June 18, 2014

Destination Alaska

Alaska could certainly go toe to toe with Washington on scenery. While both are incredibly scenic places, the breadth of Alaska deserves it's own set of superlatives. On the other hand in terms of cities and attractions, there's no comparison, a neighborhood in Seattle might have more to do than most of the entire

state of Alaska. Since Washington is home for us, a trip to Alaska in order to quench the over and above desire to be in nature had to be on the cards. I am not going to rant about Alaska's beauty because none of my photographs and words can speak up for it. But I do want to share a few things about the trip.

We were welcomed by a bright sunshine at the airport when we landed at 9:30 pm. It was a bit weird to see such bright sunny day at that hour. What was even more shocking was to see the same bright sun shining through midnight! It was a bizarre feeling to see midnight sun.To be honest the sun almost never goes down during summer. You can say 24hrs of sunshine. (unless its raining). Here is a picture that was taken at 11:30pm. See my shadow.

Just like most people I was also under the misconception that Alaska will be mostly covered in snow despite it being summer time. Shamefully as I am to admit this, I probably imagined it to be like Antarctica I guess - he he he. On the contrary it was very pleasant. Most of the days we were there we did not even use our jacket.

Even though travelling by cruise to Alaska was an option, we chose to fly to Alaska and then rent a car so that we could reach to places that a cruise trip cannot offer. Another option was to rent an RV instead of car which would have been AWESOME way to experience.

Advantage of renting a car was to just stop anywhere and everywhere when nature gives a shout out and says "Come be With Me". It was moment like these that made our trip extra special. Enjoying the off beaten path of journey.

It was our first family vacation ever, after our son was born. He was 3 years old then. After a long hiatus, I and my husband were prepared for this exciting trip. We knew that taking (fairly easy) trails was going to be an activity. So, we trained our son to walk in nature by taking him to short trails in and around our residential vicinity before the actual trip so he too could walk, explore and enjoy.

The train ride was pretty scenic coasting through mountains and lakes.

We took a boat ride to go see some glaciers. We were so dwarfed by those glaciers.

We saw some whales, but this is all I got.

We promised to take our 3 yr old to go see Santa at North Pole (A town in Fairbanks). This is the town where all the Santa emails arrive at and yes I believe we met the real Santa right at his house :)

View of Mt. Mckinley while driving through Denali national park.

Valley at Denali National Park.

 Saw these two bears cuddling and playing and rolling. They were so cute, just like the stuffed teddy bears.

We knew we wanted to do a bike ride in Alaska, but with the 3 year old we were a bit skeptical. When we saw this Tandem bike with a trolley carrier we couldn't resist. The owner was kind enough to throw that carrier along for free. This was the most exhilarating thing of our trip. 

We rented a log cabin an hour away from Denali National Park for a night. It was surreal to be living amidst nature. We saw moose that stopped by the stream that flowed behind the cabin. We didn't spot a bear, but I think some may have stopped by while we were asleep :)

Being in a geographically marked location has its own kick just like being in a historically marked location. We went and touched the imaginary Arctic Circle :). Wish we could have crossed and gone further. Next time for sure.

The drive to reach the Arctic circle was very interesting. Look at the down grade through which we drove (there were many more like these).

These oversized trucks also drove through these grade. Every time a truck wants to pass, traffic on either side is halted. Of course that was frustrating but worth watching. 

We also had to go through a lot of delays due to road work. Sometimes even hours together.

In Alaska there are electrical outlets by the parking meters. Every car that is parked there in the winter plugs in their “block heater”. This is an electrical heating element that keeps the engine block of the car from getting so cold that the engine refuses to start.

Streak of rainbow that emerged while driving

We saw this cloud formation right outside Santa's house in North Pole twon and to my eyes it occurred like Reindeer! (Only for creative eyes)

Never seen flowers like these before.

Everything in Alaska is expensive for sure. I could say we probably went broke just buying bug sprays :). That is one very essential item to be on your travel list to Alaska.

Since vegetarian food was sparse and also I must say in general food outlets were sparse. Once out of the city, its mostly just pure nature and nothing commercial. Since we had an idea about this we ensured to book all our hotels with a small kitchen so we could cook our supper and also pack lunch for the next day trip. Of course we had carried loads of snacks to keep my munchkin (and us)  busy enough along the long car ride.

Pretty unusual sign board huh!

Looks like there is a dispute here.

Weather you decide to take an escorted tour or by cruise or by RV or car or even biking to go see Alaska, the important thing is to take deep breath and enjoy the wilderness with awe.

Alaska, lets see you in fall or early winter next time.I would love to see your Aurora Borealis show. 

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