After 5 flights we finally arrived in Alaska. The views from the final flight were breath taking, I have never seen views like it. The plane was flying quite low so we were able to see the mountains, the ocean, glaciers and the snow.
When we arrived in Anchorage it was early evening around 6.30pm our body clocks thought it was 3.30am (UK time). We knew we had to stay awake so we ventured down to downtown anchorage. It was an eye opener if I am honest, I had read that there was an alcoholism issue in Alaska but I was still shocked when I saw the amount of drunk, drugged homeless people hanging around the parks and corners. It didn't have a particular nice atmosphere. We had a quick look around and then headed back to our hotel.
The next morning we both decided that our plan to explore Anchorage for the day needed to change, so we got in the car and headed to a town called Palmer. I had heard that there was an abandoned Gold mine and a Glacier near by. The Journey to Palmer was stunning, everywhere you looked was like a post card view. The roads were so quiet and vast, we didn't see a traffic light until we reached Palmer. We stopped at the Tourist information office and spoke to a lovely guy who gave us lots of information.
When we arrived at the mine the road was still blocked with snow. So we decided to hike the last mile. To be honest it was hard going as we kept sinking into the snow. But my god the views, clear blue skies, snow capped mountains, clean white snow and so quiet. surprisingly It was also lovely and warm. Martin decided to take the opportunity to do a snow angel!. He's never grown up!
We eventually tore ourselves away and headed to the Manatuska Glacier. the journey was about an hour and half long, but we didn't complain, how could you when you were looking at the amazing scenery and around every bend was another amazing river, lake or mountain. The guy at the tourist office had told us about a restaurant that has amazing views of the Glacier from the back porch. We decided we would have lunch there. The only issue is that when we got there it was closed, it closes one day a week. Wednesday and it was Wednesday - typical! We could see the Glacier from the road, it would have been another $60 each to step on it and as we had just hiked over snow we decided against it. We then headed back to Anchorage.
The next day we were leaving Anchorage to head to Seward as we had booked a Whale watching tour for Friday. Again the drive to Seward was stunning, we stopped at the Alaska Wildlife Sanctuary. I had heard good reviews about this place but to be honest it left me a bit sad. Amongst the animals they had they has a Bald eagle called Adonis, he was in a wooden box for a better word with a mesh front and sat on a branch, looking at him he didn't look right, on reading the information about him it turns out he had been shot and had to have a wing amputated. So the sanctuary had offered him a home. This amazing bird was just sat there, unable to fly. It said he chittered (called out) to the other eagles when they flew over. There was also 2 bears whose mother had been shot when they were cubs so they to had a permanent home. It was nice to see these animals close up but we both felt sad that such amazing animals had ended up there. Don't get me wrong the Sanctuary also did great work in reintroducing Wood Bison back into the wild after it was thought they were extinct, that was until a herd was found living in the Canadian Rockies. I guess we both prefer to see animals living in the wild.
After the Sanctuary we headed to Whittier, This town was completely cut off from Alaska and the only way to get to it was by sea or air. In 1943 the Whittier tunnel or the Portage tunnel was created as a railroad tunnel that went through Maynard Mountain . It links the Seward Highway south of Anchorage with Whittier and is the only land access to the town. It measures 13,300 feet (4,100 m), is the second-longest highway tunnel, and longest combined rail and highway tunnel in North America. It was an amazing feat of engineering. However when we arrived in Whittier we soon realised it was too early in the season as everything was still closed so we got back in the car and returned back to the tunnel.
Our journey then carried on to Seward.
In the next blog I will update you on Whale watching. How did I cope with Sea sickness? Did we spot a Whale?