Jeremy and I kicked off our marriage in Alaska! We spent 2 weeks driving 1500 miles in an upgraded F-150 rental truck. The short:
Warm-up shot for more mountain photos to come. I can't remember who came up with the idea of Alaska (I'll take credit). Tropical was out for me, we were good with not doing a climbing trip since it'd be around June, and we wanted it to be outdoors-y. Alaska fit the bill.
We decided to do most of the Anchorage-Kenai peninsula areas, which included Denali and the fishing towns of Homer and Seward. Fairbanks is much farther north and Juneau is much more south east. I was too overwhelmed by Google searches and tour packages, but Jeremy was a trooper in planning it all:
We planned for about 3 days in each city, a half day of driving to get there, 1 full day of planned activity like kayaking, and 1 full day of exploration.
First order of business: breweries. In 14 days we hit 9 different beweries, sampling flights at each one. Moose's Tooth was a rough night with over 20 beers on tap.
One of my favorite pics ever of Jeremy at Homer Brewery eating fresh oysters. Hands down to oysters "French style" with vinegar and shallots.
Denali National Park
The first big stop was Denali National Park. No private cars are allowed; you take a shuttle in a snazzy bluebird schoolbus. For the strong-willed, it's 83 miles the whole way to Wonder Lake and 11 hours total. I'd recommend going at least half way in to see Mount McKinley.
Denali's about as untouched wilderness as you can get. I got goosebumps thinking how natural it's remained compared to other large parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone. The landscape, in Denali and Alaska in general, changes by the minute. Sun shining through clouds on a mountain range shifts, lighting up another area and creating a moving landscape.
After Denali, we drove through a small tourist town Talkeetna, back through Anchorage, and down to Kenai. Mosquitoes in Alaska live up to their reputation in the freshwater wetland areas. We covered up every inch of skin when hiking except for the 2 inch cuff link--but Jeremy came out the worse.
Anchor Point, the most westerly point in North America on a connected highway:
Next stop: Homer. We stayed at the end of a 3.5 mile spit in Land's End, hit up the Salty Dog Saloon, and added our mark to the decor!
Out of Homer, we did a 10 mi guided kayak tour. Kachemak Bay has the largest tide in North America, averaging 15 ft and going up to 30 ft--the bay is so large that the water momentum keeps going after the tide shifts. With the sun, clouds, and fjords, it was like being in elf-land in Lord of the Rings.
Summer solstice at midnight in Seward.
Seward's a touristy fishing town, named mural capital of Alaska by Palin, and is the start of the Iditarod.
We got skunked fishing for salmon out of Seward, but hit a huge school (pod?) of cod. There wasn't any point in waiting for a fish to bite before reeling in--just sink your bait and reel as fast as possible.
We ended up with about 50 lbs of filets we had frozen and overnighted home, mostly cod and halibut, with a rockfish, pollock, and sea bass (the pic is from our ship of 6 people). Between the price for the day trip on the boat, the fishing license, and shipping costs, we broke about even with buying fish from a grocery store, but you can't beat the experience!
We're back to the grind, but the access and camping in Alaska really kicked us in gear to get a camper van to finally go on a long North America climbing road trip. Life's good.