North to Alaska!

 

On July 26th (1999) Doris, Steve, Christy and I headed to Alaska for a vacation we've talked about for years.  All of us have been fortunate to visit many places in this world but we all agreed we still had to see glaciers and everything that came with them.  Alaska is indeed a beautiful place and VERY BIG!  Only 600,000 people live in the entire state and half of those in the Anchorage area.  Once outside of Anchorage western Kansas is crowded in comparison.  For someone like me that enjoys "rural", it was great! 

Click on any picture to enlarge it plus note all the hyperlinks.  If you have the time, you'll find many of the Web sites these hyperlinks lead to quite interesting.

Day One: 
After eight hours of flying we finally arrived in Anchorage and headed to the Alyeska Resort about 40 miles south of Anchorage.  Alyeska is Alaska's number one ski area and famous for its extreme skiing.  Almost everything is double-black diamond!  Not for the faint of heart or a two-left feet skier like me.  But quite beautiful and a good spot to stay for the day trips we had planned on the Kenai Peninsula.


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To enlarge a picture, just click on it
(try this one)

 

Day Two:  The drive to Seward is one of the prettiest in Alaska.  The more famous Denali Park area is beautiful as well but this part of the Kenai Peninsula was truly spectacular.  We also stopped at an Iditarod dog sled race training camp and enjoyed (?) a fast and bumpy ride on a dog sled on wheels.  At least the dogs were friendly!

 


WaterFall.jpg (66400 bytes)    ChristyPuppy.jpg (39057 bytes)

 

 

Day Three:  The weather cleared and gave us a spectacular day for our glacier cruise into Prince William Sound.  We sailed from Whittier -- a town of 200 people accessible only by sea and rail.  As rural as it is, 95% of the population live in a 12 story ex-army barracks high-rise in the middle of town.  An ex-military base; there are no single-family homes in Whittier. Rural living in a high-rise apartment!


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Kayakers too.  Watch out for icebergs!
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One of many glaciers we saw that day

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Glacier caught "calving"

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Prince William Sound  -- a photo can't do it justice

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Whittier -- click to enlarge the picture then notice the high-rise apartment on the right. 

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The sign tells it all -- a small town with a sense of humor
 

Day Four:  Cold and rainy so we first took the aerial tram to the top of Alyeska ski mountain then drove down the Kenai Peninsula to sightsee.   We finished the day with dinner in the bustling town of Hope, Alaska (population 20, counting dogs and cats).  Isolated but not by Alaska standards.  But they still have a Web page! http://www.advenalaska.com/hope/



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Downtown Hope, Alaska

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Click here to learn more
 about the Kenai Peninsula
 

Day Five:  Back to Seward to catch the Major Marine Wildlife Cruise along the eastern coast of the Kenai Peninsula.  Rain and fog but lots of wildlife.  This part of the Kenai Peninsula is actually classified as a rain forest although a cold one!  In excess of 300" of rain each year.  Even with the rain and fog it was quite beautiful.  During the cruise our boat was surrounded by whales, porpoises and many other interesting animals.   




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One of many whales we spotted
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Steve and Christy glacier watching

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Loved that jacket!

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Christy one millisecond after Doris yelled "turn around quick -- the glacier is calving!"
 

Day Six:  140 miles north to our next stop -- Talkeetna -- on the edge of Denali Park.  But first a stop at the QTH of Dan, KL7YChris, WL7KY, was visiting for a few days helping Dan put up some even bigger antennas.  Dan's many towers include a 160 footer and some really big HF arrays.  Now I've seen first-hand why KL7Y is always LOUD!  After leaving Dan and Chris as they headed back up the tower, we arrived at the new Talkeetna Lodge.  What a beautiful setting and such a quiet and peaceful part of Alaska!   It's said Talkeetna still looks like Alaska 50 years ago.


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Chris, WL7KY, (me), and Dan, KL7Y

We highly recommend this lodge!
 
Day Seven:  A quick tour of Talkeetna then a river cruise and hike back into bear territory.  There are more brown and black bears in this area than anywhere else in Alaska (but we still didn't see one!).

Click image to view live video of Chugach Mountains

 


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Talkeetna or, at least, most of it
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Talkeetna's shopping mall

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Our trusty guide with her bear gun

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A trapper's cabin
(bear-proof?)

 


 

Day Eight and Nine: 
120 miles further north to the entrance to Denali Park and the home of Mt. McKinley.  Rain and fog obscured even the closest mountains so Mt. McKinley was only a rumor.  Seeing this 20,000 foot peak was my goal on this trip but it looked like we were out of luck.  But, when we woke up on day nine, there wasn't a cloud in the sky!  Locals said it was a very rare day.  We quickly called the local air service, Denali Air, and booked a flight to fly over McKinley.   Doris spent her birthday flying around the highest peak in North America in (almost) clear and sunny skies.  Even better than cake and candles she said! 

 
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Mt. McKinley from 50 miles 
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Mt. McKinley up close

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Glacier river below Mt. McKinley

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Co-pilot Christy

Day Ten and Eleven:  200 miles back to Anchorage and a few stops on the way.  Then up at 3 AM on day eleven to catch our plane back to the "lower 48".  Our most memorable impression of Alaska besides the beauty of it?  There are more RV's in Alaska than anywhere else in the world!  

Click image to view live video from downtown Anchorage

 



DenaliView1.jpg (39915 bytes)
The most famous view in Alaska

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An igloo condo?

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Yes, they really do sell ice to the Eskimos!

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Not Alaska but, instead, a recent hike up Shrine Ridge near Vail.  Our last hike before Christy starts at Vanderbilt.  Back to the "real world" for all of us!

We hope you enjoyed seeing this quick photo synopsis of our journey.  And, should you decide to visit Alaska some day, we hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

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