Saturday, December 12, 2015

Saturday States: Alaska


State Nickname: The Last Frontier

Year of Family Trip: 2010

Cities Visited: Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway

Can't Miss Tourist Attractions:
Tracy Arm Fjord, Mendenhall Glacier, Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show, Totem Bight State Park, White Pass & Yukon Route Railway

After our big Hawaiian adventure in January, we were SO close to completing our goal of visiting all 50 states.  We didn't wait too long to cross off our final state!  That August, we all flew to Seattle where our Sapphire Princess cruise ship departed for Alaska!  It was more gorgeous, green, and lush than I could have ever imagined - a truly great trip!  In Ketchikan, we visited the Totem Bight State Park and watched the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show.  Then, we spent time on Mom and Dad's balcony admiring Tracy Arm Fjord before docking in Juneau to check out Mendenhall Glacier and a salmon hatchery.  Finally, we made our way to Skagway where we enjoyed a trek on the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway and saw some huskies up close.  The cruise also briefly landed us in Victoria, British Columbia, where we took a stroll through Craigdarroch Castle.  Of course, we had our share of fun on the ship as well!

A Birth Order Disembarkation

It was a moment we'd all been awaiting for quite some time.  Some longer than others.  It seemed only fair that Dad be the first one of us to set foot on Alaskan ground since he'd been on this journey the longest.  He and his mom (our Mamaw) drove all over the place racking up a number of states together before he began the process with all of us.  Once we decided Dad should go first, we figured it only made sense to just descend from the ship in birth order...and that's what we did!

Tic Toc's Totem Tales

Totem Bight State Park is a phenomenal and unique place.  We enjoyed checking out the various totem poles, but we quickly tired of Tic Toc's tales.  Tic Toc served as our tour bus driver for a portion of our time in Ketchikan...and we still aren't sure if she took one single breath for the entire time she spent with us. At least she kept things interesting...

Family Feud...and Other Cruise Fun and Games

Mom, Dad, and McKinley were first time cruisers when we set sail.  Each day, it was exciting to gather in Mom and Dad's room to figure out what activities or shows we wanted to check out on the ship.  We typically split up and did our own thing since interests varied, but on occasion we all ended up in the same place.  One of those times found us as participants on a cruise style Family Feud game show - we lost on a steal, but we had a lot of fun playing together!  My brothers and I also managed to work in a number of "training" runs for our half marathon scheduled the following month.  Those were exciting with the wind blowing us like crazy on the track atop the ship.  There was lots of bingo, some fruit carving demonstrations, and even a few craps lessons in the casino - something for everyone!  And the absolute best part of the cruise turned out to be our servers, Joel and Allen. They were part of the family before it was all said and done!

Wildlife Wins

One thing that Alaska doesn't run short on is wildlife!  We visited a salmon hatchery in the Juneau area.  And McKinley tried fish eggs - ugh!!  We also saw salmon jumping around in the wild several different times.  The other animal that proved never scarce was the bald eagle!  At Mendenhall Glacier, we saw a slew of them!  And then we managed a major wildlife win on our bus ride to Skagway - a black bear...and its cub!!  Everyone on the bus immediately produced a camera and scurried to the right side of the bus to capture the perfect photo!

Can You See Canada From Here?

Not only did we see Canada, but we also spent a bit of time in two different provinces - the Yukon Territory and British Columbia.  The Yukon was stunningly beautiful.  The White Pass & Yukon Route Railway was certainly a highlight of our trip.  The train was exciting and we learned so much about the area, too!  There was even an elaborate mail system that basically used graffiti as a tracking system!  We spent some time with Alaskan huskies and checked out the spectacular views before we ventured back to Skagway.  Later, the trip ended with a brief visit in Victoria, British Columbia - unfortunately, it was dark for most of our visit there though.

And Then There Were None

And just like that, we visited all 50 states!  We were in a bit of shock as we played cards and chatted about our adventures through the years while waiting on our return flights at the Seattle airport.  It was quite strange to not have another trip to plan in order to conquer our next chunk of states. Mom and Dad had spent the better part of 18 years figuring out the most efficient way to accomplish our family goal.  My brothers and I are certainly thankful for all the time, money, and effort that went into making sure we spent time traveling together - even though we fought like crazy all too often! We enjoyed learning about people and places that were different from what we knew back home. And now we have lots of fun stories to tell our future families on road trips across America!

Have you ever ventured to the lovely land of Alaska?

Andrea :)

1 comment:

  1. I haven't been to Alaska, but I totally want to go! It looks just beautiful!