Alaska, August 2013

Final entry for our Alaskan trip 2013. We are returning to Alaska next June if you are interested in joining us. Follow us on our web site at as the trip is being developed.

August 18-22, 2013 - Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, Ketchikan & Inside Passage

We had some difficulty connecting to the internet and accessing our blog while on the cruise ship. We apologize for the lack of correspondence & will attempt to summarize our final days on our Alaskan Adventure now.

The group had an absolute wonderful time cruising and visiting the ports of Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point and Ketchikan, concluding with a fantastic cruise through the Inside Passage to Vancouver. I believe the pictures still speak volumes so will continue that format as we end our blog. But first, allow me to quote a couple of our travelers on their experiences so far.

Jon & Mary Goetz said, "We had a great tour of Skagway given by a "Goodtime Girl". This walking tour covered highlights from Skagway's questionable past in an interesting and colorful way. We learned a lot and have a new appreciation for the people who braved everything to live her."

Mary Walrath covers three parts of the trip. "In Juneau we took the shuttle to Mendenhall Glacier, enjoyed the Visitors Center & hiked the 2 mile round trip to awesome Nugget Falls. We recommend this hike to get up close to the glacier and feel the spray of the falls. The White Pass train out of Skagway is a relaxing trip with great narration and spectacular scenery around every turn. It's a great way to appreciate the hardships the miners and gold seekers endured. In Hoonah/Icy Strait Point we encountered clear and fresh air, an interesting museum,  saw and heard whales from shore...a neat experience . Clippers in Hoonah didn't have salmon tacos because the owner's dad was still out fishing and wouldn't be back with the salmon until later. How's that for fresh fish!"

I am testing my memory as I share just some of the excursions our travelers took while in the various port of calls, and they loved them all. Rainforest Wildlife Sanctuary, Eagles and Totems; White Pass Railway (train follows the route of the gold miners of 1898); Helicopter Ride/Walk on Glacier; ATV Wilderness Drive/Talk; Ghost and Goodtime Girls Walking Tour; Whale & Marine Mammals Cruise; Bear Watch Tour; Mendenhall Glacier & Gardens; Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall; Misty Fjords Boat & Float Plane Adventure; Misty Fjords & Wilderness Explorer; Tribal Dance & Cultural Legends; Forest Tram & Tribal Combination. As our travelers send me updates on their adventures, we can add them as they arrive.

Safe to say, everyone had a great time and the weather cooperated almost every day. When you travel to Alaska the first thing they say is to "dress in layers and never be without raingear". The second is never trust the weather reports. We joke in Wisconsin that if you don't like the weather, wait  10 minutes. Well in Alaska that is the absolute truth, especially in Ketchikan that gets about 11 FEET of rainfall every year, their record being 25 feet! For us it only rained 1/2 of the day we were in port. But mostly we had very calm waters, little rain, more sun than usual and the result was 20 very happy travelers.

Mendenhall Glacier with little icebergs in Mendenhall Lake

One of the most beautiful places Wayne & Valerie visited was the Mendenhall Glacier Gardens with its signature "upside down tree" plantings. Glacier Gardens is a one-of-a-kind Alaskan botanical garden nestled in the heart of the largest temperate rainforest in the world, the Tongass National Rainforest. Follow the next few pictures and see if you don't agree.

Inside the Visitor's Center Atrium it was beauty beyond expectations.
Colorful, artful umbrellas complete the beauty of the Atrium

Tribe members welcoming us to shore in Icy Strait Point
Eagle carving done on deck from ice chunk from the Hubbard Glacier...maybe 600 year old ice

Entering the Misty Fjords in Ketchikan

Calm, serene and sunny. Misty Fjords in Ketchikan where it rains 11 feet per year on average

My Canadian law, miners going to gold mines in Yukon via Skagway had to take 2000 lbs of food & supplies or they wouldn't be allowed into Canada.

