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grand saline, texas
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we want to do it all in 3-4 weeks

We are planning our trip for Sept. 2008. We were in Alaska in 2003 for 10 days but we need to spend more time in order to do what we did not do then.

This is what we want to do but I cant quite figure out how to acheive the goal. We want to do a Fishing expedition, Bear viewing, Northern Lights at Fairbanks, Flightseeing at Mt. McKinley, We did the train from Anchorage to Seward-Seward to Ancharage-Anchorage to Denali and Want to do the Train from Anchorage to Fairgbanks. I also want to go to Kodiak Island and after reading the Alaska Magazine we think we want to go to Sitka to see the Whales. We didi not see them the last trip so that is a must on this trip. We need all the help we can get. Are we trying to do too much on one trip? We need help, Thanks so much. We are from Texas so as you can see we think big.

Manitoba, Canada
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1. Re: we want to do it all in 3-4 weeks

"Are we trying to do too much on one trip?"

Well, if you have 3 to 4 weeks, you should be able to do it all. Was there anything else you'd like to see besides what you mentioned?

I'm wondering why you want to go to Sitka to see whales? I did see a couple when I went on a wildlife cruise there, but the sightings out of Juneau or Icy Strait Point are more reliable (nearly 100%). If seeing humpbacks is a "must", I'd suggest you fly to Juneau on your way up or back, and do a whale-watching tour out of that city instead of Sitka.

Also, while you might see the Northern Lights in Fairbanks in September, no guarantees on the specific days you'll be there. You might see them, you might not. The more days--or rather nights--that you spend there, the more chances you'll have. Anywhere you stay throughout your trip, ask to be notified if aurora are seen. You might get lucky.

I'd suggest starting out with a stop at Juneau for 2 or 3 days to do a whale-watching tour (or even two), maybe take a day cruise into Glacier Bay if you didn't see it on your last trip. Then fly to Anchorage and on to Kodiak for a few days to do your bear-viewing and fishing. Were you thinking of staying at one of the lodges? Any plans to stop off in Homer? Fishing is great there too, and you can also do tidepooling and visit the Pratt Museum. You could also do a wildlife tour in which you might see more humpbacks, and/or try kayaking. Then you can fly back to Anchorage.

Here is the 2008 train schedule. Note that Sept. 15 is the last day it runs: alaskatours.com/Alaska_Railroad/alaska_railr…

For flightseeing McKinley, did you want a glacier landing? If so, that can be done only from Talkeetna; however keep in mind that you often can't do glacier landings after mid-August, so be sure to contact the tour company before finalizing those plans. Non-glacier-landing flights can be done from Talkeetna or near the Denali Park entrance or even Anchorage. I'm not sure how late in the year the Denali entrance flightseeing is available, but from Talkeetna it is year-round. I'd suggest you plan to stay in either place for a couple of days anyway, to hopefully get good flying weather.

If you're planning on doing a bus or shuttle tour into Denali Park, keep in mind that they stop running around Sept. 12.

Then go on to Fairbanks for several days and rent a car. Lots of things to do and see, although check with the websites first to see if they are still running that late in the year. For example, the Riverboat Discovery (which I highly recommend) closes down in mid-September. And you might want to mail some postcards from North Pole, a few miles south of Fairbanks, because guess what they will be postmarked! Interesting little gift shop too. You-know-who is usually there to greet guests and have his picture taken!

Perhaps book accommodations just north of Fairbanks, and ask the front desk to alert you if they see the aurora. But sometimes the displays last only a few minutes, so it would be a good idea to plan to do some looking yourselves.

Then you can fly home, and come here to tell us all about your wonderful trip!

Hopefully this has given you a few ideas.

Ward, AR
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2. Re: we want to do it all in 3-4 weeks

agree with Maple, it's very possible timewise. 4 weeks would be less rushed, of course. Ditto on spending as much time as you can spare to see the lights. It was pretty important to us to see them as well. We saw them on aug 31 this summer;-). It was on our second night in Fairbanks. We missed them Monday of that week during the lunar eclipse in Denali Natnl Park. We looked for them from Tues thru Fri, several times a night, and didn't spot them til our last night in the area. So don't forget to look for lights in Denali too. Check out websites that forecast the probability of the lights being seen. I think the University of Alaska at Fairbanks has some info on that, from a previous poster's note. I can't remember the whole website address, but I looked at one that had "gedds" in the address.

Alaska
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3. Re: we want to do it all in 3-4 weeks

aha - the northern lights. Yes, the previous poster was right.

http://www.gedds.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast/

is where you want to go for the aurora forecast, and check out the Gee Whiz other pages (Gee Whiz is one affectionate term for the Geophysical Institute located up at the University of Fairbanks. They do great things.

Good luck, enjoy, and go home tired from trying to do too much! Some of us spend a lifetime and don't do all we wish!

71

grand saline, texas
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4. Re: we want to do it all in 3-4 weeks

Thanks yall for the help. I will certainly think about going to Juneau for the Whales. My husband wants to see whales and I want to see Bears and we both want to see the Northern Lights. If we see one out of 3 we will be happy. Alaska is so beautiful we could never be disappointed. And please dont think I am being silly but what is Tidepooling? Never heard of than in Texas. Thanks for your help.

grand saline, texas
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5. Re: we want to do it all in 3-4 weeks

We were thinking of going to Homer and then taking the Alaska Ferry to Kodiak but dont know if that would be the thing to do. Does the Alaska Ferry stop in Seward, We loved Seward last time but didnt know whether to try something different.

Harrisburg...
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6. Re: we want to do it all in 3-4 weeks

Unfortunately, the ferry does not go to Seward. You can take it from Homer to Kodiak though.

In September of this year, it ran Saturday and Sunday every other week and Tuesday and Thurday every other week on the opposite weeks going from Homer to Kodiak. The Saturday departure is usually 10AM and about 9 1/2 hours. The Sunday departure is usually 10:30PM stopping in Port Lions and arriving in Kodiak about 13 hours after leaving Homer (arrives about 11:30AM). The Tuesday departure leaves about 11:55PM arriving 9 1/2 hours later. The Thursday departure leaves about 10:30PM stopping in Port Lions and arriving Kodiak about 13 hours after leaving Homer. There is also one ferry a month that makes it's way to Unalaska that stops in Kodiak.

Basically, coming back from Kodiak to Homer they usually leave Kodiak Saturdays and Mondays every other week and Wednesdays and Fridays on the opposite weeks. The Saturday and Wednesday departures leaves at 10PM and gets in Homer about 14 hours later. The Monday and Friday departures leave at 6PM stopping in Port Lions and arriving in Homer about 18 hours later.

You will probably need to wait until the ferry schedules are posted in December or January to make your final plans. Hope this helps a little.

Manitoba, Canada
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7. Re: we want to do it all in 3-4 weeks

What's tidepooling? It's like beachcombing except for live creatures--walking along the beach at low tide searching for all sorts of invertebrates that live in the area between where the water reaches at high and low tides. If you've been to SeaLife Center in Seward, they have a display which shows some of these creatures, and you can actually touch them. Of course, in Homer these creatures are wild, so while it is fine to turn over rocks and examine little pools to see what you can find, you must replace everything so as not to disturb the wildlife too much. Here is more info: sidestep.com/travel-info-g2765964-t36372-tid…

8. Re: we want to do it all in 3-4 weeks

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