Monday, July 29, 2013

Anniversary trip to Alaska-Interior

I've been back from our anniversary trip to Alaska for two weeks already.  It's sort of depressing to not have anything to look forward to, so I keep reminiscing about the amazing experience we had.  Remember when I said I hoped to see moose babies/eagles/seal/bears/caribou/whales/the mountain? Well, we did.  We actually saw all those things, and I feel truly blessed with our trip.  Don't you feel like Alaska, namely Denali National Park, should be teeming with wildlife?  After learning that they have over 6 million acres to spread out on in the park alone, I can see why an animal sighting could very well not have been in the cards.  It definitely would affect my feelings about the trip as a whole if it felt like we missed something.

S and I really felt that if we were going all the way there, we should do it right.  So we splurged on the tour that gave us one week on land before the cruise, and we added on one night in Fairbanks so that we could have a day to explore on our own before we started on our escorted land tour with 50 other people.  It was this extra day in Fairbanks when we drove out to Chena Hot Springs that got it all started on the right foot.  Moose!  Blurry moose from a distance, but my goodness, moose none the less!

And then....moose babies!  S thought they were deer, but I knew what they were!

 
And where there are moose babies, surely there are moose mamas?
 
 
There you are girl!  And she got way more comfortable with the water...
 
 
I promise this is not just a horse, ok?
 

When we managed to pull ourselves away from this miracle sighting (seriously, it is.  I live right outside Philadelphia.  We don't see moose around these parts.) we headed to our destination, the ice museum/hotel at Chena Hot Springs Resort.  You're going into a building that is literally freezing, so beforehand I put on boots, gloves, and donned the heavy parka they give everyone before you go inside.


We sat down here, at the ice bar, to have our appletini in our ice glasses.  Let's just say I was super glad I had the gloves on!


One of the mammoth ice sculptures carved by the husband/wife team behind many carving awards.  There were 4 igloo bedrooms for anyone brave enough, but they said no one has actually made it through the whole night.

After this long day of museums and driving (eating at place featured on Diners, Drive ins, and Dives, University of Alaska's Museum of the North, Fountainhead antique auto museum, city of North Pole) we finished at Silver Gulch Brewing Co. for some local spirits.  I love wine, and often bring wine home as my souvenir from our travels so that I can have something totally unique to that area.  If there are no wineries, than brewpubs it is!

The next day we started our official escorted tour, so with our 50 new friends we headed out to Gold Dredge 8 for some gold panning, something that the boyfriend and I really wanted to try. 


And you know what, gold panning is hard work.  Circling, dipping, dripping, circling...it was quite an arm workout!


Our whopping 24 dollars worth, combined.  Not a fortune, but I was impressed with this guy-


I'm calling it a nugglet.  Not so much as a nugget, but definitely more 3 dimensional than a fleck.  A little nugget.  A nugglet, if you will.


Now that, THAT big mama is a NUGGET!  Can you imagine coming across something like that??

After Fairbanks (Land of the Midnight Sun) where it was 90 degrees, we were glad to make our way towards Healey, to Denali National Park, where it was cooler at around mid 60's to 70 degrees.  This tour into the National Park was an 8 hour tour, and one that I would highly recommend.  Other tours (which were less money) do not go as deep into the park, so your chances of seeing wildlife or the mountain are diminished.


It started off as a really cloudy day, and with the wildfires in the area, we weren't sure how it would affect things.  So this is the mountain I keep talking about-Denali, otherwise known as Mt. McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America. 


I got a little Denali happy, but i'll spare you more photos.  I tried different settings with the camera, and the clouds and haze were changing, too.  At over 20,000 feet, there's still snow on the mountain.


Caribou in the park.  Did you know that caribou and reindeer are the same thing?  In the wild they're caribou, but in captivity they are reindeer. 


C'mon people, what is so difficult about making out this is a bear?  Hmmm??

Back at the ranger station there was an informational rest stop, and I tried my hand at an artsy shot of a moose antler. 


And a rare sighting on the blog-me!  Me holding an antler, looking all fall like.  And happy.


Mushing is the state sport, and in winter the frozen lakes are used for practice.  So those lucky people with lakefront property really do use it year round.


Yeah, I found me some local wine!  So so delicious!  I actually bought the strawberry and rhubarb kind after it was recommended, but the winery was in Homer so there was no way to tour or visit it.
 

From Denali we went to Mt. McKinley via glass top train, which was another thing on my bucket list that can now get crossed off.


Mt. McKinley lodge, like the Denali lodge, had a real middle of nowhere feel.  Much like the rest of Alaska.


It was an hour outside of Talkeetna, the little town that was the inspiration for Northern Exposure, and home of another brewpub.  Sadly, not a winery in sight.


After a week of touring the Interior, we relaxed, took in the view, and crossed our fingers that the great weather would continue for our cruise portion.


We have absolutely no regrets about spending the extra money to have an extra week exploring the Interior of Alaska.  If you can swing it, please, do it!

