Discussion in 'Alaska' started by Mobin, Sep 20, 2008.
Alaska is a state in the United States of America, in the northwest of the North American continent. It is the largest U.S. state by area, and the 6th wealthiest. The area that became Alaska was purchased from the Russian Empire after Congress concluded its resources could be vitally important to the nation's future growth.
what awaits tourists there?
Alaska, I think, is best seen from a cruiseship at least on the 1st journey there.
You get exposed to much more than you would on land and you can double or triple your time enjoying everything Alaska has to offer.
Many of the Alaskan ports are similar in construction and what they have to offer. Each has at least one unique aspect and it is fun to find that one aspect.
The natural wonders of Alaska are everywhere you look and whether it is blue glacier ice or a snow covered mountain or whether it is a vast tundra or lush coastal region, Alaska has something for everyone's tastes and usually lots of it!
Here's some excerpt samples from one of my travel blogs on one of my trips to Alaska the past couple years:
The Davidson Glacier near Haines:
Arriving in Skagway it was very cold in the morning and fortunately I was able to quickly board the (warm) Chilcat Express boat for a 45 minute trip to the Davidson Glacier area near Haines. The Express is the fastest boat in Alaska and capable of 50+ MPH.
My guide Kyle was interesting, funny and informative. We landed on a beach near the glacier, took a 4-wheel drive bus to an outpost where I was dressed in canoe/wild water gear. A short hike to the canoes on the river preceded our paddling upriver to Davidson Lake which was fed by the glacier. This truly was a back to nature adventure and after a quick paddle around the lake, it was time to approach the glacier face.
The size of the Davidson glacier face is difficult to determine and to get the proper scale of how large it really is you must canoe right up to it (and this was one of the smaller glaciers I saw).
Icebergs as big as a bus floated near me in Davidson Lake and knowing they broke off the face recently made me appreciate not getting closer than 100 yards to the face.
A moment of silence in front of the massive glacier made me reflect on the beauty of Alaska. We then reversed our route and headed back to the Express which had lunch waiting for us for the return to Skagway. Overall, a highlight of my trip.
My favorite thing to do in Alaska?: Take a floatplane anywhere to see the vastness of Alaska from the air. There is nothing like the vistas of mountains, glaciers, and the experience of taking off and landing on water.
Summertime in Alaska is warm, colorful and the people are all happy, friendly and welcoming to visitors. I don't know what was more captivating--the snow capped mountains, the blue glacier lakes or extreme vastness and desolation of the Alaskan interior such as in Denali National Park.
The day I was to see Hubbard Glacier Bay, my ship was able to navigate through icebergs to get within 1 to 1 1/2 miles of the glacier face which is 5 miles wide, 1,500 feet deep and 76 miles long. Watching and especially hearing the crack of ice and calving was awesome--simply awesome. The water was calm, the air crisp and the views magnificent.
Alaska is too full of eye candy to pick and choose just one fond memory.
A tip for travelers to Alaska and its ports:
Buy a cyber (internet card) for Seaport Cyber which is located in Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka and use it in all the ports. It is $10 for 2 hours and they are located in the downtown port areas.
It would take weeks & lots of money to see & do Alaska's Inside Passage on land or air instead of a cruiseship so having a floating, mobile accommodation is best for this type of journey IMHO.
My adventure included a northbound Inside Passage trip to Whittier/Anchorage, Alaska via Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Sitka and the Hubbard Glacier Bay.
I took care of most of Alaska-based souvenirs in Ketchikan and I did use coupons for some free items and deeply discounted items at the Dockside Trading Co. store. I also bought an internet card at Seaport Cyber in the Salmon Landings building. This card was good in all of our ports and was $10 for 2 hours of credit.
A trip via floatplane from the Ketchikan harbor near our ship was next and the flight took me to the remote and secluded George Inlet Lodge for a dungeness crab feast. The flight was very scenic and the full-meal luncheon was incredible. I was not a fan of crabmeat (I prefer lobster in drawn butter) but after this meal, I was converted. Two HUGE dungeness crabs were served and I was instructed on the proper Alaskan method of eating them which included using the crabs own pinchers for scooping the meat.
