Thailand Travels

Thailand Travels
Elephant Ride in Thailand

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Alaska - Beauty and the Beasts

Traveling the Inland Passage as well as the panoramic views on a train afforded the opportunity to experience this land at its best. It's hard not to use superlatives when describing all there was to offer around us.
Whether it was the roar of calving glaciers, cries of kittewakes from their rocky nests or the splash of killer whales, Glacier Bay held our attention. With the engines shut, our ship became a floating observatory for our senses. Brilliant shades of blue mixed with pristine white and dull gray all combined in this slow moving behemoth.
Watching out the train window, the distant sight of Denali (aka Mt. McKinley) kept us glued for what lay ahead. The bus ride through Denali provided us with an 'up close and personal' encounter with some of its four-footed inhabitants. At one spot we had a 360 degree sighting of caribou, dall sheep, grizzly and moose. The grizzly put on a show as he dug the burrow of a ground squirrel, perhaps for an afternoon snack. Three swipes of his fearsome claws and he was shoulder deep. Later, as we crested a hill, we worried that the cyclist headed down the hill could pedal faster than the sow gizzly and her cubs awaiting him could run.
Taking a helecopter to the Taku Glacier brought a new perspective of the untouched beauty of the land. One chose not to venture too close to the crevasse, not wishing to become a statistic.  Watching a bush pilot touch down and take off in minimal spaces only reinforced the skill needed in this wilderness where roads are few and far between.  
We witnessed a natural phenomenon from our train window as a bore tide kept pace with our travels. The incoming tide and the outgoing river challenge each other. Our tide only reached three feet high, but they are known to reach heights of nearly ten feet.
At a camp we marveled at the close affinity between the sled dogs and their mushers. The dogs eagerly awaited the chance to harness up and take off down the trail. One bit of wisdom from the musher; 'if you're not the lead dog, the view never changes'. Maybe there is a life lesson there.
Other side adventures included tackling a giant burger (fit for three) at the Red Dog Saloon and watching my partner being put in a traveling jail in Fairbanks. A small contribution freed him before our ship sailed.
Be it by ship, train, helecopter, bus or whitewater raft, we saw much of the best the 49th state had to offer. The diverse enviornment of pristine scenery, amazing wildlife and friendly people made this truly a 'go to' spot.