I arrived at the Anchorage airport at about 8:30 Saturday night, three hours before Danny got in. By the time he arrived it was still light out. The sun didn't set until midnight, and even then it was just a heavy dusk. We stopped in at the Bear Tooth in Anchorage for dinner after picking up our rental van and then found an empty parking lot to sleep in before heading north the next day. I woke up at about 3:30 Sunday morning and the sun was already up. Trippy.
We hit the road early that morning after stocking up on some Dashboard Diner food at a local market. We were blown away by the scenery. Mountains on all sides, everywhere you look. I was glad I brought lots of memory for my camera, but furious that I couldn't get that spot off my lens.
We were hoping to spot a moose on the trip. We ended up seeing eight of them by the time we left. The first one showed up just a few miles past Anchorage.
We drove on to Chugach state park and went for a short hike. When we got to the end my batteries died. There was a waterfall, trust me.
We pulled off to the side of the road every time there was a scene like this, which was often:
We pressed on to Denali national park, home of Mt. McKinley. It was a little bit overcast, but we were able to see the mountain, which was one of the main things I wanted to see in Alaska. It's big.
Then we drove on, stopping to take photos every so often, whenever we felt the need.
Danny got his shoes wet when he fell into a lake. I stayed back to capture it on camera:
In no danger of losing sunlight, we traveled on. Gas was expensive, but you don't have time to worry about trivial things like money when you're in Alaska.
And then we saw another moose. This one got right alongside the road and tried to race us.
A little further down the road we came to a group of gawkers standing on the side of the road looking up a hill. We inquired as to what they were all looking at. "BEAR!!!" We hopped out and joined the gawking.
We drove as far north as Fairbanks, got a room at the Super 8 (expensive), and then traveled down the other side of the loop towards Tok.
We saw lots of these, but opted not to sleep in them:
We saw the pipeline:
I touched it, Danny climbed on top of it:
Being 80 miles from civilization in either direction made this a surreal sight:
On the road again:
Alaskans like to shoot road signs for some reason.
We found the magic bus, or one of them anyway. There are many:
We were greeted by some husky and wolf pups on the road:
There was still plenty of snow in the mountains:
The melting snow formed waterfalls everywhere on the sides of the mountains:
We found places to camp on the side of the road or wherever. This is what one of our spots looked like at midnight:
On Wednesday we took a seven-hour cruise on the Glacier Spirit from the town of Valdez:
We saw otters:
We saw whales:
We saw sea lions:
We saw a glacier. I got to hold a piece of it:
We saw seals and more sea lions. I don't know the difference:
We saw mountain goats:
We saw another bear:
We saw everything we could've hoped to see on the cruise and more. It was probably the highlight of the trip. I talked to some people on the plane who took different cruises and didn't see nearly as much as we saw, so if you're in Alaska, and you're looking for a cruise, make sure you head to Valdez and spend a day on the Glacier Spirit.
From Valdez we headed towards Whittier. Wait, what's that? Another moose...
And another glacier, near our campsite:
Whittier is a small town that is only accessible by a two and a half mile tunnel. Most of the residents live in one building. It is also home to the Buckner building, which was once the largest building in Alaska. It has been abandoned since the early '60s, but it would cost too much to tear it down and haul the pieces through the tunnel so it still stands.
Then we left Whittier, through the tunnel again, and headed back to Anchorage.
But first, we had to go touch the ocean:
Looks just like it does on TV, said the guy from landlocked Minnesota.
Several snowball fights developed at various rest areas. Danny, being from California, seemed much more fascinated by snow than I was:
Another magic bus:
We made our way to the airport and parted ways as we each headed back to our respective time zones. It was a very enjoyable week, not just because of where we were, but because Danny was such an accommodating travel partner. With all the money that we had to spend on gas and food and what-not, there was never a time where either of us felt the need to push the other to pay. We each fought for the right to pay for our share and tried to outdo one another in showing honor. And we came back with some of the best photos of our lives and memories to match. The great Alaskan adventure of two thousand and eight will always be remembered as one of the highlights of our lives.