it has been a few years since my entire family took a vacation together. dad has been talking about Alaska ever since we visited 14ish years ago, so my brother and sister-in-law generously took us all back for a week-long tour.
the particular tour we booked is called Nature’s Best, through a company called Globus. it’s ideal because it’s a guided tour with lodging, activities, attractions and most meals already booked, meaning little planning and a lot of exploring on our parts.
i can’t get over the scenery; it’s just as beautiful as everyone says it is. the highlight of the trip, for me, came right in the middle: a double rainbow came out during our wilderness tour through the Denali National Park & Preserve. our wilderness tour guide shrugged it off, like, “yeah, that happens here.”
our wilderness tour was eight hours long, on a school bus. no cell signal inside the park – just hours of looking for ‘the Big Five’: moose, caribou, Dall sheep, bear and coyote. we saw four out of the five – never spotted a coyote.
near the end of our trip we drove along the ocean to get to Anchorage. we left early in the morning, but it really doesn’t matter – in the summer, the sun stays up 20+ hours every day, so the beach looks this beautiful at all hours.
we got incredibly lucky and joined the Denali Club that week. Denali is the tallest mountain in North America, and it’s gorgeous – when you can see it. locals estimate the mountain is only visible about 30-percent of the time. otherwise, it’s too cloudy to see the peak. about an hour before we were leaving Talkeetna, i got a call from our hotel, the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge. i’d put our room number down on the “Denali watch list,” which staff call as soon as the mountain is visible.
another highlight: visiting the Happy Trails Kennel in Big Lake. dog-sledding is no joke in Alaska; it’s actually the state sport. people who race in the Iditarod devote their entire lives to it: breeding dogs, training dogs, testing gear and clothing. winning the race doesn’t pay much at all – you win bragging rights and enough money to barely break even on all your shipping costs.
i’m now vacation-day-bankrupt, but it was worth it to spend time with my family in this raw, serene state. this type of vacation isn’t my ideal trip (think tropical, a lot of sleeping, eating and drinking on the beach), but my dad loved it, and that’s what matters.