By the time we get from Madison to Chicago we both know the airplane rides - a total of 3 - will be pure torture. 737s, full ones, are not built for Jeff and I. Luckily, arriving in Anchorage helped us forget a little of the awful.
Right away, getting off the plane, boom - mountains. Check it out:
|Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport|
The first part of our trip was a tour with Gray Line of Alaska. Here's my thought on using a tour company: unless you don't want to ever have to think on vacation, they are so not necessary, because they herd you around and tell you where you need to be and when and probably what to think of it. We could have put together our own transportation. Plus, the Westmark Anchorage that they put us up in for our first night in Alaska, yeash. Have you ever heard the word "update"? No, I didn't think so... I believe a lot of their business comes from cruise lines and tour companies. People are herded into the hotel for one night and don't necessarily have to worry about repeat customers. Oh, and no continental breakfast. Fail.
The two good things about the Westmark Anchorage were the polar bear smooches
|5:43 AM 6-17-2012 - this photo shows it darker than it was in real life. The sunrise reflecting on this building was amazing.|
Oh. My. Goodness. The view! As long as the gaze went up towards the mountains and not down to the city street below, it was great.
We were staying in the "Wisconsin Dells" area of Anchorage. So touristy. Every other store was either a souvenir shop or a tour storefront or a theme restaurant. I was not impressed.
Trying to sleep with the door to the balcony open was a little difficult. Since it was finally nice in Alaska, many people from the outlying villages that get snowed in during the winter had come to the city to party. There were street parties, people drinking and sleeping on the sidewalks, and a lot of what sounded like drag racing. We understand that you don't really get to party much when you have hundreds of inches of snow, but do you really have to make up for it all in one night?
Next, on our way to Denali National Park and the Backcountry Lodge...