Trip Report! Alaska -- Taming the Last Frontier Part 3 - IMAGE INTENSIVE!

Discussion in 'Adventures By Disney' started by sayhello, Sep 26, 2009.

  1. sayhello

    sayhello Have Camera, Will Travel Moderator

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    Continuing Day 3...

    The jet boats then deposited us at an old trapper's cabin. We saw actual reindeer there (apparently brought from Russia years ago) and had a talk about the trappers' life. The reindeer ate out of our hands (or, actually, slobbered out of our hands!)

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    We then panned for gold (the one other overlap with my previous trip). They didn't really explain to us how to do it, and even having done it before, I found it difficult. Luckily, our motorcoach driver, Billy, had done it many times before, and helped us out.

    My "take" (magnified many times!):

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    This is the gorgeous view around the trapper's cabin. (The tent was the original cabin. The additional cabin was built when the trapper's wife refused to move into the old one!)

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    Autumn colors were really out in the Denali area...

    We then went to the Murie Science and Learning Center in Denali National Park.

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    As you can see, the fall colors were really out here, too!

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    We had a nice box lunch there (wraps, fruit, snacks, juice (or water for me) cookies, chips, etc). It was like being a kid and swapping lunches as people swapped & shared what had been packed. We then joined a naturalist (I've forgotten all their names! Bad Sayhello!) who took us on a hike through the park, and explained to us how they track the wolf population of the park (the wolves were pretty much killed off as a nuisance, and they are now working to re-populate them in the park). It was very interesting, and the area we walked & hiked through was just GORGEOUS, with all sorts of Fall colors out.

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    That's the Grande Denali Lodge on the hillside, in the center of the picture.

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    We didn't find any wolves, but it was SUCH a fabulous walk!

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    Betzy & Paul had opted out of the hike, and joined Rae in exploring the Visitor's Center and all it had to offer. We were given the rest of the of the afternoon & evening on our own. We had the option to return to the Lodge, stay at the Visitor's Center, hike, or go see the sled dog demonstration in the park, or whatever combination thereof that we wanted. I opted to go see the sled dog demo. We were bused to the demo area. They actually still use sled dogs to monitor and patrol the perimeter of the Park during the winters. It's the easiest way to get around, and the dogs even create paths for the cross-country skiers. The dogs were very friendly (although a bit sleepy!) and came when you called their names (which were listed on their houses).

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    The rangers who worked there told us about the dogs, and hooked them up to a sled to show us how they worked together. It was fun & informative.

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    As I walked back towards the visitor's center afterwards, I suddenly realized I didn't have my camera case (I had the camera, but no case, which also had the spare battery!) I ran back, but the bus (the last bus!) was just pulling away. I went over to the luggage check area that was right there, and asked if they could contact the bus driver. He tried, but couldn't. Turned out he was also the Lost & Found, so he took my information, and said if they found it, I could come get it the next day. I told him we were leaving the area 7am the next morning. He told me to check with the folks at the desk of the Grande Denali Lodge (which was also owned by Aramark, who runs all the concessions & transportation at the Park) and see if, maybe, security could drop the case at the Lodge rather than taking it to Lost & Found. I tried not to feel too bad. It was just the case & the spare battery. I still had the camera. I was mostly doing OK, but was still kind of bummed. So I went to the desk when we got back to the Lodge, and they called over to the bus dispatch folks. They'd already found the case, and taken it to the bus barn! The desk sent someone down to the bus barn and fetched it for me! I was so happy, and so relieved! As Rae commented, there are a LOT of places where I would never have seen that case again, and this place went out of their way to get it for me. I was really grateful & impressed!

    After that, I took the shuttle down to the shopping area to look for souvenirs and get some dinner (the road up/down to the Lodge is STEEP! *So* not walking it!) It was kind of silly. A couple of days before this trip, I went to the movies with a friend, and saw Sandra Bullock's movie "The Proposal". I'd forgotten, but most of it takes place in Alaska (Sitka)! I kept going to my friend "2 days! In 2 days I'll be there!" Sandra ends up wearing this big, cowled, corny Alaska sweater with Huskies and the word Alaska all over it. For some reason, I found I really wanted one. Of course, I didn't find anything even close. I didn't really find much at all, but came across Matt, Mary, Tom & Patty at the shops at the Chalet Lodge. Patty invited me to join them for dinner at the Salmon Bake restaurant. It was a fun, rustic decor restaurant, and the food was GREAT! Some of the best of the trip. I had a really fabulous salad with all sorts of fresh seafood on it, and a King Crab quesadilla. I also got a Caribou slider from Matt, and it was one of the tastiest burgers I've ever eaten! Patty & Mary had King Crab legs, Matt had ribs and Tom had a seafood burrito. Everyone really seemed to enjoy their food, and the company was great and a lot of fun! Fabulous ice cream was had on the way back to the shuttle, and then we returned to the lodge.

