Sep 22, 2014
Alaska: Days 1 - 3
We've been planning our Alaska trip since February/March of this year. As I've mentioned before, it has been on our bucket list for years because we truly love the mountains and the outdoors. We were also coming up on our third wedding anniversary (say what?!), so it seemed like the perfect way to celebrate.
As I write my trip posts, I go back and forth between making them a virtual scrapbook and making them sound like Trip Advisor review, so I think I'll try a little of both. I love writing reviews and helping others who are passionate about travel, but I also love preserving memories. Let's just roll with it...
If you are catching up, I wrote all about our B&B experiences in Alaska in my first post. Today will take us through Day 3 and then I'll have one more tomorrow to talk about the tail end of the trip.
Why We Went in September
We heard that summer months in Alaska are the busiest, so we opted to go the first week of September. Everyone we ran into there told us we had picked the best time of year to go. Everything is still open (most hotels/restaurants close down for winter around the middle of September), but there are less crowds and the leaves are changing, so it's really pretty. Oh and NO BUGS! Alaska is known for tons of mosquitos, but we didn't see a single one. As far as weather goes, it varied from place to place. Anchorage was the warmest in the 50's/60's, Denali was the coldest in the 30's with some snow. It did rain a few days, but we didn't let that stop us. How can two Californians complain about a little rain?
What to Wear
I wore lots of layers: yoga pants or hiking pants, Smart Wool socks (sometimes 2 pairs at a time - I love the new Ph.D version), tank top, lightweight hoodie, fleece, Patagonia Nanopuff, and since it does rain a lot in Alaska, a rain jacket. I picked up a new Patagonia one while we were in Seward (my old one was too short) and it was $100 well spent. Also, gloves and a warm hat came in handy.
The restaurants are really casual, so we often wore our hiking clothes to them. No need to bring additional clothing to eat out in. I didn't touch my jeans all week.
Day One - Flattop Mountain, Anchorage
As I mentioned in the previous post, our innkeepers suggested a great hike and sunset lookout just a mile or so from their house. It was 6:00pm already, but we had plenty of daylight left, so we changed into running shoes and went for it. The hike is called Flattop Mountain and offers plenty of parking ($5) as well as handicap access for scenic viewpoints...which were out of this world.
You could see the entire city of Anchorage and the mountain ranges beyond, which were later covered in snow that night. We hiked about half way up the mountain and on our way back down we spotted our first animal: a moose! It was my personal mission to see a moose in Alaska, so I happily checked that off my list on Day 1.
We came back to our room and the sun was just about to set. It was kind of like the cherry on top of a really fantastic day. Please note that none of our pictures come CLOSE to capturing the real beauty of Alaska. Just use your imagination.
Day Two - Independence Mine, Willow
Brandon has this sort of odd obsession with ghost towns. I think its his life-long dream to travel the world and photograph ghost towns. Combine a ghost town with the beautiful Alaskan landscape and you have one very happy Brandon.
He was clearly stoked, as we ended up spending almost an entire day photographing Independence Mine outside of Willow, Alaska. My favorite part of historical sites is reading the background information: what it was like there during it's boom, how people lived, what food they ate...etc. I read all the stories to him while he filled his memory cards. And sometimes I'd just get in the way.
After Independence Mine, we headed north to Talkeetna. This town is such a weird little gem!
I had no trouble fitting right in.
We had burgers for dinner and then headed to the historic Talkeetna Roadhouse for dessert.
I had the ginger cookie and Brandon had the mixed berry pie with vanilla ice cream. Actually, I ate a lot of both.
Day 3 - Husky Homestead Tour, Denali
I could not wait for this day! We tend to shy away from the "cheesy" on vacations. We don't like tourist traps and would much rather go find a hike than do a scheduled tour, but, Husky Homestead had such fantastic reviews, that we decided to give it a whirl. Because, puppies.
Jeff King is an Iditarod champion and has opened his homestead to visitors to learn about how he trains his dogs and what it's like to race in the Iditarod. We learned a lot about the dogs, who really are treated like kings there, and the amount of time, money, and endurance it takes to accomplish the race.
It was super fascinating, but honestly, most people are just there for this:
Meet Daisy. Brandon (and her owner) wouldn't let me take her home, but I tried. I tried so hard. Jeff King has his daughters name each litter of puppies and Daisy was part of the Dukes of Hazard litter; hence, the only girl.
We would have made such a cute family. Sigh.
Tomorrow I'll take you to Denali National Park, where I almost froze to death and then you'll find out if I survived my first sea kayaking trip!
at 7:26:00 PM