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Old 05-29-2012, 09:09 PM   #1
sayhello
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Alaska: Taming the Last Frontier Meets Thread

Please post here if you would like to talk with anyone else who has signed up to travel to Alaska with ABD.

You can also share information/ask questions about the Alaska Taming the Last Frontier ABD.

Please try and keep this thread on topic to discussion and questions about the Alaska ABD. Off topic posts will be deleted or moved.

Thanks!
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Roll Call:

Current:
  • Jul 13 - 20, 2015 - KandAMom, DH, DS (13) & DS (11)

Previous:
  • Jul 20 - 27, 2013 - soccermommie16 & ??

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Old 06-09-2013, 04:33 PM   #2
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Alaska trip 2013

We are scheduled for the July 2013 trip. Would love information from those who have recently gone on this adventure.
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Old 06-09-2013, 05:05 PM   #3
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We went about 4 years ago so some things have changed. But the Alyeska Hotel is wonderful as well as the hotel you stay in Denali has a great view. One aspect we enjoyed was the native dance that the Alaska native put on for us. The train ride as well as the water raft ride is quite enjoyable as well. Just the shear beauty and size of nature and mans "smallness" in comparison is something that stays with you long after the trip finishes.
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Old 07-15-2014, 11:12 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soccermommie16 View Post
We are scheduled for the July 2013 trip. Would love information from those who have recently gone on this adventure.
We just booked for next July so would love to hear about any tips you can give - thanks
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Old 07-15-2014, 01:41 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KandAMom View Post
We just booked for next July so would love to hear about any tips you can give - thanks
As I mentioned in your other thread, let me know the exact date of your trip and the makeup of your travel party, and I'll add you to the Roll Call in the first post!

Bring layers! Being near the glacier on the Kenai Fjords can be cold. But you don't want to lug a heavy jacket. Bring something waterproof (just in case) that you can layer a fleece under. Works wonderfully. And bring a hat or headband, and gloves.

I'm sure I'll think of other things!

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Check out my Southwest Splendors Trip Report! (2008). 5 parts, full of pics & details & impressions!
My Taming the Last Frontier ABD Alaska Trip Report! (2009)! 7 parts, pictures, stories, & more impressions!
Also check out my ABD/DCL Mediterranean Magic Trip Report! (2010)
NOW POSTING! My DIS Unplugged London/Paris/Disneyland Paris Trip Report! (2011)
Now posting my Greek Odyssey Trip Report (2013)
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Old 08-13-2014, 12:46 PM   #6
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We just got back from the 8/4-11/14 trip. I didn't see any recent trip reports here, so hopefully I can provide some useful information. I might try to attach some photos in a later post. Here as some random comments:

1. We are a family of 4 with young teens. The total group had 38 people plus two guides and a bus driver. Our guides told us that all of the 2014 Alaska trips were sold out, so 38 is the normal group size. Everybody was families mostly with younger teens. There were a few pre-teens and older teens. All were well-behaved. By the end of the trip, all the kids and adults were good friends. (If you're on next year's adult-only trip, this will be different.)

2. Our two guides were fantastic -- Korey who is an ABD pro of trips around the world and Carlene who is a local guide. They organized and ran everything, were incredibly helpful, took time to get to know everybody, and provided a lot of interesting information throughout the trip. Henry was our bus driver, who was local and had a dry sense of humor and got along very well with the kids.

3. We are from the East Coast, as were a lot of people on the tour. Anybody from the East should consider getting to the area early, as the tour hits the ground running on the first day. We spend a couple of days in Seattle, which allowed us to adjust to the time change ahead of the tour.

4. Alaska is big, so you'll spend some time in the "motor coach" as they call it. The trip to and from Denali is about 4 hours, but they break it up each time. The guides provide narration and trivia contests and show movies, Disney of course. This is also a good time to read or just look out the window at the spectacular scenery and look for moose and bears.

5. The accommodations are solid. The Anchorage Marriott is a normal in-city hotel. Anchorage is a small city -- not the most scenic but a good base for the first day and a half. The Grande Denali is a Xanterra property, so the rooms are basic, but the hotel has great view of the park. The Alyeska is a higher end ski-resort hotel, with plenty of amenities and a nice indoor pool.

6. Most of the group dinners had set menus with a couple of choices, so not the full menu from a restaurant. The Bridge on the first night has a great view overlooking fishermen in the creek. Half of the nights provide for dinner on your own, and the guides will give good recommendations. Tripadvisor is also useful. Reservations are recommended for the second night in Anchorage, as they fill up with cruise vacationers. Breakfast is provided each morning, either by buffet at the Marriott, or in the restaurants at the Grande Denali and Alyeska.

7. Clothing is definitely casual and warm. All of the restaurants allow jeans and hiking shoes. A rain jacket is a must. We always were able to leave things on the bus, so it was easy to leave layers of jackets or sweat shirts on the bus.

