Friday, September 27, 2013

Alaska 2013

My Dad loves loves to drive, and he loves Alaska, so once he retired he started making cross country trips that always ended in Alaska. He was usually gone for a few months, once he even went to Alaska via New Orleans. But the last time he went 4 years ago, there was an "incident" involving my van, and 2 buffalo. The buffalo lost, but my van didn't make it home either.


Now my dad is 83, and his hearts desire was to see AK one more time. So when an opportunity to teach in Anchorage arose, I thought, how great, now my dad can get his hearts desire, plus my mom and I can tag along and see for ourselves why he is so drawn to the place....

Well, let me tell you, Alaska is an unbelievable beautiful place and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to see it, especially with my parents! We left 8 am Labor Day Monday and arrived in Anchorage at 2 pm. After picking up the rental car we headed to Homer, and not even the rain and chill could dampen our enthusiasm for the natural beauty all around.....


 
 
We arrived in Homer just as the sun was setting, and to say we were exhausted would be an understatement. But the next day dawned sunny and we were excited to check out our surroundings. Homer is located at the tip of the Kenai Peninsula and has been nicknamed "the end of the road," because of it's most distinguishing feature; the Homer Spit, a narrow 4.5 mi long spit of land that extends into the bay. It is also known as the "Halibut Fishing Capital of the World."


 
Our next stop was Seward, which is on the southern side of the Kenai Peninsula on Resurection Bay, and one of my Dad's favorite places in the whole state. Seward is a typical Alaskan coastal town; lots of fisherman, watering holes and places for tourists to spend money, but with a rustic undertone. Main Street looks like it could have been the set for "Northern Exposure".


We took a 6 hour whale watching tour, which while a bit chilly, was a wonderful way to see some local wildlife. Although it was a bit late in the season for whales, most had already left on their annual migration to Hawaii, we did see one humpback. Too bad I was not fast enough with my camera. But I did get a few other wildlife shots.



After Seward, we drove back to Anchorage where I began the teaching part of the trip. I set up my mom and dad in hotel downtown, within walking distance of local attractions, and left them to their own devices while I headed to the bead shop. Linda of the Alaska Bead Company was an absolute delight to work with, and the students were so encouraging and supportive. I truly enjoyed getting to know everyone, I think the classes were a success, and I've been invited back in 2015!
:-)

Next we headed north towards Denali Nationl Park, but on the way took a small detour at Talkeetna for an aerial glacier tour. Although my mom was a bit apprehensive initially, I think she was really glad we talked her into it.


But for me the highlight of the trip was Denali National Park. So many things came together serendipitously, we could not have planned it better. Since it was the end of the season, we got a great rate at the Denali Grand Inn, which was situated on a bluff overlooking the park. It is accessed with hairpin turns that are not navigable in the winter. A caretaker arrives in October and does not leave until April, kind of like in the movie the "Shining".  Cue spooky music....


The day we arrived was cold and rainy, but the following day dawned beautifully sunny and mild for our tour of the park. As it happened, it was also the last day of bus tours for the season, and it also just so happened to be one of the peak days for fall colors. It was an 8 hour bus tour but Oh. My. Word. What gorgeous vista's! I don't think it was possible to take a bad picture, but judge for yourselves...



And now I understand my dad's love of Alaska, and can't wait to go back!




aerial glacier tour

aerial glacier touraeriel

aerial glacier tour. Although my mom was a bit apprehensive about the "airiel" part of the tour