I will post just some summaries about stuff that is happening up here. I thought it would be a fun way to document my time up here!
Days 4 & 5 – Denali
So Monday was our last night in the Kenai Peninsula, and we were all a little sad to leave. Our cabin was freaking amazing, and we had seen so much. But the drive up to Denali on Tuesday was very awesome. We drove up to Anchorage and stopped at the Fred Meyer to get some stuff for dinner because we knew we’d have a kitchen at our next cabin.
Then we went on past Anchorage and took a little detour to Talkeetna, a small town that once started a social media campaign about their mayor being a cat to get more tourists. Needless to say, it worked and there were a ton of people when we got there. It’s a cute place that basically reminds me of any small town shopping scene you’d find at places like St. Charles or Black Ridge (I think that’s the name of the place Grandma and Grandpa stopped with me at a long time ago).
So we got some souvenirs there and continued on to Denali. We were driving for so long, that we seriously we considering we had gotten lost. Once we finally got closer, we could pull over to a viewing spot, where we were supposed to be able to see the peaks of Denali, and we did! Apparently, I’m hearing it’s pretty rare to actually see the peaks, because the weather is just finicky and you never know about the cloud coverage.
We passed the place I am currently working at now (I will post more updates to include all that fun jazz later), the road to actually drive into the park, and the “Canyon”, which is just a tourist trap of expensive shops and cool looking hotels. I’m actually thinking about going to this GoPro store they have, but I am not sure yet. Anyway, we finally got to our cabins, which were great. They were not as fancy as the last cabins, but that’s okay because they were more of what I envision as cabin-like. The owner is really nice, too. She actually is working a summer job at the same place I am, so I see her around a few times throughout the day.
I think that night we just stayed in our cabin and made dinner and updated this website, haha. The long drive was very tiring, and we wanted to wake up early the next day to drive through Denali and see some wildlife.
That’s where one of Claire’s favorite animals comes in! Alaska’s state bird — the Willow Ptarmigan — seemed to be everywhere when we went on our drive. They were almost posted on the side of the road in equal intervals and make their
extremely unique sound when mom started talking to them like chickens. I couldn’t believe that bird was making that sound when I first heard it. I was struggling to describe it, but I think I finally have it: it sounds like Wall-E when he is first starting up, but then something happened and now he’s skipping like a disc or something. That’s the closest I can come to putting into words, haha. It was very amusing.
We also saw some more moose and caribou. There were also some arctic hares and squirrels. Apparently, too, the Grouse (another type of bird) were in the middle of their mating season, and we stumbled upon a pair that was definitely together. The male was walking around the female and spreading his back feathers in a coordinated motion, and I thought it was his mating dance, trying to get the lady bird to accept his birdly manliness. But the owner of the cabins — Terra — said that the male was actually trying to distract us away from the female, because I guess they already mated.
Either way, I was fascinated!
After that, we stayed in the cabin a while — to Claire’s dismay — but we recharged to head back into Denali for another evening drive. We hiked a small trail first, and saw more caribou. I was certain we were going to see some moose, though, when we passed through what felt like an abandoned camp ground, and moose poop and tracks were EVERYWHERE. And seemingly fresh.
But we didn’t, and we drove to the top again, this time seeing a moose from very far away, eating on the side of a mountain. We also saw some mountain goats on the way down. It was funny, because mom said she wanted to see some mountain goats, and then minutes later I told her to stop the car because I thought I saw some, and we did! Four of them!
That night was pretty quiet, because those drives (into the park) were super exhausting. I don’t know what it was about it, but each time we were all just so tired. Claire slept partially for both times, I think, and I think I was definitely about to fall out.
(Again, more pictures will be added later, I am just trying to get the events down and figure out an efficient way to do these pictures!)
Day Three – May 8
I have a lot of catching up to do, so I will make this one a little shorter!
On Monday the 8th, we went whale watching! We left on a boat out of Seward (my favorite place so far), and saw a ton of stuff. We were supposed to go the day before, but ended up going the next day. Apparently the people that went the day we were supposed to go didn’t see a thing, but we saw a bunch of stuff the next day!
