July 08, 2002

Alaska - the lists

The Alaska Trip: the lists

The scenery:

mountains, glaciers, rivers, lakes, taiga, tundra, fjords, oceans

The wildlife:

bear, moose, caribou, Dall sheep, some kind of little shrew or vole that looked
like a fluffy cat's tail, bald eagle, puffin, mew gull, common murre, Dall
porpoise, sea otter, salmon, Stellar sea lion -- we didn't really get close-up
views of any of the larger critters, though. Oh, and mosquitoes.

Cool towns:

Anchorage, pop 225000, Seward, pop 3000 in winter. Lots of restaurants and live
music in Anchorage, plus the Saturday Market -- music, crafts (the good stuff, not
the icky kitschy kind), food. Seward is right on the ocean, and apparently a big
favorite with RVers, but downtown had a nice funky look. We also went through lots
of towns whose population is under three digits, and there are plenty of people
living in AK in places with no roads, and there are still the 'Caribou Clatters'
radio announcements for those with no other means of communication.

Most striking difference:

Cool wet weather -- wearing jackets in July. And it never did get all-the-way dark
at night.

Annoying things about traveling (off the plane):

People at hotels who think that because it's light out, it's OK to make noise late
at night. Vast quantities of people on bus tours. Realizing too late we missed
something cool because we didn't do enough research to find out about it in

Annoying things about traveling (on the plane):

Screaming children (not babies -- I don't like that noise either, but you can't
reasonably expect a baby not to cry). Loud adults. People who kick the back of
your seat. Fat people who don't pay attention to the fact that they're taking up
half your seat. Oh, and Alaska Airlines has nice planes but icky food. And for
some weird reason they served a tract -- well, a little slip with a Psalm verse --
with our lunch on the way home.

Funniest thing overheard:

(in strong Southern accents, while looking at a globe)"Hey, Ma, did you know
there's all of Canada between here and the rest of the US?" "Now you know I'm as
stupid about geography as you are." "Well, it is -- I thought Alaska was just
kinda stuck on top of the US, but Canada's in there."

Also amusing:

Rudder and I have this one tiny problem kayaking: when they put us in a double
kayak on these sorts of trips, we keep getting far ahead of everyone else, even
the guides (because they were in single boats). Even with Rudder still not
entirely better, we'd have to paddle for about a minute then stop and wait for the
rest of them. I attribute it partly to him not having a light paddle in his
repertoire and part to our timing as rowers; we paddle together and most people
don't, or at least not as consistently.

Best restaurants we ate at:

Glacier Brewhouse in Anchorage, Resurrection Roadhouse in Seward.

Beer consumed:

Alaskan Amber, Glacier Brewhouse Scottish, and a doppelbock from Girdwood or
somewhere. All good.

Things I want to do next time:

Seen glaciers calving, gotten up into the Arctic circle, visited Barrow and Juneau
(that's probably two trips -- they're a loooong way apart. Also, more rafting and
kayaking and flightseeing.

Could be better:

Denali, if the weather had cooperated. Wrangell-St. Elias, if we'd been able to
get further in.

Entirely sucked:

Rudder puking his guts up and being queasy or otherwise uncomfortable for the next
few days.

Better than expected:

Anchorage, rafting, kayaking, the hotel in Seward, the salmon bake at Fox

If I did it again I would:

Do more research before talking to the travel agent. (Or get a better one - we
used an agent to plan our Austraia/NZ trip a while back and she gave us far more
info and choices. But we gave her more lead time.) Make sure the boat tour went by
tidewater glaciers. Stay at smaller hotels or B&Bs instead of lodges aimed at the
bus tours.

Will we really do it again?

I hope so. Great place.

Posted by dichroic at July 8, 2002 03:21 PM
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