We splurged on a summer vacation, and decided to spend nearly two weeks in Alaska. After putting off significant trips for more than 2 years during COVID, we were finally off. The trip started with an evening flight to Anchorage. We landed at 10:30 PM. Late enough to be dark in most corners of the world at any time, but in Alaska in June, it was time to witness a spectacular sunset.
We had a few bumps getting started. Three United flights converged on Ted Stevens International Airport at the same time, overwhelming the ground crew. It took about half an hour to get our bags. Then the rental car company decided they needed proof of my employment to honor the rental agreement. Luckily, we manged to exchange emails through my work account, and after another 30 minute delay, we were on our way.
We arrived at the hotel, only to find that they had overbooked due to some construction in the building and didn’t have room for us. Luckily, they had re-booked us into a downtown hotel. We took another little drive, and after checking in, headed up to our room ready to crash. We suddenly had flashbacks to Spring Break 2021, as the four of us walked into a room with a single bed. Fortunately we just had to go back down to the front desk to get squared away in a double room. At this point we were in serious need of sleep and crashed for the night.
Morning arrived early, as in about 4:30 AM. We tossed and turned as long as we could, but finally gave in around 6:30. We grabbed breakfast in the hotel, and started out for a short walk to explore the city and stretch our legs. We decided to walk down the coastal trail from downtown Anchorage. It was a pleasant enough walk, until the mosquitos arrived. We were about 3 miles down the trail when suddenly we were swarmed by stinging insects. All we could do was take a new direction to get away from the water and hope for the best.
That did the trick. We were now bug-free, but still several miles from our hotel, with the direct route back blocked by the swarm. We toughed it out and hoofed it all the way back into town. After lunch, we decided we’d had enough walking for the day and started a driving tour. We went by the Lake Hood Seaport to watch a few float plane landings, then up to Ship Creek to see if the fish were biting (they were not). At this point we were famished and started looking for dinner.
A Sunday dinner turned out to be an adventure in and of itself, as tourism is back in full swing in Alaska. We waited over an hour for a table after being turned away from another restaurant, but it was worth the wait. We had dinner on the rooftop terrace overlooking the Turnagain Arm and the Chugash Range to the east. It also happened that our waitress from breakfast in the hotel was serving at this restaurant and happened to get our table. Anchorage is a small town indeed.
Day two was time to get the adventure into full swing. We left Anchorage and started making our way to Seward. First, we swung through Chugash State Park for a short hike. The clouds were draped all around the mountains, which made for interesting views but limited the scenery. We did happen across a moose and two calves grazing in the meadow below the trail, which was definitely a highlight.
Next was the drive down the Seward Highway along the Turnagain Arm. This is a simply a fantastic drive, with snow capped mountains rising straight out of the water. Our next stop was Whittier, which required a short drive through a single lane tunnel that is shared between auto and train traffic, which was an experience in and of itself. Whittier is a hard working seaside village set in a beautiful location. We grabbed lunch near the harbor, and then explored a local public beach before shooting back to the tunnel to catch the hourly window for one-way car traffic.
Finally, we arrived at our cabin north of Seward. We’re settling in for the evening and getting lined up for our glacier cruise in the morning. More adventures are just around the corner!