Two Weeks Exploring Alaska by Car in One Outfit not Ten!

map_of_alaskaThis trip was going to be an adventure no doubt.  Out of my comfort zone in regards to elegant dining, accommodations, fashion and style , big city museums and excursions with all the Architecture and Cityscapes wrapped around it.This trip was not about any of that. This trip was about Nature, Wildlife, Simple Accommodations, and BEER!  Alaskans love their BEER from local microbreweries!   We drove thru Alaska , It was Cold Weather everyday but one, I seemed to be wearing the same outfit daily, I particularly loved my brown Eddie Bauer pants, Nike Hiking Shoes, Armor Pink and Grey Beanie and My Columbia Parka that I couldn’t live without. Driving was actually stress free with the exception of a potential Moose jumping out on the road.  It was a one lane Highway, no traffic and amazing Scenery everywhere.133 (2) How can you not be happy with that.  Especially because I was the passenger most of the time absorbing it all in.  We also got lucky with travel rainy days and sunny days at our destination. The trickiest part of the trip was the day light 20 hours and having a hard time winding down.476  I am so happy my Husband chose to celebrate his 50th Bday touring Alaska  We experienced Alaska by road rather than cruise ship and I think the perspective is very different.103 For both of us we  prefer freedom and more hands on.  Below are the highlights I want to share with you.

Anchorage Highlights:

Anchorage Museum.  This is a first rate Museum absolutely loved it.  I especially enjoyed the Gyre Exhibit which left me with a new found knowledge and respect for nature and our environment. 422 (2) It was extremely powerful with a message,that will stay with me forever.  The exhibit was art objects made out of  plastic garbage that was  washed up on the shores and coves in Alaska and these over abundant objects pollute the land and kill many animals.Gyre-Jordan-not-in-show

 

Alaska Zoo.  Lush green trees and plants everywhere lining the pathway thru the zoo.  All the animals you would expect in an Alaskan Zoo but the highlight for me was the pack of Wolves who kept howling.  As we watched them their jowls were exposed and they looked scary!Zoo-Election_Spra(2)

Tony Knowles Coastal Trail Hike. Absolutely beautiful hike with Canadian Geese in the Lake to greet us.527 Great views of the coast,  horizon, and on the opposite side houses were lined up for us to lust over.  It rained the entire hike but our waterproof Marmot Outdoor Jackets protected us 100%.532

Anchorage Chow:  

Humpys. Local spot with a Huge Horseshoe Bar packed , noisy, and super fun!  I enjoyed Peel and Eat Shrimp, and a Salmon Sandwich. Staff was helpful and friendly.

Simon and Seaforts.  We came here because they served Halibut Cheeks which is hard to come by.  They were delicious, I felt like I was eating Halibut Lobster. Unfortunately the Bar Staff was nonchalant, and unattentive, along with exuberant prices for the Tourists.

Fat Ptarmigan.  We dined here twice it was so tasty and fun.  We sat at the pizza bar and talked with the chefs and watched them assemble pizzas and work the Brick Oven.  Modern Pizzas is the best way to describe there style.  Gourmet Toppings and Healthy Salads with great presentation. Steve was cold on our second visit so we asked if they could warm up his sweater in the Pizza Oven. (Seinfeld: Kramer at Paisanos)533 (2)

Glacier Brew House. This place seemed set up for Tourists. Average

Moose Tooth Pizza. Last on the list and what everyone was talking about and must go to.  The place was so packed Steve and I were lucky to share 1 Barstool while we had a drink and decided to get our pizza to go.  Verdict?  Yes it was fabulous pizza.

Seward Highlights:

Miller Landings Kayaking Adventure + Hike.434558  Laura was our great guide as we paddled thru Resurrection Bay. The waters were calm, we saw bald eagles in the trees, and all the beautiful landscapes and glaciers in the distance. We paddled to  a beautiful enchanted forest and enjoyed a short hike.066

 

Kenai Fjords Tours. A 6 hour boat tour in hopes of viewing Glaciers, Whales, and other Sea Life.013

We were warned the seas were going to be extremely rough that day but I felt confident having taken my motion sickness pills. Steve suggested we take pics when we still look good before the possible sickness…..

