Road Scholar 17292

North to Alaska! Travel over 1100 miles through the Last Frontier. Fly to Barrow, the northernmost community in the Americas, for a look at how Inupiat (Eskimos) have long lived off the land and sea, even during harsh Arctic winters. A remote lodge in the heart of Denali National Park is our base for ranger-led hikes to scout for moose, horned Dall sheep and wolves. Scientists at the Large Animal Research Station introduce us to muskoxen and caribou and we learn about the 800-mile-long Alaska Pipeline. Ride the rails south to the "land of ice" and study the ice ages, volcanic forces and rising and falling sea levels that forged these different ecosystems. Sail through Kenai Fjords National Park watching for whales and otters, see the University of Alaska museum and "sail" down the Chena River. Finish in Seward, where researchers at the Alaska SeaLife Center work rehabilitating the ocean ecosystem after the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

At first I thought that tropical storm "ERNESTO" would wreck the airlines schedules … but fortunately "he" decided to go south to visit Mexico. We might have another tropical storm or hurricane looming, so I might be getting out of town just in time - much as back in 2008 when I got out of town for hurricane "Ike." At least the weather forecast is good Monday for Houston, Minneapolis, and Fairbanks (and much cooler than Houston!!!)

Day 1, Monday, August 13 Fly to Fairbanks
Even though I've done the Fairbanks - Anchorage trip a few times, there are a few new places to see and visit on this trip. The air schedule has me arrive very late on the first day. I was originally arriving a day early but Road Scholar changed the dates. The StuporShuttle is scheduled at 7:30 and is even a bit early. There is time for "lunch" at BurgerBaddie in Minneapolis.

Delta DL 5772Houston - Minneapolis10:45 A - 1:15 P2:304:30
Delta DL 2175Minneapolis - Fairbanks5:45 P - 8:30 P5:4512:45

Finally arrive in Fairbanks at a "reasonable" time (for Fairbanks), though in Houston, it's 11:30 and so after midnight (Houston) when I get to the hotel. Actually I almost don't get to the hotel - three tries to get past their automated answering system to talk to someone, than confusion on whether to take a group shuttle or wait. I guessed right. Since Road Scholar changed the dates, I miss the start of the tour: "Welcome to the Program" which started at 6PM, and of course the included dinner as well. At least our Road Scholar coordinator, Kathleen, is in the lobby to meet me. Instead of dinner, I'm told that I can "raid" the snacks/drinks area at no charge. Its a very nice (Marriott line) hotel.Hotel: Springhill Suites, 2 nights. (D)

Day 2, Tuesday, August 14 15 University of Alaska Museum of the North / Cruise the Chena River on the Riverboat Discovery
Breakfast (a light buffet/continental) is in the hotel. This morning members of a family that has been captaining riverboats since the beginning of the last century share their knowledge of the river. It's another ride on the Discovery - but which one - there are 3 different; It turns out to be the longer cruise instead of the do-nothing lunch cruise (leave to dock, have lunch, then back to the dock) or the short, boring, not-worth-doing, smallest boat. I've done them all before. The long one is fairly good; the others aren't worth the time. Stop on the banks of the Chena River where we learn about traditional Native arts and crafts, aviation, food preservation, dog-mushing and life in the far north. It's the nice cruise/excursion that I had hoped for and the weather was great.

The local tour group seems to be not very well organized: the bus isn't large enough for everyone so some have to go in cars - and thus don't hear any of the local discussions and announcements; also they only just now tell us that we can carry ONLY one carry-on piece of luggage to Barrow; the large case has to be checked/left at the hotel in Fairbanks. Hopefully things will run better later: I'm NOT impressed so far.