Over 3000 mules & horses died trying to get supplies up the White Pass Trail to gold mines. Eventually miners stopped attempting to use them any more.

The salmon were running and fighting their way back to where they were born.

Waterfalls were no obstacles to these game fish. There isn't any quit in these guys.

Yes, thousands and thousands of salmon making their way upstream.

Salmon too numerous to count up and down the stream. Fascinating sight.

Happy travelers, Mary and Tom.

Sun gave us a "farewell" as we cruised through the Inside Passage heading to Vancouver.


Our travelers as we cruised through the Inside Passage.
Thank you Linda Moore & Jill Valenti, Robert & Susan Orlowski, Linda Hauden & Joan Boucher,  Larry & Karen Workowski, Mary Walrath & Tom Hall, Betty Marquart & Gloria Gudex, Terry & Nancy Schmitz, Jon & Mary Goetz and Larry & Joanne Michaels. It was a great trip and you made it happen! 

Misty Fjord Excursion out of Ketchikan
A photo before boarding the cruise ship

Saturday, August 17, 2013 - Day 6

Obviously the day began with a choice of 5 various breakfast sites. Having the leisure of sleeping late, many of us did. As we got more acclimated with the ship and all its amenities, we also began identifying and registering for the volume of excursions available. These are available in every port of call, or, a traveler can simply remain on board and sleep, work out in the fitness center, swim in either the outside or inside pool, jewelry classes, attend presentations on the various excursions and Alaska itself or just read a book. No restrictions, no planned activities unless you choose to do it. In Juneau we have travelers signing up for such excursions as helicopter flights over and onto the Mendenhall Glacier, flights up to the Mendenhall Glacier and doing a dog sled ride, taking a bus to the Mendenhall Gardens, lumberjack shows, visiting the Red Dog Saloon, visiting the active Salmon Hatchery, Haddock fishing expeditions, cooking classes, etc.

But before we got to Juneau we cruised near and past the fantastic Hubbard glacier. Wow, was that an experience. Here are some pictures and some details.

The Hubbard glacier is 76 miles long, is about 300-400 feet above the water and is another 400-500 feet below. It is actually an expanding glacier. They believe that near the beginning of the glacier, somewhere within the length of it, there may be water entering from beneath the surface but into the glacier causing its expansion when all other glaciers are receding. No one knows for sure. 
Glaciers are so tightly compressed that they absorb all of the colors of the "color spectrum", except blue. That is why on a cloudy day you can see a blue hue in the ice. We once again were blessed with sunny weather when it was predicted to be 45 degrees. It was about 60 and sunny, the first such day in weeks. Wow, and we experienced it first hand.
Between the glacier and land you can make out a break. Actually this is a channel leading to the Logan Fiord which is created by another glacier, the Logan Glacier. A few years back the channel was closed shutting the fiord off from the outside. This resulted when the Hubbard Glacier advance an amazing 168 feet and shut it down. Eventually the water level rose in the fiord and the jam exploded outward, exposing the fiord once again. The Hubbard Glacier is the largest tidewater glacier.

Being mid-August, there was much calving (breaking off of large chunks of the glacier into the water) but no one got the picture of a lifetime so all we will remember is what our eyes saw and ears heard. It sounded like thunder cracking as the ice split within from the pressure and compressing of the ice. Large fragments can also break off under the water and when it does, the ice is jettisoned upward into the air. We didn't see any of these. 

The officers said we were the closest they had ever gotten to the glacier, within 1/2 mile. I can tell you that from the perspective of those on board on the rear upper deck, we were closer than that. The estimate was maybe 200-300 yards. All I was concerned about was what if it fractured from beneath and jettisoned from below? It didn't and the glacier was a beautiful sight to behold, and it lasted for a couple of hours.
Well, it's was farewell to the Hubbard Glacier and on to our formal dining experience.

That evening we enjoyed the first of two formal dinners held during each trip. Every one of our 20 travelers were in suits & ties and in semi-formal attire. It was a fabulous and memorable time for us all.

