After ten days in Alaska, it was time to head south to prepare for our trip
home. We rode the Alaska Railroad back to Anchorage, sitting in Holland America’s
fancy McKinley Explorer cars. The ride was incredibly scenic, but very slow
(8 hours). After two days in a row sitting in buses for 7+ hours, I wasn’t
interested in sitting around again, so I spent most of the trip on the platform
downstairs, watching the scenery go by.
This is the final installment of my trip photos, as we fly home to SFO today
(Wednesday). I hope you enjoyed the trip as much as I did!
Day 9 of my trip was billed as the best day to see Alaska’s wildlife. While
it wasn’t quite the "zoo" that I was expecting, we still saw Denali’s most
famous residents: brown bears, caribou, dall sheep, and moose. Our tour lasted
nearly seven hours, with the excellent driver/guide making the time pass quickly.
Before that, though, we took a trip to the park’s sled dog kennel. Denali
still uses sled dogs to patrol the park in the winter, and we got to meet and
greet most of the dogs. They’re all remarkably friendly, and they seem to love
what they do. They did a little demo with 5 dogs on a gravel trail, and they
were really moving fast. It was also funny to see how excited the dogs
when they were getting the sled ready… lots of barking "choose me!".
Pictures of everything after the link!
We were up way too early on Sunday, as the cruise portion of our tour had
come to an end. We left the Zaandam at around 7:45am and were quickly loaded
onto a nice motorcoach for a grueling 8 hour ride to Denali National Park.
The ride was scenic, but the driver wouldn’t stop talking, much to the dismay
of his passengers.
I managed to actually take a nap, and when I woke up, we
were about to stop to take a look at Mt. McKinley. The mountain is not a common
sight in Alaska, but we lucked out today — we could see it fairly well. A
while later we pulled into the "town" of Denali, where we checked in to our
There’s really no "night" this time of year — the sun is up something
like 20 hours a day. It’s a bit odd being outside at 11pm with "afternoon"
lighting still in effect.
I’ve got a few interesting pictures from our long bus journey after the link.
The last full day of our cruise was spent in College Fjord. This fjord was
as smooth as glass, and filled with seals, otters, whales, porpoises, and birds
of all types. There were quite a few glaciers to see, too, though there was
no dramatic calving like in Glacier Bay.
Photos from Day 7 of my Alaska trip after the link below.
We spent our sixth day cruising through Glacier Bay, Alaska. If you like glaciers,
this is the place to be. After the link I’ve got a bunch of photos, plus some
cool movies of glaciers calving.