I will attempt to keep this short but I do want to give a brief description of our two weeks in Alaska.
7/13/10 Getting to Anchorage from SW Florida was a rather heroic feat as it took 22 hours due to lay overs in Dallas and Portland but we made it. We had reserved a car (cheapie) from Thrifty and all went without a hitch until we saw the car. Here we were two females with 6 pieces of luggage. Thrifty was most accommodating and advised us if we didn't have room for our luggage they would give us a larger car. We did get it all in our little gem and took off for our first night at the Big Bear B&B. The B&B is in a private home filled with Alaskan memorabilia. We were shown our room on the 2nd floor and as we were questioning the neighborhood we took all of it up to the 2nd floor trying to remember to remove our shoes when we were int he house. Our room was delightful (The Toklat Room) as we had twin beds, a wash room plus a full bath with tub/shower, etc. The owner, Carol, was very generous with shampoo, lotions, soaps shaped like a bear paw, etc. Breakfast was wonderful and served at a time convenient for us (late) reindeer sausage, a potato casserole, waffles and home made fruit toppings, juices, and we even were able to sample a delicious baked french toast dish. The only negative to this establishment was noise...inconsiderate guests walking in the beautiful gardens under our window at 11:00 p.m. as it was still light. There was also some dog fights during the night.
7/14 ~7/19 Leaving Anchorage we headed south to our next stop ~ 5 glorious days in Homer. South of Anchorage we stopped at Potter Marsh to check out a moose close to the road then it was on to Homer with one more stop in Soldotna to check out the chain sawing fest. We stayed in the Alaska Beach House B&B in Homer (Fisherman's Quarters). The rooms was roomy, clean and had a kitchenette plus a spacious bathroom. Our refrig was stocked with milk, juice, yogurt, plus we had oatmeal, tea, coffee and were delivered freshly baked muffins daily. Our proximity to the Homer Spit was perfect and we spent several days eating at Capt. Patty's where I had the best clam chowder ever. At the recommendation of the B&B owners we ate at Land's End our 1st night...view was spectacular, food was mediocre and service was horrible. The highlight of our Homer trip was a day long excursion with Emerald Air to see bears! We met at Beluga Lake, donned hip boots and climbed in the float plane with a couple, their daughter, the pilot and his wife and a naturalist. Flying to the Katmai was foggy but as we approached the sun was shining and we started seeing bears from the air. Craig, the pilot and owner, dropped us off, we waded to shore and spent an unbelievable day hiking and seeing more bears than we could count. We ate our lunch in a meadow right next to the bears who paid no attention to us. We hiked to the river where Craig had taken the plane so we waded out and as the fog had lifted he flew us over Hallo glacier. We had no idea how beautiful these glaciers were. We also saw whales below us and icebergs so it was a spectacular day. The other trip we took was the ferry (Danny K) to Halibut Cove. We saw lots of birds including puffins on the way over and Halibut Cove is a quaint LITTLE village with not much there other than The Saltry where we did have a delicious lunch.
I must say there were more Bald Eagles in Homer than I had ever seen as well as sea otters...lots of pictures!