We ended our day with another floor show featuring an impressionist and he imitated such greats as Sammy Davis Jr, Elvis & Johnny Cash and many more. Need I say he got a standing ovation.

Our next blogs will not be as consistent as they have been because we write them off ship. Our next stop is Skagway.

Friday, August 16, 2013 - Day 5

We departed Anchorage for our drive to Seward and our connection with our cruise ship, Radiance of the Seas. In Seward, with a little time to spare before boarding, we were scheduled to visit the Alaska Sea Life Center for a historical and educational tour. It was extremely interesting, especially if you were a science teacher with exhibits, live sea and birdlife. Then we were off to board our ship on Royal Caribbean Cruise line. The happiness and excitement of preparing to board was dampened only by the departure of our guide MJ but we plan on returning to Alaska in 2014 and will be sure to ask  for her again.

We  boarded with little fanfare and our travelers were immediately free to go to their cabins and explore this "floating city". It holds 2500 passengers (2330+ on this trip) plus 900 employees/crew. But uppermost in everyone's minds was FOOD! We did have a hardy breakfast and were able to snack at the Sea Life Center but soon found out the Radiance was also a floating restaurant as well. Try over 10 service areas in the All You Can Eat restaurant and this was just one of many eating places on board...and except for specialty restaurants, all were included with the cruise so eat they did. Having "My Time" dining allows us all to eat in a beautiful and spacious restaurant, be served by the most courteous waiters consistent with some of the finest restaurants in the states. We had options of Chicken Pasta entrées, prime rib, beef tenderloin and much more.

Bed time and sleep beckoned us but not before most of the travelers attended the top notch Floor Show featuring a great comedian. Then we crashed in preparation of our first full day on board.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Today we will share some of traveler's comments expressing their reactions to the various excursions they have taken so far in Denali. We will do likewise as our group participates in the many, many excursion options in the Ports of Juneau, Skagway, Ice Straight Point and Ketchikan. 

First a quick summary of our final day in Denali and our long awaited Alaskan Railroad trip. It is about 233 miles from Denali National Park to Anchorage, the final leg of our land journey on ours Alaskan Adventure trip.

Friday we'll be traveling to Seward and then to our awaiting Radiance of the Seas Cruise ship for the cruise part, going past the Hubbard Glacier, then to Juneau, Skagway, Icy Straight Point, & Ketchikan, our final port of call. Then it's on to Vancouver for our flight back home.

First a little about our beautiful ride on the Alaskan Railroad today..

Here we all sit in comfort in a beautiful & comfortable domed car complete with dining room in the lower level. What a way to begin our process of exiting the land portion of our Alaskan trip.

Our diesel engine was our powerful guide taking us out of Denali and on to Anchorage. We traveled the 233 miles in about 8 hours while we sat back and enjoyed the breathtaking views that only Alaska can offer, and of course, we ate!

We captured pictures from the observation deck between cars, ones you just can't get from inside the dome. Whether it was a scenery or a picture of wild flowers, it never ceased to amaze us just how beautiful Alaska really is. The beauty goes on for miles and miles and never gets boring or old. Follow our story as we share a few pictures in an attempt to show you what we were able to see for 8 continuous hours. We may have captured scenes of a hill, a mountain, or a flower bed, but you really need to be present to capture the panoramic beauty of the picture.  You take a picture and it dutifully shows up on your screen, but it doesn't capture the panoramic view your eye is looking at...but this doesn't stop us from taking pictures to share with family and friends, and you.

Of course, the beauty of the outside can't ever put a damper on the appetites of travelers exposed to  the fresh air of Alaska. On the lower level of our domed car was the most delightful restaurant, serving what they said was "first class dining", and they weren't wrong. Our travelers took complete advantage of this opportunity to not only satisfy their hunger, but also continue the melding process of the group, especially those special celebrations like Birthdays.

