When I first found out about my Alaska trip, I was ecstatic. I had never been to Alaska before and had heard that this trip was a trip of a lifetime. That sentiment held true with my own experience to "The Last Frontier."
I would be remiss if I did not mention the fact that the group of people whom I traveled with were wonderful. Forty-one travelers from the Tri-States climbed aboard a Holiday Vacations bus to see what they had only read about and seen in various media until now. Many were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversaries. One couple vowed when they married that if they stayed married for 50 years, they would celebrate by taking a trip to Alaska. This was it, and the trip was all we had hoped for and more.
We started out in Seattle, where our plane landed. We traveled from there to Vancouver to board the ms. Volendam cruise ship owned by Holland America. I had never been on a cruise, but soon surmised that this would be my favorite part of the trip. A spa, swimming pool, workout facility complete with whale watching opportunities, food and drink galore, special events and a library cafe -- who could ask for anything more? I was in heaven.
We docked in Juneau to explore the state's capitol city and experience off-shore excursions. My husband and I had booked a helicopter ride up to a glacier, where we would then have an opportunity to walk on that glacier. That excursion, was canceled due to rain - something I had forgotten all about after spending the summer in the drought-stricken Tri-States.
We boarded back on the ship and then headed to Skagway, where we got off the ship for good. We spent a couple of hours in Skagway before hopping on the White Pass & Yukon Route train to head through British Columbia. Here, we experienced and learned about the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1800s.
We then hopped on a bus en route to Beaver Creek in the Yukon Territory. This experience was a whole new world for me -- I was cut off from the rest of the world with no television, no telephone and no cell phone service. Thankfully, we only stayed for one night, and I soon would be back in touch with civilization!
After hopping back on the bus, we headed to Fairbanks but not before stopping at the North Pole, Alaska right outside of Fairbanks. Here, we found reindeer, Santa Claus' home and even a post office where Santa Claus mails his letters to good boys and girls across the globe. :)
We arrived in Fairbanks for two nights where we explored the city and stopped by an elaborate cultural center, which helped explained the history, background and culture of Alaska and many of its Inuit people.
Denali National Park was quite a sight. I had never seen so many bears, caribou and moose as I did during that park tour. Forty-plus people boarded that school bus for an 8-hour expedition in which we saw sites and sounds that we will carry with us for a lifetime.
The next morning, we packed up, leaving Denali for Anchorage. I was crossing my fingers that I would get to see Mt. McKinley that day as I was told my chances were slim to none. That morning, the sun was out, and there it appeared before our eyes -- Denali (a.k.a. "The High One). It was divine. It was awesome. It was majestic. I was speechless, thankful and amazed by its glory.
The trip included so much more than what I could include in this article -- including getting to see 26 glaciers in Prince William Sound, the Iditarod Trail Headquarters and digging for gold to name a few. I thank KHQA, the people whom I traveled with and the great State of Alaska for an experience of a lifetime.