Could i have your opinion about the first time you visited Alaska?
Replies: 13 - Last Post: Oct 6, 2012 1:07 PM Last Post By: living
Sep 29, 2012 12:05 AM
Could i have your opinion about the first time you visited Alaska?I have never been to Alaska, but it's a place i have always dreamed of visiting. Could you please tell me what it was like when you first visited Alaska? I have always wanted to see the northern lights/ aurora borealis and Glaciers of Alaska. If you have viewed these in Alaska, could you describe what it was like when seeing them for the first time?
Sep 29, 2012 4:50 AM
1I went to Alaska for a summer seasonal job and found the environment so exhilerating that I stayed for 15 years! January is usually the popular month for viewing the aurora borealis from Chena Hot Springs north of Fairbanks -- the Japanese think it is good luck for honeymooners and there are many charter flights and tours from Japan. The temperatures at that time of year can drop to minus 40F degrees without including the windchill. I lived in Girdwood for 7 years and commuted to Anchorage for work at 5:30 a.m., when I would see the northern lights undulating across the sky in front of me as I drove in the pitch dark along Turnagain Arm. They were mostly yellow-green and some white. Near the Knik Glacier area, 40 miles north of Anchorage, within sight of the Alaska mountain range, the hues include red, yellow, green, and blue. There is no guarantee of when the aurora borealis will put on a show.
The glaciers are more easily seen in the spring and summer after extraneous snow has melted. There are many large glaciers and it is easy to drive from Anchorage 45 miles to see the Matanuska Glacier near Palmer (which you can walk on), or the 7 hanging glaciers from the cliff walls of Girdwood/Glacier Valley, or 50 miles to see Portage Glacier and take a boat ride up to it. Exit Glacier (which you can walk on), in Seward, is 100 miles south of Anchorage, and the Kenai Fjords cruises will take you out into the Pacific Ocean to see tidewater glaciers.
Edited by: trekker502
Sep 29, 2012 7:22 AM
2My first experience in Alaska - outside an airport - was taking a float plane and landing on a lake in Katmai National Park, then seeing an 800-lb. brown bear stroll by the ranger station window as we were checking in for our campsite and saying HOLY !@$%. Pretty much set the tone for the most amazing trip we've ever taken!
Sep 29, 2012 10:40 AM
3The northern lights are astonishing and a life event
You will never forget. Therer is no certainty that you
will ever see them however. I do recall that there is a
Website run by a govt agency that posts likelihood
and time of night to look for them. Someone else will
have the web address. Glaciers on the other hand
are easy to find and you don't have to go toAlaska
for them. Probably for accessibility Colorado, Glacier NP
(what's left anyway) or Icefields Parkway near Banff are
easier to get to. You should also think about whether
you want to see glaciers from the water or land
as well. My memorable moment in Alaska was seeing
a 45 foot humpback explode out of the water about
30 feet from our boat, a completely random and
Sep 29, 2012 12:47 PM
Sep 29, 2012 4:52 PM
5I don't remember much of my first day in Alaska, but I was told I spent the first day or so at the hospital.
Sep 30, 2012 7:15 AM
6I wrote a big series of guides for Alaska after my first visit in 2005 that you can read here. It covers most of the state.
The cliff notes:
- The rain was endless.
- Gray hair everywhere. Felt very out of place as a travelling solo youngster.
- Some areas with spectacular scenery, other areas not so much.
- Most towns not too interesting.
- I worried for humanity when I saw some of the attire the cruise ship passengers were wearing.
Overall I was a bit disappointed in Alaska as a whole, but I've been back since to some of the parts I loved (namely the Juneau area) and will probably go back again to select areas.
My opinion is of course skewed by the fact I live in Alberta and very frequently travel to British Columbia, so glaciers, bears & wildlife, mountains, lakes, forests, bugs, etc are all very normal things to me so Alaska is less of a novelty. If somebody's lived in Florida their entire life then obviously their impression would be vastly different.
Oct 1, 2012 9:01 AM
7I went on my first trip to Alaska in August, and it was the trip of a lifetime. If you are an outdoor enthusiast, there really is no place else quite like it. The fishing has to be the best on earth, there is great wildlife and stunning scenery.
I didn't see the aurora but did see some glaciers. The glaciers were beautiful and interesting and well worth seeing. But I'd count these as the trip highlights: Denali's fall colors, a super-pod of orcas on a boat trip out of Seward, lots of bears, flying over the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes on a clear day, the amazing fishing out of Bristol Bay, the salmon migration, the scenery around Wrangell-St. Elias and Valdez.