We have a "picnic lunch" back at the hotel then take a field trip to the University of Alaska "Museum of the North." It has excellent scientific collections and is a respected research center focusing on the Arctic and Sub-Arctic regions of Alaska. There are exhibits on natural history, Native cultures, Alaskan history, resources, the environment, climate, geology, geography and art in the far north. I've been there before (4 times) - a very good place to visit. Then its back to the hotel, and out again for a Chinese (yuck) dinner. (BLD)

Day 3, Wednesday, August 15 Morris Thompson Center / Flight to Barrow, the northern-most community in the United States.
We are hosted in Fairbanks by Denakkanaaga, a non-profit educational organization founded by the local Athabascan Elders of the indigenous tribe of the vast Interior of Alaska and Canada. Denakkanaaga is housed in the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor's Center which has exhibits and dioramas on the people of Interior Alaska and the ecosystem we live in, with a focus on Athabascan life in the past and in the present. The Alaska Public Lands Information Center, with information and exhibits on the public lands in Alaska, is located in the same building, as is the Fairbanks Visitors and Convention Bureau. We have access to films and two presentations: "Alaska by the Numbers," and "History of Fairbanks." The second is a particularly good presentation.

After that, return to the hotel to check out, then have a very nice semi-BBQ lunch at "Big Daddy's Northernmost Southern Barbeque Restaurant". Waste some time then stop at a supermarket for a "sack dinner" (snacks for later - the huge servings at the restaurant mean that we're NOT hungry) which we can eat at the airport before flying to Barrow or save it and eat in the lunch room at the College during a lecture there.

Infernal flight #1 Fairbanks to Barrow:
Alaska Air 51 Fairbanks - Barrow 6:00 P - 7:15 P 1:15

We arrive in Barrow in unexpected rain - since they only get about 12" of precipitation a year. It's also very muddy - but that's expected. Since it is still daylight, we have time for an introduction to the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium. Barrow is the largest Native ("First People") village in Alaska and the northern-most community in the U.S. It is just slightly further north than the "North Cape" (Midnight Sun) on my Scandinavia trip: 71o 18' versus 71o 10'. Barrow has a population of about 4,000 people and 65% of the population is Native American. Ilisagvik College is a unique, two year accredited college whose mission is to provide an education based on the Inupiat cultural heritage.

The Barrow Arctic Science Consortium shares the buildings with the college. We have a really great lecture/orientation on the research they are working on and the logistics of supporting a research project on and in the environment of the isolated Arctic Coast and surrounding areas. The College is "on break" so there are plenty of rooms available in the dorm and those of us travelling single even get our own room. Yes, they are very basic dormitory rooms, but quite satisfactory. Hotel: Ilisagvik College/Barrow Arctic Science Consortium (a college dorm with "facilities" down the hall) 1 night (BLD)

Day 4, Thursday, August 16 Field trip to Inupiat Heritage Center/All day field trip around Barrow and surrounding area/Return to Fairbanks
(NEW) More rain overnight, but none today - just the endless mud. After breakfast (nice) we first have an excellent presentation by one of the Inupiat "Elders" at the College, Then after lunch (very good) at "Pepe's", we visit the Inupiat Heritage Center which is managed by the Alaska North Slope Borough and is affiliated with the National Park Service and the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The center has exhibits on the culture and traditions of the Inupiat (commonly known as Eskimo) people of Alaska. We were supposed to start with an exhibition of arts / music / songs of the People, but that never happened - nor were there presentations by Inupiat Elders. Instead we got a run-on-and-on-and-on endless talk about the whaling part of life by our motor-mouth local guide. There was a brief visit with some of the local artists who do engraving in baleen, but no other crafts were seen. Later we take a field trip (very bouncy bus ride) around Barrow and surroundings with a local guide (motor-mouth still) who knows the city, the people and the history of Barrow. The trip includes stops at the Wiley Post/Will Rogers memorial, an archeological site containing ancient sod houses and a ride out to the end of the road at Point Barrow, where, weather permitting, we see the northernmost point of the United States on the (roadless) spit of land that continues to the north. It is 9 miles north of Barrow at 71o 23'. After the tour we have unexpectedly poor dinner (chicken-charred shoe-leather) back at the college then an evening return flight with a late (understatement) arrival into Fairbanks.

On flights to/from Bear-Row, it is quite possible to be "Bear-Jacked." This is not a frequent occurrence, but here it has happened.