8. All excursions were top notch, and we had designated guides for most of them. Our favorites:

The train from Girdwood to Seward, which has spectacular scenery of glaciers and the wilderness. I think they're eliminating this next year, but the trade-off will be to replace the Resurrection Bay cruise with the longer Northwest cruise in Kenai. On the Resurrection Bay cruise, we saw lots of sea life including Orcas and humpback whales. It did not pass nearby ocean glaciers, but the Northwest cruise does, so I expect that will be a highlight for the 2015 vacationers.

Martin Buser's Happy Trails Kennels. Buser is an Alaskan icon having won 4 Iditarods. He and his son Rohn, also a musher, gave talks. Best of all, there were lots of puppies. We all were allowed to hold the 2-week old litter of puppies.

Denali park. We hiked with a very good guide and we were the only 2014 ABD tour (so far) that got to see Denali (Mt. McKinley). It's usually shrouded in clouds, so don't be disappointed if you don't see it. Only 30% of visitors to Alaska actually see it.

Animal spotting. We saw plenty of moose from the bus, and we were stuck behind a large Caribou at Denali, who was taking his time walking down the road. We did not have any bear sightings in the wilderness. However, you get to see all of these animals at the Wildlife Conservation Center, where they are kept in natural enclosures and not zoo-like pens.

Jet-boat cruise. This takes you through the wilderness outside of Talkeetna, where we saw dozens of bald eagles fishing the river.

9. Some of the people in our group scheduled activities for the free afternoons in Denali and Girdwood. Rafting and Jeep excursions were popular in Denali, and hiking was popular in in Girdwood.

10. Over all, it was a great trip. I have never done a tour before and I generally like to make my own plans. However, there is so much to see in Alaska, and it's great to have somebody else plan the activities. Also, it's nice to sit back and relax in a comfortable motor coach rather than having to deal with driving.

Enjoy!
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Old 08-13-2014, 02:19 PM   #7
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Cool, Greatfalls! Thanks for your Report! I think my Trip Report might be the last one for this trip... And that was 2009!

I hope you got some great shots of Mt. Denali! When I was there in 2009, the clouds lifted just as we were leaving the park. We got to see it, but only briefly. I have a friend who has been in Alaska for the last week or so, and I saw her shots of Mt. Denali, and it looks truly spectacular!

I think we must have done the Northwest cruise in Kenai, because we *did* get close to a glacier (that was actively calving!). Does that one include Resurrection Bay, also? I *LOVED* the cruise in Kenai. When I read the first part of that sentence ("but the trade-off will be to replace the Resurrection Bay cruise") my heart stopped for a beat, because it was one of the top highlights of the trip. I was so glad to read the rest of the sentence!

Honestly, I've considered taking this trip again. I really like the changes they've made since 2009. But there's so many new places still to see.

Sayhello
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Check out my Southwest Splendors Trip Report! (2008). 5 parts, full of pics & details & impressions!
My Taming the Last Frontier ABD Alaska Trip Report! (2009)! 7 parts, pictures, stories, & more impressions!
Also check out my ABD/DCL Mediterranean Magic Trip Report! (2010)
NOW POSTING! My DIS Unplugged London/Paris/Disneyland Paris Trip Report! (2011)
Now posting my Greek Odyssey Trip Report (2013)

Last edited by sayhello; 08-13-2014 at 06:45 PM.
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Old 08-13-2014, 03:49 PM   #8
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Old 08-13-2014, 06:44 PM   #9
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WOW, Greatfalls!!!!

Beautiful!

Sayhello
__________________
Check out my Southwest Splendors Trip Report! (2008). 5 parts, full of pics & details & impressions!
My Taming the Last Frontier ABD Alaska Trip Report! (2009)! 7 parts, pictures, stories, & more impressions!
Also check out my ABD/DCL Mediterranean Magic Trip Report! (2010)
NOW POSTING! My DIS Unplugged London/Paris/Disneyland Paris Trip Report! (2011)
Now posting my Greek Odyssey Trip Report (2013)
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Old 08-14-2014, 08:45 AM   #10
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Carlene was our guide the first year ABD offered the Alaska trip back in 2009. She is awesome and a real Alaskan! I'm so glad to hear she is still an Adventure Guide.
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Old 08-17-2014, 08:55 PM   #11
KandAMom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greatfalls View Post
We just got back from the 8/4-11/14 trip. I didn't see any recent trip reports here, so hopefully I can provide some useful information. I might try to attach some photos in a later post. Here as some random comments:

1. We are a family of 4 with young teens. The total group had 38 people plus two guides and a bus driver. Our guides told us that all of the 2014 Alaska trips were sold out, so 38 is the normal group size. Everybody was families mostly with younger teens. There were a few pre-teens and older teens. All were well-behaved. By the end of the trip, all the kids and adults were good friends. (If you're on next year's adult-only trip, this will be different.)