Who's with me on the brewpub/winery thing?

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50 comments:

Linda @ A La Carte said...

I think you did the right thing to explore the interior first! I mean if you are going all that way then really see Alaska! I'm much more a winery girl then a brewery girl but local is what I enjoy on vacation also. Glad you found at least one wine to enjoy. Gorgeous photos and can't wait to see the rest of your trip!
hugs,
Linda

Dara @ Not In Jersey said...

very cool. I did the cruise thing and feel like I missed a huge part of alaska - well I did!

Magali@TheLittleWhiteHouse said...

Oh, my! Thanks to your pictures, it was like I was right there with you! It was great to let me tag along!

Lisa said...

Amazing photos! Those moose babies are too cute! You definitely don't get to see that kind of thing every day, so I'm sure it was amazing to see in person. That ice bar also looks like a very "cool" experience!

Rachelle said...

What an awesome vacation! I would love to visit Alaska its gorgeous. Glad you had fun on your trip

Kim M said...

I have never been to Alaska, but always wanted to go. Your post just makes me want it more! The photos of the mountain are amazing! I would've been camera happy there too! ;)

Diana - FreeStyleMama said...

Brings back memories. We drove to Alaska 3 years ago for our 20th anniversary. What an incredible trip. I understand the after-the-trip let down. We ended up remodeling or kitchen. My brain was still in Alaska over the next year, but now it's a distant memory. I like to see people's trip photos to help me remember. I had a separate trip blog and met many bloggers along the way.
http://celebrating20.blogspot.com/

redesignedbym said...

Love your photos! It's always been on my bucket list, but this post has made me want to bump Alaska up that list! ~M.

http://redesignedbym.wordpress.com/

Ellen said...

First time seeing your blog - linked from My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia.

I just loved you Alaska pictures. My husband and I were there four years ago on an cruise/tour with my parents and I loved it! Your pictures brought back so many great memories.

Like you, I live out side of Philadelphia, so I can appreciate the trip you made as far as the length of the trip!

Vel Criste said...

What a super fun trip! Thanks for taking us along! :-)

Kara said...

This looks so amazing!! We did Alaska as an anniversary trip prior to Kalia coming along and did a cruise along the coast and then spent about a week on the Interior, and you're right, SO worth it!! We did Mt McKinley too, but for some reason thought we could BIKE up to the park entrance. So stupid!! Haha! It is such a beautiful area, and such an amazing trip, I'm glad you got to experience it!!

renée @ Singing With Birds said...

We stepped off the ship last Friday, Cape. We enjoyed the Sawyer Glacier Cruise, for our 40th anniversary with all our kids. It was amazing. Looks like your trip was too. We hope to go back to Denali and see it on our own. Your pictures and post are wonderful....thanks!

The Boston Lady said...

I'm more of a winery gal than brewery too, but I'm surprised they would even have wineries there.

What a spectacular trip! You were smart to take that interior trip and what a fantastic moose sighting! Mom and two kids!

Love your pictures of Mt McKinley. I'm surprised you adventurers didn't just ditch the cruise and hike to the top instead!

Looking forward to the pictures from the cruise. Thanks for sharing and so glad it was a great trip! Ann

marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

Oh wow, what an unbelievable trip. I would love to do this one, your pictures are amazing and I loved being able to tag along virtually. Thanks and Happy Anniversary. Thanks also for joining Inspire Me. Hugs, Marty

Jim said...

Looks great.
Sydney – City and Suburbs

Pieni Lintu said...

Looks so beautiful!!

Gemma Wiseman said...

Enjoyed the variety of scenes. And the antler you are holding is massive.

lavenderandlinen said...


what a wonderful trip! this has always been on my must do list. That antler looked hugh!

lavenderandlinen said...


what a wonderful trip! this has always been on my must do list. That antler looked hugh!

Yvonne Urra-Bazain said...

Happy belated anniversary. :) A coworker of mine just told me about her amazing experience in Singapore, so I've added Singapore to my list of places to visit one day. Now, I want to visit Alaska. Thanks to your post, I have a pretty good idea of where to start exploring. =D

Poppy said...

So nice to meet you!

Your photos of Mt. McKinley are phenomenal!! What an amazing time you must have had; so much to discover!

Poppy

Diane said...

What a memorable trip for you. Excellent pictures.

Wanda @ No Place Like Home said...

Gorgeous photos. What a great time you had. Thank you so much for sharing those and all the details. It makes me want to go. Have a wonderful day! Love, Wanda

Linda Bouffard said...

We panned for gold when we went to Colorado. We had teeny tiny bottles filled with teeny tiny gold chips to take home, but it was fun ... Linda

Craftsalamode.com

Noel Morata said...

wow, you really get to see everything, wildlife, ice castles, gold...Alaska looks amazing!

I'm inviting you to also join us for Travel Photo Mondays, it runs the whole week and starts on Mondays, come link up with us.