    Day 4 -- Southern Migration

    Early wakeup this morning after a VERY full day yesterday! This was our "southern migration" day -- spent mostly heading down from Denali to the Kenai Peninsula.

    There was mist all over the place, very cool & dramatic looking.

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    Then, as we were driving down, I saw it... Rae saw the look on my face, and turned around and verified that the fabulous, sparkling clear mountain I saw out the window was, indeed, Denali -- Mt. McKinley. It was SPECTACULAR, FABULOUS and GORGEOUS. I snapped a few pictures from the motorcoach, and then we hit a clear spot where Billy pulled the motorcoach to the side of the road. We all got out and had an orgy of picture taking. This spot was just MADE for viewing the Mountain, but it was just a turnout on the highway. I was in ecstasy! I never thought I'd see Denali like this, and there it was, just perfect and crystal clear. The pictures are a bit deceiving, as Denali is 40 miles away, and the other mountains in the foreground are only a few miles. Denali is just SO huge that the perspective is off.

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    But it was GORGEOUS, and WONDERFUL, and totally made my trip. I'm now a member of the 10% Club!!! :-D (Some folks had seen Denali the day before from helicopter rides they'd taken, and thought that was impressive. It was! But this was beyond what they'd already seen.)

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    [/FONT]Once Rae & Jesse finally managed to get us back in the motorcoach, we headed further down the Parks road, to the Alaska Veteran's Memorial. It's a lovely area, with monuments to the different branches of the military that Alaskans have served in. It has a statue of 2 children, viewing & pointing at the fabulous view there of -- Denali!!! We had another picture taking orgy, got some refreshments, and took a look at the Memorial. Spectacular place, spectacular weather, spectacular views (yep, DEFINITELY a pattern here!)

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    From there, we continued on south, very happy, excited and content. When we hit Anchorage, we took the one "divergence" from the Family itinerary. Jesse & Rae decided that, rather than going to the Alaska Wildberry Products, and the Sourdough Mining Company for lunch, that we were going for a more "Adult" lunch. We went to a local Brewpub (The Snow Goose Restaurant at the Sleeping Lady Brewing Co. Pub).

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    They gave us a tour of the Brewery and an in depth idea of how they made their beer different from others'.

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    Then we had a beer tasting of the various types of ales, and a yummy lunch (different fish, chops or chicken that we'd pre-chosen on Day 2). Very tasty!

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    [/FONT]Continued in Part 4: Continuation of Day 4.
     
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  3. Bobo912

    Bobo912 DIS Veteran

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    I'm so glad you got to see Deanli! There was a huge forest fire in the park the day we stopped at the War Memorial and the air was hazy everywhere, so the mountain wasn't visible. Luckily we had seen it earlier, but there were some people on our trip who never got to see it.
     
  4. glassslipper2004

    glassslipper2004 DIS Veteran

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    Sayhello, I am really enjoying your trip report. Thank you so much for posting all of this! It's a great way to enjoy the trip without actually going on it. I wonder how many people will book this one because of your report?!

    I love the pics of you in costume at the auto museum and the Iditarod exhibit. What fun!
     
  5. sayhello

    sayhello Have Camera, Will Travel Moderator

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    Thanks, Bobo912! I'm still amazed we got to see it. At the start of the tour, the guides were cautious about us being able to see it due to the remains of the fires, but apparently that's all cleared up now. I realize how special this was! Really amazing. I'm glad you got to see it early in your trip. I still love that picture you got.

    glassslipper, I'm happy you're enjoying the report! There's still lots more to go. I would be ecstatic if folks took this trip based on my report, like they did with SWS! I love spreading the joy & the excitement. :thumbsup2

    Sayhello
     
  6. marcemch

    marcemch Mouseketeer

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    Wow - what an incredible view of Mt. McKinley! I am SO JEALOUS of the weather you had! We had rain/mist a good part of the time, and although it never really got in the way of our activities, it sure makes a difference when you have bright sun-shiney weather! Your photos are gorgeous. I should post a few of mine just to show you the difference.
    I'm also surprised at all the fall colors too -3 weeks at that time of year makes a big difference in Alaska!
     