Before we even got onto the boat, sea otters were still playing near the shore, and of course the sea gulls were everywhere. Once we finally got onto the water, eagles began to appear more often, and we saw a whale right off the bat. It was a humpback, I believe, and it did the whale tail thing. It was pretty awesome.
Beside the wildlife, the boat was pretty nice. It was way bigger than the one we took in Boston, and we decided to sit on the upper deck nearest the captain. I was pretty confident at first because the waters were calm in the bay, but once we got out onto the actual water, I was definitely fighting the urge to puke. Apparently, the higher you are and the closer you are to the front, the more rocking and seasick you will feel. So on the way back, I decided to sit on the bottom deck and towards the back, haha. While out on the water, we also saw a great deal of sea lions. They looked like big sausages sitting on rocks. We also passed by a harbor seal, which according to the captain doesn’t happen that often! There were more whales that we saw, as well, on our way to the glacier, which was our final destination before returning to Seward.
The glacier was awesome. Of course, it was super cold the closer we got to it, and it was the prettiest blue. Broken pieces were floating in the water surrounding it, and it was just gorgeous. The glacier actually calved while we were there too, and it made a huge thundering sound. There was another glacier-looking thing nearby that made an even bigger sound, but nothing ended up happening. It was all so amazing.
On the way back, Claire and I say next to a really nice guy that I seriously thought was one of my previous teachers for a while until he told me he was from Orlando. I’m so serious, he could be my teacher’s twin — looks, mannerisms, personality, everything. So that was cool.
Aside from the ocean life, we also saw some mountain goats doing their thing on the side of a cliff on our way up to the glacier. My favorite sighting — aside from the harbor seal — was probably the black bear, though. He was just climbing a cliff right over the water, in clear view of our boat. The captain told us that black bears can pretty much reach any point a mountain goat can, which I thought was pretty impressive. Looking at the thing, it did seem pretty nimble.
(pictures will be added soon. I’m hitting a road block with the cooperation from this website and am figuring out a solution. But I didn’t want to not update it)
Day Two – May 6-7th
I forgot to mention in the previous post that we saw bears on our way back from Kenai to the cabins! We were on the Seward Highway, and there were a few cars pulled over. When we stopped to see what they were looking at three grizzly bears popped out of the woods! They were sticking to their business, just walking around and looking for food it seemed. We didn’t get out of the car, but a couple guys did. They stayed a good distance away from the bears, and the bears didn’t even seem to notice. I wasn’t about to get out, though!
So the next day, the 7th, we got up and decided to try to hike Portage Glacier, which would’ve lead to an area where we could have seen sea otters and stuff like that. To get to that trail, we had to go through a massive tunnel that leads to Whittier. The one lane tunnel is actually shared by two lane traffic and trains, so they have 15 minute intervals where one of those can go at a time. It was pretty nerve-wracking after a while, because the tunnel was so long!
When we finally got into Whittier, the scenes were beautiful. The very small town looks out on Prince William Sound, and the water is amazing even when it’s raining. (Especially when it’s raining, I should say, although the rain did make it pretty cold outside). When we found the trail head, we couldn’t get to it because snow was blocking the way, but the drive up there was still worth it.
The lakes we were passing were amazing, too. The silt from glaciers was making the water the prettiest shades of blue, and we tried to capture it in some pictures. A picture can’t do the beauty justice, though.
So we drove down to another glacier trail mom had heard of, Exit Glacier. That
one was right outside of Seward — probably my favorite place we’ve been to so far. The road to Exit Glacier was closed, so we tried to hike a smaller trail we had seen on the way. We were hiking with a couple and their baby, which I thought was insane because the trail still had a lot of snow and ice on it, and that woman was only wearing yoga pants and converse.
On the hike, we saw moose poop, which I couldn’t believe were so small! I also saw a bear track in the snow on our way back, which wasn’t long after we started because the ice was just too worrisome. I picked up a wildlife book later on, and thought maybe the track was from a black bear. The paw pad was huge, but the claw marks didn’t seem to be as big as the grizzly marks.
We decided to stop by Seward because we were so close to it, and got to see sea otters! They were just playing in the bay, floating on their backs near the shore. There was a lady there that told us she was seeing whales out farther in the bay. She said she saw them spout, but I didn’t see anything while we were there. They can stay under for a long time, though, so we probably just didn’t stay long enough.
