Welp, it only took me 3 months to get to the 3rd and final recap of my trip to Alaska…last September. Life, man. BTW – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I hope you ate all the Christmas cookies and drank all the hot chocolate and snugged by all the fireplaces. I know I sure did.
So where did we leave off? Oh right. Me being annoying and discovering a newfound love for comment cards at restaurants. It’s the little things, guys. Fair warning: this post is basically going to be a stream of photos because 1. I took a bajillion pictures on this part of the trip and 2. I honestly don’t remember the nitty gritty details of every single thing we did since it’s been a hot sec. K great. Let’s get to it.
Back to reality for Dan. I dropped him off at work, then took his car to the airport to do my Global Entry interview. Pro-tip #1: apply for global entry. It is life. It’s basically expedited clearance into U.S. customs. Aka no waiting in 2 hour customs lines. Aka you get in a customs line with fellow global entry peeps and the flight crew. That’s it. Oh anddddddd having global entry means you automatically have TSA pre-check for domestic flights. And it’s only $100 every 5 years (vs. TSA pre-check which is $85). So worth it you guys. Pro-tip #2: do your global entry interview at a less populated airport. The wait for global entry interview openings in SF is 6 months. The wait in Alaska? None! If you have a trip planned to another city or a have layover in a random airport, book an appointment! Okay, sales pitch over.
While Dan was at work I tried taking my bum foot out for a run. Good joke Heather. I don’t think I mentioned this in either of my past Alaska posts, but about a week before my trip I got in a wee bit of a motor scooter accident…while wearing flip flops. Yup. Smart. Let’s just say I didn’t really have any skin left on the top of my right foot. Wearing shoes proved to be quite the adventure. Hence the hilariousness of me trying to go on a run.
Anyway…I picked Dan up after work and we attempted to go shooting at the gun range but got there right as they were closing. Womp. Thank goodness for plan B – hiking Flattop Mountain!
Flattop is the most climbed mountain in the state of Alaska, and I can definitely understand why. The views were incredible! We headed out on our hike and got a bit lost at first (what else is new?), but stumbled upon Blueberry Loop. We picked some blueberries that tasted rather lackluster and were on our way.
As we ascended the mountain the wind really started to pick up and the temp started to drop a bit. I immediately transformed into Sniffles McGee once temperature falls. Someone get that girl a tissue for her issue. It was so worth it though! Look at these views!
Stereotypical American-flag-at-the-top-of-Flattop picture was necessary.
Look realllllllly closely and you can see Denali (the former Mt. McKinley) in the distance – right underneath that thin linear cloud. See it??? Denali is the highest mountain peak in North America and it’s kind of amazing that you can see it all the way from Anchorage, because it’s about a 4-5 hour drive away. That would be like being able to see Pittsburgh from Philadelphia. MIND BLOWN. Alaska is the coolest.
After about 15 mins on top of Flattop we start to lose facial and hand functions due to cold weather and 1,000 mph winds. It’s fine though, we survived. On our way back down we got some pretty amazing views of the mountain range at sunset.
I also almost wiped out about 24 times on our descent. You would think those wooden plank “steps” would be helpful…they’re not.
The sunset was absolutely UN-FREAKING-REAL.
We took our numb faces and hands to Glacier Brewhouse for dinner and some flights of course! I learned so much about my beer preferences on this trip and now feel like even more of a snob. This brewery had a rather hoppy Hefe. *sticks nose up in the air and holds glass with pinky extended*
We had some Alaska salmon dip with little pickles, halibut, rockfish, and the best peanut butter pie I’ve ever tasted for dessert. And then Dan pulled a rookie move and asked the waitress for milk to go with his pie. Because he is actually 3 years old. I wish they had brought it in a wittle sippy cup. He’ll never live this down.
It’s the weekend! Time to get out of the city and explore! We woke up bright and early and packed up the car to head to a little town south of Anchorage called Seward. Seward was the cutest little quintessential town that was exactly like I would have pictured a port in Alaska to look like. We explored the dock of the port a bit, then got some lattes (chai tea for me and green for Dan) before checking into our tour for the day.
We boarded our boat full of elderly tourists and departed Seward on our 6 hour tour of Kenai Fjords National Park.
First stop was Spire Cove. You can’t see it in these pictures, but there was a bald eagle perched in a tree on top of one of the spires!
We decided to brave the wind and view the tour from the deck of the boat. Thank goodness we did, because the railing to railing length was literally perfect for my legs. I don’t know why we thought this was so funny but we did and we documented it. New prof pic!
Look! You can tell we’re starting to near a glacier because of the two-toned water. The darker blue water in the distance is the regular bay water, and the lighter, cloudier water closer to us is the glacial water. See all of the little icebergs galore floating away from the glacier?
Our boat keeps inching closer and closer to the glacier until we finally start to hear what sounds like thunder. The glacier is calving! Like cankles, but not. They should rename this phenomenon cankling. I would pay good money to make that happen.
The glacier we stopped to see is called Aialik Glacier. It, along with many other glaciers, drains the Harding Icefield – a 300 square mile icefield that gets over 400 inches of snow a year and is the largest of the four remaining icefields in the U.S.
On our return trip back to Seward, we saw lots of wildlife including seals, sea lions, puffins, and wait for it….a humpback whale. Yup. We got SO lucky and happened to meander up to the front of the boat for no good reason. Before we knew it, we were witnessing a HUGE humpback whale breaching (aka jumping out of the water) directly in front of our boat. It was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. You win Alaska, you win.
Our tour ended and I filled out yet another comment card, obvi. I also cranked out another smashed penny to add to my collection. I think I have over 40 now! #nerdalert.
We strolled around down near the water in Seward and took pictures acting like dog mushers. Because we needed to practice my mushing skills for my great Alaskan return in March!
After pooping ourselves out with all of that dog sled mushing, we headed to Seward Brewing Company for dinner and some brews. We had two delish beers – a hard apple ale from Broken Tooth Brewery and a farmers ale.
Then for dinner we took the waitress’ advice and both got bowls of halibut yellow curry. This was 100% the best thing I ate on the entire trip. The fish in Alaska is out of this world!
Womp womp, it’s time to go home. Le sad. Dan drives me to airport and I’m on my merry way back to SF. Or so I thought… Long story short, my flight was overbooked by 12 people (what were you thinking Delta?!) and they were offering a realllllllllly pretty penny in Delta credit for any volunteers willing to bump their flight. So what do I do? Volunteer immediately, of course! Never a dull moment. Shout out to Delta for covering the last 4 flights that I booked! Lolzzzzz I think my life is fake.
So Dan picks me up from airport and we drive straight to South Restaurant for brunch & all the comment cardz.
And then out of nowhere Dan says, “How about we go back and shoot at the gun range now that we have all this time?” SCORE! The best surprise ever.
We arrive at the gun range and get all geared up. I then proceed to miss the target on my first 10 shots…
And then TOTALLY REDEEM MYSELF. Please watch the video I linked and die laughing with me. K thanks. The range safety officer provides some pretty valuable feedback and I improve in a multitude of ways during the afternoon – accuracy, precision, consistency, magazine loading using the assist, form, confidence, ya know – the usual.
Wake up. Work from Dan’s office all day. Off to the airport for attempt #2 of my return home. I’m secretly crossing my fingers that I get bumped again and get even more Delta cash monies. No such luck – boo! I actually leave AK this time, but absolutely cannot wait for my March return! Iditarod-ing, ice fishing, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, NORTHERN LIGHTS-ING. Ermergerd it’s going to be the best time.
Goodbye for now, Alaska. I’ll be back before you know it!