When I was younger, I went to Alaska for two weeks on a family vacation. Contrary to many people’s beliefs, Alaska is not just one big sheet of ice. In the summer, it can get warm there and is actually filled with forests. When we went in July (I watched the 4th of July fireworks from the airplane) it was supposed to be in the 70s but it ended up getting a cold front and it was in the 50-60s and cloudy, but we still had a great trip!
We started in Anchorage and did a two week loop around so many towns including Soldotna, Homer, Denali, Tok, Fairbanks, Valdez (famous for the Exxon oil spil), Whittier, Seward.
Since I went so long ago I can’t remember in what order we did these activities but I remember everything we did.
Denali National Park- Denali is six million acres of wild land, bisected by one ribbon of road. Travelers along it see the relatively low-elevation taiga forest give way to high alpine tundra and snowy mountains, culminating in North America’s tallest peak, 20,320′ Mount McKinley.
We did an all day bus tour where we saw so many brown bears, caribou, moose and a huge wolf who walked right next to our bus. Unfortunately, when I was on this trip, digital cameras weren’t invented yet so I can’t upload any original pictures but I took 5 rolls of pictures while I was there! T
We took a boat trip to a glacier where we saw glaciers break off and whales and porpoises all around the boat. You could hear crackling and then finally bits of glaciers would rumble off this cliff and fall into the water. All the while, whales are breaching and you can see their tale in the air. It was beautiful! If you like nature, I highly recommend visiting Alaska.
On a side note, I’ve never seen more RV’s in my life than in Alaska. The road was filled with them.
We walked on the Worthington Glacier outside of Valdez and as we were driving in there, we saw signs all over the highway saying “Caution, avalanche zone”. That was terrifying!
Tok- We stopped here and it was so cute! The population was only around 1,200 people! I’ll never forget, we went to a small driving range- there were only 6 spots for people and no grass and the matts weren’t even glued to the ground so when we hit the ball the matt would fly off! While we were driving, they needed to grab the balls and two women with helmets went and ran and grabbed the balls! Talk about a small town! So cute.
Northern Lights- Although we weren’t here for it. You should all know what it is! Wikipedia describes it as: “An aurora (plural: aurorae or auroras; from the Latin word aurora, “sunrise”) is a natural light display in the sky particularly in the high latitude (Arctic and Antarctic) regions, caused by the collision of energetic charged particles with atoms in the high altitude atmosphere (thermosphere). The charged particles originate in the magnetosphere and solar wind and, on Earth, are directed by the Earth’s magnetic field into the atmosphere.”
Iditarod- We went to the finish line of the Iditarod, which was so cool! This is a big dog sled race held in Alaska. If you want to learn more, here is a link: http://iditarod.com/
Exxon Valdez Oil Spill- in 1989, Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker, spilled 260,000 to 750,000 barrels of oil into Prince William Sound, Alaska. It is considered to be one of the most devastating human-caused environmental disasters. While we were there, the tour guide told us that they still find bits of oil washing up on shore!
Also, most people don’t know this but because Alaska is so far north, they get only one to two hours of nighttime in certain seasons. While we were there the sun never really set or went down. All of the hotels we stayed in had room darkening shades because even at 3 a.m. it was light out.
Another thing we learned while we were there, kids in Alaska can fly a plane before they can drive a car! If you want to learn more about Alaska, the show on National Geographic Alaska State Troopers is so interesting and shows how hard it is to live up there and how dangerous their jobs are. I love that show!
While we were there we also did a gold rush tour. We got pans and were allowed to dig and go into a creek to find gold. Whatever you find you are allowed to keep.
If you have been to Alaska, share your stories in the comments! I didn’t want to make this post too long, but if I think of any other parts of Alaska that weren’t included in this post, I will write more!