We ended up eating at a fancy seafood restaurant on the marina, and saw many eagles and seagulls! That’s where I did the Facebook livestream of the seagulls, haha. An immature eagle flew by our window and landed on the railing outside. It was pretty awesome.
On the way home we stopped by a river bed and walked around a little bit. There were some streams and a lot of smooth rocks and black sand. There was a couple playing with their dogs in it, too. So it must be a fun place to come to each year when the river dies down. I’m pretty sure it was the Resurrection River, because the trail we hiked — which was close to this — was called Resurrection trail and plus the name just makes sense. I don’t know for sure, though.
A Long Day of Travels! – May 5-6th
Finally! Alaska said, “Let there be WiFi!”
Connection has been very spotty up here, and our cabin in Healy has finally granted us some decent signal. So I have a lot of catching up to do!
The first day of just getting to Alaska was very hectic. We flew from St. Louis to Portland, OR okay, but our connecting flight to Seattle was cancelled. I wasn’t bummed about it, I just thought, “It’s all part of the adventure, right?” We got rescheduled to a flight that was leaving about an hour later, which pushed our final flight from Seattle to Anchorage back a couple hours later. When we touched down in Seattle, we realized that mom had been booked for a different flight than Claire and me, so we talked to a couple flight attendants. Let me tell you — I still have no idea what happened. I think it was a ticket numbering error, but I was so confused about it all. No matter the confusion, we all got on the same flight to Anchorage and landed safely after a lot of tension over whether or not we would have seats. I sat next to a very demanding lady and her apologetic husband, but oh well.
FINALLY, we landed in Alaska, and we were all just so tired. We got to baggage claim, and the thought that had been tugging at me ever since out flight got cancelled had been realized. Our baggage was lost, so we had to wait until the next day to pick up our bags at the Kenai Airport. Needless to say, we were feeling pretty gross sleeping in our clothes from the day before and chewing gum instead of brushing our teeth. We hit up a Goodwill to buy some cheap coats, hats, and gloves to that we could still hike some trails and do other stuff before we got to the airport — that way it wouldn’t derail our plans all that much. We even found this store that is Walmart times five. It has everything and more. There’s even a built in day care place you can drop your kids off while you shop. They were watching Horton Hears a Who the other day, and I kind of wanted to stay with the kids and watch the movie — it didn’t happen. Anyway, we were already planning on going to the Kenai Peninsula, so we made our way from Anchorage to Kenai and made a couple stops.
First, we stopped just after Girdwood at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. It was pretty much like a zoo/family farm type of deal. There were rescued wolves, black and brown bears, porcupines, sitka deer, caribou, a lynx and owl. It
was a pretty cool. We also saw the biggest ravens I have ever seen. They were intimidating when you got up close! So after we did that, we checked in at our cabin in Moose Pass because it was on the way to the airport. It was very nice and fancy! It had a cool electric heater and very fancy shower. We didn’t stay long before we headed back on the road to get our bags.
In Kenai, we got to pick up our bags and decided to go out to eat while we were in town. It was a pretty neat little town. It was pretty flat for the most part, but you could see the mountains in the distance. So after what felt like a very long day, we finally got to go to our cabin and take some well deserved showers and sleep! After everything was said and done, it all seemed kind of funny. I will admit, I was mad in the moment when we lost our bags, but everything turned out okay, haha.
And the lady at Goodwill said that that happens to people regularly! The airlines losing the bags of people who are flying to Alaska, I mean. I thought that was pretty crazy.
So there are some pictures in this post, but you can find the rest of the pictures divided into sections in the View From Up Here page.
The Final Days – April 30th
With just five days before we fly out, I am getting ready to go! I have four finals Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and then I am off the hook. Between now and Friday, I am slowly getting laundry done, packing space bags, and making last minute arrangements before I leave. I am excited to go and sad to leave, but I will keep everyone updated while I am gone and see you all when I get back! It will be like a long summer camp!
Dad has a trip he has to go on too, and he will be leaving tomorrow. He should be back by the time mom, Claire, and I have to leave for the airport. It will be close! Until then, I will keep packing, and probably play some video games before I say goodbye to them for three months. But that will be after I spend many hours with the dogs, of course 🙂