Happy Birthday Nancy Seckar-Schmitz (Aug 15)

And Happy Birthday Liz Marquart (Aug 9...on left)
We also need to say, "Farewell" to our wonderful guide, MJ. She has been so good to and for all of us, working closely with Wayne & Valerie to virtually guarantee that our trip in Anchorage and Denali would be a success, and it was. Thank You MJ!
Mary Walrath: "Going into the wilderness of Denali today and seeing the wild life up close and the color of the beautiful Polychrome Pass was the BEST."
Larry & Joanne Michaels: "Enjoyed the float trip on the Nenana River.  It was a warm sunny evening and the river was moving quickly. Ty, our driver, gave us a fun ride with enough bouncing and splashing to keep us smiling. The scenery was gorgeous and our guide/driver explained what we were seeing."
Robert & Sue Orlowski: "We took the two hour white water rafting trip. From slapping to splashing to full pounding waves of cool water (water temp 37 degrees) we glided up and down to the rhythm of 14 miles of river. The canyon is picturesque and mesmerizing. Yesterday we had taken a flight to Mt. McKinley, east, north and south sides. The north side is a protected Wildlife Preserve so no landings so we did a smooth landing in a south side glacier and for about 20 minutes enjoyed the enclosing mountain peaks, including throwing some snowballs. Costly but well worth the once in a lifetime "awesome" trip.
Larry & Karen Workowski: "We stopped at the Iditarod and got to go on a ride pulled by the dog team. Awesome. This team had placed in 6th place in 2013. The puppies were so cute! Eyes as blue as the sky. Adorable!!
August 14: "Bus trip through Denali. It was awesome! We saw caribou, moose, bear (mamas with cubs), Dall sheep, ground squirrels and the Alaskan state bird. The scenery was undescribable . It truly is a masterpiece by God. The bus driver was so good about stopping when wildlife was spotted so we all had ample time to make use of our cameras. People on the bus were very helpful in getting pictures for people who could not see the wildlife for whatever reason.  All in all it was a most enjoyable day and we're so glad we went."
August 15: "Train ride was so relaxing. The tour guide was very informative and pointed out points of interest along the way. Ate dinner on train. Very good."
Gloria Gudex: "I found a café in Denali that served baked tomato soup and it was super and delicious."
 Elizabeth Marquart: "Seeing Mt. McKinley on a sunny day and the bus ride into Denali Park was fantastic."

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Our 3rd day was filled with activities beginning with additional optional excursions and concluding with a 7 1/2 hour bus tour of the most famous National Park, Denali. Valerie, Wayne, Tom, Mary, Larry & Karen took the jet boat excursion and will share it with our readers here. However, we have several travelers who will share their comments about their experiences on various excursions, which even included white water rapid trips. We also had 4 people take fixed wing airflights to see and try to capture in pictures, the magnificence of Mt. McKinley itself . These will be posted in tomorrow's blog.

Tom Hall, Mary Walrath and Valerie are seen boarding our ski boat in preparation for our excursion. Larry & Karen Workowski joined us as well. If you picture a Ski Doo watrercraft but only about 6 times larger, you'll have an idea what type of jet ski boat we traveled on. Our captain and the craft were both Coast Guard certified. The type of boat we traveled in are used in rescue missions on many rivers around the United States. We traveled up and down the Nenana River, which also is the river boundary of Denali National Park. Prior to taking the ski boat trip, we had an informative presentation on the fur industry in Alaska and also got to pan for GOLD, and keep whatever we found. It wasn't much gold, but it was real and ours.

