On a whim we decided in July to make plans to visit Alaska in September. Jeff’s roommates in college, and lifetime friends of ours, always talked about how beautiful it was there, and we felt like it was time to check it out. We also had the added perk of catching up with our friends and experiencing the real Alaskan life.
The sun was out and the colors were unreal the entire trip! We had no real expectations or assumptions of what Alaska was which made the experience that much more exciting. The mountains are taller, the rivers bluer, and the air crisper and clearer than we have ever experienced or seen. We went during the off-season. Alaska mostly shuts down after September 15th. The national parks close, glacier tours end, and more than half the restaurants and stores in the popular water towns like Homer and Seward close their doors for the winter. That being said, there are several upsides to the off-season. The colors are amazing, prices for a hotel/cabin are more than reasonable, and a rental car was $14 a day unlimited miles…. which we utilized.
Alaska in many ways feels like it’s own country. Everyone is proud to be a Home Grown Alaskan. You hunt, you fish, and you drive a big truck. We got to visit some local pubs and realized that Alaskan men are easy to find, because almost all of them rock a really awesome beard. But it also helped us recognize travelers like us, and it was awesome to sit and hear their stories.
We meet a doctor at a Brew Pub in the small town of Talkeetna. He ran clinics in Papua New Guinea but was originally from Australia. He was in Alaska looking to buy and fly a seaplane that he could take back to Papua New Guinea. He worked as carpenter for most of his life in New Guinea and realized a medical need in the villages that he was working. He noticed there were a lot of mothers dying after childbirth because of the lack of proper supplies, and medical experts near their villages. He quit his job and went to med school. Not your average mid life career change. He then began his work of creating 30 clinics. His next step was the seaplane that could quickly transport supplies and move patients to where they could receive the proper care. Using Google Earth we got to see his route from the air. It was a pleasure meeting him.
When we left the pub, I told Jeff that I felt like I had just met his future self except the Australian version. They bonded over carpentry and building boats. Since we got married Jeff has said he wants to build a wood boat and live on it. This guy had already done it. Jeff laughed and said he thought the same thing.
The later half of our trip we got to go camping with our friends on the Kenai Peninsula. Camper Camping is very popular in Alaska, and locations near the river are coveted. When a spot becomes available, which is rare (they are often passed down generations), everyone is on it. Fishing and hunting are a way of life in Alaska. That is how you feed your family. These campsites are great for vacation during the summer but they are more than that. They are where your family fish together and prepare for the winter.
Seattle ——> Anchorage —–> Palmer ——> Talkeetna —–> Close to Denali (Denali-closed) ——> Hatchers Pass ——> Palmer ——> Anchorage ——> Palmer —-> Kenai ——-> Seward ———> Kenai ——-> Homer ——–> Kenai ——->Anchorage ——>Seattle