mendenhall Glacier first. It's, like, right in town or the suburbs, anyway. So weird!
Then we went on a whale watching cruise. What?! We went on a boat ride when we were on a cruise to start with? Yup. :-D There was a money-back guarantee that we would see humpback whales. And we did!
We even saw a whale face
or schnozzle, at least!
Doesn't he look like he's smiling?
We also saw bald eagles and Stellar seal lions. And killer whales! The on-board naturalist said they only see killer whales about 1 of 9 trips out. And we saw two different pods!
We took SO many whale pictures, peeps! We all had cameras and the whales popped up so randomly and quickly that none of us were ever sure what kind of shots we were getting. I have to say we got a lot of pretty good ones. Lucky!
Our final port was Ketchikan. We did some shopping and went to a lumberjack show. The lumberjacks were disappointingly non-cute. :*( Then we went to Totem Bight State Park.
And did a city drive-thru tour. Here is a picture of what used to be the red-light district:
Isn't it cute?
And that was it. We sailed off into the sunset. :o)
If you're considering a trip to Alaska, I highly encourage you to go, peeps. Pictures can't compare to how amazing it was in person.
ETA: Crap! I was going to post pictures of the wildlife we saw in Denali National Park. We saw moose, caribou, more bears, and more. Have I pictured you out, peeps?
Labels: alaska, pictures, roaming, vacay, wildlife