This was an interesting trip since it asked us to step out of our culture, our comfort zone, and look at another culture and the way they live in a very different environment. The circular fur pelt shown in the picture above is that of a beaver, once the most lucrative fur in the world. Today it is primarily popular in foreign countries. Beaver make the warmest gloves possible and keeps the hands warm second to no other. Our presenter shared that while the fur trade in the "lower 48" was controversial, fur trapping in Alaska is a viable and necessary part of life to them, handed down from the generation to generation. He explained that there are still many active trappers in Alaska who rely on trapping and the selling of their furs for their very livelihood.  Trappers to this day set and work trap lines ranging from 20-50 miles, always set in a circle  so when a trapper is finished setting his traps, he'll end up back at his starting point. Beaver pelts have gone done in value over the past 20 years. After weeks and months of  hard work, many times in temperatures dropping down to around -40 degrees, the trapper can only sell a pelt for $20. He can sell the meat, rich in protein & fat, to mushers for their dogs, which means only a profit of about $40 per hide.
He demonstrated and showed various furs to include the Red Fox, Wolverine, wolf, martin and others.

Alaskan Red Fox in both pictures
The Alaskan Gray wolf
We panned for real gold and after a demonstration, we too panned for gold just like miners have been doing for centuries.

This was a large male moose partially hidden, eating and oblivious to us. He looked at first to be laying down but he was actually standing.  Before we share our pictures of our adventure, here is some interesting information about the park and area known as Denali.
By mid August they are experiencing leaves turning colors for the fall.
By the end of September, Colorama as we know it, is over.
The road beyond the HQ of the park is closed due to snow by the end of September.
They experience about 4 hours of daylight in summer (actually more dusk than darkness).
After September the area loses about an hour PER WEEK of daylight.
It takes until the end of July for full summer color and foliage but by mid August fall begins.
On the Tundra, just above the tree line, there are trees over 300 years old but only about 20-30 feet in height. If grown elsewhere they would reach heights of 200 feet. Why?
The permafrost above the tree line is only about 1 foot below the surface which stunts the growth of trees. This and the short growing season are reasons for the lack of tree growth.
The area only gets about 7 feet of snow but it is light & so heavy drifting is common, up to 25' high.  

So it is in this environment we traveled, at the end of Denali's summer season and just short of their fall & winter. We  observed a world so beautiful, so breathtaking, so colorful, no words or pictures could ever capture what the eye sees. On our journey through this wonderland, we saw about 7 moose, 7 grizzly bears, about 15-17 Caribou and about 15 Dall Sheep, not to forget the Alaskan State Bird as well. Not bad for such a short period of time. Let us share some pictures with you now.

Mother grizzly and one of her two 2-year old cubs.
A beautiful Dall Sheep in its natural habitat.
A majestic Caribou
And the Alaskan State bird
The beauty of this area could never be captured in pictures, only small parts of it that are duplicated. The only way it can be seen and appreciated is in person. You can take one picture but you always miss the surrounding beauty.

All 4 of these pictures are but 4 blinks of the eye while the rest of the day, the week, the month are the blinks you don't see.

Tomorrow we take the famous Alaskan Train from Denali to Anchorage for preparation for our boarding our cruise ship on Friday. Tomorrow is also the day our blog will be "from the minds and mouths" of our travelers.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

This was a 1/2 day of travel from Anchorage to Denali National Park. We left early in the morning and made a quick stop, as if a group of 20 can be "quick"...but we were pretty timely. The stop was at a Shopko type stop to get snacks, etc. We were already anticipating our 8 hour bus tour of Denali and the snack/food selection was better and less expensive. Then it was off to see the Iditarod HQ in Wasilla. We visited the museum, watched a video of the famous Iditarod Race, which runs about 1049 miles long from Willow (outside of Anchorage) to Nome. MJ, our wonderful guide, explained the history of how this now famous race came about and is as popular as it is. The race is held in the first week in March and can last from 7-10 days through some of the most strenuous and trying dog sledding trails and weather conditions imaginable. We were told that the first woman winner of the race was from Madison, Wisconsin.

