Alaska

6/9: Week 4 – Land Tour

June9-30

This will not be a very exciting day to read about, but I’m including it just so we have complete documentation of our trip.  We had to leave the hotel at 4:00am in order to catch an early flight to Fairbanks.  Actually, we were flying

Sitka >Juneau>Anchorage>Fairbanks.

I should back up to explain why we’re doing this.  We tacked on 5 days to the end of our Un-Cruise Adventure in order to see some more of Alaska.  Our primary destination was Denali National Park, and we were also going to get the chance to ride the Alaska Rail Road.  The arrangements for this part of our tour were handled by Knightly Tours.  We will not be totally complimentary about some aspects of this part of the trip.  Even though this was booked as an add-on from Un-Cruise (through an independent travel agent), there were no Un-Cruise people involved.  Un-Cruise offers this as a convenience for their passengers.  We also added an extra day in Anchorage for a day trip to try and see some bears (these arrangements were made by us). Fortunately, the good outweighed the bad, and we’re not sorry we added the Land Tour to our trip.

Back to our travel day from Sitka.  There aren’t a lot of options for flights out of Sitka, which is why we were on the 6am flight. When we stepped outside the Westmark to catch the van to the airport, there was confusion; there’s no way the van was going to hold all of the people waiting (I think there were 14 from Un-Cruise and another 4 or 5).  We opted to pay $10 for a quick taxi trip and avoid the confusion.  As it turns out, Knightly had arranged for a van, and it arrived to pick people up – it’s just that none of us and no one at the hotel knew this.  Not a big issue – we all made it safely to the airport which was about a 7 minute drive!  I only mention it because it’s the start of a few issues along the way …

Waiting at the Sitka Airport – notice the bear – this was a common theme in all the airports we visited in Alaska

Our flight stopped in Juneau, but we didn’t get off.  Continuing to Anchorage, here’s a photo out the window (taken by randomly reaching across a sleeping Lou):

We had a 3 hour layover in Anchorage – originally we had a short layover, but they changed the flights.  Lou was concerned our camera gear would not fit in the overhead on a smaller Regional Jet, so we opted to wait for the larger plane (we didn’t know we would be sending stuff back when flights were arranged).  Our long layover turned out to be a good thing – Lou was able to catch up on his internet stuff (he always says it’s bill paying, but this looked suspiciously like a model railroad forum site):

I wandered around the airport, which was actually interesting, and was able to go outside for awhile – it was a a beautiful day with lots of flowers in bloom.

You can see that the Anchorage Airport is a very modern facility; all of the airports we saw in Alaska were modern and very clean. Not surprising, since air travel is so important to people who live where highways don’t connect all of the cities.

We’ve now reached Fairbanks, and there was another bear waiting for us in the baggage claim area:

We had a short wait for the van to our hotel for the night – we were staying at the River’s Edge Resort.  The Fairbanks Airport reminded us a lot of the airports in Australia – maybe they were designed by the same people:

The River’s Edge Resort was a nice place to overnight – it’s not right in the city, but it is possible to catch a tour bus from there if you want to go see some of the sights.  Since we arrived in the afternoon, we limited our excitement to doing laundry. We had a cute little cabin on the River’s Edge … I would have taken a photo of the river, but was worried the Gigantic Mosquitoes would carry me away.

Lots of people take their RVs to Alaska, or rent one for their vacation, and the RV park was a happening place.  It was convenient to do our laundry, since there was no way it was going to magically appear in our room like it had the previous two weeks.

We opted for an early dinner at Chena’s Grill – the onsite restaurant.  It was raining off and on, so we elected not to dine on the patio with the skeeters.  The food was not memorable, but we had a nice time visiting with the bartender/manager before dinner. She shared a lot about living in Alaska.

We found out we could have taken a small plane charter, or “air taxi,” from Anchorage to Denali.  That might have been a good idea, but we didn’t really mind chilling on a travel day.

Categories: Alaska, Land Tour, Week 4

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