Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Alaska - Days 1-4

Whenever I travel I always try to stay as long as possible because I don't know if I'll ever get back, so we decided to take the Princess 13 Nights Off the Beaten Path Cruise tour.    I was so excited about this trip because I had wanted to go to Alaska for years and had never been on a large cruise ship.

We started our adventure in Anchorage and stayed at the comfortable Hotel Captain Cook, located in the heart of town.   The next day we headed by bus to the Mt. McKinley Wilderness Lodge, set so you can see exceptional views of Mt McKinley.  While that might not be the clearest shot of Mt McKinley (aka Denali), I took it!!   We were very lucky as we got to see the peak a few times and I know people who have traveled there just to see McKinley, but never saw it because it was constantly fogged in.   
TRAVEL TIP:   Since a viewing of Mt. McKinley is the big attraction, the hotel has someone watching it 24/7 and will actually give you a wake up call in the middle of the night if the weather breaks and you can clearly see it.  (Remember - it's daylight almost 20 hours a day during the summer months)
I loved it because we took the Alaska Scenic Domed-Rail car from Talkeetna to Denali.   Even though it rained, we saw much of the beautiful Alaskan scenery and some wildlife.  I really enjoyed having lunch on the train and liked that each domed car had it's own dining room below.
In Denali, we stayed at the Princess Wilderness Lodge.  When booking the land portion of the trip, I think we missed the key word "Wilderness" because this lodge was definitely in the middle of nowhere and rather basic.   We took the Natural History Tour  which was quite interesting; but the best part was the young man who acted as if he were a prospector and showed us the Savage Cabin.  He gave the entire speech in character and was just a joy to listen to.  We saw some moose and caribou but I was disappointed because no bears were out.
TRAVEL TIP:   Alaska is still quite cold in June/July.   Because of the rain and snow, I was freezing even though I had on long underwear and wore my lightweight ski pants; so dress warmly.    Here it is snowing on June 1st!!    http://alaska.org/denali/natural-history-tours.jsp


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