An interesting nine-day vacation trip in the State of Alaska

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Elaine, her Mom (Mary Bottoms of Greeley, Colorado) and I (The "Q" group) just returned, last Friday night, from a nine-day vacation trip to Alaska. This was our trip:

Day No. 1: We flew to Anchorage and met my Internet friends (Barry and Susan Drury) of Old Crow, Yukon for the first time.

Day No. 2: The Q group visited the Turnagain Arm, Girdwood and the Alyeska Ski Resort areas.

While driving along the Turnagain Arm, I got some spectacular video footage of Dall Sheep with my 100X zoom lens.

Day No. 3: The Q group drove to Whittier via the 2.5 mile "Anton" tunnel, which is jointly shared by the Alaska Railroad and vehicles (one-way direction at a time).

Then, we took a boat tour (in a fierce rain storm) to visit the glaciers of the Prince William Sound. At the end of the day, we returned to Anchorage.

Day No. 4: We got up early, boarded the Alaska Railroad and rode to Seward. At Seward, we were on the 113-foot long boat "Glacier Explorer" for a tour of the Kenai Fjord glaciers.

Sadly, our sightseeing trip was curtailed, due to strong winds, heavy rain, huge swells and rough seas. But, I did manage to get video footage of Killer Whales (Orcas), Humpback Whales, Seals and Sea Otters.

Day No. 5: We visited the Seward Sea Life Center for a close up look of sea life including: Harbor Seals, Sea Lions, Puffin, Moray Eels, Octopus.

Later, we took a dog sled ride with a musher who has driven his team in the 1,049 mile long Iditarod Sled Dog Race (His dad won the 2004 race).

Following that, we took a short guided walking tour to Exit Glacier. Then, we hopped back on Alaska Railroad for the return trip to Anchorage.

Day No. 6: The Q group drove to the Homer Spit via the Turnagain Arm, Soldotna Ninilchek, Deep Creek and Anchor Point. At the Spit, we joined up again with the Drurys and introduced them to Manhattans at the Salty Dawg Saloon!

Day No. 7: The best day of the entire trip (weather-wise) with some sunshine and only a light afternoon rain.

Barry, Susan and I spent the day Halibut fishing in Katchamak Bay on the sport fishing boat "Fringe Benefit."

For the day, Barry caught the first Halibut, I caught the most, and, sad to say for the two guys, Susan caught the largest. Darn!

Day No. 8: The Q group returned to Anchorage, bought some final souvenirs and got ready to return home.

Day No. 9: We flew from Anchorage to Seattle with no problems. Then, we flew from Seattle to Reno.

As we were passing Pyramid Lake on our final approach to the Reno Airport, our jet got diverted to Sacramento due to high winds, heavy rain, thunder, lightning and severe downdrafts caused by a huge storm cell parked over Reno.

We landed in Sacramento, took on fuel and then returned to Reno where we made a safe and uneventful landing.

Alaska travel notes

If you're thinking of traveling to Alaska in the summertime, here's what to expect:

Weather: Go prepared for a wide range in weather. Our warmest weather was 73 degrees and we had rain all nine days. We wore everything from short-sleeve shirts and shorts to heavy coats with rain gear.

Crowds: The airlines, hotels, resorts, tours, Alaska Railroad, highways, restaurants, shops, sidewalks, piers, etc. are jammed with summer tourists.

Prices: Gasoline was $2.85 a gallon. Breakfasts were about $10-12 each, but you could have Reindeer sausage! Lunches cost about the same as breakfasts. Dinners ran about $20-25. Hotel rooms ranged from $165 to $225. A single scoop ice cream cone at the Homer Spit was $4.50!

Fishing: Every fisherman in Alaska expects to catch a monster-sized 200+ pound Halibut or 60+ pound King Salmon.

Forget it! If you catch one, you are just plain lucky. Your Halibut and Salmon will normally be under 50 pounds.

If you fish on a sport fishing boat out of the Homer area, expect to pay $200 for a day's fishing trip (7 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and expect to tip the Captain.

-- Bet Your Favorite Pigeon

Bet your favorite pigeon he can't tell you the best place on all of the State of Alaska to buy Alaskan souvenirs.

If he grins and says, 'Heck, that's easy. It's Penney's in Anchorage," he has been there.

-- Don Quilici is the Outdoors editor for the Nevada Appeal.


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