ATTENTION The Mt. Washington Auto Road is a steep, narrow, mountain road without guardrails. If you have a fear of heights, you may not appreciate this driving experience. Guided tours are available.
Thought it was just a regular warning sign. Perhaps a sneaky way to threaten us and use ‘fear’ to sell guided tours which are more expensive than tolls if driving ourselves. I don’t have a fear of heights, so no problem.
We paid the fees ($25 for the car and driver, plus $8 for each additional adult) and got an audio tour on CD and a bumper sticker saying “This Car Climbed Mount Washington”.
While chilling out with my Sunday’s creation, Bloody Sunday Sparkling Guava Nectar, I skimmed through Wager with the Wind: the Don Sheldon Story that my husband bought me and insisted that I read. It’s the story of Alaska’s legendary bush pilot, Don Sheldon, who pioneered glacier landings around Mt. McKinley and was based out of Talkeetna.
The next morning we had the best breakfast in Alaska at the Aurora Express B&B. The breakfast was served in the dining car. Mike is such a skillful chef. Everything was so tasty, from reindeer sausage, fancy omelet to amazing French toast. I couldn’t praise more of this B&B. Do stay here if you ever visit Fairbanks.
BTW, I promised Susan to write a stellar review for Aurora Express in TripAdvisor. Well, it hasn’t been done yet. You know, I owe a lot to TripAdvisor when searching for lodging info. So I feel obliged to give back and contribute as well. Especially info about places that are low-key that people don’t know much about. Anyway, if you stumble upon a TA review of an Alaska hotel that sounds oh-so-familiar, that’d probably be me. :)
The Riverboat Discovery Tour is rated the #1 boat tour in North America. This is a must for any visitor to Fairbanks. Advanced reservations necessary.
Welcome aboard the Riverboat Discovery! My first time on a sternwheeler.
From Denali National Park, Fairbanks is another 135 miles further north. Read about Denali NP here. Our first stop was Gold Dredge No. 8 Tour. We walked in to find out that it had been fully booked that afternoon. I didn’t realize this tour was popular and made a mistake by ‘not’ making an advanced reservation. We were lucky to be able to book ourselves for the next day.
North Pole and Santa Claus House
After that, we went to a small town called North Pole, Alaska. It’s only 15 miles from downtown Fairbanks. The main attraction here is the Santa Claus House.
Hello, I’m back from the great land of Alaska. (Alaska or Alyeska means ‘the great land’ in Yupik.) If you read my previous post, you’d know how hectic it was to plan a summer trip to Alaska only 2 weeks beforehand. But in the end, everything went all very well, except that we didn’t get to take a flightseeing tour with our B&B host. But that was nothing compared to the richness of experiences we had during the 2-week vacation. Alaska is now simply ranked among my most memorable trips so far.
In this travelogue “Everything Under the Alaskan Sun“, I’ll take you to Denali, Fairbanks, Talkeetna, Whittier, Girdwood, Seward and, of course, Anchorage. So come along and join the ride!
After one stopover and 10+ hours later, we finally arrived Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport at midnight. The time difference between Alaska and the East Coast is 4 hours, so it was basically 4 A.M. for me, and I was dying to go to bed. Outside was raining and cold. After half an hour of waiting, we boarded the shuttle bus to Embassy Suites. The hotel is ranked #1 in Anchorage on TripAdvisor. The room is nice and spacious with a large living room and working space. The breakfast was also very good.
My upcoming vacation comes sooner than expected. In fact, it was a sudden, spontaneous decision. A ‘spur-of-the-moment’ kind of trip. Since it was quite urgent, we didn’t want to go abroad. Somehow our ‘domestic’ destination has turned out to be one of the most exotic and remote destinations in the world! Right here in the land of the US of A.
It is a land of contrasts. It is America’s largest state in terms of land and wealthiest in terms of cash reserves, yet was bought from Russia a century ago for only a penny. (Well, not literally ‘a penny’, but still.) Its median household income is ranked behind only industrialized Maryland, New Jersey and Connecticut. Yet it is still mostly untamed, and some Native Alaskans in remote areas still follow subsistence way of life like their forefathers. The only place in the world where residents get paid from the government; not the other way round. The state does not tax its residents and even pay them annual ‘dividends’ out of its $40 billion state fund. The state capital, Juneau, is the only capital city in the world that is not accessible by land. You have to go there by plane or cruise. Welcome to Alaska.