“You can’t get this view from a bar stool”

That’s been our favorite line on hikes and adventures when we’re surrounded by Alaska’s gorgeous scenery (not that we judge – we’ve spent plenty of time on bar stools here too!)

Could this EVER get old?

Could this EVER get old?

COOL VIDEO: 360 degree video from a hike. Take in the views!

We’re now in Valdez, and I have to say that the drive into Valdez is easily one of my favorite landscapes in Alaska – mountains, glaciers, canyons, waterfalls – it’s a visual feast! We’ve been lucky to have several clear, sunny days to see the mountains in all their splendor.

Valdez - another beautiful port town, but look at those mountains!

Valdez – another beautiful port town, but look at those mountains!

Hiking Thompson Pass in Valdez. #heaven

Hiking Thompson Pass in Valdez. #heaven

Just sitting on a glacier. It's all ice under those rocks! Whatever...

Just sitting on a glacier. It’s all ice under those rocks! Whatever…

We’ve been enjoying hanging out in this cute port town, talking with fisherman and locals and planning how we could set up a brewery here (because they don’t have one yet!) I’m just sayin…business opportunity! And heli skiing all winter…

Hike in an enchanted forest. Following a path created in 1899!

Hike in an enchanted forest. Following a path created in 1899!

Standing on a glacier taking this photo...

Standing on a glacier taking this photo…

Fun fact from Valdez: commercial fisherman here have caught more than 25M salmon since July 1 (in 22 days!)

More hikes. More mtns. More badass scenery.

More hikes. More mtns. More badass scenery.

Commercial fisherman casting his net...

Commercial fisherman casting his net…

Valdez is glacier heaven. There are more glaciers here than anywhere in North America. We took a kayak through Valdez Glacier and got to explore several glacial caves. Worthington Glacier was also a treat. I’m so sad that so many of these glaciers are retreating and disappearing. They’re beautiful!

Kayaking through the glaciers. My new obsession!

Kayaking through the glaciers. My new obsession!

The Worthington Glacier. It really is that blue!

The Worthington Glacier. It really is that blue!

Just hanging out with glaciers...

Just hanging out with glaciers…

Cool caves everywhere!

Cool caves everywhere!

The Fish Hatchery: We were mesmerized by this salmon hatchery facility which incubates ~235M eggs each season. Bears, seals, birds, and sea lions flock there to feed. Apparently after the salmon spawn and die, hundreds of bears descend on the place to feed on the carcasses. That would be a sight!

The Valdez hatchery. At high tide it's quite a sight!

The Valdez hatchery. At high tide it’s quite a sight!

COOL VIDEO: the Valdez hatchering – salmon waiting to spawn!

Tomorrow we either do one last day in Valdez or head towards McCarthy (I love not having to make any decisions – we just go where the BAMF takes us). Sad that we only have 2 more weeks in Alaska. I’m coming back! I still need to see those elusive Northern Lights…

Crazy Tides & Cute Coastal Towns

Since my last post, we’ve been exploring smaller towns and fishing villages in Southern Alaska: Homer, Soldotna, Seldovia, Hope, Whittier. Homer calls itself “a quaint drinking town with a fishing problem”. That about sums it up!

Whittier. One of my faves!

Whittier. One of my faves!

Seward. All fishing all the time...

Seward. All fishing all the time…

An Alaskan tradition: the Salty Dog Saloon on the Homer Spit.

An Alaskan tradition: the Salty Dog Saloon on the Homer Spit.

Whittier portside town. Super cute!

Whittier portside town. Super cute!

They each have a very different personality except for these 2 things:

1.) Crazy Tides: Especially on the Homer Spit, but in many of these coastal towns, the tides can ebb & flow as much as 28 feet in a very short time. It’s crazy to watch! We’ve had to be very careful where we park the car for the night…

Our boondock campsite in Hope. Listened to the water beat against the rocks all night!

Our boondock campsite in Hope. Listened to the water beat against the rocks all night!

Martin cleaning up the beach at our campsite in Whittier. #gooddeeds

Martin cleaning up the beach at our campsite in Whittier. #gooddeeds

2.) Fishing Culture:  I feel like I’m in the middle of the Deadliest Catch. It’s so cool to watch both the commercial and tourist fisherman competing for the best catch, and coming back with the biggest salmon & halibut I’ve ever seen in my life. Many of these villages live and die by the fishing culture, which make it so quintessential Alaska. It’s a rough life! But the seafood is AMAZING… 🙂

Dinner! #alaskanadventure2015

Dinner! #alaskanadventure2015

Just another day at the office!

Just another day at the office!

So far, our favorite seafood chowder is from a restaurant in Seward called Chinooks. I can’t tell you how many chowders we’ve had in the last month. We’re taking this taste competition very seriously!

Loving these puffins all over the Alaskan waters & islands!

Loving these puffins all over the Alaskan waters & islands!

Last night we arrived in Valdez via a 6-hr car ferry from Whittier. It was beautiful, and we saw Orcas everywhere! After a strong shot of coffee, we’ll be ready to start exploring this unbelievably beautiful place surrounded by mountains & glaciers. Stay tuned!

Our next rig? Digging this Unimog! #badass2

Our next rig? Digging this Unimog! #badass2

Or maybe this Mitsubishi Fuso...?! #obsessed

Or maybe this Mitsubishi Fuso…?! #obsessed

 

Ahhhh…Denali!

By now you guys are well aware of my fickle heart – constantly cheating on my last love when I fall for a new place we visit, and Denali is no exception!

