While the kids were here we spent some time in Seward. A great boat cruise took us out on Derby Cove and the Bay of Alaska. (Major Marine Tours) Our captain was a nice gal and her younger sister was her second in command. The all female crew took us for a long half-day cruise into Resurrection Bay and around Rugged Island, and searched out and showed us lots of wildlife. Resurrection Bay was named after a Russian Holiday, not after someone thawed out from the ice…
The scenery was fantastic, with lots of beautiful mountains, glaciers, and of course, lots of sea life.
We saw several Humpback Whales. Saw their humpbacks, and their tails. These are supposed to be the same whales we saw in Hawaii in January, but I can’t really say I recognize them.
I’m still jazzed to see Puffins!
This big Sea Lion posed majestically for us.
We had a group of porpoises follow and play with the boat. You could see their bright high-contrast paint jobs under the water, watch them zoom along, then jump quickly out of the water. Great fun to watch them play!
The Sea Lions just seem to melt onto the rocks.
On top of this island are a couple of pillboxes, built for defense of the area in WWII. I’d say they were abandoned now, except for a few million gulls…
The Sea Otters were adorable; one looked like a mom with two pups.
Dog Sled Teams
Last week we were all to fly in helicopters up to the top of a glacier, and ride the dog sleds there. Cherryl and I managed to get there in spite of some rather daunting weather (See previous blog) but while the kids got an awesome ride to a lower glacier, they missed out on the dog sled adventure. So early Sunday morning, they got to experience the dogs’ summer training schedule in Talkeetna. These are dogs from Dallas Seavey, who has won the Iditarod race five times. His grandfather started the modern Iditarod race in 1973. The dogs train by pulling either 4 wheel ATV’s or special 4 wheeled carts. The adults in the group got to actually guide the dogs and be real mushers! After the ride, they got to play with the dogs, including some puppies who were just then opening their eyes for the first time! They all loved it!
While on the dog sled trail, they frequently ran through rather deep water. They were told this helped keep the dogs cool! It also got their pants and shoes wet and muddy. Below you can see them showing off their “Musher Mud.”
It just happened to be Dayna’s birthday, so she left with a couple of sled dogs… (stuffed.) Kevin and I got to try on the winter musher’s gear – huge mittens, fur lined inside and out, and a very big hat similarly insulated.
Near Talkeetna is a small shop making and selling Birch Syrup. An informative tour showed us a video of how they tap THOUSANDS of trees, and take sap for only a few weeks per year. It is boiled down and filtered and made into all kinds of Birch sweets. It takes considerably more work than Maple syrup, and it is priced accordingly! It was fun to see the kitchen and sample the several grades of syrup.
Our “Home” for the time in Talkeetna was this nice cabin. Plenty of room, lots of atmosphere, and room to park the motorhome in front and spoil the nice view of the front of the cabin! The decorations make it look like the owners of this VRBO unit kept and raced dog sleds.
On Monday, our kids and their families had to fly home. We spent the next couple of days in Anchorage, just catching up and rearranging things.
An interesting thing about Alaska RV travel, is seeing the large number of caravans. I don’t mean like the British call a trailer a caravan, I mean like groups of 15 to 25 RV’s of all sorts, moving in a long caravan. Thankfully, they don’t travel bumper-to-bumper, but they will all leave one morning within a couple hour window, then drive a few hours and arrive at the next park in the afternoon. They usually have a mix of motorhomes, 5th wheel trailers, and bumper-pull trailers.
The day before we left Anchorage, we saw a couple Airstream trailers pull in. Then a couple more. Then noticed they had guides with flags telling all the newcomers where to park. When they finished, there were 29 shiny aluminum Airstreams in the camp! Crazy to see that many similar rigs traveling together. I shouldn’t be surprised… Wally Byam, the founder of Airstream, formed his first Airstream Caravan in 1951. They have done caravans all over the world since then.
Talkeetna / Denali
After leaving Anchorage, we were planning on driving past Glennallen, north and east of Anchorage. We were actually on the way, when we decided to check the Webcam for Denali, and see if the clouds were gone. They were! A clear day at Denali! We dropped the motorhome off behind a defunct Sears store, and drove the car back to Talkeetna. A mere 4 hour detour let us see our best view of Denali yet! At 20,310 feet tall, it really is a majestic hunk of rock! The tallest mountain in North America, it used to be called Mt. McKinley before officially reverting to the native name in 2016.
The adjacent mountains aren’t bad to look at either!
The town of Talkeetna is a cute little touristy place. I can’t say we spent much time (or money) there, but the far end of town is a great viewing spot for the mighty Denali.
After our long side trip to Denali, we headed back to Glacier View. I chose this place for a couple of reasons… it was the right driving distance between other scheduled stops, and its name is reminiscent of Glacier View Ranch in Colorado, where we and our kids have had so much fun. The campsite had fantastic views! We met a team there from Texas 4000. This is a group of Texas college students who ride over 4,000 miles from their home state to Alaska, raising money for cancer research. They were just a day or two from the end of the journey, and some of them had already done over 4,500 miles! And these aren’t easy miles!
From Glacier View, we kept heading east, and enjoyed more of the amazing scenery. Below you can see some of the Matanuska Glacier.
The views from the road on to Glennallen are gorgeous, with mountains as colorful as Colorado!
Alaska is not a place to make good time between stops… the roads often force you to slow down, and the views often force you to stop and walk around!