Read about our trip on our Someday Travel Blog.
Wayne & Valerie and our travelers sailed within a 1/2 mile of the fantastic Hubbard Glacier. It is one of the glaciers expanding rather than retreating. In fact, when the earth is warming the Hubbard Glacier actually expands and when it is cooling, it retreats. I guess you can say our global warming is actually making this glacier expand. Regardless, when we entered the glacier area it was on a Sunday morning and so quiet and peaceful. It truly is a remarkable site to see. We return to Alaska in August 2013. This is worth the trip.
Here Wayne and Valerie sit on a "dog sled on wheels" ready to experience a stimulating 1/3 mile trail with an actual dog sled team anxious to pull us at full speed. The Iditarod dog sled race is run every winter and covers over 1000 miles over the most brutal conditions, over rivers, mountains and in temperatures reaching -40 degrees. The sleds are pulled by teams of 16 highly trained dogs and it takes from 10-15 days to cover the trail. We stopped in Wasilla to visit their historic site with displays of past and current races. The first race was actually a race of life and death. An epidemic broke out in the 1950's in Nome and the only way to get the serum there was by dog sleds. It saved the village. With the increase of railroad traffic and cars in Alaska, the race was initiated to rekindle the love and practical uses for dog sleds. The first race was called the Serum Race and was changed to the Iditarod. We will visit Wasilla again in August of 2013
The White Pass Railway in Skagway follows the same trail the gold miners did in the Gold Rush of 1898. The trail twists and turns up the mountain for 20 miles until reaching the U.S. and Canadian border. From there the prospectors needed to travel another 500+ miles trek to reach the gold fields. This railroad trip is surely worth the visit to Skagway and also won't soon be forgotten. Passengers leaned out the sides of the RR car to capture some fantastic pictures.
A fabulous picture of Mt. McKinley in Denali National Park. It is the tallest mountain in North America and visitors to Alaska have only a 30% chance to see its top, and we saw it twice...most amazing according to our guide. The mountain is so tall that it actually generates its own weather and that is why that within 10 minutes the view can be as clear as this one, or totally obscured by clouds. Valerie got this magnificent shot and it is one not many people get to see, much less photograph.
Here are floating planes docked on their water runways in Anchorage. Up north, these planes are the very lifeline of a village or city. Cities, even like Juneau which is the Capital of Alaska, can only be reached by airplane or boat. In the upper north of Alaska as many as 1 or 5 people have their pilots license or own a plane. It is really neat to be sitting on your cruise ship with the float planes taking off and landing like land airports. Quite a site to see.
Taking the tour bus into Denali National Park was quite an adventure. Here Wayne & Valerie pose for a picture with the breathtaking mountains as a backdrop in this 6000+ acre park. We didn't see much wildlife outside of a grizzly, Dall Sheep and Caraboo, but the memories will last a lifetime. We are told that in many trips the wildlife is so abundant that one actually stops taking pictures. We will find out when we return to Alaska in August of 2013. Go on our web site for more details. www.somedaytravel.com
A grizzly, taken from our bus from about 1/4 mile. What a wonderful animal to come across, of course much better from a 1/4 mile while on a bus. But it was a great picture and later on, this very same bear actually came up to the side of the road not 15 feet from the bus. It was then I was glad to be on the bus not outside pondering what to do. We were told never to run. Just back away slowly and "make yourself as big as you can" by slowly raising your hand and go on your tiptoes....and don't look the bear in the eyes. Never had this chance, and hope I never will.
Wayne and Valerie stand on shore at Ice Straight Point as we landed on tenders since the harbor is not deep enough to handle the ships the size of ours. You see our cruise ship, Radiance of the Seas of the Royal Caribbean Cruise lines, in the background. What an adventure both on land and on the ship. On land you are surrounded and experience wilderness and life as it used to be, truly breathtaking and unforgettable. On the cruise ship you are truly on a floating city. Everything you would expect is on the ship and they wine and dine and entertain you to make the trip one that will stick in your mind for years to come.
Wayne is panning for gold in Juneau with our experienced guide. What an great time but it surely was a lot of work. He was able to pan about $2.00 worth of gold flakes which sits above his desk to proudly display his 45 minutes of work. We can't imagine working this hard for the few flakes we found but I guess when you figure a prospector would sit for hours and days and weeks doing this, it would add up. It was an experience everyone should have at least SOMEDAY in their lives.