Infernal flight #2: Barrow - Fairbanks
Alaska Air 52Barrow - Fairbanks 8:20P - 9:45P 1:25

The day which had started out so well with the morning presentation and an excellent lunch was essentially a wash-out for the rest of the day. At least we are back (about 10:30 PM) to a very nice hotel for the first of two nights. Hotel: Springhill Suites, 2 more nights. (BLD)

Day 5, Friday, August 17 Field trips to Morris Thompson Cultural Center, the University of Alaska Large Animal Research Center and the Alaska pipeline.
(NEW) We can sleep late this morning if we wish - to make up for the dormitory rooms the previous night) We don't leave until 9:15 for a field trip to the Large Animal Research Station (LARS), a division of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Institute of Arctic Biology. LARS has ongoing research projects, studying the large ungulates of the Arctic and Sub-Arctic-the musk-ox, caribou and reindeer. There are both long term studies from researchers who have observed and collected general data on these species for decades along with some shorter and more specifically focused studies. We view the animals (3 musk-ox) but don't have the promised presentation from a station docent. We also stop at Creamer's Run to see several different species of birds (in the wild).

Visit the Alaska pipeline (for the 3rd time) and in a light rain. The approximately 800 mile pipeline crosses three mountain ranges and is built on permanently frozen ground in the north and areas of active earthquake activity in the south. These challenges led to the creation of cutting edge technology to try to overcome these obstacles. The Alaska pipeline is one of the great engineering feats of the 20th century.

After lunch with the staff at the Morris Thompson Center (who share many thoughts about how they grew up as First People) Very nice. Then instead of the scheduled lecture, we luck into an excellent song and dance presentation by high-school students - the "Old-Time Athabascan Fiddling, Dancing" group. It pretty much makes up for the show we didn't see yesterday. There is a brief orientation to what will be happening for the next couple of days and we get our $$ payments (more than I had expected) for lunch tomorrow and dinner in Seward then head back to the hotel. We leave at 6 for a late seafood dinner (but I'm told they have other options) at Pioneer Park, so I'll give it a try. We are also scheduled to see the usual fun/skit afterwards. It's sort of a dinner theater presentation - but it's already completely sold out. So much for that. The meal turns out decent, but not seeing the show is disappointing. (BLD)

Day 6, Saturday, August 18 Travel to Denali National Park on the Alaska Railroad.
We have to have our luggage in the lobby by 6:45AM for transfer to the Rail Station. Board the Alaska Railroad at 8:15 for a very boring ride (I've done it before) south from Fairbanks to the Denali National Park. The included breakfast turns out to be very good.

We arrive at 12:20. There is time to waste in the "Front Country" of Denali National Park. Explore the visitor's center and the National Geographic Bookstore. Lunch is included at the Park - Morino's Grill with lunch money ($15) provided. Mid-afternoon, after watching a couple of nice presentations in the Visitor's Center, we have lots more wasted time before we finally transfer to the hotel where dinner is included. The hotel is different from the Cruise West and Cosmos trips but on the 'net they look reasonably nice - however don't always believe what you read on the Internet. Hotel: Denali River Cabins (BLD)

Day 7, Sunday, August 19 Drive 90 miles into Denali National Park.
(Kantishna: NEW) Another "Toxic Waste" night - I'm up and down all night - probably due to the BurgerBaddie at Morino's Grill yesterday. Fortunately this morning there is lots of time (a whole morning) to try to recover. There is no way that I want to risk a 7-hour bus ride to Kantishna and was about to have to stay those two nights as a "prisoner" in the Denali River Cabins. However the two very nice staff ladies (Jan and Louise) arranged for a discounted air-taxi flight leaving in the late afternoon but still getting to Kantishna before the rest of the group on the bus.

We all pick up a sack lunch for the ride/flight to Kantishna. The rest of the group leaves at 1PM to drive (the usual plain "school bus") 90 miles into Denali National Park finally arriving at the Kantishna Roadhouse about 8PM. The driver is a knowledgeable guide and tells us about the ecosystem of the park. Kantishna is one of only three hotels in the park and has been "grandfathered" to have the right for guests to stay there. It was part of the Kantishna mining operations in the early 20th century. They stop to have their boxed lunch at a scenic lunch stop along the way and continue to Kantishna arriving about 7:30 just in time for dinner.

For me, I sit around (recovering) the Hotel lounge until about 3PM when a shuttle takes me to the train station which is across the tracks from the small-plane landing strip. The plane turns out to be a 5-passenger Beech single-engine type. So off we go.

