Alaska! The 49th State is Our 50th!

Matanuska River, Alaska

Matanuska River

Growing up, my parents would take us on summer vacations that always involved driving. Sometimes we drove to visit grandparents, or aunts, uncles and cousins, and sometimes we drove to see historic places.

Dad was especially fond of battlefields. Revolutionary War, Civil War, French & Indian War, we saw a lot of them. As a result, considering that I grew up in the American Midwest, by the time I finished high school I had visited a surprising number of States. Taking an opportunity to attend school in California, and driving across the country (three times, by three different routes), a lot of other States were added. By 2006 or so, the list of States left to visit was down to two for me, and only one for Ruth, whose family had also taken long driving vacations. After a cross-country trip in 2010, we both had just one more to see: Alaska!

Planning for Alaska

This year was the year for Number 50. Friends and family had taken a cruise and recommended it. But I wanted to see the interior. I wanted to visit Denali National Park, and do more than a cruise and excursion would permit. Then I came across the Denali Road Lottery. I entered the lottery in May, and learned in June that I had won. After that, the trip planning (and photography planning) began.

We would fly to Anchorage, where we would spend a few days exploring. This was to include a drive to Seward to take a cruise to see wildlife and glaciers. Next we would drive to Denali, to spend a couple of nights, and take advantage of the road travel permit. That’s where we would drive the park’s 90-mile road, hoping to see more wildlife.

Time to Fly

Glacier Bay, Alaska, from the air

When the date arrived in September, we packed up and flew to Denver and on to Anchorage. We caught our first view of Alaska as we flew over the Gulf of Alaska near Glacier Bay.

Landing in Anchorage, we headed for a park near the airport. We had read that there would be moose along the road. We didn’t see a one.

A second park near the airport had the same reputation, so headed there. Again, nothing! This would become a recurring theme for our time in Anchorage.

A rental apartment in Anchorage served as our base. After a quick trip for groceries, we were in and unpacked. We had few plans, but a lot of ideas, for the days in Anchorage.

Next week: A Few Days in Anchorage