Armed with a ton of info The Old Man and I decided on a train ride to Girdwood for a hike and a flightseeing tour to a glacier. I was super excited about the train not so excited about the tiny tiny plane. The flightseeing tour was an easy book minus having to admit our weights, the train not so much. We tried to figure out a way to schedule the train, do a hike and get back without leaving the pups in van for 9 hours. There just wasn’t a way so sadly we decided to drive to Girdwood and bring the pups along. Well not 100% sadly, but I do love a train ride.
The next day we lazed around and then headed down to Girdwood for our guided nature hike. In hindsight we could have done it by ourselves, but having the guide insured we actually got off our butts and hiked and she was a load of information about Alaska and its plant life. The hike was 5 miles with not too many uphills, enough to wear us out, but not enough the Old Man complained. Our hike included a family from Dallas who were quite lovely and the boys asked a lot of good questions I would have never thought of. On the hike no bears and no moose. I am really starting to think it is just me. The guide was also amazed at my lack of moose sighting for the time we had been in the area. The drive to and from Girdwood was awesome right along the Turnback arm we didn’t get to see too many mountains as the clouds and rain hid them from us, but it was still amazing. I did see my first moose, but was dead on the side of the road and I refuse to believe in them until I see a live one. I mean a good conspiracy has to give a bit of false hope right?
Woke up the next morning early and super excited to head to the glacier. I wasn’t excited about the plane, but I was excited about all the things we were going to see. Plus hello landing on a glacier! About an hour before pick up the Old Man got a call and our trip had to be canceled do to weather. We choose to reschedule for the next day same time and went to work figuring out something to do. In reality The Old Man went to work figuring something out because my only suggestions was let's head back south and just hit one of the trial heads on the road.
The Old Man found Whittier Ak, the wierdest town in Alaska, and a hike through Portage Pass. I am always down for anything (that doesn't include tiny tiny planes) and it sounded fun. Well sounded fun until we ended up a 2 mile tunnel we had to go through to get to the trail and Whitter. The day was a bit rainy and overcast so we didn’t get clear crisp views of the Portage Glacier, but we (especially the dogs) enjoyed a nice hike even if it was almost straight uphill hill. Simon got his first taste of snow. He wasn't so sure of it at first, but after awhile he got the hang of it. Jayne was in hog heaven, man does that dog love the snow. After another outside shower for the dogs to wash off the mud we headed into town for some grub. All of the people who live in Whittier live in one building on the sound. It looks like a run down office building, but it is home to all of the residents. That does not mean that the town is boring, with the cruise ships landing there and a very large marina on the Prince William Sound the town is hopping with fun tourist stuff (mostly glacier boat tours) and parking was not at all easy.
Back through the tunnel we headed back to Anchorage to plot the rest of our Alaska trip. Thanks to our weather delayed glacier flight we ended up staying longer in Anchorage than expected and it was great!
The flight seeing tour to the glacier was amazing. I was a bit nervous sitting in a plane that was smaller than most of my cars, but our pilot had been flying in Alaska for over 40 years working for the pipeline construction, his own personal flights, and these tourist flights in the summer to pay for his retirement fun. He also flew commercially for over 30 years so we were safe, but I am a freak and still worry. Alaska blows you away with its pureness. The state being so big that if put in the lower 48 each coast would get touch by some part of Alaska all that land and so few people makes for a true beauty. From the air you can see the remote areas that have not been touched by humans. Just breathtaking.
The weather was clear, but we had a bit of haze from the forest fires, but that didn't keep the Old Man and I for dropping our jaws at each site. We unlike a lot of tourist got to see the top of Denali thanks to being in the air, we saw the park rangers packing up Denali's lower elevation basecamp for the season. Climbing season is only from May to the first week in July so we didn't get to see any climbers, but the that was ok I was transfixed by the views. Landing on the glacier was smoother than most landing I have been passenger for. The Old Man and I roamed around the glacier taking pictures and just being amazed at the views and the fact that we just landed on a glacier! Pictures don't do it justice the bigness, the vastness, the pure beauty that you can see from there. On the way back to Anchorage the pilot promised me a moose and flew low in the valley so I was sure to see one. I SAW A MOOSE THEY REALLY DO EXIST! In fact a saw quite a few just munching on food, but mostly playing in the rivers.
With a family funeral scheduled in Texas, the Old Man and I headed up to Chena Hot Springs for the weekend before dropping me off at the Fairbanks airport (it was cheaper to fly out of Fairbanks than Anchorage go figure). Two separate locals recommend it and they were not wrong. Chena Hot Springs is a self-sufficient resort thanks to geothermal power and some serious greenhouse (winter) and regularly farming. If you go get a salad!! Eat all the tomatoes they rival Kentucky tomatoes, my own personal standard. The day we hung out in the spring was around 80F so the 103-113F water temp wasn’t as refreshing as it could have been, but it was still amazing and we met some neat people while we were soaking and hoping the minerals would heal all our ailments.
Woke up early got a run (again no bears whoot) and then the Old Man I headed back to Fairbanks to drop me off at the airport and him to figure out what to do with himself for the next few days of singlehood.