Kantishna Air Taxi Denali - Kantishna4:55 - 5:300:35

This gives some extra special advantages for me: 1) 35 minutes in a bumpy flight versus 7 hours in a bumpy bus over roads I've been driven over a few times before; 2) I don't have to suffer through 7 hours of motor-mouth self-important I'm-the-greatest driver who talks almost constantly about himself and trashes any others; and 3) aerial views of much of the territory. No, we didn't get anywhere near Mt. McKinley. I get checked into my cabin (very nice) and have about an hour before the rest of the group arrives. It is a very nice flight - not as bumpy as I thought it might be, and the pilot, Greg, was excellent and gave some very good commentary as we flew.

After a nice family-style dinner (set menu with 2 options for the entrée: meat or vegetable) at the lodge, we may sign up for various hikes, van rides, lectures, walks and lectures. Hotel: Kantishna Roadhouse, 2 nights. (BLD)

Day 8, Monday, August 20 Free time to enjoy being in the heart of Denali National Park
Our cabins are a bit better than this.

We had a fair amount of rain overnight as a front moved through. I would imagine that the participants and attendees at a music festival about 2 miles from here were not very happy. At least they are far enough away that we don't hear them.

After breakfast we have a free morning to hike in the park or rest and relax in beautiful surroundings. I took a shuttle and one of the short hikes to Wonder Lake, plus did some exploring on my own. I'm glad we didn't "run into" one of the bears but there wasn't all that much to see except "scenery," just a (very) few birds. Even the flowers were mostly missing from this area. Along the way we see a few groups of people starting the LONG HKE back to the front of the park. They will be hoping to hitch-hike at least part of the way - about 90 miles out.

After lunch (excellent soup, yucky vegetarian sandwich and luke-warm lemonage), the Kantishna Roadhouse offers presentations on various topics on Alaska and her people. Today these are a sled-dog presentation, gold panning, a flowers lecture, etc.Oops, scratch all that; it starts to rain again. Later enjoy another special home-style dinner (same deal as last night). After dinner there is a special evening presentation: "Fire, Ice, and Floating Islands." All the activities were good and quite interesting. A great visit!!! (except for the rain).

Overall, I'm quite impressed with the Kantishna staff whether at the River Cabins (Jan and Louise), Kantishna Air Greg), the Roadhouse (all of them), and our driver (Kirsty) on the return ride back to Denali.. Highly recommended. (BLD)

Day 9, Tuesday, August 21 Drive back through the park, board bus for trip to Anchorage.
The rain that started yesterday afternoon continues all through the night. At least it more or less stops by the time we have to have our luggage out for taking to the bus. This is a LOOOONG day. I'm glad we could get an alarm clock from the front desk - it would be a really bad deal to oversleep this morning. We have to be up and have our luggage out for pickup by 5:15. After breakfast (a limited one from 5:30 - 6:00) we have to board that school bus by 6:15 and leave Kantishna at 6:20 AM for the long ride back to the front country of the park. It's extremely foggy for the first part of the trip. We leave so early because we "have a bus to catch." This trip is quite a bit time-shorter because they do much less of the "stop to sight-see" along the way. We do stop briefly anytime there are some animals to be seen, and unlike the trip out, there's lots to see: Moose, Caribou, Bears, Sheep (distant), and Ptarmigan.

The drive takes only about 5+ hours this time rather than almost 7 as on the way out. Luckily there is a different driver on the drive out. Kathleen is going to be talking with the local management and writing to the main office with major complaints about the driver they had on the way out to Kantishna (see Sunday comments). Our driver this time, Kirsten, is excellent.