Mary & Jon Goetz

Our group had the distinct pleasure of experiencing a dog sled race right in Wasilla, without snow, without a sled and in 70 degree, sun drenched weather. How can this be? The race our travelers experienced was about 1/4 of a mile in length, used a wooden cart type wagon with rubber wheels. Oh well, at least the dogs were actual "mushing" dogs but we all had lots of fun.

Nancy & Terry Schmitz see first hand the strength and pulling power of these veteran sled dogs.

And the winner is????

But maybe Liz Marquart, Gloria Gudex and Bob Orlowski won?

Most assuredly the clear cut winner was Linda Moore, who got to cuddle a little sled puppy.
Only about 30% of visitors to Denali National Park actually get to see Mt. McKinley, so our group joined this special group. This was an unforgettable experience and maybe even a not to be repeated one as well. It was such a moment that only a picture could capture it and then it would surely fall short of what we all felt. 

No little dark cloud was going to spoil our day, and it didn't as you can see by the following pictures.
Some of our group took time to pose for this unforgettable snapshot of the moment.
Larry & Joanne Michaels
Karen & Larry Workowski
Jon & Mary Goetz
Jill Valenti & Linda Moore
Mary Walrath

Valerie & Wayne Graczyk

We reached our destination after all the joys of Mt McKinley and are ready for the excursions, the Denali Park Tour and our Alaskan Railroad trip back to Anchorage...but first things first. Denali and all it has to offer.

Denali, here we come!!!
Valerie Graczyk and our fantastic guide, MJ.

She won't or hasn't told us what MJ stands for but she will eventually. She shared herself with us today. She lived in Indiana and a friend encouraged her to apply to work in Denali. That was 11 years ago. She lives in Denali in a rented cabin about 14' x 14' in size with no running water. The working season in Denali is only from mid-May until mid-September. Some winters she will work elsewhere like on a cruise ship but mostly stays in her cabin in Denali. She loves to sit on her deck and watch the snowfall while sipping coffee, hearing the Mushers go by behind her cabin amongst other things. She explained how many people living there have all the amenities that we are accustomed to and "it's always nice to have them as friends, especially if they invite you over". While we might think she lives in seclusion, in Alaska she is in a civilization common to Alaskan residents. You're in a civilization in Denali if you live on the grid, live off a major highway and have a car, all three of which she possesses. She says that the temperature can swing from -20 to +20 from one day to another and that snowfall ranges from 6 ft to 10 ft over the winter. She loves her job although she wouldn't consider herself an outdoors person. She is quite a young lady and we are lucky to have her as our guide.
PREPARING FOR advise from MJ
Jill Valenti agreed to pose with these two common and vicious wild animals that roam Denali National Park. If we encounter a bear we were told to stop....and don't run! The reason is rather logical and makes sense when you think about it. Bears chase down their prey so if you run, you encourage the basic instincts of the bear and he'll chase you. Personal note: For the life of me, I'm not so sure I could just stop and not run. We collectively agreed that it was best just to avoid running into a bear and that would solve that problem
Bob & Sue Orlowski also posed for us with these dangerous creatures. We learned that unlike the bear, if they ran into a moose they should do the opposite and run like H.... (that's Heck for those of you who don't read "dots"). The logic follows that a moose typically doesn't chase what they eat (since they eat from trees and shrubs) which don't do much running, at least trees didn't run the last time I checked it out. Another reason to run is that moose run in straight lines so we should run zig-zag since this is difficult for a moose to do.

The unanswered question was what if you ran into both a bear and moose at the same time?
 The end of another day. We can't wait until tomorrow to get feedback from our travelers who took optional excursions this evening. This ranged from a fixed wing airplane flight to and around Mt. McKinley to rafting down fast moving rapids. Also we have several of our travelers doing optional excursions on Wednesday so we'll wait for their reports as well. But the  big event is an 8 hour bus tour inside Denali National Park.
Monday, August 12, 2013

We journeyed to O'Hare in the wee hours of Monday the 12th.  We departed Fond du Lac by deluxe coach at 4 a.m. and, after a short break at an Oasis on the tollway, we arrived at O'Hare International Airport. We might not have been "bright eyed and bushy tailed" but some solid sleeping on the bus helped to restore much energy for our adventure and venture.

