My family and I went on a two-week vacation in Alaska! We flew into Anchorage and rented an SUV so we could drive around the state for a week. Our first stop was Denali Park. We got there in the evening, drove a few miles into the park, and hiked around a beautiful river. The next day, we embarked on an eight-hour bus ride into the park (four hours there and four back). We saw a ton of caribou, a dall sheep, three bears, and we were lucky enough to see Mt. Denali (the highest mountain in North America, and the tallest mountain in the world from base to peak). Only 30% of people who visit the park get a glimpse of the mountain, and we just happened to make it into the 30% Club!
|Kevin, Denali, and Me|
|Denali from the air|
|Our plane on the glacier|
|The teeny tiny plane in the middle of the|
photo puts the size of Denali into perspective
The next day, we drove back to Anchorage, turned in the rental car, and embarked on our cruise ship. We spent the first few days at sea, eating at the numerous restaurants, enjoying the various activities, and simply relaxing. I decided to take part in a week-long scavenger hunt in which I had to answer trivia questions about the ship, collect random items (such as a red sock and en empty root beer can), and get the signatures of different people aboard the ship. There were about ninety tasks in all, which gave me something to do while aboard. As part of our journey, we sailed through Glacier Bay, which was incredible! We saw several instances of calving, where large parts of the glacier would fall off and crash into the water below. The most amazing part was the sounds it made, like thunder, a crash of drums, and sometimes even like a creaky wooden door.
|Kevin and I in Glacier Bay|
Our first port was Skagway, where we rented a little green jeep and drove into Canada. We drove into a little town called Carcross (short for Caribou Crossing), which is located in the Yukon Territory. It was originally established as a gold mining town during the gold rush. So of course, my dad and brother decided it would be a good idea to try panning for gold. Unfortunately, they didn't find anything, but it made for a fun experience anyways.
|Kevin panning for gold|
The next day we docked in Alaska's capital city, Juneau. Kevin and I took a little shuttle to the Mendenhall Glacier which, like everything else we had seen on the trip, was beautiful. We hiked out to a waterfall and threw rocks at some icebergs. Then we decided that we wanted to stand on an iceberg. Unfortunately, none were close enough, so Kevin rolled up his pants, went into the lake, and wrangled one to the shore. I can now officially say I've stood on an iceberg. While we were waiting for the shuttle to pick us up and bring us back to town, we saw a mama bear cross the street about twenty feet away from us. She had a huge salmon in her mouth that she had just caught in the nearby stream. About a minute after she crossed, her two little cubs scurried across the street to join her on the other side.
Our third port was Ketchikan. Jealous that Kevin and I had seen bears so close up, my dad decided that we should go searching for bears. We took off in a tiny plane with just our family and the pilot. We flew for about a half-hour into the wilderness and finally landed on a small lake. The pilot rowed us to shore with an oar and let us out right next to a river that was full of salmon, making their journey back to the place of their birth. We waited for about an hour and saw three different bears fishing for salmon. It was little frightening to be so close to these huge wild animals, but that just made it even more amazing.
Our last day on the ship, I turned in the findings from my scavenger hunt. I am proud to tell you that I won, and my prize was a bottle of champagne! We disembarked the ship in Vancouver, BC, where we rented bikes and rode around Stanley Park. It was a great ending to a great vacation.
|Fun sculptures in Stanley Park|