In early September our family set sail on an Alaskan cruise and Denali National Park vacation in celebration of Ricardo's (a.k.a My Special Friend) 70th birthday. We had an unforgettable trip exploring The Last Frontier, but the best part really was getting the entire crew together. I'm so very thankful for the Scott family and this trip of a lifetime. Naturally...I took over 4,000 photos...here are just a few of my favorites. Cheers!
* Photos take with an iPhone and a Canon Mark III
DAY 1: Setting sail in Vancouver, BC, Princess Cruise Lines
DAY 2: At Sea
A relaxing day at sea with unexpected sunshine, happy hours, and multiple trips to the buffet. NOM NOM NOM...
DAY 3: Ketchikan, AK
This quaint logging town is the 5th largest city in Alaska and receives roughly 162 inches of rainfall annually and somehow we had sunshine! We started the day out at a local bakery and then strolled through town to the Alaskan Lumberjack Show which, for a tourist trap, was fairly entertaining...thanks to Turbo (literally his name was Turbo...ladies you know which one I'm talking about).
After the Turbo Show we headed to Herring Creek where bears are commonly found fishing for salmon in the river, unfortunately we missed the bears but we ended the afternoon with some local flavor at Annabelle's Chowderhouse. That evening we dressed up for cocktails on Dick & De's private balcony and enjoyed a four course meal in the fine dining restaurant.
My favorite part of Ketchikan was the atmosphere of the quaint downtown surrounded by lush mountains and colorful sailboats.
DAY 4: Juneau, AK
HAPPY BIRTHDAY RICARDO! Juneau was our favorite day, probably because we partied away Ricky's 70th bday at the historic Red Dog Saloon, after hiking Mt. Roberts Trail and vising Mendenhall Glacier. The views were spectacular and this little town that can only be accessed by plane or boat quickly became our favorite.
DAY 5: Skagway, AK
And I thought the Caribbean had turquoise water...no one told me about you Skagway!
Skagway was by far the most scenic port town we visited. I was mesmerized by the Easter egg blue waters and snow-capped mountains surrounding this little town. Skagway is tucked away in the Inside Passage and is home to about 1,000 people but sees over 900,000 tourists during the summer months. It's been renovated to resemble an old gold rush town, so much so that we felt like we were on a movie set. We enjoyed all the little shops, rode bikes down The White Pass and had a tasty evergreen tree beer (literally made from evergreen trees) at The Skagway Brewing Company.
DAY 6: Glacier Bay, scenic cruising
The next day we sailed through Glacier Bay National Park which is home to some of the world's most impressive tidewater glaciers. There was something very eerie yet majestic about Glacier Bay, like it would have been totally fitting to see a heard of unicorns running along the shoreline, or maybe even Gandalf. It felt like another world completely untouched by civilization. It was so still that the only movement in the water came from the cruise ship and so quiet the only sounds to be heard were the calving glaciers cracking into the milky blue waters.
DAY 7: College Fjord, scenic crusising
Our final day on the cruise was spent at College Fjord. It seemed the further north we went, the more beautiful Alaska became. It was truly breathtaking.
DAY 7: Anchorage, AK
We said farewell to the Island Princess in Whittier, AK and jumped on a bus to Anchorage. This is where we parted ways and half our group headed home. Tye and I, and his parent's, continued on touring inland Alaska for the next 4 days. Our first destination was Anchorage, where we met up with Angie, one of my high school friends. She took us around to all the local's favorite breweries. It was nice to get away from the touristy attractions and experience the local lifestyle for a day. We couldn't have asked for a better day, it was filled with good people and great beer. If you ever make it to Anchorage I'd highly recommend The Anchorage Brewing Company and Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
That night we stayed at The Lake Front Anchorage which sits right on the world's busiest floatplane airport. We enjoyed a nice dinner while watching the float plans come in and out.
DAY 8: The Wilderness Express
Today we took a six hour glass train ride through the Alaskan wilderness to Denali National Park. My eyes were open to how vast and diverse the Alaskan terrain is. It was incredible to say the least. SO much nature...
Mountains, mountains and more mountains! We spent the day on a private tour of Denali National Park with the park's physical scientist and PIO. I was surprised at how tundra-like Denali Park was but the deep earthy colors and dynamic rock formations took on a unique beauty. It was awe-inspiring. There's over 6 million acres in the park and only one road! Were were lucky to see Denali Mountain peek out from the clouds for just a few seconds. Only 25% of visitors actually see the mountain when they visit the park.
That evening we drove up to Fairbanks/Chena and checked into the Chena Hotsprings Resort which happens to be known for their northern light shows, along with healing natural hot springs, ice bar hotel & museum, airplane rides, hiking trails, dog sled rides, horse back riding, ATV rides, massage therapy, engineering conferences, renewable energy projects, geothermal technology, incredible greenhouse and all natural food menu. There was so much going on it left me pleasantly confused and feeling like I was at summer camp. It was such an odd little place but we loved it.
DAY 10: Chena Hot Springs Aurora Ice Bar + Fairbanks + Anchorage