Sunday, July 27, 2008


We just returned from our fantastic 10 day trip North to ALASKA! We went with our camping friends: Lynn and Rick Nance, Sue and Bill Laurie, and Robin and Pete Merandi. What an adventure into some of the most beautiful scenery we've ever seen!! The dense, green forests are thick with spruce, birch and pines, so thick you couldn't see through them, and colorful flowers were abundant everywhere we visited. The daylight almost doesn't end, at least for most of northern Alaska in the summer. We saw a lot of cool weather in the high 40's and 50's with some rain, but that didn't dampen our trip.

We arrived in Fairbanks, Alaska, about 1 a.m. Alaska Time (1 hour ahead of California Pacific Time) and walked out of the airport doors thinking our watches had stopped. It looked more like 5 o'clock as it was still daylight. It seems, Fairbanks is so far north that the sun doesn't truly set. It gets kind of dusk-like for about 2 hours, maybe, from 2-4 a.m. with about 22 hours of daylight for about 2-3 months in the summer! In the winter, it is dark most of the time with only about 2 hours of daylight and temperatures that can get to 60 degrees below zero!! So the long days of summer are a welcome change for the locals!

We bus toured the area the next day, taking a steamboat river ride down the Chena River, till it joins with the Tanana River (largest glacier-fed stream in the world). Glacier fed waters are a murky, gray color due to the glacier silt that flows from the melting glaciers; it is so thick it doesn't easily mix with the sea. We also visited an authentic local Chena Athabascan Indian Village; visited a working gold mine-El Dorado, where we panned for gold; and visited the famed Alaskan Pipeline.

The next day we drove to Denali National Park and toured there. Years ago the name was changed from McKinley to Denali, its original Athabascan name which means "most high." We weren't able to see the peak of Mt McKinley as it was covered in clouds, which it is about 70-80% of the year.

We did see a real, wild moose along the side of the park road, but no bears! We stayed in a lodge high on a mountainside which overlooks the Denali area-what a view!

Next day we drove to Anchorage and onto Seward our starting port of our cruise. From there we cruised to Hubbard Glacier-a truly awesome sight! We slowly made our way through the ice and iceberg pieces to within 1/4 mile of the glacier. The glacier is many shades of light teal blue and the ocean water was a murky shade of gray caused by the glacier silt runoff.
We saw bergs fall off the glacier into the bay amidst the rain causing some rolling waves. Truly a sight to behold!

From there we cruised to Juneau, Alaska's capital city-which is only accessible by boat, ship or plane! Nick and Rick went Fly-out fishing, getting to their fishing destination via a float plane in pouring rains! Despite the rain they had a fabulous time catching lots of trout (all catch and release)! The rest of us looked around shopped in downtown Juneau!

Next port stop was Skagway, Alaska, a true old Alaskan town, looked around and took the White Pass and Yukon Route train up to Bennett, Canada (at the border of the Yukon Territory and British Columbia) above the treeline. More breathtaking views of steep mountains, dense forests, waterfalls and lakes.

Then to Icy Strait Point, port stop at the Indian village of Hoonah; guys deep sea fished for Halibut, but only Rick caught one.

We headed to our last port of call in Ketchikan, where we looked around the cute seaport town and then took a boat to a remote area where we drove 2 seater ATV's-what fun that was (a surprise for me! I even liked driving it myself).

Lastly, we cruised the beautiful, breathtaking Inside Passage to our final destination of Vancouver, Canada. Our friends all flew home early in the day, while Nick and I took a city tour visiting Stanley Park (a huge park on the water in the midst of this big city). We also went to Capilano Suspension Bridge park where we walked around the park and across the long suspension bridge which crosses 200 feet in the air over a river below-boy did it sway! A great end to a great vacation!

See all our pictures:
More photos taken by Lauries: