Alaska Journals

Alaska - The Last American Frontier!

Best of IgoUgo

A June 2006 trip to Alaska by MilwVon

Denali National Park & Preserve Photo, Denali, Alaska More Photos
Quote: It's impossible to capture all that is Alaska in just a ten day trip! This journal shares all that we enjoyed during our time there.

Alaska - The Last American Frontier!

Best Of IgoUgo

Overview

David and His Fish Photo,
Quote:
This was the trip of a lifetime, thanks largely to my job! With a large regional conference scheduled for Wednesday through Friday, we traveled to Anchorage the weekend before and stayed through the July 4th Holiday weekend! All in all, we were in Alaska for 10 days. We feel that we got to experience a lot of what this vast wilderness has to offer her guests.In addition to the 3 days of "work" in downtown Anchorage, we were able to take a day cruise to see the wildlife and glaciers of Prince William Sound...and explore Denali National Park and the Mt. McKinley region. Our only real disappointment was the the weather while in Denali was poor with chilling rains throughout our 3 days there....Read More

Planning Your Trip to Alaska

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Entering Soldotna Photo,
Quote:
You will want to pick up all you can read about Alaska. It is a huge place, with so much to see and do. I would suggest you prioritize and plan your time so that you won't leave disappointed that you missed something you really wanted to experience. And DO NOT underestimate the amount of time that it will take you to get from one place to another. Distance on a map is deceiving!!There are several resources that we found very helpful. Frommer's Alaska 2005 and The Milepost were beneficial. If you had to choose one or the other, I'd suggest Frommer's. We also bought the book "Discovering Denali" by Dow Scoggins which was very informative in helping us to plan our Denali weekend.You c...Read More

Day Trip to Whittier, AK

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Portage Glacier Photo, Anchorage, Alaska
Quote:
In order to drive from Anchorage to Whittier for our Sound Eco Adventures tour with Capt. Gerry we had to be up and out by 6:00am. Ordinarily a drive of about 90 minutes, our trip had some added adventure when we arrived at the Whittier Tunnel and found it closed. You see, there is a 2.5 mile tunnel that leads into Whittier. It is a one way road, that is also shared with the Alaska Railroad train. It costs $12 roundtrip.The traffic is opened each way for just 15 minutes. As many cars as is safely allowed through is all that will go through at each tunnel opening period. The tunnel is open INTO Whittier on the half hour and is open coming OUT of Whittier on the hour.Because of techn...Read More

Sound Eco Adventures

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Sound Eco Adventures Photo,
Quote:
Capt. Gerry Sanger was our host and tour guide. We did the whale watching tour with the Icy Bay add-on. Overall the tour lasted about 9 hours! We were scheduled to go 10 to 12 hours but had a bit of a challenge getting to Whittier due to the tunnel being closed for 3 hours that morning. Not to worry, Capt. Gerry made sure we packed in everything and took plenty of time to make sure we saw all that Prince William Sound had to offer!! His custom 30' boat was very comfortable and protected us from the cool breezes and occasional rain showers. With a small and intimate group of just the four of us, it was perfect!!Getting up early for the drive from Anchorage to Whittier was part of t...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 26, 2006

Sound Eco Adventures
PO Box 707
Whittier, Alaska 99693
(888) 471-2312

Sound Eco Adventures

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Sound Eco Adventures - Humpback Whales"

Sound Eco Adventures Photo,
Quote:
The primary purpose of our tour was whale watching and we were not disappointed!! Capt. Gerry's expertise allowed us several opportunities to observe and follow the humpback whales in their home waters around Prince William Sound.These massive creatures first let their presence be known by "blowing" air, puffing as they surface from underneath the water. They may "blow" several times over the course of many minutes, before arching their backs up, and then diving deep. Just before they take the dive, they often "fluke" their tails which for whale watchers, is the money shot! It is a spectacular thing to see.Once underwater, they stay down for as much as 5 to 8 minutes, later surfac...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 26, 2006

Sound Eco Adventures
PO Box 707
Whittier, Alaska 99693
(888) 471-2312

Sound Eco Adventures

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Sound Eco Adventures - The Wildlife"

Sound Eco Adventures Photo,
Quote:
The Prince William Sound has rich and abundant wildlife. In addition to the humpback whales (the goal of the tour), we saw sea otters, seals, harbor seals, dall's porpoises, and many birds.As much as we would have loved to have seen orcas and bear, we didn't on this trip. Still, who could be disappointed??The dall's porpoises loved to hook up with the boat and "bow ride" in front of us. They would jump a little, but not like their acrobatic cousins who jump and dive in the boat's wake. They are also much more interesting in their colors as they are very black with contrasting white markings. During the course of our 9-hour tour, we have dall's porpoises tag along with us four or fi...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 26, 2006

