by sam on 08/25/2018

For my summer vacation this summer, I opted to go to Alaska. I traveled with G Adventures/Nat Geo, the same venture that I went with to Iceland in 2016 and Peru in 2017. I chose Alaska for a variety of reasons – first, the trip was one that fit into my existing vacation schedule. Second, I have been trying, at least periodically, to go more places within the United States that I wouldn’t ordinarily travel to (see Wyoming in 2015). Lastly, I wanted a trip that was a bit shorter than my normal two weeks, because my brother was coming home for a spell, and I wanted to split my time off so that I would actually get to spend at least a few days with him. So…Alaska.

The trip looped from Anchorage to Homer to Seward to Denali and back to Anchorage. It started a bit rocky, with my flight nearly getting grounded at JFK and ultimately sitting on the tarmac for six hours, thanks to a veritable monsoon in NYC. A few rebookings and many hours later, I landed in Anchorage, missing all of the first day/night activities, but at least not missing the tour, unlike all of the folks who were supposed to be on cruises who missed their boats.

First stop took us to Homer, a cute coastal town, where we were supposed to go on lots of hikes, but due to the typhoon-like weather than apparently followed me from NYC, we instead visited every coffee shop in town, along with the very small, but very cute Pratt Museum, and squeezed in a hike when the weather finally cleared up a bit.

From Homer we circled around to Seward, another coastal town, where we got a private behind-the-scenes tour of the Alaska Sea Life Center (interrupted by an always fun fire alarm!), saw our first puffins, went on a boat tour of the alaskan coast and saw more puffins in the actual wild, together with a pod of orcas, and hiked up to view Exit Glacier, which is much smaller than it was even a few years ago.

From Seward, we had a loooong drive up to Denali, stopping a few times to stretch our legs and take pictures along the way. Our first full day in Denali was a 4 hour one-way bus ride deep into the park to view wildlife and the Alaska range – of course it was cloudy and rainy on the day we were scheduled to do this, so we couldn’t actually see Denali (only 30% of visitors actually ever see the mountain). The next day, when we did some more local hikes, it was (obviously) clear and beautiful.

Last, we headed back to Anchorage where at least some of us had a day to wander around before leaving for the airport, but not before I (or really, our fantastic tour leader) arranged for a local photography guide to take me on the Denali and Parks highways early in the morning so that I could do some landscape photography. As a bonus, we ran into some beavers building a beaver palace, even though they normally only come out in the evening!

Tags: ,