We take an half-hour rest stop near the train station and after lunch (another sack sandwich provided by the Denali River Cabins) in town (eat lunch here or save it to eat on the bus), board another bus/coach for the drive to Anchorage. We use a bus because it's faster than the train. If we used the train, we'd get into Anchorage around 8:30 PM; using a bus, we arrive in the late afternoon (5:30) and have time for dinner (pizza, salad, and desert, in the hotel dining room) and a quiet evening. I checked on my reservations for later and all is ok. (BLD) Hotel: Anchorage Ramada Inn 1 night

Day 10, Wednesday, August 22 Alaska Railroad to Seward/Field trip to the Alaska Sea Life Center
(NEW after the Whittier turnoff) This morning we again leave at 5:45 a.m. (another one of those - two days in a row!). Catch the early train (6:45) to Seward. We again have breakfast on the train. Ride the Alaska Railroad south through spectacular scenery along the shores of Cook Inlet to Seward on the Kenai Peninsula; it's one of the best kept secrets of Alaska.The scenery is great but although the train crew often saw wildlife ahead of the train, it was always long gone by the time we got there.

Enjoy a field trip to the Alaska Sea Life Center where we have lunch (sandwiches and chips). The ASLC is a cutting edge marine research facility. The center has ongoing research projects and exhibits on the marine life of the South Central mainland shores. We have classes on ongoing research and a behind the scenes tour of the facility. The Alaska Sea Life Center is one of the few good things that came out of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. Money from damages assessed by the state on Exxon was used to start up the research center. One special focus was to study the long term effects of the oil spill on the people, the animals and the land of South Central Alaska. The center is an excellent research facility, with students from all over America and international students also. The presentations were very good, but I skipped a tour of their aquarium area since I've visited others before.

The weather today was great - very sunny and mild. Tomorrow is forecast to have fairly heavy rain. Dinner is "included" which in this case means "on our own" but with money (>$1) provided by the tour group. I chose Subway rather than one of the expensive restaurants. Hotel: Breeze Inn, 2 nights (BLD)

Day 11, Thursday, August 23 Field trip to Exit Glacier. Field trip on boat into Kenai Fjords National Park.
(NEW) After breakfast, although it's raining, we have another field trip: visit the Exit Glacier, part of Kenai Fjords National Park. However the forecast is right - raining. So we DON'T hike with a park ranger along flat paved and gravel paths to view the glacier. The ranger lectures on glaciers and ice ages and environmental changes while we drive around on the bus. For this and the next excursion, no pictures due to the weather.

It does stop raining later, but stays very dull and gloomy. About 11, we board a boat for a cruise and sail out into beautiful dull, gloomy, windy Resurrection Bay and the Kenai Fjords National Park. Resurrection Bay was named by the Russians, who "discovered" the bay on Easter Sunday ("Resurrection" is their designation for "Easter".) We sail close to a glacier and see some "calving." It's still too gloomy looking for pictures to turn out. Dinner is included tonight at "Ray's Waterfront Restaurant" (more seafood so I skip it). We have the usual final meeting and essentially the trip is now over. (BLD)

The weather forecast is even worse for Anchorage: tomorrow (Friday) night when we get there: 60%; then terrible for Sunday (cruise day): 80%.

Day 12, Friday, August 24 Program ends in Seward.
The program ends in Seward after breakfast. At 10AM, board the chartered bus for the trip back to Anchorage with a chance to see more wildlife including some Beleuga whales. We arrive about 2 PM, first dropping people off at the airport then continuing downtown. In Anchorage, check back into the Ramada Inn hotel. I would have had to stay here one night anyway even if I were returning home, due to late arrival in town and air schedule. 60% chance of rain this evening and tonight. Hotel: Anchorage Ramada Inn (4 nights)

Day 13, Saturday, Aug 25 Anchorage - AKA "What Else Can Go Wrong?"
Due to the dates change, I have an extra day in Anchorage. I'm staying 3 days to see more around Anchorage; then I'll fly to Juneau for the Inside Passage cruise. I have extra days to split between Anchorage and Juneau. It is far less hassle, and about the same cost, as flying home then back again. I have an included "continental" breakfast at the hotel each morning.

So what else can go wrong - that breakfast on the train from Anchorage to Seward on Wednesday. Last Saturday on the train from Fairbanks to Denali I had the same breakfast and got sick, it (it was not the BurgerBaddie at Morino's - which was indeed NOT good) was the problem. So on Wednesday it happened again. By now (Saturday) I'm getting worried so decided that I should go see a doctor. The hotel staff recommended "First Care" which is a walk-in clinic. It's about half way across town ($$ taxi) and when I got there - they don't take Medicare patients and I got all but thrown out. The staff there said to go to another "Urgent Care" clinic (another $$ taxi) which was supposed to be open - but it turned out that they wouldn't be open for several hours ("URGENT"???). So it was another taxi ride ($$$$) back to the area of the hotel to the Regional Hospital Emergency Room. After a checkup and a couple of tests, the doctor said no big problem, just wait it out. Then I have another taxi ride ($) back to the hotel - of course arriving too late for the included breakfast.

It's now way too late to go to the Alaska Native Heritage Center (now postponed until Monday) so I went down the street to the Anchorage Summer Festival Market (large flea-market for tourist junk, etc as well as some food booths). That was nice but today is basically down the drain. It's the waste of a beautiful day.

Day 14, Sunday, Aug 26 Anchorage - "26 Glacier" Cruise
This is an all-day trip - with an 80% updated to 100%chance of rain, but that is what can happen when I pre-book a couple of months in advance. I have to be at the 5th Avenue entrance to the Captain Cook Hotel (10 blocks west, 2 blocks south from the Ramada) by 9:30. IIt's 55F outside and no rain YET so I'll walk to the Captain Cook. It did start raining (light) about 9:15 and kept up through the drive south and for the first hour of the cruise. The bus trip is 9:45 - 11:45. After a brief sightseeing break in Whittier with the Whidiots, the cruise is from 12:30 to 5:30. Rain and very heavy cloud and fog for the first 1 ½ hours then at least the rain stopped and some of the fog went away. We saw only a bit of wildlife (sea lions, otters, and one bear) but the scenery was good. On our return, the last 1 ½ hour is very heavy fog and more rain. We have to hurry to match the schedule for when the tunnel is open for outbound traffic, then the bus trip is 6:00 - 7:30PM. The driver very kindly drops me off at the hotel.It's too late to go out for food and being Sunday, the 5th Avenue Mall will be shut down.

Round-trip coach travel Anchorage - Whittier is also booked. The 26 Glacier Cruise departs from Whittier and traverses 145 miles through passageways of Alaska's Prince William Sound. Upon leaving Whittier the vessel heads east out Passage Canal to the Egg Rock sea lion rookery located in Port Wells. From there proceed to the very scenic area called Esther Passage where only small ships can navigate the waterway. High mountains protect this narrow channel from rough seas and winds. Many different animals call this area home; bald eagles are csometimes seen fishing in the area along with an occasional puffin. It is not uncommon to see orcas plus sea otters are almost always present.

Esther Passage opens into College Fjord where the vessel turns north for a panoramic view of a few of the glaciers named after the Eastern Colleges during the Harriman Expedition. There is too much ice to go further. Next, cruise to Surprise Glacier and Barry Arm located in Harriman Fjord. We take a path through the ice filled waters up to the front of the glacier to watch for house size chunks of ice calving into the sea. On the return trip to Whittier the vessel stops one more time at a kittiwake bird rookery located just across the bay from Whittier. Over 10,000 birds inhabit these rocky cliffs each summer laying eggs. They fish constantly in front of the rookery and then train the young hatchlings all the survival tips they will need before returning to they fly south for the winter. It is just a five minute cruise from the rookery back to the marina in Whittier.

Day 15, Monday, Aug 27 Anchorage
Having a third full day wasn't planned since there is not all that much to see here (at least to me). A definite highlight is the Alaska Native Heritage Center. The Free shuttle service is from/to the Sheraton Hotel which is only 5 blocks to walk. Sadly, it's again rainy, gloomy, etc. so even though the ANHC is a highlight, I'm not even taking my camera; it would just get wet. I really wish that I had been able to get out here on that very nice day we had Saturday. Bummer and other words. Grumble, Grumble, Growl and Gritch!!

The Alaska Native Heritage Center, a world class culture center, reveals the rich and diverse cultures of the 11 indigenous groups of Alaska. This is an exciting place where people come to expand their understanding of Alaska's first people. Visitors are introduced to Native traditions and customs of both the past and present. They experience Alaska Native dance and discover its cultural relevance, marvel over the physical skill of Native Games Athletes, and stroll through traditional Native dwellings with knowledgeable guides. Perhaps the most engaging part of the visitor experience is the opportunity to hear, first-hand, the stories that shape the lives of Alaska Native people and to learn the traditions and values that define them. The Alaska Native Heritage Center is located only 10 minutes from downtown Anchorage, just off the Glenn Highway near Muldoon Road.

The weather did clear up later in the afternoon, but by then it was time to head back to the hotel. I had lunch at the ANHC, and for "supper," the hotel gives us a discount coupon for food (horrible) at their restaurant, so I'll make a major mistake and use it tonight which will save going out fairly late.

I guess that the rainy weather we've had here for a couple of days is moving south-east towards Juneau. Rain is again forecast for tomorrow afternoon and evening when I get into Juneau though I hope it may be good weather for a few days after that. Watching on the internet to see the weather at home, it looks like Houston will again be spared, this time from Hurricane Isaac though New Orleans may get a repeat of Hurricane Katrina.

Day 16, Tuesday, Aug 28 Anchorage - Juneau
A light breakfast is included before I have to head to the airport on the hotel's complimentary shuttle at 10:15 to catch the connecting flight to Juneau. It's after noon, so there is no big rush. I may or may not get a snack lunch at the airport. With a lot of rain forecast in Juneau, that might be a good idea rather than walk a few blocks to McBarfBurger in rain after I get to Juneau. That turns out to have been a very lucky choice. (B)

For the second part of the trip, see InnerSeas Inside Passage Cruise for Juneau and the "Inside Passage."

Selected pictures
Click to enlarge

AUG 13-14 Fairbanks Springhill Suites (2). 575 First Avenue, Fairbanks, AK 99701. phone: 907-451-6552. One of the newest and fanciest hotels in town. The hotel is located in the heart of downtown Fairbanks overlooking the banks of the Chena River. Television and free high-speed internet access are available.

AUG 15 Barrow Ilisagvik College/Barrow Arctic Science Consortium. 100 Stevenson Street. Barrow, AK 99723. Phone: 907-852-3333. Campus Dorm. Iisagvik College and the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium are located on the same "campus". Large (???), airy (shiver? - yes) rooms with bureaus and closets. Free slow wi-fi internet access. Commodes and showers are down the hall; after all, it's a dormitory.

AUG 16-17 Fairbanks Springhill Suites (2) Back here again. Free high-speed internet access available.

AUG 18 Denali Denali River Cabins (1). Mile 231.1 Parks Highway, Denali Park, AK 99755. phone: 800-230-7275. Complex of rusticcabins on the banks of the Nenana River. Television, telephone in the lobby; alarm clock in the room (missing). Restaurant and gift shop.

AUG 19-20 Denali Kantishna Roadhouse. (2) Mile 97 Denali Park Road, Kantishna, AK 99755. phone: 800-230-7275. Remote luxury lodge located in the heart of Denali National Park. Stay in small log cabins. Full private bath, climate controls, alarm clock (we have to ask for one at the front desk). Activity center, book shop, gift shop. No Internet.

AUG 21 Anchorage Ramada Inn (1) 115 E. Third Street, Anchorage, AK 99501. phone: 907-272-7561. Located in downtown Anchorage. Television, wireless internet access. Continental breakfast included if we don't leave too early. Back here on the 24th.

AUG 22-23 Seward Breeze Inn (2). 1306 Seward Highway, Seward, AK 99664. phone: 907-224-5237. Located right in the heart of downtown Seward, overlooking the small boat harbor. Private bathroom, desk, wireless internet access.

AUG 24-27 Anchorage Ramada Inn (4). Back here again.

AUG 28-31 Juneau Goldbelt Hotel (4). 51 Egan Drive, Juneau, Alaska 99801, 888-478-6909. 106 guest rooms, with views of the Gastineau Channel or surrounding mountains. The hotel offers complimentary airport transfer, free wireless Internet, on-site restaurant. Enjoy a short walk to the Mount Roberts Tramway and museums. Juneau's shopping district and many restaurants are only minutes away.

SEPT 1-15, Juneau - Wrangell - Ketchikan - Klawock - Juneau, Wilderness Adventurer. See part II.