Sound Eco Adventures
PO Box 707
Whittier, Alaska 99693
(888) 471-2312

Sound Eco Adventures

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Sound Eco Adventures - Chenega Glacier"

Sound Eco Adventures Photo,
Quote:
We did the "add-on" of Icy Bay to our whale watching tour with Capt. Gerry and boy was it a delight! While the whale watching was great and we saw a lot of humpbacks, this was probably the highlight of the trip!!!As we entered Icy Bay, there were some icebergs of varying sizes floating in the water. Most were 3 to 5 feet across but some were smaller (like bowling balls) and others rather massive. While it is known as "Icy Bay" these early icebergs were no way adequate in preparing us for what we would soon see.Making the turn around a small point of an island, in front of the boat stood Chenega Glacier. While we were probably a good 4 or 5 miles away yet, you could tell that this w...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 26, 2006

Sound Eco Adventures
PO Box 707
Whittier, Alaska 99693
(888) 471-2312

Denali National Park & Preserve

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Denali National Park & Preserve"

Denali National Park & Preserve Photo, Denali, Alaska
Quote:
Denali National Park is a leisurely five hour drive from Anchorage, although you can probably make it in around four if you want to. We enjoyed taking our time and enjoying the views, in spite of the rainy and overcast skies.As you get to within an hour or so of the entrance to Denali NP you will come up on a couple of scenic overlooks that allow you your first view of Mt. McKinley. For us, however, the weather wasn't cooperative so we didn't get to see it during our travel to or in the park.One of the nice benefits to the rain were the rainbows that we saw almost every day. At one point we even saw a double rainbow but by the time we found a safe place to pull off and set up for th...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 11, 2006

Denali National Park & Preserve
Alaska Route 3/George Parks Highway
Denali, Alaska
(907) 733-2231

Nature & Wildlife of the Kenai Peninsula

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Beautiful Forget-Me-Nots Photo,
Quote:
During our fishing day on the Kenai Penisula, we enjoyed seeing eagles and moose. The moose are everywhere! As you enter Soldotna, there is even a "give them a brake" sign advising motorists to keep an eye for the moose. Every year hundreds are killed in accidents with motor vehicles.As we were driving back out to the Seward Highway, we passed a moose in a rather deep marsh, where it was standing shoulder high in the water. It would dive its head deep into the marsh dragging up debris and roots from the bottom. It was fun watching him eat as a crowd gathered on the side of the road.There are also a lot of very pretty flowers throughout this area. With this journal are a couple of p...Read More

Kenai Fjords National Park

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Kenai Fjords National Park Photo, Seward, Alaska
Quote:
What started out as just an leisurely afternoon drive on the Kenai Peninsula, landed us down in Seward and at the National Parks office for Kenai Fjords. As a national parks annual pass holder, we always try to work in visits to the US Parks whenever possible. This was a relatively unplanned visit as we thought you had to take the boat tours to see the Kenai Fjords and glaciers that make up this national park.The visitors center is in downtown Seward, right near the small boat harbor. There you can take in a short documentary movie about the glaciers and fjords, as well as shop the really cool gift shop. There is always unique posters, postcards and books in the park shops. For us, we re...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 11, 2006

Kenai Fjords National Park
Outside the Town of Seward
Seward, Alaska 99664
(907) 224-7500

What A Difference 12 Hours Makes!

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Tern's Lake - Foggy Evening Photo,
Quote:
Tern's Lake is located at the junction of the Seward Highway and the Sterling Highway, that branches off to Soldotna and the fishing communities along the Kenai River and the other rivers and steams known for their salmon.When we were driving back to Anchorage on Monday evening, there was a very heavy fog in the valley at the junction at Moose Pass. The next morning we were heading back down the Kenai Peninsula to go fishing in Soldotna. The morning air was crisp and clear. We could see the beautiful mountains rise high above the valley below.This entry features photos of the valley during these two periods in time, just 12 hours apart. I hope you'll agree, it's a rather amazing si...Read More

The Road Heading South from Anchorage

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Bald Eagle Looking Over the Water Photo,
Quote:
As you head south out of Anchorage on the Seward Highway, you will find the scenery to be expansive and breathtaking—I know we did! What we were perhaps most surprised by was the wildlife scene right along the highway.Dall sheep were seen on each of our three day trips along the Turnagain Arm. One the first day, there were several on the cliffs and hillside. The other 2 days, we only saw one single male. Funny thing, the one night that we were coming through the area, he was out walking along the ledges. We were the first car to pullover in the turnout. He came right down the rocky ledges to the ground not more than 10 feet from us. By that time, there were several cars in the area and man...Read More

