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North America » United States » Alaska » Anchorage September 10th 2021

Last day in Alaska:( The temperature in the morning in Denali was a crisp 32° but clear. Today I had to head back to Anchorage for my 10PM flight back to Chicago. I had hoped to take the train back but the shortened summer schedule didn't work out with the timing of my flight so I was back on the Park Connection bus. We departed from Denali at 7:15 and headed on the journey out of the Alaska Range down to the coast in Anchorage. The driver for this stretch was a lady named Karen and she was awesome! She has lived in Alaska for 25ish years and provided all kinds of information on the landscapes and the towns as we went by. She told us all about the Talkeetna Bachelor Auction and Wilderness Women Competition ... read more
Snow in the sun
Same view, no Denali
A snowy foothill

North America » United States » Alaska » Denali National Park September 9th 2021

Today I had booked a 3 hour guided hike with Walk Denali, a local hiking company. And then I decided that wasn't enough and did another hike in the afternoon. I think I'm all hiked out now. I grabbed breakfast from the lodge because that's basically the only option for food. Pickup for the hike was to be between 7:45 and 8 so I headed up to the parking lot to wait for the guide to arrive. There were two couples on the hike plus myself. Our guide, Jeremy, has lived in Alaska for 15 years and really likes hunting. But he was also very knowledgeable about the plants, landscape and wildlife. He took us to the Three Lakes Trail, which is part of Denali NP but we used a trail head at the south end ... read more
Great View
Spruce Grouse
Lake 1

North America » United States » Alaska » Denali National Park September 8th 2021

Today I was able to venture further into Denali NP by taking a tour bus. Originally the tour was to be 8-9 hours but the park road is closed at mile 45 so instead it was 5 hours. The tour buses are converted school buses (same as the free shuttle) and they are able to travel beyond the Savage River stop onto the unpaved portion of the road. If you want to see the park beyond the pavement and do not want to go hiking off into the wilderness, this is what you want to do. There is probably a greater chance of seeing wildlife and there are breathtaking views of the Alaska Range that you don't get in the first 15 miles of the road. Take a bus tour if you come to Denali. You ... read more
Northern Hawk Owl
Moose battling it out
Savage River

North America » United States » Alaska » Denali National Park September 7th 2021

Denali National Park was established in 1917, however it was then called Mount McKinley National Park. Apparently people were huge fans of President McKinley and thought that was a better name than the one the native people's had called the mountain. I had to look him up because I couldn't even remember his first name or when he was president. The name debate continued and in 1980 the name of the park was changed to Denali NP but the mountain was still called McKinley. Finally, in 2015, the mountain was officially resorted to Denali. The park is a little over 6 million acres and has one road that extends 93 miles into the park. The first 15 miles is paved and open to cars, the rest is by tour bus or campground bus only. However, as ... read more
An approachable bear
Free shuttle
A lady moose!

North America » United States » Alaska » Denali September 6th 2021

A long day, but so worth it. I was to meet the Park Connection bus at 12:30 at the gas station in Girdwood. So I had time to kill in the morning and all I did was read in the cozy robe provided by the resort. Check out was 10 AM and I was hungry so I went to the grab and go place, got a salad and ate it outside. Took the Girdwood free shuttle back to the gas station to wait for the bus to arrive. This Tesoro station is super busy. Apparently it's the only gas between Anchorage and Seward so no wonder! The bus was not full and I was able to get a set of seats to myself with good views of the Turnagain Arm. The tide was way out so ... read more
DENALI!
Denali
Denali

North America » United States » Alaska » Girdwood September 5th 2021

Today it was time to move on from Seward. It was a sunny, crisp morning and I was able to clearly see the surrounding mountains. I enjoyed my last morning of free breakfast, packed my bags and headed out to meet my bus. Today I had a short 2 hour ride on the Park Connection bus from Seward to Girdwood. The bus was a regular bus with nice seats and big windows. The Park Connection is a good option to get around if the train schedule does not work out in your favor. I chose to spend the night in Girdwood to break up the journey from Seward to Denali and to experience more of Alaska. Girdwood is a small town about 40 miles south of Anchorage and the main draw here is the Alyeska Resort, ... read more
Transportation for the day
View along Seward Highway
Alyeska Resort

North America » United States » Alaska » Seward September 4th 2021

Today was my last day in Seward and it was pretty relaxing. I slept in and ate a leisurely breakfast at the hotel. The only thing on my agenda for today was a visit to the Alaska Sea Life Center. The Sea Life Center is at the other end of town from my hotel. To get there I walked along the coastal walkway, a nice paved path that winds through campgrounds and along the coast with amazing views the entire way. There were lots of families sitting down to breakfast next to their campers or out walking their dogs. There are signs along the path with information on Seward and the nature surrounding it. Several focus on the earthquake of 1964. It was a 9.2 earthquake, the second largest ever recorded, and the quake plus resulting ... read more
Sea Life Center
Fun Covid Sign
Fish

North America » United States » Alaska » Seward September 3rd 2021

Let me get this out of the way, I did not puke on the boat! Several others did, I did not. Got your attention there. Today was spent in the very capable hands of Captain Kaylee and First Mate Tammy on board the Viewfinder, a small vessel that is part of Major Marine Tours. Our destination today was Northwestern Glacier and all the sites along the way during our 8.5 hour tour. I chose to sit outside so I didn't have to wear a mask the entire trip (although the mask did double as a way to keep my face warm later in to the ride) and so it would be easy to step to the side of the boat for photos. I took 437, plus several videos on my phone. Tammy started us out with ... read more
Fjords Tour
Humpback Whale Tail
Puffin!

North America » United States » Alaska » Seward September 2nd 2021

Today I took the Coastal Classic train to Seward and hiked to Exit Glacier. Both were amazing! The day started early. Honestly I was up at 2 AM (5 AM Chicago time) and couldn't go back to sleep. So I had a snack and did some reading. Finally it was 5:30 and time to check out and head over to the train depot to check in. A light rain was falling but the walk to the depot was 5 minutes so I decided to walk rather than use the shuttle. They have a handy luggage check right outside the depot and will tag your bag with the hotel name so it goes straight from the train to the hotel on arrival. A few minutes later I had my boarding pass and fancy Gold Star pin. Car ... read more
Train Scenes
Train Scenes
Train Scenes

North America » United States » Alaska » Anchorage September 1st 2021

For some reason I dreaded turning 30. Still have no real idea why but at the time it wasn't something I was looking forward to. To cheer myself up I made a bucket list of things to do by the time I turned 40. That bucket list included a few things but the main item was to have visited all 50 states. At the time I had 8 left to go to. As of 9/1 I will have set foot in all 50 states at least once. Some were brief visits, some were longer than needed visits (10 days in Nebraska???), some were repeat visits but all provided me with opportunities to learn something new, see something new and broaden my horizons. America is full of beautiful places and beautiful people. There are corners that will ... read more




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