Friday, November 25, 2011

North to Alaska!

One of the highlights and most pleasant memories of my life was our family vacation to Alaska in July 1996. We (Craig, Suzanne, Daniel, Bridget, Teresa, Steven) flew to Anchorage and rented an RV.

We drove through the interior of Alaska, up to Denali National Park. We took a long ride on the park bus, seeing wildlife and views of Mt. McKinley. Teresa had a memorable experience opening the bathroom door on someone by mistake. We all still laugh about that.

We continued on to Fairbanks to an RV park which had pervasive signs "5 MPH, love Sarah". Teresa and I took an Arctic Circle tour, flying to an airfield above the Circle, and riding in a tour van all the way back to Fairbanks. It was so exotic.

The Alaska pipeline.

We walked across the Yukon River bridge at one rest stop.

We got home from the tour after 1AM and it was still rather light outside.

Alaska is so huge! The vistas, the distances--everything.

We drove back down to the Kenai Peninsula, visiting some glaciers and Homer. Teresa was enamored with sled dogs, so she and Steven went for a ride.

We turned in the RV back in Anchorage and went sightseeing downtown. Daniel had a major seizure, resulting in an ambulance ride to the hospital. They gave him some medicines to take, which made him groggy and somewhat ill for the next couple of days.

We flew to Juneau and took the ferry to Skagway. Daniel won a prize for the most gambling winnings.

We continued on the Alaska ferry system over to Sitka, Petersburg, Wrangell, and back to Juneau. It was like a poor man's cruise of the Inside Passage. On one ferry we had a four berth cabin, a three berth in another, and none on a third. Steven ran into a cable on one ferry, knocking him down. The crew saw it happen and the captain gave him a tour of the bridge and a complimentary hat, and let him blow the horn coming into port, so the minor injury was worth it.

Back in Juneau we chartered an ice field tour in an airplane. It was a rare sunny day in Juneau--the scenery was breathtaking. Bridget and I went for a run up a trail out of Juneau, and I went to an all-you-can-eat salmon bake.

I loved everything about this three week vacation. It was exotic and adventuresome. All four kids were so well behaved the whole time. The RV was wonderful, and the ideal way to traverse the interior, stopping about anywhere for the night. We had the Beach Boys music playing in the RV. The ferry trips were interesting, as were all the destinations.

I often think I'd like to go back to Alaska and try to relive those experiences. Sadly, I know it wouldn't be the same. It would lack that first time adventure, and our small children wouldn't be with us. But the memories remain precious.

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