Oct 2, 2012 3:12 PM
8I'm glad that you finally made the trek north to Alaska, MLM192! I was fortunate to be able to see many off-the-grid places throughout Alaska while I lived there. I had the opportunity to fly on tiny Cessnas and a Beaver floatplane out to a remote area in Southeast Alaska. I drove over the gravel road to McCarthy in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. I drove north on the gravel Dalton Highway as far as the Arctic Circle. I drove from Dawson City, Yukon Territory, past the Arctic Circle to Inuvik, Northwest Territories, on the MacKenzie River Delta, near the Arctic Ocean. I drove the Alaska-Canada Highway 6 times and the Cassiar Highway several times. I did explore the Steward-Hyder area once, but did not drive to the glacier. It is next to Misty Fjords National Park and east of Ketchikan. I have driven the Icefields Highway from Jasper NP past Lake Louise to Banff NP several times. I have also driven from Alberta to Yellowknife on the Great Slave Lake in Northwest Territories. Life is an adventure and its great to explore the back roads!
Oct 3, 2012 9:02 AM
9Trekker502, that is an impressive list of Alaskan travels. I can't believe it took me so long to get there. And now I have a list of future trips I'd like to take there--to see the musk ox in Nome, the walrus on Walrus Island, fish for kings via whitewater raft, fish for salmon sharks, the Arctic, etc, etc, etc. More than one could do in a lifetime. What an incredible place. I'd go back tomorrow if I could.
Oct 5, 2012 2:55 PM
10the north definitely has a way of sucking people in unexpectedly, so be warned! having said that, i currently reside in Inuvik, NWT, Canada and moved here a couple of years ago and only planned to stay a few months. there are some things you won/cant experience anywhere else in the world. having said, its not for everyone. but if you are just thinking about going for a visit, book your ticket! as mentioned above though, watch out for seniors, the place is crawling with them!
Oct 5, 2012 4:53 PM
11I believe Alaska's actual population is younger than average. The tourists, particularly on the road system, trend towards retirement age.
Oct 6, 2012 5:09 AM
12For those interested in traveling the Dempster Highway, from near Dawson City, Yukon Territory, to Inuvik in Northwest Territories, it is gravel all of the 350+ miles. The curves have slate rock that slices the tires if you are "speeding" more than about 30 mph. I met one man with a truck and 5th wheel trailer who had 7 flat tires by the time that he reached the 1/2-way point! He refused to slow down. It is a beautiful drive through lots of Canadian historic areas patrolled by the Canadian Mounties and explored by many adventurers and fur traders. The road is open year-round, with small ferries crossing the rivers in the summer and ice crossings in the very frigid winters. You will meet Gwichin Indians in the interior and Inupiat Eskimoes in Inuvik and northwards. There is a shuttlebus, which brentski is referring to, plus charter planes to Inuvik and northward to the oil fields.
There are many greybeard snowbirds who travel to Alaska in the summer for the superb fishing and to visit the grandchildren, but they leave before the snow flies. Many of my former neighbors in Girdwood now live in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and I know that some do travel back to Alaska every summer. However, there are thousands of young 20-somethings who migrate to Alaska for summer seasonal work either with Fish & Wildlife or with tourisim agencies or in the salmon fish processing industry.
Oct 6, 2012 1:07 PM
13"I met one man with a truck and 5th wheel trailer who had 7 flat tires by the time that he reached the 1/2-way point! "
That is a story that has been passed around for decades. We drove the Dempster and back two years ago in our campervan - not a single flat coming or going. Did not see anyone fixing a flat. Don't remember how fast we did or did not go but we did not "creep" along terrified. The locals drive incredibly fast - we did see several in the ditch. They just bring out a tow truck, roll 'em over and they keep going like bats out of hell. They are a menace in terms of flying rocks. The only windshield crack I got was on the Dempster from a local pickup truck. I also drove the Dalton Hwy to the Arctic Ocean with all the truckers - THEY all slow down when vehicles approach so there are few flying rocks.
As to all the references to greybeards and such ...like we are some kind of invasive species to be avoided at all costs (I am 61 tomorrow) ...give it a break for heaven's sake. The one thing I can promise you with 100% reliability is that you will get here sooner than you think or you will die trying.
And then you'll wonder why all the snarky references to age. Some of us drive fast, some drive slow. Some pull honkin' big 5th wheels, some fly around in 4 x 4s. We are as individual in our style and behaviour in our 60s as we were in our 30s and 40s. What we DO have is tons and tons of time to travel. Which is why you see disproportionate numbers heading north on the Alcan. Your typical desk jockey does not have the leisure time it takes to travel north by road.
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