We are back from our adventures in the not-so-wilds of Alaska. It was a great trip with lots of hiking (we hit our step targets almost every day) and fun day trips. We originally thought 10 days might have been too long to spend in Anchorage, but we found it all absolutely worthwhile.
Often our adventures required a fair bit of driving, but every one of our forays had an amazing payoff. The worst part of our drives was never knowing what side of the road to watch for wildlife. Although David did spot of couple of bears from the car, we saw more moose in the city than we did in the wild.
Although spring came early this year (it was amazing watching the buds turn to leaves throughout the time we were there), the official season doesn’t begin until mid-May. The only things we missed out on were riding the Alaska railroad and checking out the Alaska Native Heritage Center. What we didn’t miss were the hordes of tourists. It was great having the trails, museums and conservation centers almost to ourselves. Totally spoiled us.
Some of the highlights of the trip were:
- Visiting Denali National Park and Preserve. This is one of the places where we won by going pre-season. The park was open to mile 30, but normally private cars are only allowed to drive to mile 15. Everything else requires either a shuttle or a tour bus. But because the busses don’t start running until mid-May we were able to drive right in.
- The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. This is where we got to see brown and black bears (relatively) up close, as well as moose, musk oxen, wood bison, elk and caribou. We both really enjoyed reading about the origins of the animals (often they were injured or orphaned). They make a real effort to return their charges to the wild if at all possible. They have recently successfully reintroduced wood bison to the wild and have seen the first wild-born babies.
- Our boat ride around Prince William Sound. There are very few tour companies who do winter tours, so we were very excited to discover that Lazy Otter Charters is one of the few that do. We tagged along with a group of reflexologists from throughout the world on a great tour where we saw whales (including one that David saw breach–he said it kinda looked like the creature from Empire Strikes Back that the Millennium Falcon escapes from), porpoises, otters, bald eagles and several glaciers. The glaciers have really receded in the past couple of years, which I personally found kind of depressing. On the plus side, we got to see a couple of them calve.
- The Anchorage Museum. We found the first floor a little underwhelming, but the second floor more than made up for it with two great exhibits focused on Alaskan natives. They were in the process of changing the exhibit on the third floor, so we didn’t get to see anything else.
- The Alaska Sea Life Center in Seward. We had originally thought this too was closed for the season and were delighted to discover that we were wrong. This is another place that takes in orphaned and injured sea life and do their best to reintroduce them to the wild whenever possible. The highlight for me was a peek into the animal rehab center where we saw two baby otters get their baths. One escaped out of its tub, much to the chagrin of the person responsible for it. It was ultimately put into the larger tub with its friend where they happily played with their feet, their toys and each other. We even got the full story on their history because the staff were relatively unoccupied with other folks.
Our next adventure (subject of course to the usual caveats about The Call disrupting our plans) is a weekend trip to Chicago to meet up with some friends in May. After which I will head to New York for some niecelette time and David will return home to remind our cats that they actually do have humans.