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Saturday, June 23, 2018

So You Want To Go To Alaska

I'm working on this. Will have more info, links, phone numbers, some of my pictures soon.

This itinerary is designed for adventurous adults without young children.

Ferry from Bellingham WA to Valdez AK
http://www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs/
     The cost of driving through Canada makes a trip on the ferry worth considering.  First, there is the $300 per person per vehicle that one must have to cross the border.  Then there is the gas prices, which seems to be about 25% higher than the US.  Besides, I'm saving the trip through Canada for last.  Of course, you might choose to take the ferry home after the busy vacation in Alaska.
    Sleeping arrangements on the ferry are several: if you can afford it, and can get one, there are cabins (expect to make reservations a year in advance!); there is an open deck with heaters in the ceiling and deck loungers, bring your own sleeping gear (I bought an air mattress and a blanket, then gave it to someone who was boarding at the terminal where I disembarked); bring a tent and set it up on that same deck;  the auditorium has seats that people use during the day, and sleeping on the floor is allowed.
    The ferry makes several stops at towns along the coast.  There will be time for you to take a little tour of the area.  If you want to spend the night at a port, you can do that and simply catch the ferry the next day.  It might be a good idea to discuss that plan with an employee.  I didn't make a stop, but I have heard it can be done.
    When you arrive in Valdez - pronounced Val-DEEZ, visit a little.  I haven't been there since 1973, so don't know much about what you will find.  I do remember Thompson Pass from my senior trip.  Beautiful waterfalls!  The sun streaming through the moss-covered trees in the woods is a picture that will forever be etched in my memory. (As will the looks of the folks in the restaurant after our class of 9 with a few chaperones piled in, hungry as bears and smelling like the same!)  Here is a nifty post.  https://matadornetwork.com/trips/valdez-coolest-town-never-heard/

Drive to Anch

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

 















Drive to Talkeetna
     On the Parks Hwy, at mike 77.5 prepare to see a beautiful view of Mt. McKinley (Denali, for the PC) if it's visible. It will be bordered by trees on both sides of the road and look much larger than the awesome view of the entire range that will be spread before you on the way down the hill into Talkeetna.
     Turn right on the Talkeetna Spur road at mile 98.5.  At mile 13.5 you willl be blesed and highly favored amongst the hopeful tourists if you get to see this view. 
     Well, minus me. I am highly unlikely to be in town.
     My camera is only 5 mega pixel, so the photo doesn't do justice to the view - at all. Truth be told, nothing does. It's one of those views that is best kept in the memory.

Here's a shot of some dreative rock balancing on the river path, headed towards the bridge. To get there, go to the end of Main Street and hook a right. 

     Sheldon Air Service   Tell Holly that Nancy Spencer said Hi!
     Roadhouse. Raspberry Rhubarb Pie, half eaten. Tips are included in the prices, ala European-style. The employees are from all over the world, so if you speak a language other than English, try it out on them! They might be thrilled to speak their native tongue.
     Devil's Canyon - Mahay's Riverboat Service. My video is on another computer, but if you want a glimpse, go to youtube. There are plenty of videos. Keep in mind that, like pictures of The Mountain, videos of this awesome trip are bland.

     Fishing
     I haven't gone fishing, so can't recommend any particular operator.  Plenty of options, from river to lakes.
     Zipline
     I haven't done this - yet! - but rumor has it from my (older) friends that it's a blast!
     Take the Hurricane Turn on the Alaska Railroad (that's what we used to call it back in the day when the North- and South-bound passenger trains met at Honolulu and exchanged passengers), now known as the Hurricane Turn.  It's a 5 hour trip.  Possibly the last flagstop train in the country - maybe the world!



Head north on the Parks Highway to your next stop.  On the way, keep a lookout at Mile 188.5 for the giant igloo.
     Someone tried to sell it, and The Daily Mail in the UK picked up the event.  I, personally, have never stopped.  Maybe this trip??

Drive to the Park  (McKinley Park if you're old-school.  Denali National Park and Preserve if you're politically correct.)
     The Parks Highway from the Park entrance north a mile or so is affectionately (or not) known as Glitter Gultch.  Hotels, tourist traps, food, tours.  You can walk on a paved path from the park headquarters.  I'm sure there is a shuttle from the Park headquarters.  Or you can drive after you see the Panorama at the Park.  Parking might be a bit dicey, but it can be had.  There are several 'shopping centers' with gravel parking lots.

Arrive in Healy and spend a few days.  There really are enough things to do, and lodging is somewhat cheaper there than staying on Glitter Gultch.

These cabins are small, but the beds are good.  There are also rafting tours available from the office.
 
Climb Mt Healy
     I want to climb this! Evidently I'm not the only one who keeps driving by without stopping.  Maybe this impromptu trip in September 2018.  I wonder if I can find anyone willing to accompany me??

Usibelli Coal Mine  At the least, look at the mountain across the river from Healy.  Find the black coal strip, and look for this huge dragline!  (when I find the picture I will insert it here.)

Fairbanks
     Riverboat Discovery
     UAF museum
     Chena Hotsprings
     Turtle Club in Fox
Circle  (Arctic Circle)
Santa Claus House in North Pole is - a touristy shop, but they do have some local, Made in Alaska items.  (Look for the Bear. There is a long and detailed State process to be able to use this logo, so you can be assured the item really is Made in Alaska.)
I refused to buy just any old thing, only what demanded to come home with me. Yeah. It wasn't the cheapest thing in the store...  It lights up! This will make, oh, maybe #34 trees in my house for Christmas. It's not really that bad. Some of those trees are pictures, or napkin rings. But still...
     Oh, and Santa said it wasn't him... I asked.
Buffalo at Delta Junction
     There are several camping areas around Delta Junction.  Enjoy!    
     If you didn't make it up Mt Healy, Donnelly Dome is your next chance, at roughly 2,000 shorter.  A permit is required, so check out the link.
Fast Eddy's in Tok
Chicken/Klondike
Back to the States down the ALCAN Highway


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