Alaska Glaciers

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Deep Blue Chenega Glacier Photo,
Quote:
Alaska is known for the glacial ice fields throughout her glorious land. It is theorized that glaciers have been around as long as there has been an Earth. The closest connection to the age of dinosaurs, they are truly a miracle of nature. To be able to see them relatively up close, is spectacular!Each day during our day trips through Alaska we were treated to glacier sightings. Whether it was down in Seward at the Kenai Fjord National Park, out in Icy Bay in the Prince William Sound, or inland in Girdwood or even up in Denali National Park, the glacial ice was an incredible vision.Most glaciers are still moving bodies of ice. Often their movement is not visible to the naked eye a...Read More

Alaska's Flowers

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Beautiful Forget-Me-Nots Photo,
Quote:
For the most part, the flowers we saw in Alaska were rather small and delicate. The Lupine would be the major exception as those found around Anchorage were somewhat tall (4-6”) and rather sturdy. They are the taller, purple flowers.The Alaska State flower is the Forget-Me-Not and is also purple. The Hare’s Bells have a bluish purple tinge to them. They are also tiny ones that appear to be very frail. In Denali National Park we saw these little white flowers that were so small, it seemed you could put 25 on the face of a dime! Along Park Highway, there were a lot of flowers. Often when we wanted to stop to take photos of the pretty flowers along the roadside, there was too much tr...Read More

Zoya's Bed & Breakfast

Best Of IgoUgo

Hotel | "Zoya's Bed & Breakfast"

Zoya's Bed & Breakfast Photo,
Quote:
This was a business trip with some personal time on either end of "the business." Arriving 4 days before my conference, we thought we'd enjoy a more personal touch to our stay in Anchorage. We found Zoya's B&B on the Anchorage B&B Association website.Providing for a private entrance and lodging in this suburban Anchorage home, this was an outstanding find! At just under $107 per night (including taxes), we were pleased with the value received at this price.Our home away from home was like being home in a condo or timeshare unit. A studio type unit, complete with kitchen amenities (2-burner stove, microwave, refrigerator and sink), living room, and private bath were perf...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 26, 2006

Zoya's Bed & Breakfast
2103 Jefferson Ave.
Anchorage, Alaska
(907) 244-7021

Hilton Anchorage

Best Of IgoUgo

Hotel | "Anchorage Hilton"

Hilton Anchorage Photo,
Quote:
During the "business" portion of our trip, we stayed here at the downtown location of our 3-day meeting. The hotel is central to all that is available in Anchorage. Ror our conference, the room rates were $179 per night—not bad considering how much prime time hotels cost on the East Coast and other summer vacation locales.Our room was adequate but nothing too special. Probably the best thing was the view. Room 1441 on the "club level" was a corner room with one set of windows overlooking the downtown area including a small park that featured live music in the afternoon. The other wall had a series of three windows facing Cook Inlet. Watching the sunset at 11:45pm from this vantage point was...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 29, 2006

Hilton Anchorage
500 West Third Avenue
Anchorage, Alaska 99501
(907) 272-74119

Birchtree Dining

Restaurant

Quote:
Admittedly, when we arrived here we were a bit skeptical. Looking somewhat like a typical Denny's with counter service at the front and booths around the perimeter of the restaurant, we weren't sure how good the food was.Well, we were pleasantly surprised with not only the outstanding service but also the delicious dinner! Having just arrived in Anchorage that evening, I wasn't very hungry so the appetizer, salad, and steak sandwich were plenty for me. My husband shared in the appetizer sampler, had a salad, and feasted on fresh halibut. His steak had to be doggie-bagged and saved for breakfast the next day.Do not be afraid to adventure outside of the downtown area of Anchorage and...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 26, 2006

Birchtree Dining
3801 Debarr Rd.
Anchorage, Alaska 99508
(907) 258-3199

Quote:
A lunch stop for a business meeting, this was a great location for an outdoor cafe meal. Ask to be seated upstairs on the outdoor balcony! The view of Cook Inlet and the entire mountain range was very nice.

Is it possible to have too much fish while in Alaska? I don't think so! I had the halibut sandwich (eaten open face without the bun top) and substituted veggies for the fries. A nice mix of spices really added to the flavor of this carrot, squash, and zucchini medley.

