I am often asked what my favorite or most memorable destinations have been during my 25+ years of travel. It doesn’t take long to answer since certain destinations play over and over in my brain like a favorite song. So much so that I long to return to explore the allure that drew me in the first time.
My top pick in the U.S. is Alaska, which I somehow managed to finagle traveling to twice. The first trip to Alaska was via a 7-day cruise and it was absolutely magnificent! The cruise departed from Vancouver, a beautiful city that sits off the Burrard Inlet with the North Shore Mountains as the backdrop.
From Vancouver, the cruise headed north up the Inside Passage and included stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay and Sitka. Score excursions up the Klondike Trail and a tour of Totem Bight State Historical Park were delightful. But the crown jewel for me was Glacier Bay where I lucked out and was witness to some glacier calving. The thunderous cracking, as massive blocks of ice broke off the glacier and floated off into the bay, was hypnotic and I could have stayed for hours.
The second time to Alaska was spent in Girdwood, about 45 minutes outside of Anchorage. Girdwood is home to the Aleyska Resort (https://alyeskaresort.com), our base camp for the week’s automotive event. This is the town where I indulged in the best crab legs in the world and it ruined me forever. To this day, I still can’t enjoy crab legs anywhere else as they just don’t compare to the massive, sweet tasting crab legs I had at the Double Musky Inn. This roadhouse is an eclectic place with a New Orleans flair, just off the Alyeska Highway. Stop in if you ever find yourself in Girdwood, Alaska!
This was also the trip where a bear decided to bolt across the road at an inopportune time. Yes, he was okay, but he scared the heck out of one of our crew members. His poorly timed dash across the road resulted in a head butt right into the side of the van. After what must have been a bit of bell ringer, he shook it off and ducked back into the woods. Our van didn’t fare quite as well with a bit of a bear dent in the side panel. Good news is everyone was alright and went on with their respective business.
At my client’s behest, I ended up doing some hang gliding, because I couldn’t let her go alone, right? This news was received quite negatively by my husband, who was on the trip overseeing the course build for the event. The experience was both invigorating and scary, especially as we had to abort the first time, we were running off the edge of the mountain. Not cool! Of course, this was tandem with the instructor but still when they start yelling “abort, abort!” and you are trying to stop the momentum by back peddling, it can create some heart palpitations.
Good news is we trekked back up the side of the mountain and the second run off the edge of the mountain was successful. Once up in the air, is was amazingly quiet, peaceful and rather relaxing. The landing, on the other hand, was not exactly graceful. It involved some weird running in the air, hitting the ground and doing a bit of a tuck and role. Then a frantic grabbing of the parachute and a mad dash to the vehicle to avoid being carried away by the throngs of mosquitos.
All part of the fun and I didn’t even include the moose and the glacier story, but that is for another time. Alaska, the outdoors and the entertainment options are endless! If I get another opportunity, I will go back again as there was too much left unexplored.