Nov 7, 2012

Alaska (America's Crown Jewel)



                                    Wild & Wonderful ALASKA



For many years I longed to see Alaska and immerse myself in the great outdoors of America's last frontier. As a New Yorker I was accustomed to life in a concrete jungle where nearly everyone is in a hurry and the hustle and bustle of an exciting city never ends but my heart was longing for big open
spaces where I could roam for miles and not see a single soul except for an occasional deer or moose.

My opportunity to fly from New York City to Anchorage Alaska occurred on a mid June day.
Laid off for over a month from a busy Manhattan hotel where I worked as a concierge (due to
renovations) I was off to Alaska at long last. (Hooray)

I couldn't have chosen a better time to arrive in Anchorage because in June Alaskans celebrate
solstice festivals and 20 hours of daylight. Imagine being able to hike at midnight? (Very Cool)

My first two days were spent smack in Anchorage where I felt right at home. I stayed in a home hostel
with other folks from around the globe who quickly became my friends. We all had big thing in common; a love for the outdoors.

Anchorage really is wonderful place to start your Alaskan experience. It's a big city nestled in the wilderness and about 40% of the states population lives in Anchorage. Below are some things to do
while in Anchorage.

Sights:                                                                                  Activities:
Anchorage Museum                                                             Bicycling:  Tony Knowles Coastal Trail.
Alaska Heritage Museum                                                     and Chester Creek Bike Trail 
Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center                                    
Alaska Native Heritage Center                                           Hiking Flattop Mountain Trail (one of the 
Goose Lake                                                                         most popular in Anchorage)
Alaska Botanical Gardens                                                   
University of Alaska;Anchorage                                         A train ride on the Alaska Railroad
                   
                                                                                            Visiting animals at the Anchorage Zoo

Dining (Wbere the locals eat)

Snow City Cafe
1034 West 4th Avenue
Known for the best breakfast in all of Anchorage

Bear Tooth Grill
1230 West 27th
A broad menu ranging from tasty burgers to Asian fusion dishes 


After a visit to Anchorage the real adventure begins and if time permits why not see every region you can.

Alaska's Diverse Region 

The Bush is quite remote. It's known as Arctic Alaska and it gets really cold here. It's home to polar bears. This is where you'll find Barrow, Nome, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and Gates of the Arctic
National Park and Preserve.

Denali National Park is a hiker's paradise. With 6 million acres to explore Denali is proud to have North America's tallest mountain known as Mount McKinley. Denali National Park is located in the
Interior section of Alaska. After exploring this awesome national park a trip to nearby Talkeetna will
reward you what a typical Alaskan community town is all about.

Kenai Peninsula takes everyones breath away with awe-inspiring scenery. This is the place to kayak the majestic waters and experience hundreds of glaciers. (I had the honor of kayaking here and the
memory of this experience will be instilled in my mind for many more years to come).

Prince William Sound is a stunner with its abundance of fjords and glaciers. Highlights here include
Valdez and Whittler. 

Southwest Alaska is where the bears love the salmon. Kodiak Island has the largest bears in the world
who feast on delicious wild Alaskan salmon as often as they can. Southwest Alaska can only be reached by place which helps it retain its remote feel of pure wilderness.

Juneau and the Southeast; is where Alaska states capital is located. This region has the mildest climate in all of Alaska and sits on a panhandle surrounded by lush rainforest.

Everyone has their own idea of how they want to explore Alaska. For some a luxurious cruise brings
much comfort along the lovely waterways, others find happiness in traveling by car, plane, or train.
The Alaskan Railroad is a wonderful way to get around parts of Alaska while enjoying spectacular views from the passenger windows.

I chose to camp the whole time I was in Alaska (with the exception of staying at a home hostel in Anchorage). I travelled with a group of 20 other anxious campers. We were accompanied by a well
informed tour guide who really knew Alaska first hand. We camped in many remote places where there weren't even showers or flushing toilets. Sometimes I went 3 days without a shower but this was all part of roughing it in the great outdoors. At times I came in contact with native Alaskans who never stepped foot inside a city in Alaska or even left the state. One man told me he dreaded shopping once a month because it meant seeing cars and buildings. As a New Yorker who is use to tall buildings and
lots of cars I could totally relate to a man who just couldn't deal with any type of city life. Once one
has experienced life in the wilderness it's culture shock to enter a concrete jungle of highways and traffic jams.

Spending a whole month in Alaska was a dream come true and I made my wish come true of roaming miles of open space without seeing a living soul except for a few bears. Alaska is wild and wonderful and exploring it as a camper made it even more authentic. Alaska is so diverse and scenic that it rightly deserves being known as "The Last Frontier." 

Don't miss out on a visit to ALASKA (America's Crown Jewel).


Alaska Highlights:

Native CultureClimbing Mount MckInley
Riding a ferry or taking a train ride on the Alaskan Railroad
Viewing bears, eating wild Alaskan salmon and  having a salmon bake
Watching the Midnight Sun and Northern Lights
Kayaking in the Kenai Peninsula






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