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So we boarded and successfully saw Humpback Whales breaching,052 061Orcas, Porpoises, and Holgate Glacier.458 That was the good news, the bad news is on the way back I lost my cookies along with about 50% of the passengers.  I will spare you the details.  Steve’s iron stomach made it just fine.

Exit Glacier Hiking. How cool to hike a Glacier rather than have to heli fly to see one, or the dreaded bumpy sea adventure.  It was an easy hike and fulfilling. Exit Glacier is 1 of the 5 Glaciers that evolves from the Harding Ice Field461

 

Alaska Sealife Center.  This is where the giant octopus lives and cold water marine sea life.  My favorite was watching the puffins fly underwater. 473 This is Alaska’s only public aquarium and research center.

Seward Chow:

Seward Brewing Company.  This place had just been open for a month,lucky for us.  it was so good we had all our lunches and dinners here while in Seward.  Friendly staff, delicious food and Steve loved the beer that was brewed locally.

Gene Thorns Showcase Lounge. After meeting some characters at the Brewery, we all headed over to the Showcase Lounge.  We had a blast letting are hair down, acting a little crazy, playing the Juke Box and accepting free rounds of Duck Fart Shots from the locals.  Duck Fart: Crown Regal, Baileys, and Kahlua

Talkeetna : This was my least favorite town visited but on the way to Denali so we needed to have a rest from driving. Too touristy and hippy. We went on a float trip and this was my all time Fashion Low of the trip!087

Healy Highlights: Moose Sighting on the Lake where we stayed.  Not happy with our accomodations but again needed before the journey into Denali Park.102  Luckily a young bull moose was grazing right along the lake outside our balcony! 118 Beautiful site to see. We also saw ducklings and mama.112

Healy Chow:

49th State Brewing Company. More great beer for Steve, and a really cool place with great interiors.477

Denali: Denali National Park and Reserve.209 6 Million acres of Lakes, Tundra, Peaks ( Mt Mc Kinley being the highest peak in North America 20,350 ft) and Wildlife interrupted by one 90 mile road.219 We were on that road for 6 hours, busses only allowed in the park . We got so lucky because our bus driver Justin, 18 years experience in Denali was an expert and shared so many chilling stories about wildlife, and Denail info in general.  The goal was to see the Big Five.  We saw 4 out of 5: Grizzly Bear, Caribou, Dall Sheep, Moose. 159234217152190271 The Wolves were missing in action both in and out on the bus ride.  Absolutely exhilarating to see all these animals, along with the panoramic views that never quit.174  It was a semi clear day both in and out ( we stayed at the end of the 90 miles in a lodge for two days) so Mt Mc Kinley was majestic, powerful and gorgeous beyond words.231  Denali Park is truly a magical place

Denali Chow

Prospectors Pizzeria and Alehouse. Before our journey to Fairbanks we chowed down on Reindeer and Elk Pizza and yes more beer for Steve.  I probably should mention I have been drinking white wine all this time!

Fairbanks:

Ice Museum. A little outdated but charming with a personal touch by the staff.498497Included were Ice Sculptures and Programs about the International Ice Sculpture Tournament held every March.  Also a Custom Video accompanied with classical music viewing the Aurora Borealis.

Riverboat Discovery Tour. 288 It felt like this was a Disneyland production, in other words completely entertaining, surprises along the river, streamlined and professional, all out great tour for everyone! We were entertained by a bush pilot taking off,247 Guided Walking Tour of an Athabascan Indian Village,280 and Sled dogs in Action of the Iditarod Champions.The weather was great!265

266University of Alaska Museum of the North. Loved this museum on the top of the hill.  Great wildlife displays and fine art. 510507 The Gift shop was calling my name also.  I bought a pair of earrings, my only souvenir purchase on the trip. They are made out of Wooly Mammoth Ivory, Walrus Ivory, and Whale Baleen.

