As promised, this post chronicles the second half of our Alaskan adventure. After disembarking from our cruise ship one last time, we traveled by bus and train throughout the vast and wild landscapes of Alaska. We visited Anchorage, Fairbanks and Denali State Park and were humbled by the wildlife and picturesque landscapes to be found here.
Most of the transportation in Alaska has to be done by air. We were told that the majority of Alaskan citizens get their pilot’s license as Washingtonians get there driver’s license: at age 16. Regardless of where we went, we saw tiny airports and water ways crowded with personal aircrafts.
We, however, took our first long trip on a passenger train through historical mining and Native lands. We were served meals and cocktails as we peered through a glass dome ceiling at the landscapes beyond.
Scott was able to get some great shots through the glass walls of the train.
Eventually, we needed a better view, so we took to the caboose and felt the invigorating speed of the train and the terrain whooshing by.
In addition to the breathtaking wilderness, we were also awestruck by some man-made marvels throughout this stretch of countryside.
Our next excursion was a bus tour through Denali State Park which was my favorite part of the inland portion of this trip (even though I was car sick on the bus). We caught glances of moose, caribou, fire weed (a purple wild flower that grows rampant throughout Alaska), ground squirrels, and ptarmigan (Alaska’s state bird).
After trekking through the state park, we had a guided river boat tour which took us through a sled dog training camp and a reenacted Native American village. We watched sled dogs howl with excitement as they go to pull their trainer on an ATV, saw Natives in their traditional homes and garb, and even saw a few more caribou. We also tasted some of the BEST smoked salmon dip we’ve ever had. We are still kicking ourselves for not buying a case of the salmon that was in it.
One of the coolest parts of this trip was experiencing the extended daylight hours that Alaskans experience during the summer months. We would be out sitting by a fire or drinking beers in lawn chairs until 4AM and have ABSOLUTELY no idea. This is how we spent our final night of the trip, drinking on a patio watching a river flow by with a “LOVE ALASKA” sign in the background, and then proceeded to have one of the worst flights of our life back to Seattle the next day (hungover flights are something I would not recommend).
Next time we visit “The Last Frontier”, which we will definitely do again in this lifetime, we will be hunting for those Northern Lights.