  7. sayhello

    sayhello Have Camera, Will Travel Moderator

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    Thanks, marcemch. So glad you're liking the pictures! I kept thinking of you & the rainy weather you'd had. We had that kind of weather for our rafting day, and for parts of my last day in Anchorage. Aside from that, even the locals were amazed by the VERY unseasonable weather we had. If it wasn't for my little mishap, I'd've thought this was a charmed vacation!

    Please do post your pics. I'd be really interested in seeing them. It's funny, because I came back home, and there were no Fall colors, and it was a little disorienting. :confused3

    Sayhello
     
  8. LSmith

    LSmith DIS Veteran

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    Sayhello,

    Your photography is remarkable! You have convinced me by your stunning photos alone that I must travel to Alaska (although not necessarily ABD - $$$$). Could you please tell me what kind of camera you have? Thanks.
     
  9. sayhello

    sayhello Have Camera, Will Travel Moderator

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    Wow! Thanks for the compliments, LSmith. :flower3: I can HIGHLY recommend traveling to Alaska, no matter how you go! (Although I am biased to either ABD or a Princess cruisetour!) It is a fabulous, vast, beautiful place!

    I have a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5. Amazing little camera. It's the second Lumix I've owned, and I am constantly amazed by the pictures it takes. The TZ5 is the "old" model, and is hard to find these days (although I picked mine up off of QVC, just happened to see it there). The new, current model is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ3 (it is referred to in the UK as the TZ7, but it's the SZ3 in the States). Fabulous, fabulous little camera. Stunning LCD display, lots of great modes, stellar lens, 10X zoom (the SZ3 is 12X!), and, as you can see, beautiful pictures. All in a relatively compact point-and-shoot. I can HIGHLY recommend it! I put in my years lugging around a huge SLR and all the lenses, etc, and I'm happy now to just tote my little Panasonic. As you can see, the results are still stellar!

    Sayhello
     
  10. HappyGrumpy

    HappyGrumpy DIS Veteran

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    WOW...Just WOW! Mt McKinley is Amazing!
     
  11. LSmith

    LSmith DIS Veteran

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    Thanks so much for replying. I will for sure get one for my next trip.

    Although I'd love to travel ABD with my family it's too pricey. I do enjoy immensely reading your reviews and getting travel ideas. Last year my family went to Arizona and I got lots of ideas just from reading your reviews. Thanks (a bit late). I find we can pretty much do the same things ourselves for half the price. I research, find deals, steal ideas etc. My dh does all of the driving but we still manage to have fab vacations.

    My photography skills are lacking huge. I certainly did not mean that the camera itself takes those amazing pictures. You are obviously very talented but still I will buy that camera and hope for some magic!

    Please keep up the writing your reviews. Although many people don't comment I can tell you that lots of people are reading, learning and enjoying!
     
  12. WeLoveABD

    WeLoveABD DIS Veteran

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    Hello SayHello! We have enjoyed your report and photos! We booked the DCL for Alaska 2011 (mid-June), and are waiting to see if there are any ABD connections to the cruise dates. Did you learn anything from the guides about the EBD, or future trips, or Alaska DCL and ABD connections? (I apologize if you mentioned these already in your report--if you did I must have been mesmerized by your photos!)
     
  13. sayhello

    sayhello Have Camera, Will Travel Moderator

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    :teeth: Thanks, HG! It really is! We were all like little kids running around, taking pictures. It was spectacular, and I am just so happy how these pics turned out! I would love to see how other folks' pictures turned out, especially Dave, who had a nice camera & also seemed to know what he was doing with it. :)

    Thanks, LSmith, and you're welcome. :thumbsup2 Everybody travels differently and likes or chooses different types of trips. ABD is one alternative, one that I happen to like, and which, at least at the moment, I can afford. I think the fact that I travel alone has a lot to do with the fact that I really like these trips. I can go places & do things (like hiking) that would not be practical or safe on my own. Plus, I have built-in traveling companions. I know I could do these trips a lot cheaper on my own, but they just wouldn't be the same or as enjoyable for me. But I can totally see that for a family, this can certainly be cost prohibitive. I'm all in favor of getting inspiration & ideas wherever you can!

