Alaska!

Alaska journal

I traveled to Alaska with Hub and Dot. The first week was mostly vacation, followed by presentations for the Anchorage Public Library system.

Monday, July 1: Flew into Anchorage around 8:00pm—midnight in New York. Still full daylight. Body very confused.

Drove to the hotel, had dinner at a nearby bar & grill (not very good, alas). Came out around 10:30, still full daylight, young kids riding their bikes in the streets!

Hotels here have heavy blackout curtains to help Outsiders deal with the 22 hours of daily (& nightly!) sunshine.

Tuesday, July 2: drive rental car to Seward. Stunning scenery: the highway skirts the Turnagain Arm of the Gulf of Alaska, with the Alaskan Railroad running alongside much of the way.

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Arrive in Seward. Lunch at the Smoke Shack, a remodeled railway car. Good pulled pork sandwich. Then we stop by the beautiful new Seward Community Library and Museum. Librarian Rachel James has arranged tickets for the Alaska SeaLife Center, where we spend the afternoon viewing sea lions, seals, octopi, salmon, puffins and more.

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Woody the stellar sea lion at the Alaska SeaLife Center–he weighs almost 2,000 pounds!

On Rachel’s recommendation we ate at Chinook’s on the harbor. Good eats: Dot had the halbut, I started with two oysters then had the warm mushroom salad with smoked scallops on the side.

Best part: Our window table had a view of the boat slips. For most of our meal, an otter was floating and playing there! I could have watched it all day…

Wednesday, July 3: A gray and drizzly day, but we were comfortable in the cabin of the boat for our fjord cruise. Out of Seward, into the Gulf and up the Northwestern Fjord. Humpback whales, dolphins jumping as if on cue. Bald eagles, seals, otters, puffins, millions of gulls, arctic terns. The glacier itself was awe-inspiring. And two humpbacks put on a perfect show, leaping out of the water several times—way better than that insurance commercial!

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In the Northwest Fjord.

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The glacier grumbled occasionally, a very impressive sound.

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Humpback show.

Thursday, July 4: The weather—grayer and drizzlier—discouraged us from going into Seward to see the famous Mt. Marathon race. Instead we hiked to the edge of Exit Glacier and then visited Mitch Seavey’s sled dog kennels! 16 beautiful Alaska sled dogs pulled us on a cart for a two-mile run.

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At Exit Glacier, with Hub and Dot. As Hub is always the photographer, it’s hard to get a photo with him in it!

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At the Seaveys’ sled-dog compound.

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Getting ready to go.

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GOOD DOGS!

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Dot makes a friend…

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…and another (one of the three-week-old puppies).

Friday, July 5: Drive to Cooper Landing. Raft trip down the Kenai River to Skilak Lake. Across the lake (with a stiff breeze off the glacier, brrrr…) to Kenai Backcountry Lodge, remote and beautiful.

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In full wet-weather gear.

Bald eagle on the riverbank:

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Ready…

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Set…

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GO!!!

Saturday, July 6: Hiked six miles total, to a point above the treeline where we ate a picnic lunch.

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Halfway up, view of Skilak Lake. (The odd headgear: mosquito nets, an absolute necessity.)

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From the top.

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Along the trail: the blond fur of a grizzly caught on a tree trunk.

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Dot wearing mosquito net, seen through “Old Splitty,” a split cottonwood tree.

Wildflowers everywhere:

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Monk’s hood and dwarf dogwood.

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Wild geranium.

Sunday, July 7: return drive to Anchorage. Stop en route at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center for closeup encounters with wildlife (orphaned or injured, most are rehabilitated and then returned to the wild). Brunch at Anchorage’s (justly) famed Snow City café. Wandered through the weekend City market.

Up close and personal with moose…

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…and musk ox.

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Monday, July 8: Biked the Tony Knowles Coastal trail. Stopped to watch a pair of sandhill cranes picking through the mudflats.

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And on our way back, we saw our first big animal in the wild:

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MOOSE!

Vacation ended with a lovely dinner at Simon & Seafort’s in Anchorage, where we dined with Stefanie Tatalias, SCBWI Regional Advisor for Alaska. I had the halibut. (Halibut in Alaska is different from halibut anywhere else. It’s uber-halibut.)

It was a perfect way to finish our Alaskan sojourn. What a special place–I feel so fortunate to have had the chance to visit!

Next entry: presentations for the Anchorage Public Library system.

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