Linda @ A La Carte said...

So glad you joined us for TTF this week.

hugs,
Linda

Jessica Cramer said...

I enjoyed reading your post. My 12 year old son just got back from a mission trip to Alaska, his photos were cute, but definitely from a 12 year old point of view. I enjoyed your adult perspective! You can read my post about his trip herehttp://designerssweetspot.blogspot.com/2013/08/alaskan-mission.html

Roxanne Reinhart said...

Hi. Found you on no minimalist open house party. I thought it was only me who got depressed after a trip. I completely get it. You just did my dream trip. I was a travel agent many moons ago and a cruise plus land package was and still is my dream trip to Alaska. Am hoping to see more posts on the subject. Thank you for sharing!

Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. said...

Wow, that sounds like an amazing trip! Just so beautiful and I'm glad you got some good wildlife sightings. I enjoy trying out the local foods and wines too while on vacation. And I especially loved the photo of you with that giant antler!

Poppy said...

Wow! Such beautiful pictures! I would love to visit Alaska someday...The ice hotel is truly amazing and panning for gold must have been a lot of fun:) Thanks for sharing these gorgeous pictures with us. Have a lovely evening!~Poppy

Diana Mieczan said...

Now I really want to visit Alaska. Your photos are so wonderful and what a dreamy spot. Kisses, lovely.

Julia Terpstra said...

Oh my goodness, did I ever love seeing this post! It looks like you had an adventure. We did the same thing this summer and went back to Alaska (I was born in Fairbanks). We went to Talkeetna too!!! We saw and did so many fun things, I'm ready to move back. If you'd like to see some of my pics, swing on by! http://www.bles-id.blogspot.com/2013/07/im-baaaaaack.html
Happy Monday... jules

Muza-chan said...

Beautiful photos :)

Ruth Kelly said...

They didn't have the ice hotel when I lived in Alaska but there were always moose around even in Anchorage.

Jill Shepherd said...

Thanks for sharing your photos. Alaska looks stunning! I've always wanted to go to an ice-hotel! How cool!! (ha ha) and I never knew that about Caribou and Reindeer!!

Cruise photos next??

Marcia Mayne said...

Wow, what an adventure! This is the way to see Alaska, right?
I always think of the ice hotel in that Bond movie. Hope it was a cool (pun) experience.

http://insidejourneys.com/jamaica-51-our-changed-eating-habits/

dee -@ The Old Fat Hen said...

Hi What stunning photos so beautiful.I have now just become your newest follower from Australia-love dee x

Oona Johnson said...

Awesome! I'm totally jealous of your amazing trip!

Those mountain pics are fan-freaking-tastic! A bear! omg. Moose babies are the cutest.

HikeBikeTravel said...

What a fantastic looking trip and love all your photos of animal babies. I've seen Denali from the air but would love to visit the park one day.

Ashley Stewart said...

Your pics are just awesome. they show beauty of Alaska to perfection. I really loved them. I would like to travel there.


Alaska Package Tours

Jenna LaFevor said...

Oh my goodness! What an amazing trip - that ice bar looks so cool!

Sandy said...

Looks like the two of you had a fantastic trip.. Alaska is amazing but a bit too cold for me, in winter... My family has ties there.. My moms sister lived in Anchorage for 25 years and my son now has a home in Juneau.. I'll be going this week for about a month to visit and living in Hot SoFla the 50' days will be a treat... great photos and so glad you both had such a good time.
Sandy

Jane@Cottage at the Crossroads said...

OMG, that's a huge antler that you're holding! Your trip sounded fantastic in every way and I didn't know about ice bars! Thanks for sharing your photos with us!

Tys said...

I'm late to the party, but I wanted to tell you that your pictures look AMAZING!! That had to of been a wonderful trip!

Craftivity Designs said...

Oooo I want that cool "Mushers!" sign. Sounds like a great trip!
- Lora @ Craftivity Designs

Amy at Ms. Toody Goo Shoes said...

Your Alaska pics are gorgeous! We went years ago, before digital cameras were popular. I win the award for worst Alaska pictures ever! I enjoyed your travelogue!

Amanda said...

This sounds like such a fun trip! I didn't know there were still places you could pan for gold - I'd love to try it. :)

Cindy @ Dwellings-The Heart of Your Home said...

Oh, you pictures look wonderful! We had a trip to Alaska planned but my mother received her breast cancer diagnosis and we cancelled the trip. Mom is doing much better now, we've got to plan another trip!
Thanks so much for coming over to visit!!!
Blessings,
Cindy

Maria at inredningsvis said...

What a Great post:) and Im now following ..hope you follow back.

Check my blog...with stylish Swedish fireplaces:)

Have a great Sunday dear

LOVE Maria at inredningsvis - inredning it's, Swedish for decor :)

{Hi Sugarplum!} said...

WOW!! These pics are incredible!! Thanks for sharing!!