Following lunch and quick stroll thru the gift shop I had a wonderful flight over fjords, mountain tops, lakes, waterfalls, glaciers, and even a cruise ship pulling out of port before landing next to the Regent ship.
Sawyer Glacier,the ice floes from it and Juneau
This was to be a very busy day with an early breakfast and early disembarkation to another smaller boat that alongside the Mariner.
We then headed upriver through the Tracy Arm to get as close to he north and south Sawyer Glaciers by breaking through the blue ice floes, grounders and icebergs while the Regent ship headed to the port of Juneau. It was cold but so scenic and pictures can hardly do the area justice. I saw waterfalls, black bear, mountain goats, bald eagles, seals, and later humpback whales when we headed to Juneau to meet up with Mariner.
Back in Juneau, I had to return to the Red Dog Saloon which touts itself as the most famous saloon in Alaska. I then had to get ready for excursion #2 for the day--a bus trip to the Mendenhall Glacier Park, followed by a small boat trip looking for wildlife in nearby Auke Bay.
The Mendenhall Glacier was impressive and I would recommend the visitor center as your 1st stop in the park.
The Auke Bay wildlife quest was very successful as I saw many bald eagles, stellar sea lions, many types of birds, and best of all, a full-breaching whale. Dinner was served on board the boat and was very good.
Skagway---be sure to seeTequila Bob @ the Red Onion Saloon & Brothel
In Skagway, I walked around the train station, a hunting and fishing expedition office, and then the town's highlight--The Red Onion Saloon which also used to house a brothel. Tours of the brothel upstairs are still offered. Be sure to tip the piano player-Tequila Bob- as he is saving up for a liver transplant (just joking) and feel free to take a photo with your costumed waitress while enjoying their signature margaritas. The Saloon is a fun place to spend an afternoon or evening.
Hubbard Glacier, Whittier, & Anchorage, AK
.The day was calm, peaceful, and smooth plus a great day for viewing the scenery, reading & relaxing and taking breakfast via room service. Our ship was able to get within a mile or so of the face of the Hubbard Glacier-5 miles wide, 70 miles long and 1500 feet deep. Calving ice was frequent and the "cracking" of the ice was eerie. Our ships captain spun around 360 degrees at least twice so that everyone could enjoy the glacier from their verandahs. That was a real treat. After an hour or so at the glacier, we headed to open water and Whittier.
Since I had taken the train from Anchorage to Whittier last year, I decided to take a bus to the Anchorage airport from Whittier and I am glad I did as we saw different sights including the Portage Tunnel, and we stopped at the Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Station for 45 minutes to see various indigenous wildlife. I would recommend this stop for families to see many Alaskan animals in one spot.
Because my flight to Las Vegas did not leave until 4 PM or so and we arrived at the Anchorage airport at 10:30, I left my luggage in a luggage storage area ($5 per bag) and took a complimentary shuttle to Alaskan Gold Mine Company and Wild Berry shops for lunch and some final shopping. At the Wild Berry Shop, be sure to see the world's tallest chocolate fountain adjacent to their candy factory. It is 20 feet tall and holds 2,000 pounds of liquid chocolate! Once I finished here, the shuttle took me back to my terminal in time to pick up my bags, check in and then slowly make my way to the gate to reflect on a wonderful adventure.
Alaska has some amazing natural resources, so it was wise to make it part of the U.S. and that was before we were so dependent on oil.
funny how Alaska became part of the United States
Alaska became a part of the U.S. because Russia sold it -apparently they needed money and also thought Alaska was an empty ice land. At that time, American citizens also thought buying Alaska was a waste of money but then gold was discovered in the 1800's, and now oil has been discovered. I think Russia must be really kicking themselves for selling Alaska...
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