July 08, 2002

Alaska - the summary

We're back.

The trip to Alaska ran to 10 pages in my trip journal
(paper), and I don't really feel like transcribing all of that, so I'll just pass
on the gestalt here.

Trip Summary: Flew to Anchorage 6/28. Stayed at
the Voyager -- not bad, though undergoing renovation. Spent one full day there:
wandered through the Saturday Market, took a trolley to the Native Heritage
Center, another trolley tour through town, saw one movie with the Northern Lights
put to music that put me to sleep and a better one about the state in general that
I think started out as IMAX. Had a good Thai Chicken pizza and excellent beer at
the Glacier Brewhouse. Drove up to Denali. Stopped at Talkeetna to get on a plane
and flightsee Mt. McKinley (aka Denali), got only a glimpse of the mountain in the
clouds, but did get to land on a glacier. Stayed at the Princess Lodge (owned by
the Princess cruise line). Not overimpressed with Princess hotels; the hotel part
is OK, not the sort of luxury they'd like you to think they have, but the food is
definitely mediocre. Also, too damn many tour buses coming in and out. Went on a
bus for a wildlife tour through Denali, in weather not conducive to spectacular
shots of the mountains. Went rafting that evening and had a blast -- it was
chilly, but they had us in very good drysuits. We also found that the bar and
grill and the salmon bake place across the road from our hotel were both far
better than any of the hotel restaurants. Drove up to Fairbanks, where we stayed
in the Wilderness Lodge, another place on the tour bus route. Ate at the hotel
restaurant, where Rudder's steak tasted funny (cue ominous music). Went to
Alaskaland, which despite the kitschy name had a good little aviation museum and a
wonderful presentation on the Gold Rush, as well as less stellar attractions --
house museums and shops and a beached paddleboats.

The next morning
we'd have liked to tour the NOAA satellite tracking station, but they were too
busy with a satellite launch. We drove down to Copper Center, by Wrangell-St.
Elias National Park (the largest NP). We stayed at another Princess Lodge. After
another mediocre dinner, Rudder began feeling a bit off, which eventually
culminated in his being violently ill at 3AM (loudly, too, though he'd
considerately closed the bathroom door). Instead of the long dirt-road drive into
the park we'd planned, we drove just the first part of it -- paved road to
Chitina, then a few miles of dirt for some more views. I drove, actually; he was
only somehwat there, but decided he'd rather feel lousy out of doors than in a
hotel room. I ate at a historic roadhouse (food OK but a little bland and greasy)
and brought him back rice and toast. The next day, I drove us the six hours or so
to Seward, while Rudder looked pale and wan in the passenger seat. Usually he
drives because he likes to and I don't, for more than an hour or two. When we
finally got there, he napped (we were at the Windsong Lodge) while I drove into
town briefly. The we went to dinner at the Resurrection Roadhouse, which despite
being at our hotel was excellent -- 15 good beers on tap (plus Bud), a
winelist, and tasty food. Unfortunately I couldn't save my Pad Thai -- no
minifridge in the room. Good hotel, too. Next day Rudder was considerably better,
though still feeling inflated after eating anything much. We went on a
cruise/kayak trip -- out to Fox Island on one boat, kayaked around it for three
hours, had a very good salmon bake (salmon is usually too fishy for me, but this
wasn't at all, and was nicely grilled), and cruised back on another

This is just the bare bones of the trip, but it's already
getting long (now you see why it was 10 pages in the handwritten journal). I'll
end here for now, and post later or tomorrow with more highlights and experiences.
For more lyrical travel writing, go check out href="http://ziggym.diaryland.com">Egret, who's seeing Ireland the right way -
- by living in it.

Posted by dichroic at July 8, 2002 09:59 AM
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