View from the Denali Lodge.

View from the Denali Lodge.

My new favorite road sign! #onlyinAlaska

My new favorite road sign! #onlyinAlaska

We’ve spent the last week in and around Denali, deep in the park (I’m talking 85 miles deep!), as well as hanging out in town, driving the Denali highway, white water rafting the Nenana River, and of course frequenting the 49th State Brewery (surprise!).

Our favorite camping spot near the brewery. Where park buses are left with keys inside! Dangerous...

Our favorite camping spot near the brewery. Where park buses are left with keys inside! Dangerous…

Ahhh...Denali!

Ahhh…Denali!

Igloo Creek campground view. #doesn'tsuck

Igloo Creek campground view. #doesn’tsuck

Denali National Park is definitely unique. Access is VERY restricted – much more than any other national park we’ve been to. You can drive as far as 15 miles into the 92-mile Park Road, and after that everything is restricted to protect both the environment and the wildlife. Having experienced the full road, it’s so smart they keep idiot drivers like us off it – it has some very treacherous parts! But the views are seriously spectacular…

Dorks in matching pants (yep, that's us), but who cares with that view!

Dorks in matching pants (yep, that’s us), but who cares with that view!

Hiking Denali. #awesome

Hiking Denali. #awesome

Explorers. This is the best place to get lost!

Explorers. This is the best place to get lost!

Denali Highway – we were fortunate that we had some flexibility in our dates in Denali. When we first arrived, there were 300+ fires burning across the state (100+ started by lightening strikes!), so the air was smokey with 0% chance of seeing McKinley, so we decided to take a few days and drive the scenic 134-mile Denali Highway, which used to be the entrance to the park before the Park Road was constructed. It’s beautiful! We saw fox, porcupine, moose, and bald eagles along the way and camped in some very cool off-shoot roads. It’s one of the best places to see the Northern Lights – if only it weren’t light 22 hours/day right now!

The one & only bar along the Denali Highway - we found it! Sluice Box is a gold mining term.

The one & only bar along the Denali Highway – we found it! Sluice Box is a gold mining term.

Look what we found - moose on the loose!

Look what we found – moose on the loose!

Views, views, views - man this state has views everywhere!

Views, views, views – man this state has views everywhere!

Lucky strikes…we got lucky in Denali in oh so many ways!

  1. Campground – score! There are no lodges or hotels along the 92-mile Park Road. To stay “in” Denali National Park, you have to camp, and most sites book 6+ mos in advance. There’s even a lottery system! We had no expectation of experiencing that, but we somehow scored 3 nights in the park in our 2 coveted campgrounds: Wonder Lake and Igloo Creek. Wonder Lake is at Mile 85 (a 6 hr bus ride!) – almost the very end of the park road, with panoramic views of Mt McKinley (when it chooses to show itself). It was spectacular!
    Love love love Wonder Lake campground!

    Love love love Wonder Lake campground!

    Reflection pond. If the weather were better that day, you would see McKinley in the pond!

    Reflection pond. If the weather were better that day, you would see McKinley in the pond!

    Here's our new postcard. LOL

    Here’s our new postcard. LOL

  2. Mt. McKinley exposed! They say in the literature that people have a 95% chance of seeing a grizzly in Denali but only a 35% chance of seeing Mt. McKinley, the highest peak in North America. It creates its own weather system. We had a rare moment our first night in Wonder Lake when, after a hard rain storm, the mountain and the whole range exposed itself in full, wondrous beauty. Photos can’t do it justice. It’s breathtaking!
    Mt. McKinley - words cannot express how magnificent it is!

    Mt. McKinley – words cannot express how magnificent it is!

    Wonder Lake campground - see Mt McKinley right in front of us!

    Wonder Lake campground – see Mt McKinley right in front of us!

  3. No man-eating bugs! Both campgrounds we stayed in are notorious for horrid mosquito infestations in the summer. One guy in Wonder Lake has stayed there 13 times and said this was his first time without at least 20 mosquitos in his morning coffee. It’s been a dry and cool spring, so the bug populations are low. We’ve had no problems at all, and we are oh so grateful. Thank you God!
    So we did get rain at Igloo Creek, but we had wine & a tarp. Saved!

    So we did get rain at Igloo Creek, but we had wine & a tarp. Saved!

    It's boxed wine...but it works in a pinch!

    It’s boxed wine…but it works in a pinch!

Lesson learned: don’t pre-book excursions in Alaska. The weather is very unpredictable and changes quickly! I’m so thankful today wasn’t our only day in the park – it’s a total washout. That being said, I’m super excited about our flight-seeing tour of Denali with Julie, Jen & Caroline out of Talkeetna in just a week. Safe travels girls – I’ve worked out a weather schedule with Mother Nature, so we’re all good! 🙂

The BAMF likes it here too...

The BAMF likes it here too…

I do have to admit, my wishlist for Denali sightings was a wolf, a lynx, and a wolverine, all of which live in the park. Sadly we didn’t see any of those (the park is millions of acres!), but we did see lots of grizzlies, moose, and caribou. And of course the beautiful Mt. McKinley!

Crazy like a fox. How cute is this guy?

Crazy like a fox. How cute is this guy?

P.S. Today is our official 3-month anniversary for this crazy trip. We’re actually half way through! Time flies when you’re having fun… 🙂

Martin's favorite photo. It's heat meiser & she meiser!

Martin’s favorite photo. It’s heat meiser & she meiser!