2. Our two guides were fantastic -- Korey who is an ABD pro of trips around the world and Carlene who is a local guide. They organized and ran everything, were incredibly helpful, took time to get to know everybody, and provided a lot of interesting information throughout the trip. Henry was our bus driver, who was local and had a dry sense of humor and got along very well with the kids.

3. We are from the East Coast, as were a lot of people on the tour. Anybody from the East should consider getting to the area early, as the tour hits the ground running on the first day. We spend a couple of days in Seattle, which allowed us to adjust to the time change ahead of the tour.

4. Alaska is big, so you'll spend some time in the "motor coach" as they call it. The trip to and from Denali is about 4 hours, but they break it up each time. The guides provide narration and trivia contests and show movies, Disney of course. This is also a good time to read or just look out the window at the spectacular scenery and look for moose and bears.

5. The accommodations are solid. The Anchorage Marriott is a normal in-city hotel. Anchorage is a small city -- not the most scenic but a good base for the first day and a half. The Grande Denali is a Xanterra property, so the rooms are basic, but the hotel has great view of the park. The Alyeska is a higher end ski-resort hotel, with plenty of amenities and a nice indoor pool.

6. Most of the group dinners had set menus with a couple of choices, so not the full menu from a restaurant. The Bridge on the first night has a great view overlooking fishermen in the creek. Half of the nights provide for dinner on your own, and the guides will give good recommendations. Tripadvisor is also useful. Reservations are recommended for the second night in Anchorage, as they fill up with cruise vacationers. Breakfast is provided each morning, either by buffet at the Marriott, or in the restaurants at the Grande Denali and Alyeska.

7. Clothing is definitely casual and warm. All of the restaurants allow jeans and hiking shoes. A rain jacket is a must. We always were able to leave things on the bus, so it was easy to leave layers of jackets or sweat shirts on the bus.

8. All excursions were top notch, and we had designated guides for most of them. Our favorites:

The train from Girdwood to Seward, which has spectacular scenery of glaciers and the wilderness. I think they're eliminating this next year, but the trade-off will be to replace the Resurrection Bay cruise with the longer Northwest cruise in Kenai. On the Resurrection Bay cruise, we saw lots of sea life including Orcas and humpback whales. It did not pass nearby ocean glaciers, but the Northwest cruise does, so I expect that will be a highlight for the 2015 vacationers.

Martin Buser's Happy Trails Kennels. Buser is an Alaskan icon having won 4 Iditarods. He and his son Rohn, also a musher, gave talks. Best of all, there were lots of puppies. We all were allowed to hold the 2-week old litter of puppies.

Denali park. We hiked with a very good guide and we were the only 2014 ABD tour (so far) that got to see Denali (Mt. McKinley). It's usually shrouded in clouds, so don't be disappointed if you don't see it. Only 30% of visitors to Alaska actually see it.

Animal spotting. We saw plenty of moose from the bus, and we were stuck behind a large Caribou at Denali, who was taking his time walking down the road. We did not have any bear sightings in the wilderness. However, you get to see all of these animals at the Wildlife Conservation Center, where they are kept in natural enclosures and not zoo-like pens.

Jet-boat cruise. This takes you through the wilderness outside of Talkeetna, where we saw dozens of bald eagles fishing the river.

9. Some of the people in our group scheduled activities for the free afternoons in Denali and Girdwood. Rafting and Jeep excursions were popular in Denali, and hiking was popular in in Girdwood.

10. Over all, it was a great trip. I have never done a tour before and I generally like to make my own plans. However, there is so much to see in Alaska, and it's great to have somebody else plan the activities. Also, it's nice to sit back and relax in a comfortable motor coach rather than having to deal with driving.

Enjoy!
Thank you thank you thank you....for you input! We are booked for next July and I am worrying already what to bring! Question- did you ever wear shorts or was it long pants the whole time?
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Old 08-18-2014, 06:13 AM   #12
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We went in the first week of July and it was warm enough for shorts all the time, even when we walked on the glacier. The kids were having snowball fights in shorts. We had mid to upper 70s the entire time, but I think that might have been a bit warmer than is typical. You'll probably want to bring both shorts and long pants.
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Old 08-18-2014, 07:16 AM   #13
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We were on this trip a few years ago (the end of June/ beginning of July) and it was cold. It even snowed at a rest stop on our trip south from Denali. I would bring both IMO. Have a wonderful time.....we did.....
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Old 08-18-2014, 07:15 PM   #14
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I wore shorts for the first half of the trip in Anchorage and Denali, but sometimes with a sweatshirt. It was rainy most of the time in Girdwood and Kenai, so I wore jeans.
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