7/19/22 Leaving Homer you have to back track to go to Seward but the scenery is breath taking and contrary to what I had read the traffic was minimal. In Seward we stayed at The Salt Water Lodge right on water and breakfast was served in the lodge reception area. Our room was small and as the lodge is elevated it was pretty noisy as late arriving guests walked up the wooden ramp in front of our room. The commode ran off and on all night and as the staff was college students not much was accomplished. The bathroom was very small with shower only. Breakfast was a typical continental with juice, coffee, tea, fresh fruit, oatmeal, toast and English muffins. Our first morning we were booked with the owners small boat the Steller Sunrise for a day of whale watching and glaciers. We left early with about 10 passengers and two crew...hot chocolate and coffee was available all day plus at noon we had deli sandwiches which was ample. This trip was, once again, one to remember. We started out seeing Dall porpoise, Stellar sea lions, mountain goats, sea birds including two types of puffins, our usual sea otters, and then the whales...we were lucky to witness the Humpback whales bottle net feeding ~ there were 7 or 8 whales and we had lots of photo opportunities. We also visited Holgate glacier and witnessed the glacier calving. After a full day on the boat we were ready for more. The following day we toured the Alaska Sea Life Center which should not be missed. Again lots of photos! Although we had not made advance reservations we were able to sign up for a dinner cruise to, once again, see the whales. This boat was Star of the Northwest and we did not have a full ship which was certainly to our advantage. Dinner was all you could eat salmon and prime rib which far exceeded our expectations plus all you could eat dessert! Again we saw the usual wildlife and glaciers but when the Captain asked us what we wanted to see and when we said whales he graciously left the glaciers and headed to the whales even though this was outside of his usual itinerary. Once again there they were bottle net feeding so we were extremely fortunate. Now it was time to leave ~on to Palmer.
7/22nd ~we drove WAY back in the woods to find A Lazy Acres B&B which is owned by a tiny Irish woman who really knows hospitality. She said that we could have two rooms for the price of one as she had no other guests. Very comfortable beds and quiet. Before we turned in we went to the laundromat in Palmer. Helen, the B&B owner asked us what we wanted for breakfast....she said you name it and you can have it. We decided on sourdough pancakes which were from a 60 year old starter.
7/23-25th Healy ~ we stayed at Aspen Haus (Willow Cabin). These are individual log cabins, neat and clean and once again back in the woods about 15 miles from Denali. We had the typical in room continental breakfast although Ann Marie baked bread and muffins daily and we would find our treasures in the kitchen when we returned. There was a washer and dryer in its own cabin and was available on the honor system...$5.00 for washer,dryer, soap and softener. There was also a resident fox that we spotted late in the evenings.
I will tell you all after I read some discouraging remarks about Denali I nearly skipped the park. What a mistake that would have been although we did not see Mt. McKinley during our trip we could have cared less. Our first morning we had scheduled the green bus back to Wonder Lake...9 hours sounded daunting but time flew. We had a driver who had conquered McKinley more than once and gave us a great narrative. Before we even left the pavement we saw a moose, then a bear and a very lazy lynx that just meandered down the road, then in to the brush and laid down so the camera's were clicking. We believe we saw almost every type of wildlife there is to see in the park ~bears and more bears plus a sow nursing her two cubs, caribou, a pack of wolves after a bear cub (no contest), foxes, moose, Dall sheep, etc. We did not see any black bears although they had been spotted on one of the trails. This trip was scenic and remarkable. I did not get off the bus at Wonder Lake as i understood the mosquitoes were really swarming so I was more than happy to stay in. Now, regarding the bus travel, the seats are comfortable, the driver will stop when wild life is spotted and there are rest stops along the way. We enjoyed it so much we signed up the next day for the bus back to Eielson which is nearly an all day trip. The prior day we picked up a box lunch at a local gas station but our 2nd day we bought lunch from the concession where we bought our bus tickets. This was much better than the deli box lunch and less expensive. Again, we saw as much, if not more, wildlife. One unusual photo op was at Eielson as we watched, for quite a long time, a wolf eating a caribou. She also was taking pieces of meat back to her den.
We were sad to leave Denali and had to head back to Anchorage where we once again stayed at the Big Bear B&B although this time we left our luggage in the car. The owner was gracious enough to allow us to use her washer and dryer before we left and gave us a late check out.
WEATHER ~ the only rain we saw was the day we drove from Healy to Anchorage although there was some fog and mist. Nothing to keep us from any activity.
We are going back next July for a month so this is a recommendation.
By the way we detoured to Seattle for a few days on the way home and stayed at the Silver Cloud Inn, Lake Union. I highly recommend this property as well.