They do feature a micro-brew assortment of beers, although for this business meeting, I had to pass on the libations.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 28, 2006

Snow Goose Restaurant and Brewery
717 West Third Ave
Anchorage, Alaska 99501
(907) 277-7727

How How Chinese Restaurant

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant

Quote:
For a break we thought we would try a Chinese restaurant in Anchorage. Unfortunately, we didn't realize just how far from downtown Anchorage it was. After a $40 cab ride from the airport, we enjoyed some of the best Chinese food we've had in a long time. (Note: Cab fare back to downtown Anchorage was "just" $20!)The egg rolls were unlike anything either of us have ever had. They had a unique exterior wrap, that looked more like a crunchy burrito than an egg roll. Inside, was a nice mix of vegetables and pork. Prepared in the traditional way, they were nearly 6 inches long.I had the orange beef which was prepared with medium hotness. My hubby had the Mongolian beef. Both dishes w...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 29, 2006

How How Chinese Restaurant
207 Muldoon Road
Anchorage, Alaska 99504
(907) 337-2116

Olde Town Rumrunner's Bar & Grill

Restaurant | "Olde Town Rumrunner's Bar & Grill"

Quote:
This was a nice place to catch a burger or fish sandwich for lunch. The aroma of the charbroiling of burgers drifts throughout the downtown area. Service was prompt and attentive, food served fresh and hot.

Be sure to stop in, especially if you have just a short time frame to catch a fast sandwich that is better than fast food.

Prices are a bit high, with a burger and fries running right at $10. The halibut sandwich and fries was a buck more.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 29, 2006

Olde Town Rumrunner's Bar & Grill
415 E. St.
Anchorage, Alaska
(907) 276-4933

Phyllis's Cafe & Salmon Bake

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant | "Phyllis's Cafe & Salmon Bake"

Quote:
A nice local place with plenty of atmosphere, and very convenient within the downtown area of Anchorage. The patio seating was open and had tall area heaters just to take the bite out of the chilly night air.They had several seafood specials including salmon, halibut, and king crab legs. My husband really enjoyed his salmon dinner, prepared with a light lemon pepper over a grill. I sampled his dinner and agree, it was outstanding.My crab legs were the "sections special" which essentially means no actual LEGS, just the partial legs that have broken off. I felt that they were overcooked with the shells very rubbery and impossible to crack open. The tender meat inside was water-logged...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on June 30, 2006

Phyllis's Cafe & Salmon Bake
436 D St
Anchorage, Alaska 99501
+1 907 274 6576

Solstice Cafe

Restaurant | "Solstice Bar and Grill"

Quote:
How can you not try a place called Solstice during the Summer Solstice week?? Located in the WorldMark Hotel, it is not your typical hotel restaurant affair. If sushi is your thing, they have that. With this being our last dinner in Anchorage, we opted for fish one last time.

I did the halibut fish fry while my husband chose the blackened salmon. With a salmon spread appetizer and salad, this was the complete meal...and an outstanding choice.

Because this is in a hotel, there isn't as much atmosphere as you might want but for a decent meal at a good price you can't be disappointed.

Be sure to check into $25 gift certificates for just $10 from www.restaurant.com!

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 4, 2006

Solstice Cafe
Westmark Hotel
Anchorage, Alaska 99501
(907) 276-7676

Photography in Alaska

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Sound Eco Adventures Photo,
Quote:
Let me start out by stating perhaps the obvious...I am not a professional photographer! I do, however, enjoy shooting pictures and attempting to capture my experiences "on film." Perhaps more appropriately in this day of digital and electronic media, I should be saying "on disk."I have long been a traditional photographer, enjoying my now rather old and antique Canon T50 cameras. In the past, at any given time I might have had two or three with me, using an assortment of film speeds and lens combinations for just that right set of conditions. Several years ago I took up stereo/3D photography as a hobby, adding a whole new dimension to my creative work.Knowing that this Alaska trip ...Read More

Photography in Alaska - Part 2

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Sound Eco Adventures Photo,
Quote:
I wanted to provide an illustration of how the digital SLR technology works for photographing subjects at a great distance. Sometimes you want the full image, as it captures the area and context around the subject. Other times, you may want just your subject in the frame of the photo.This journal has two pictures. The first is the original, as photographed. It is the front-side of a whale's tail fluke. You can see the vastness of the Prince William Sound along with the beautiful glacial mountains behind it.The second photo is created by cropping down to the specific object and saving that as a picture. The added detail is made possible from the high quality SLR along with a decent ...Read More