Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Alaska Cruise - Part II

Part II of the Alaska Cruise Tour was a land tour.

After landing in Seward, Alaska, you should take the shuttle into town.  It’s nothing special, but you can pick up a few remaining souvenirs.  Seward was mile 0 of the original 938 mile trip to Nome that later became the Iditarod Race.  After lunch back on the cruise ship, we boarded the bus to Anchorage.  The bus driver did stop a few times for us to stretch and take pictures. 

At this point, we noticed we were the youngest on the bus.  When they found out that we were in Alaska for my 30th birthday, they were pretty shocked at how old I was because they thought we were in college! YEAH! 

When you arrive, be sure to take a walk around town in Anchorage.  During our walk, we found a kiosk that was selling Reindeer dogs – dinner - yummy!  We also found a sign telling us how far we were from various towns around the world (3322 miles from home!). 

Because we were so far north, the sun never went down.  We had a dusk and a dawn, but never a dark.  During our land tour, there was 19 ½ hours of sunlight each day.  The hotel rooms had room darkening shades though so don’t worry about that.

The next morning, we were up and out early to get on the McKinley Explorer Rail for a train trip to Denali National Park.

The train car had glass all around so you had an amazing view of the beautiful scenery.

The best part of the train trip was seeing Mount McKinley which only 33% of the people that come to this area get to see!

The worst part of the train trip was the food service.  It was super slow and the food was fair.  They do have alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and some had Alaskan names like the one I had was called “Moose Kiss.”  Once we arrived at the McKinley Chalet, we walked around the resort area, got dinner, and saw yet another sign telling us how far we were from various towns around the world.

We started the next morning with the Natural History Tour of Denali.

Denali is HUGE so you won’t be able to conquer it in 1 day, but we got a nice taste of it and saw a few animals – a moose, a red fox, and some caribou. 

There are other tours that you can choose from that go further into Denali but they are much longer trips.  Many that went on those tours saw much more wildlife than we did.

At the end of the tour, we got to see the park’s sled dog camp.  Then, it was time to board the train again, this time bound for Fairbanks.  Once we got there, we toured the town.  It seemed almost deserted, but alas we saw yet another sign telling us how far we were from various towns around the world and within Alaska.

Our last day in Alaska started off with a cruise on a sternwheeler riverboat.  Four-time defending Iditarod champion, Lance Mackey, was waiting for our boat when we got back to the dock!  We got our picture with him, his sled, and 1 of his dogs. 

Then, we boarded the bus to the Gold Dredge No. 8 where we got a tour and panned for gold. 

Next, we got to pull over and touch a piece of the Alaskan pipeline. 
Then, we were off to North Pole, Alaska for some Christmas ornament shopping and to sit on Santa’s lap.

We arrived back at the hotel to say goodbye to our new friends before jumping on the airport shuttle for our 1 am flight home.  The end of an amazing trip!

You’ve got to go to Alaska!  After my first Alaska post this week, I actually heard from one of our friends that we met on the cruise, Chris from Belgium.  He's a facebook friend and he's been reading this blog.  He's a great photographer and offered some of his pictures for this blog.  Thanks Chris.  Here are just a few of the pics I I wanted to share.

Photo taken by Chris

The glacier was falling into the bay while we were there.  Photo by Chris.

He actually saw whales up close and a lot of them.  We didn't see them this well.  Photo by Chris.

The Statendam - Our Cruise Ship.  Photo by Chris.
If you know of anywhere else in Alaska we should check out, please leave a comment below.  See you next week when we explore what’s just round the corner in Arizona.

**Photos by Lori or me unless otherwise noted.

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