How can we capture Alaska in words? The beauty really is magnificent, just as everyone says. It’s almost too surreal – as if living in a photo.
We got to spend three weeks this last summer in Alaska, using Anchorage as a home base. Anchorage is just a normal mid-size, almost suburban-like American city. It’s a military town, and many Samoans have also made Alaska their home, so there is a lot of diversity. One of our most memorable days in downtown Anchorage was running through the city, down to the water, and back up for some pizza and beer for dinner! That is one of our favorite ways to get to know the lay-out of a new city.
Many of our days though were pretty normal, still finishing up some work that bled over from the school year. Don had several of his meetings walking around the neighborhood with his earpods. We’d all go for runs together, and even get in some track workouts. Ironically, we were less than a mile away from The Dome, the largest indoor track in the world, and they had several low-key track-meets where our kids participated. Gabe especially loved it!
But other days were fabulously unique and memorable. We heard that “Anchorage is 20 minutes away from Alaska.” 😉 And it’s pretty true. If you hit the road in either direction, the landscape changes dramatically, and it feels like you entered a movie.
These are a few of our highlight day trips:
Kenai Fjords National Park – We drove the iconic Seward Highway many times, the first time heading to this National Park to get a front row seat to Exit Glacier. It was beautiful! This was the first time it really registered to us, that a glacier is a river of ice, moving at approximately 1 m a day. We usually thought of it as just the presenting, gorgeous blue eccentric formation, but that is just the “toe” (terminus). The kids earned their Junior Ranger Badges and took some time to draw their impression of the glacier.
Flat Top Mountain – Everyone knows that Alaska has LONG summer days, and it was very interesting to experience that. I don’t think we ever saw a full dark night. As a sunset lover, I got to enjoy a 4-5 hour colorful display as the sun slowly set. One night, Don and I headed out for a date at about 9 PM to go hiking! We hiked up to the top of Flat Top Mountain, a popular trail and view just outside the city. The last part was a steep rocky climb, but the views were magnificent!
Matanuska Glacier – Another special date night was on our 17th Anniversary! We drove about an hour away to visit this glacier. The access was privately owned, so we paid to park and walk out to this remote area. For a while Don and I were walking on dirt and rocks, but before we knew it, we were actually walking on the glacier, on ice. We made our way as close to the beautiful formation, stepping carefully, able to hear the creaking of the ice below. We found a picnic table and again enjoyed a gorgeous long sunset with wine, celebrating our fun marriage.
Mt. Alyeska – This is a great ski resort in the winter, but we were able to hike around the trails in the summer. The first time we visited, we took the gondola up on Don’s birthday. We also visited again on our very last day, just me and the kids, making it to the beautiful waterfall and going across the river on a hand-tram!
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center – Isaac just loves animals, so I took him and Jadyn out to this conservation center where they were able to see bears, moose, elk, and bison up close and personal. Rainy day, but still very memorable.
Denali National Park – This was my birthday treat! We chartered a flight with K2 to fly from Talkeetna to Denali and actually land on the Ruth Glacier. It was unbelievable! The views, the whole experience, utterly breathtaking! It was neat to be back on snow again with such amazing 360 views. Thanks, Don for such a fun gift!
There were many other great hikes and memories – so grateful for this trip, and can’t wait to go back again!