July 15th-July 29th, 2004
Alaska light illuminates the vast geography of mountain, glacier, and ocean with a sometimes dim, sometimes luminous radiance that beckons travelers to explore. In the land of the midnight sun, moose, caribou, bears, and whales take full advantage of the long summer days, and visitors too can reap the benefits by fitting twice the activities into one twenty-four hour period. When darkness falls on Alaska in July it is not the sudden affair that it is in other parts of the world, it sort of creeps across the landscape as if it were drawing a thin shade across the sun. A dusky type of night rolls in around midnight, makes a valiant effort to thwart the light, and then finally gives up at the ungodly hour of 4am. Sleeping under these conditions is an art, and a skill that most tourists just give up on perfecting.
Our days spent in Alaska were jam packed with activity; there would be time to sleep when we got home. We explored the state by float plane, car, boat, RV, and of course by foot. Everywhere we went we were treated to wide-open views, from jagged mountain peaks painted pink by the last rays of the sun, to sparkling blue lakes lined along the shores with puffy white Alaska cotton, the possibilities for exploration were endless. Alaska is truly the last frontier.
Even the flight into Anchorage was stunning; flying over the grandeur of Wrangell-St. Elias yields views of snow covered mountains and rivers of glaciers flowing out in all directions, and we were no strangers to mountains or glaciers, but nothing we had ever seen prepared us for the scale of Alaskaís natural treasures.
After landing in Anchorage we checked into the Hampton Inn, a wonderful hotel with a great continental breakfast, and then we set out to explore the city. Our first stop was The Outback Steakhouse, it is a tradition for us to eat at this restaurant on every vacation, and then we stopped in the local Wal-Mart to shop for gifts. A lot of people donít think about Wal-Mart as a gift shop, but most of the stores found in larger tourist cities have a department specifically set aside for gifts. We have found that the same gifts can be bought here at a much lower price than you find in the dedicated gift shops. Anchorage was no exception and we found great gifts, postcards, and books at affordable prices.
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