Friday, August 27, 2010

AMAZING ALASKA! Juneau to Ketchikan

Continuing with my top choices...

The most upside-down trees: in the rainforest of Tongass

The most photographed glacier: Mendenhall, outside Juneau

The most impossible state capital to drive to: Juneau, which has no roads in or out.

The biggest catch: grabbing your float plane.

The fishiest street: salmon swim up Ketchikan's Creek Street, where bootleggers used to deliver goods by boat through trap doors under the buildings.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

AMAZING ALASKA! Glacier Bay to Skagway

Continuing with my top choices...

Superlative scenery: Glacier Bay, balmy at 57 degrees F

The hardiest souls: fish wheels count salmon for the fishermen who sustain themselves over the winter with their yearly catch.

Most majestic bird: bald eagles come to this sanctuary for the salmon fishing, too.

The best graffiti: ship captains who've docked at Skagway's wharf

The most scenic fjord: this is what glaciers leave behind when they retreat.

To be continued...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

AMAZING ALASKA! Whittier to the Inside Passage

Continuing with my top choices:

The quietest sailaway

Most OMG moment: here come the icebergs!

Yikes! Can the captain really sail this ship through 1,000-year-old ice?

Most haunting sound: the thunder of calving icebergs from Hubbard Glacier.

The prettiest fog

To be continued...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

AMAZING ALASKA! Mt. McKinley to Whittier

Continuing with my list of top choices...

The most watched clouds: Mt. McKinley is under there somewhere.

The best wildflowers: fields and fields of fireweed!

The most cooperative neighborhood: they share a runway in their backyards.

The most critical timing: trains and cars all use the same one-way tunnel under the mountain from Cook Inlet to Whittier.

The best delay: the ship waits for us, and we're only 2 hours late!

To be continued...

Monday, August 23, 2010

AMAZING ALASKA! Fairbanks to Denali

We recently returned from a 2-week "cruise-tour" of Alaska. We flew to Fairbanks, where we caught the train to Denali National Park, then continued south to Whittier to board the cruise ship and sail the inside passage to Vancouver. Here's my list of top choices during the first leg of our journey:

Best meal: asiago-crusted halibut and Alaska Pale Ale on a deck at the Fairbanks Princess Lodge, where we overlooked the river and watched sternwheelers plow by and float planes land and take off.

Most eager athletes: sled dogs pull a tractor during the off-season.

Most confusing directions: where the pipeline has to surface because of discontinuous permafrost.

The longest train: yes, that's the engine of our train, rounding the bend ahead, on our way into Denali National Park.

Most impressive animals: grizzlies in Denali (I know, I know, it's not moose!) This mama and her two two-year-old cubs romped about 50 yards away from our park bus, fighting over a small, 4-legged meal. Mama won.

To be continued...