|A float plane waits in Moose Pass, AK|
For anyone thinking he or she would like to visit Alaska someday: do it. Leave tomorrow.
This trip was not relaxing; it was action-packed, mind-blowing, and very wet. We got up early and made the most of every single day. We lived in our rain gear. Our cameras barely survived. By the end of the trip, we needed a vacation. It was truly awesome.
|Totem in Girdwood, AK|
So, how to get there? Where to stay? What to do?
Online research led us to Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge, a remote and secluded backcountry lodge that is accessible only by boat. The lodge was built and is operated by Alaska Wildland Adventures, an ecotourism organization that specializes in low-impact guided journeys for small numbers of guests in the Kenai Peninsula and Denali areas. It's possible to take journeys of various lengths, with AWA planning and guiding visitors through their entire trip. Or, reservations can be made independently at one of their three lodges in the Kenai Peninsula. We chose this option.
|Slate Island, Aialik Bay|
After our stay at the lodge, we would return to Seward and venture out on our own for the rest of the trip. That would leave us with 5 days; we made plans to do some hiking and flightseeing in the area, and left a couple of days at the end to drive to Denali National Park before returning to Anchorage for our flight home.
We left Detroit Metro at 7:25 am eastern time, had a brief layover in Minneapolis, then arrived in Anchorage at 11:30 am Alaska time. We gained 4 hours, which gave us nearly the entire day to explore the city.
We took a cab to Arctic Fox Inn, a bed and breakfast on the northeast edge of downtown Anchorage, within good walking distance from the train station and shopping areas. We had booked one of their 1-bedroom apartments, which was comfortable and spacious. We wished we could spend more time in Anchorage to take advantage of the great accommodations and the inn's gourmet breakfast, which we would miss, unfortunately. We had to be at the train station by 6:00 the next morning, so they made to-go breakfasts for us, which we found waiting in our refrigerator when we returned later that night.
The weather was gorgeous – sunny and around 70º. After checking in, we spent some time studying a map of downtown Anchorage and figuring out where to eat. We walked to Glacier Brewhouse, where we drank Amber and India Pale Ales and ate delicious seafood chowder, halibut, steak, and chocolate torte. Afterwards, we continued walking around town, spending several hours checking out the shops and enjoying the weather. We walked the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail for a while before returning to the Arctic Fo
The four-hour time difference and the long-lasting sunlight made the day seem to last forever. We were a few months late for the round-the-clock sunlight of early summer, but after sunset (around 10:30 – 11:00), twilight remained until well after midnight. I was too excited to sleep more than a few minutes at a time. Each time I woke up and looked out the window, it was still not quite dark.