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Alaska by Land, Air and Sea

I had always planned to take a cruise to Alaska, but when a friend suggested an overland adventure, I said, “ Ok, let’s do it.” The wildlife was spectacular and I saw a moose within an hour of landing in Anchorage. Alaska feels like a true frontier, and the wilderness is never far away. 

One of the highlights of the trip was Katmai National Park, which is home to an estimated 2,000 Alaskan brown bears. We jumped into a Cessna plane, the aerial views alone were worth the trip, as the colorful landscape beneath us created beautiful patterns. It was with a 1-minute notice that I realized the beach’s shoreline was about to become our airstrip landing. 

It was about a week before the start of the salmon run, and bears were on the move coming in from every direction. We saw many mother bears with their cubs following along behind them, and while we could not get too close, we got great photos with our zoom lenses.  

Another amazing experience was dog sledding. After a short helicopter ride, to the top of a glacier in Seward, I thought we landed in heaven. Everything was pure white except for 30-35 sled dogs perfectly housed in neat rows that were camped there for the summer. The spell of silence was only broken by the bark of the sled dogs and the clank of their chains.  

Each dog had its own little house and just like people; they had very different personalities. Some were calm, others were nervous but one white dog stood out of the crowd. He was so excited that he perched himself on the roof of his house and barked non-stop which got the other dogs worked up; it was equivalent to a tailgating party before the big football game.  Then, when the sled started to move it became a barking frenzy. It was amazing to ride behind them, and you felt that this was what they were meant to do!  

One of the fun things about traveling through Denali National Park is that when someone spots wildlife, everyone seems to realize it at once. Buses pull over, cameras come out, and everyone shares the wonder. For me, seeing the top of Denali (formerly called Mount McKinley) was one of those moments. The highest mountain peak in the U.S., Denali is so big it makes its own weather and is usually shrouded in clouds. I was lucky to see it three different times, as I learned many visitors to Alaska, never see it all. 

An ideal way to explore the beauty of Alaska’s seacoast is a cruise to see the Kenai Fjords. The wildlife starts even before the ship leaves the dock, as a sea otter floated by during boarding. Among the animals, you will see are sea lions, puffins, whales, porpoises and bald eagles. I spotted four eagles, they are spectacular in their native habitat and just one of the amazing sights that made my trip to Alaska so special.   

Whether you want to see Alaska by sea, land or air — or all three, it is a trip worth taking, and one I would love to plan for you! 

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