We'll take a mini pictorial approach since a picture truly does say "a thousand words" so here goes.

Here Valerie, Bob & Sue Orlowski (Beaver Dam) and Joan Boucher (Rockford Ill) sit waiting for our 9:41 a.m. departure which ended up being a 10:20 a.m. departure.

Karen & Larry Workowski (Ripon) are up and ready for the plane to just take off.

Liz Marquart & Gloria Gudex (Ripon) look both pleased and unemotional as they await for the plane. Both are looking forward to the trip although Gloria shared that "she doesn't like fish" but after some encouragement she did share she like coconut and other fine foods. You'll do just great Gloria!

Jon & Mary Goetz (Beaver Dam) just waited patiently, yet Mary's expression and smile says it all..."This is going to be an exciting trip."

Jill Valenti, left, daughter of Linda Moore (Colorado), on right, always have the most beautiful smiles. They are traveling and from all appearances are enjoying every minute of their time together.

Well, if it isn't Valerie and Wayne Graczyk, tour directors for the trip. Valerie's main concern was "Oh, look at my hair!" Wayne simply shrugged and said "you look beautiful just the same" so the picture goes on the blog.

Upon landing and getting onto our chartered bus, we opened with a mini  tour of Anchorage. The skyline was beautiful and worth this picture to share with you. Our guide, MJ, asked our travelers some quick questions and we were up to the challenge. She asked what happened in Anchorage in 1964 and someone responded, "The earthquake of  1964" and she was impressed. She then asked what scale was quake measured at and again a traveler shouted "9.2". She commented what a knowledgeable group we had and that she looked forward to working with us. She shared in the earthquake, 4th street was simply split in half, with one side dropping 15 feet while the other side remained at the same level as before the quake struck. Quite interesting indeed.
WE WERE THEN OFF TO SEE THE FLOAT PLANES AT TED STEVENS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT. THIS WATER RUNWAY ACTUALLY IS CONTROLLED BY THE AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL TOWER AT STEVENS. There can be as many as 200-600 float planes landing or taking off in one day. While we stood there was witnessed 5 or 6 float planes landing or taking off.

This is a Tundra plane. It has larger wheels than the normal winged plane so it doesn't  pick up stones and debris from the tundra landings which are much less refined than most airstrips.

After checking into our beautiful hotel, we freshened up and then were off to one of the most famous and oldest eating establishments in Anchorage, The Sourdough Mining Company. Not only was it Alaskan style, it was all you could eat of Corn Fritters, Waffle Fries, roasted chicken, baked haddock and ribs...topped off with a "build your own ice cream sundae". We all were given something special to wear as is their custom...Rib Bibs! Do we look happy or what?

Directly across the street we were told there was what is considered as the world's largest "chocolate water falls" so we had to take a look. I is billed as the largest chocolate water fall surrounded by a gift shop.

Tom Hall (Green Bay) saw the box of hard chocolate with a sign "Do Not Touch". Well being the rule abiding citizen he is, he was ready to take a bite but remembered just in time that is could not touch so the chocolate was spared.
Tomorrow we head for Denali National Park with a stop over in Wasilla to see part of the Iditarod Trail and Historic site. Once again our travelers were given two questions and nailed them both. When did the Iditarod Race begin and where did it end?  Do wonders ever cease. In Denali we will also have the opportunity to take optional tours, shop or just walk around. 

August 8,  2013

Alaska here we come! Well, on Monday that is. Just letting everyone know that our blog from Alaska may not be everyday since we can only get on the internet when we are off the cruise ship. This is because of the high cost of internet fees since on water we are considered international. So keep on following up and we will have a blog albeit not always as "immediate" as we do when in Europe.

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