    Again, thanks for the compliments about my pictures. I totally understood what you were meaning when you asked about the camera. I consider photography to be my "art form". I do think I have a really good eye. But without a good camera, I can't translate what my eye sees. It takes both. I say give the camera a try! It sure won't HURT your picture taking!

    :love: Thank you! That's really good to hear, and makes doing these Reports even more rewarding!

    Oooo, another person taking the DCL Alaska cruise! I'm sure you will have a FABULOUS time. What's not to love? And combining it with an ABD for a cruisetour? Wow! That would be magnificent. I'll be interested to see what DCL comes up with. The folks celebrating their 50th Anniversary did that, sort of on their own. They did a cruise with Celebrity, then did the ABD instead of Celebrity's land portion. They seemed quite pleased with the combination.

    I did talk to Jesse & Rae about the EBD. They were quite aware of people's unhappiness about the loss of the EBD, but were really not in a position to be able to do anything about it. I'm not sure what you're referring to when you say "future trips"? Do you mean new itineraries? We didn't discuss that. And I wasn't aware of the DCL Alaska announcement while I was on the tour, so we didn't discuss any of that, or a connection to ABD, either. The guides are pretty much hired season to season, so I'm not sure how much information about stuff like that they would have had. They certainly didn't mention anything.

    Hope that answers your questions so far. Let me know if I missed anything!

    Hee! Mesmerized! :teeth:

    Sayhello
     
  14. brewcrew

    brewcrew Mouseketeer

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    I have not been on the boards for a few weeks and am finally able to sit down and read your trip report. It is GREAT! Your pics are awesome as well. Please forgive me for not finding this elsewhere but what happened that you had to get stitches? I hope you are recovering okay! Thanks again for the report.
     
  15. sayhello

    sayhello Have Camera, Will Travel Moderator

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    Thanks, brewcrew! I'm glad you're enjoying the Report and the pictures!

    I tripped & fell while getting ready to leave for the airport at the end of my trip. Hit my head. 3 staples... I'm much better now! I haven't gotten to that point in the Trip Report yet. :confused3

    There's a little detail here: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2272405&page=2

    Sayhello
     
  16. Tikihula

    Tikihula DIS Veteran

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    We have this same camera that we bought over a year ago and really like it. We can do still shots and video and you can do point and shoot or manual settings. Very versatile, easy to carry but not so tiny that it's awkward to use, and it takes wonderful pictures.

    Just found your TR and read this installment but I need to go back and read the previous posts. Fabulous photography and excellent narration. We are definitely going to plan an Alaskan tour sometime in the future.
     
  17. tksbaskets

    tksbaskets DIS Veteran

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    I'm caught up! Great installment. Makes me glad my sister is 45 minutes late for our road trip and I was able to read them all. Looking forward to part 4 popcorn::
     
  18. brewcrew

    brewcrew Mouseketeer

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    I am so sorry to hear that! I'm glad you're better!
     
  19. sayhello

    sayhello Have Camera, Will Travel Moderator

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    Glad you like the camera, too! It's just so easy to use, and takes such great pictures! Small enough to stuff in a jacket pocket, but large enough to get a good hold of. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! :love:

    Thanks for he compliments! :) I really enjoy doing these reports, and I'm glad folks enjoy reading them! And I love sharing my pictures.

    I definitely advocate taking a trip to Alaska! It's such a fabulous, amazing place!

    Thanks, tk! I'm glad to be a happy distraction for you. :teeth: I hope your road trip is/was fun!

    Thanks! Although now that my head is mended, I have no excuse if I lose my brains... :confused3

    Sayhello
     
  20. CocosMeme

    CocosMeme DIS Veteran

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    Wow, SayHello, you already convinced me to go on Southwest Splendors next Sept. and now I want to go on this one. You are the BEST trip reporter. It looks like you had a fabulous time. Thanks so much for sharing.
     
  21. wdwsos

    wdwsos DIS Veteran

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    I am *so* looking forward to sitting down with a cup of tea (who am I kidding... a glass of wine...) and reading all of this! I just skimmed so far and looked at all the fabulous photos!

    Thanks for writing this, sayhello! I'm still only half way through writing my Bella Italia report, so now maybe the guilt will motivate me. :)

    Dotti
     

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