The Last Frontier | Alaska 2016

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 

Vancouver, BC cityscape

Vancouver, BC cityscape

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. 

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They said there were bears. They said they'd be back to pick us up. They said a lot of things....

They said there were bears. They said they'd be back to pick us up. They said a lot of things....

Show me your "I'm bored" face.

Show me your "I'm bored" face.

Where's our cab, yo?

Where's our cab, yo?

Creek Street was a former Red Light District where "both men and salmon swam upstream to spawn". Ya, no thanks. 

Creek Street was a former Red Light District where "both men and salmon swam upstream to spawn". Ya, no thanks. 

Taking advantage of happy hour. 

Taking advantage of happy hour. 

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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. 

These flowers tho...

These flowers tho...

The only road in and out of Juneau.

The only road in and out of Juneau.

Red Dog Saloon

Red Dog Saloon

70 years young right here.

70 years young right here.

Back on the boat...keeping it classy on formal family photo night. We blame the duck farts. 

Back on the boat...keeping it classy on formal family photo night. We blame the duck farts. 

YAAAS! Nailed that awkward mother-son photo.

YAAAS! Nailed that awkward mother-son photo.

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.

Ice calving!

Ice calving!

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. 

Someone thieved my camera. 

Someone thieved my camera. 

Selfies with the wall canvas.

Selfies with the wall canvas.

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. 

Reindeer Sausage! 

Reindeer Sausage! 

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...

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DAY 9: Denali National Park + Chena Hotsprings

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. 

Denali: This is Tye's last summit! He's already summited 49 of the 50 U.S. state high points. One to go! Some will argue that this is actually harder to summit than Mt. Everest. It typically takes about 3 weeks to reach the 20,310 foot summit. It was absolutely massive. This picture does not due justice and is taken from over 70 miles away. Tye definitely got the itch to climb it after being in its presence. 

Denali: This is Tye's last summit! He's already summited 49 of the 50 U.S. state high points. One to go! Some will argue that this is actually harder to summit than Mt. Everest. It typically takes about 3 weeks to reach the 20,310 foot summit. It was absolutely massive. This picture does not due justice and is taken from over 70 miles away. Tye definitely got the itch to climb it after being in its presence. 

Only because his name is Dick of course. 

Only because his name is Dick of course. 

Look at this hidden gem...

Look at this hidden gem...

I can't even... 

I can't even... 

Can you see Denali in the distance? 

Can you see Denali in the distance? 

Our cabin's front yard. 

Our cabin's front yard. 

Trying to capture the northern lights without a tripod was a little difficult but I managed to capture a couple.  

Trying to capture the northern lights without a tripod was a little difficult but I managed to capture a couple.  

DAY 10: Chena Hot Springs Aurora Ice Bar + Fairbanks + Anchorage 

For $500 a night this bed is all yours.

For $500 a night this bed is all yours.

Alaskan Oil Pipeline 

Alaskan Oil Pipeline