Fairbanks Chow:

Safeway. Totally frustrated with dining options first nite in Fairbanks. It was  always  light outside and we were staying up later and later each night, therefore missing the dinner hours and restaurants closing at 10pm.  So we headed to reliable Safeway and created a gourmet feast  Our Martinis were shaken from our Denali Water Bottle and our Swiss Army Knife was slicing the Bread!!!244

Thai House Restaurant. Best Thai Food I have had in a long time not to mention our Waitress Joy was absolutely charming and hospitable.  Service is everything! Well tasty food is everything too!  And Ambiance! No wonder it is hard to get a satisfying meal out, the Trifecta is hard to come by, Thai House was a Trifecta Success!

Alaska Coffee Roasting Co. Great food but lacking service and ambiance.  Best Calzone ever.

Portage/Girdwood Highlights:

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.  Wildlife Refuge on a scenic 200 acre preserve dedicated to Wildlife Conservation.  All the Alaskan Wildlife you can imagine and the Grizzly Bears were amazing to watch, very animated.326 (2)

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Portage Glacier. A visual right off the road. Spectacular!064

Turnagain Arm Scenic Drive.  AKA Seward Scenic Highway. Gorgeous Peaks. Lakes, Rivers, Waterfalls, Lush Green Everywhere and the Train Tracks right  alongside us.007 One of the most beautiful scenic roads I have ever been on.410

Hotel Alyeska + Hiking.  Now this is my kinda hotel. 371 LUXURY. Located in Girdwood  I found my self wanting and wishing we would have stayed here.  Rich wood interiors, with all the amenties you could think of.  We decided to be wanna be’s for the day so we took advantage of one of many trails and enjoyed our last day in Alaska soaking in more lush greenery, fiddle ferns, hostas and occasional chirps from the local birds. 364405069 367Hotel Aleyska located in Girdwood is the Ski Destination to be in the Winter.

Girdwood Chow:

Double Musky Inn. Recommended by our fast friend Chef at FAT Ptarmigan Pizza.  Double Musky is rated Top Ten Restaurants in the Nation. What?  I never heard of it before.  Anyway we arrived at 5 and there was a line out the door. WHAT? it is 5pm???  We eventually got a spot at the overdecorated bar, a visual distraction every moment  but  a fun distraction and proceeded with Peppered Beef Tips, Halibut Ceviche in Avocado and  Scallops Rockefeller. The cuisine was Cajun Influenced and was delicious.537

That wraps up all the highlights, we saw so much, did so much, drove so much,  and it was a great vacation overall!  I now need to go on a vacation from the vacation!!!!!202

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10 thoughts on “Two Weeks Exploring Alaska by Car in One Outfit not Ten!

  1. Thoroughly enjoyed this, Monica. Sorry about you losing your cookies – you are never alone in that department. Appreciate all your photos and comments on the places you stayed. I had no idea Alaska was so lush and green. Loved the baby moose. He/She looked pretty new. I bet you loved the moisture on your face. Glad you are back.

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      • Yes, a little different here. I hope your garden was not flat and brown. Some people can’t tolerate the desert – I don’t think I could live in Alaska. Sun is good. No black flies are good. Grizzlies I can live without, at least not here.

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  2. Great blog, love the pictures. The matching safety jacket with rain gear is the perfect touch! The Safeway evening was priceless! I’m glad you identified all the gear, rated the restaurants etc. Good stuff.

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  3. Loved the descriptions and pictures. Amazing. If I go I need to use it as a reference guide. LOVED the picture of the grizzly. Wow!

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  4. Hi Monica. You did a beautiful documentation job and a lot of the pictures look very familiar
    because I was there with one of my daughters from June 1 to June 13. One week we travelled
    by bus and train from Anchorage to, Fairbanks, and Denali and the second week we went on a cruise boat stopping off at various small towns like Dawson City,Ketchikan in the Yukon territory.

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