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North to Alaska—Finally

Laurie and I were born and raised in Washington State, the state closest to Alaska. But we’ve never made the trek up north to visit the 49th member of these United States. Something about cold and mosquitos kept it off the top of our list. But we’re currently on a ten day “scouting trip” up here and wanted to share interesting things about our first stop, Anchorage.

Anchorage is the largest city in the state. We’re here mainly because we wanted to reconnect with friends and it was a good starting point for our visit.

Cool things to do in Anchorage:

Bike the Coast. We rented bikes from Downtown Bicycle Rental (super helpful and reasonable) and biked along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, a 20+ mile paved route that goes through urban and forested areas. We saw bald eagles but no bear or moose—which are often seen on the trail. Which brings me to the next cool thing to do which is…

Young Moose

Moose Watching. These big critters frequent the city like alligators in Orlando. In fact, the Anchorage Daily News publishes a calendar each year with moose pics sent in by readers. We didn’t actually see one until we were driving home with our friend from his place in the suburbs.

Bear Watching. Maybe not so much in the city, but they’re plentiful in the burbs. Here are two security videos showing bears browsing for trash—one failed, the clever one, a winner. One thing we learned is that in Alaska is that we in the lower 48 call grizzly bears, they classify as either brown bears or grizzlies. They’re the same species, but grizzly bears are a slightly larger subspecies which lives farther inland. Either, can mess you up.

Eat. Lots of great restaurants such as F Street Grill, Tequila 61, and Moose’s Tooth Pub and Pizzeria, and Humpy’s Great Alaskan Ale House.

Portage Glacier

Get out of Town. We took a tour with Planet Earth Adventures and drove up the Turnagain Arm waterway with Matt—full time nurse, part time tour guide, and a mother and daughter from Minnesota. The trip included a cruise on Portage Lake to see a glacier, a lunch stop in Girdwood, and a visit to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.




Tips for Saving Money

  • Food in Alaska tends to be costly. When we travel we do a lot of cooking in our Airbnb and limit our eating out to one meal a day. In this case we packed a lot of dried foods to limit what we had to buy at the grocery store. Saved us a lot of money.
  • In Anchorage the “People Mover” bus system is pretty reasonable. A day pass is $5, and the routes cover a good portion of the city. We used the Google Maps app on our iPhone to select routes and it worked fine. Never rented a car.

Travel Update. We are in the Seattle area most of the summer until mid-September. Our plan is to head to Italy and spend 30 days hiking from Florence to Assisi to Rome on the “Way of Saint Francis” pilgrimage followed by two months in Spain.


4 thoughts on “North to Alaska—Finally”

  1. Dennis – I hope you guys have Denali in your itinerary. We did it 9 years ago and took the plane up to the glacier. Worth the effort and cost. Enjoy

    1. We didn’t make it to Denali this trip–but plan to in the future. We started making reservations back in March and most of the Denali places were booked up already.

  2. It is enjoyable to see ya “on the trails again” because then I know where you are! ha, ha! The last 3 Toastmaster Fall Conferences were in Anchorage twice and then in
    Juneau last Fall. Since there are no more Fall Conferences per the TI Board aristocrats who don’t care about the members when in comes to conferences
    (previously Region ones, and now District Fall ones), D32 now alternates the
    Spring (now called Annual) conferences between WA and AK. This April was in Bremerton and next year in Anchorage. Those have been my only enjoyable trips to Alaska, so I liked to go there. What was unusual was Whittier, which is reached by a
    long single road toll tunnel over a rail line from Portage. It is extremely cold in October! It is a seaport during summer.

    1. We’ve heard about the rail tunnel–but didn’t do it on this trip. Maybe next if we do a cruise up here since that’s one of the main cruise line ports.

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