Cruising Alaska, Part 1: Pre-cruise Events

We take vacation at least once a year. Normally, we do a road trip and drive through tons of states. This year we flew, rode in a bus a lot, took a train and then went on a cruise ship to see Alaska!

plane-to-seattle6/23 – Tuesday: We headed to the airport around 1:00 pm CDT. The plane came in late, which was normal, so it wasn’t a big deal. However, our flight was no longer going to be a nonstop to Fairbanks, Alaska. We had to stop in Seattle to refuel because of two things: 1.) the wildfires in Alaska meant they had to reroute the flight which meant they needed more fuel 2.) the plane was too heavy to carry the extra fuel unless 29 people didn’t take the flight, which wasn’t an option. Once we boarded the plane, they found out that the wrong food had been loaded onto the plane. We got delayed another hour AND the plane was too heavy, so we needed a different truck to help push the plane from the gate. We didn’t take off until a little after 4:30 pm CDT. We landed in Seattle to refuel around 8:00 pm PDT (10:00 pm CDT).  After the refueling was done, we were supposed to take off to Fairbanks, Alaska. Turned out that our pilot and crew had timed out–meaning they had already flown as many hours as they could in that day and couldn’t fly any more according to regulations. No other crews were available, so we got stranded in Seattle. We had to stay in a crummy motel, and we didn’t get there until near 11 pm PST (1 am CDT). Originally, we were supposed to be in Fairbanks at this time.

The Seattle-Tacoma airport had a cool stained glass window.

The Seattle-Tacoma airport had a cool stained glass window.

6/24 – Wednesday: We woke up bright and early (4 am) in order to catch our rescheduled flight to Fairbanks, and after a few more hours of flying, we finally arrived in Fairbanks around noon Alaska time (which is three hours earlier than CDT).

Alaska from the plane window

Alaska from the plane window

The wildfires were sort of near Fairbanks, so it was really smoky there. The sun was a dark orange colour, and extremely bright.

Fairbanks was really smoky from the wildfires

Fairbanks was really smoky from the wildfires

We loaded our tour bus, called Pavlof, and headed to our hotel. It was definitely a step up from the Seattle motel. We had missed the morning Gold Dredge Tour, but we did get to tour the downtown area. We had lunch at a hot dog stand because my mom loves those little food-cart things. My dad had a reindeer sausage while I just had a normal hot dog. We also went to a cultural centre and saw an Antler Arch.

fairbanks-antler-arch

Antler Arch. Moose shed antlers every year and grow new ones the next.

The hotel we stayed at was cool because it had ICE CREAM, signs with cool facts, and free rock throwing into the river (they had an actual sign for it, and there was a 50 rock limit per guest).

Pike's Lodge offers free rock throwing.

Pike’s Lodge offers free rock throwing.

denali-train-16/25 – Thursday: We had a REALLY long train ride to Denali, Alaska (SIX HOURS). The scenery on the way there (and in the rest of Alaska) was nice, but looked the same after a while. We had breakfast on the train–mountain blueberry pancakes and birch syrup. I didn’t like the birch syrup because it tasted fruity, but the pancakes were really good.

denali-train-breakfastdenali-traindenali-train-2

Once we got to Denali, we went on a nature-history tour. It was cool, but then it rained. We didn’t see Mt. McKinley (Denali) because of the fog, but we did see a moose grazing alongside of the road. It was right next to the bus.

Mt. McKinley was hiding in the clouds while we were there.

Mt. McKinley was hiding in the clouds while we were there.

denali-moose

This moose was probably just a few years old.

 

 

 

There were a lot of sections of burnt trees from the wildfires.

There were a lot of sections of burnt trees from the wildfires.

6/26 – Friday: We had another six hours of sitting in our tour bus, but this time we were headed to Anchorage, Alaska. We had lunch and shopped a bit there. We had ice cream, but it tasted fruity to me (I wonder if they put birch syrup in it…). I didn’t like it. I guess sweet foods taste like fruit in Alaska. Then we had another three hours in the bus on our way to Seward, Alaska. We finally got on the cruise ship around 4:30 pm, and it was HUMUNGONORMOUS. Our stateroom, though, was really tiny. We met our steward, Lydia, and she was really nice.cruise-shipFor dinner we went to the buffet. There was a LOT to eat, ranging from pasta to sushi and pizza to tres leches cake. I was also introduced to other teens (ages 12-17) aboard the ship in the Teen’s Room (aka the X Club). This is where teens could hang out to play games or paint or planned activities like quests. It was a lot of fun. We left port at 8 pm.

 

One thought on “Cruising Alaska, Part 1: Pre-cruise Events

  1. Wow! Didn’t get off to a very good start but sounds like things are getting better. I will make sure if I go to Alaska not to put birch syrup on my pancakes or eat ice cream.

    Can’t wait to hear about the rest of the trip!

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