Mike and I have talked about going to Alaska for years and this summer we finally made it to the Last Frontier. I cannot even begin to tell you how beautiful this part of the world is. This probably doesn’t come as a big surprise, but seriously you guys, it is incredible and there truly is no place like it in the United States.
We Flew into Anchorage and stayed at an airport hotel the first night. We got in at midnight, but you’d never have known it. It was still light out because Alaska gets about 20 hours of sunlight in the summer. The next morning we woke up early and were off to Homer, one of our longest drives on the trip (about four hours).
It didn’t take long to get out of Anchorage and we sat in silence for at least a half hour soaking in the amazing views and enjoying the moose along the side of the road.
We instantly liked Homer. It’s the fishing capital of the world, so it definitely has an industrial feel to it. That said, the buildings were colorful and cheerful, the locals were friendly, and there was a strip of great restaurants and drinking holes along the water (AKA the Spit).
Since Homer is the Halibut capital of the world, it only made sense to try our luck fishing. We booked a 3/4 day Halibut fishing trip with North Country Charters. The wake up call was a little brutal because the endless sun kept us out and about late into the night. But once we were on the boat and feeling the fresh air we were ready to go!
Halibut fishing was quite a bit different than the kind of fishing we’re used to in Minnesota. Halibut fish are bottom feeders, so we had to drop a weight with our line until it hit the ocean floor. While we both caught our two fish limit, our 30 pound fishies were pretty small compared to some of our other shipmates. It was pretty wet and fast-paced out on the boat deck, so I kind of forgot about using my camera – but here’s a picture of the loot our boat came out with. Not too bad!
After a long day of fishing, a stop in the Salty Dawg is the traditional must do activity! Tourists and locals from all over the world leave notes on dollar bills all over the restaurant. Confession – my arms were so tired from reeling in the fish that I could barely pick up my margarita! haWe had dinner at Captain Patty’s and tried an assortment of fresh seafood!
The next day we had a bear viewing adventure scheduled. This was probably the thing MIke and I were most excited about AND most nervous about! We booked our trip through Alaska Bear Adventures and I highly recommend their outfit. They were top-notch and we had the most amazing time!We took an hour long flight in a small cessna plane over the ocean to Katmai National Park. As we were coming in for our beach landing you could see bears swimming and walking around below. I was bursting with excitement and nervous energy.We cut up from the beach to enter bear territory and not even a minute into walking we saw a bear sleeping 15 feet from us in the tall grass. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that my heart completely stopped beating.As the day went on we trekked around the island and saw bears going about their day, playing, swimming, and even mating. It was surreal. Our guide, Derek, was absolutely the best! He had the right balance of taking this job seriously while making you feel safe and comfortable but also a great sense humor to take some of your nerves away. While I wouldn’t say being that close to bears is for everyone, I will say that this was the highlight of our trip and I will remember it forever.
The next morning we took off for Seward, another coastal town about 2.5 hours away from Homer. Seward has a picturesque harbor and great restaurants along the water. The downtown had an old mining feel to it and was home to the Mount Marathon race which we were able to catch the last bit of when we arrived.
Since we didn’t travel by cruise ship, we knew we wanted to go on a day cruise to get out on the water to see the glaciers and ocean wildlife up close. We booked our trip with Kenai Fjords Tour and had an amazing time–we would highly recommend their tour! As we drifted out to sea we saw sea lions who looked like they were waving goodbye to us. We learned that their feet aren’t as furry as the rest of their bodies so they keep them out of the water whenever possible. The photos don’t do it justice, but they were so cute!We enjoyed the cliff side views and couldn’t get over the gorgeous emerald green water (due to blooming phytoplankton).We saw at least 25 whales. I literally stopped counting. Although we didn’t see any of them jump, we saw lots of tails, backs, and spouting. So cool! As we got closer to the glaciers, the temperatures dropped drastically and rain fell. Again, pictures don’t do it justice, but definitely very cool to see in person. Later that day we drove 10 minutes outside of Seward to check out the Exit Glacier Hike that a few friends had recommended. It’s a pretty easy hike and ends at the tip of a glacier.
That night we had an excellent dinner at Chinooks with fresh seafood and great Alaskan beers on tap.
The next day we woke up early and headed to Girwood home to the Alyeska ski resort.
We fueled up with a delicious breakfast at the Bakeshop and headed out for a long hike.
The Winner Creek trail has a hand tram to pull you across a gorge. We didn’t wait in the line to get across, but it looked like a lot of fun!
We considered going all the way up to Denali, however once you get there you have to take an 8 hour bus ride into the park so we felt it was just too much travel for the amount of time we had left on our trip. Plus it makes for a good reason to go back! Instead we did a flightsee tour to get views of Denali and land on a glacier. It was awesome!
The rest of the day we hung out in Talkeetna and had a lazy day enjoying the river views and our last bit of vacation left.
On our way out we visited the Roadhouse for breakfast which came highly recommended. Don’t miss this if you are passing through Talkeetna!
We truly loved Alaska and the abundance of wildlife was out of this world!