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Travel Experience – Alaska Adventure
By Monica Bethune
I had the most amazing time in Alaska with Adventure Destinations. We flew via Vancouver on our way to Anchorage where we were met by our wonderful driver/guide Ki.
On our first day we visited Earthquake Park and Glen Alps lookout amongst others. There are a few walking tracks from the Glen Alps car park that are very accessible and would be a nice way to spend a few hours. West Chester Park is also very picturesque and good for photos.
While in downtown Anchorage doing hotel inspections, we visited the museum, which was an insight into the history of the State. We even had reindeer hotdogs from a street cart.
That night we ate at the Glacier Brewhouse. It was very full and loud but the food was amazing. They brew their own beers on site and the manager took us on a tour to see the barrels and grain bags, etc.
The next morning we boarded the Denali Star to travel the six hours to Denali National Park. We were in GoldStar class, which has a glass dome viewing roof, a bar at the end of each carriage and a small outdoor area. It was a really great experience and we got the most amazing views.
The following day we did a half-day Park Ranger bus tour that stopped at different sites along the way to view wildlife and hear about the park’s history. There was a great Visitors Centre and the park offers lots of guided hikes and adventure activities including water rafting. Our visit to the park’s husky kennel was a real highlight.
After Denali we drove up to Fairbanks and in the afternoon we took a very scenic flight to Coldfoot, the most northerly town accessible by plane. On our drive back to Fairbanks we stopped to visit various sites such as the trans-Alaskan pipeline, Yukon River, rock formations, the trading post in Joy, the Arctic Circle sign and stopped to watch the Northern Lights.
The next day we went to Chena Hot Springs on the outskirts of Fairbanks. The resort, which is run by students and young workers, creates its own power using its onsite geothermal power plant. The resort has basic rooms, Northern Lights viewing rooms, a huge ice museum and bar and its own hot springs bathing pool. They also have their own greenhouses where they grow their own food.
That night we went to a Northern Lights viewing area run by a man called Sven who won the Iditarod Sled Dog Race twice. He also runs husky rides and has built three yurts where he serves a 5-course traditional meal before taking guests out to view the night skies.
The next day we drove to Talkeetna, a quirky little town, which is the base for people climbing up Mt Denali or taking scenic flights over the mountain. It retains a lot of its old charm and has many historical buildings.
We then took the very scenic drive to Seward, a harbour town surrounded by big, beautiful glacier-filled mountains. We went on a full-day cruise through the Kenai Fjords and this was certainly a highlight. The seas were flat and the skies clear and we saw orcas (killer whales), humpback whales, seals, otters and a bald eagle up close. They were able to boat the boat within meters of the huge Aialik glaciers for some time, a very humbling experience.
On our way back to Anchorage we stopped at the conservation centre where they house animals that have been injured in the wild. We saw black, brown and grizzly bear, the only animals that we didn’t see in the wild.
It was a whirlwind trip but I learnt so much about this amazing part of the world.