Amazing Southwest Airlines CC Offer PSA!

PSA fellow Adventurers! RIGHT NOW you can get a Southwest Airlines Companion pass very easily, provided you meet the appropriate financial requirements and have means to show at least a small side business! This is probably, by orders of magnitude, the absolute best sign on bonus of any credit card around! I did this in 2020 and was able to take a massive amount of my trips utilizing this perk!

So, what is it, exactly? The companion pass offered by Southwest is pretty much the holy grail of domestic (and Caribbean and Latin American) travel! Once you have it, in essence every flight you book is a BoGo. BUT, you don’t even have to pay anything other than the $11.20 in fees and taxes! Couple it with the massive amount of sign up points you get, and you have a massive twofer perk that is good for the remainder of the year you earn it AND THE ENTIRE FOLLOWING YEAR. Because Southwest allows you to take your companion on a flight booked with points, this is an unparalleled perk! Other airlines that have a companion fare (usually only one fare per year) require a revenue (paid with dollars) flight to book the companion. In essence you and a companion can fly free (minus 11.20 per person round trip in 9/11 fees) for between 12 and 24 months to any destination Southwest services, until your points run up, and there are no blackout dates!

How to do it? First of all, an important note. If you are the type to spend and not pay your statement entirely on a monthly basis, this is probably not for you. Secondly, you will need to apply for two cards, a Chase southwest personal card and a business card:

There are a few variations of both cards. The ones I have shown are the lowest annual fee varieties. With the exception of a few perks, the other variations are pretty similar with slightly better perks that cost you about double on the annual fees. The other business card does, however, come with 80k bonus points but it’s not worth it to me. The credit card point requirement to get a companion pass is 135k points. It used to be 125 but they are actually giving their credit card holders an additional 10k companion pass points (cannot be used for flights) to make up the difference, but between these two cards, after meeting those spending bonuses you would have, at a minimum, 141,000 points! If you do not have any type of business income, I understand that people can still get it but I am cannot be sure of that. I would apply for the business card first in that event to see what shakes out!

Timing for hitting the bonus is extremely important. It is now November. You would not want to hit that sign up bonus until after your first statement in 2023. Most all of your earned points are Rapid Rewards points (good for booking flights) and ALSO companion earning points. However, the companion total resets every Jan. This means that while your RR points DO NOT expire for travel, they DO expire for use toward a companion pass every January 1st. If you hit your bonuses on your statement in December, you will still have a companion pass, but only for the few remaining days in December and all of next year, versus hitting it in January and having it for 23 months plus! Big difference!

Is it worth it – what do all those points really equate to in real life? For 160 dollars of annual fees, ABSOLUTELY. The valuation of Southwest Rapid Rewards Points is variable, unfortunately, which means that how much you get out of those 141,000 points depends on the fair type you select and which flight you actually pick. I cannot tell you exactly how many flights, or what their total cost would have been, in relation to the sign on bonuses I earned in 2020 as I continued using the cards for everyday spending and adding to my points every month. For the record the amount of points I redeemed for travel totalled just around 220K. Of that about 140k were the initial signup bonus, 18k were from the anniversary points for 2 anniversaries, and at least and here are the list of places that I went to entirely for free:

Virgin Islands National Park via San Juan, PR (one leg, upcoming)
Nashville (one leg)
Arches and Canyonlands National Parks via Salt Lake City (companion expired)
Maui and Haleakala National Park (companion expired)
Nashville
Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands, and Guadalupe National Parks via El Paso
Acadia National Park via Portland, ME (with companion)
Chicago (with Companion)
New River Gorge National Park via Cincinnati (with companion)
Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks via Bozeman, MT (with companion)
Cuyahoga Valley National Park via Cleveland (solo)
Louisville
Petrified Forest and Saguaro National Parks via Pheonix (with companion)
Zion National Park via Las Vegas (with companion)
Shenandoah National Park via Baltimore (with companion)
Rocky Mountain National Park via Denver (with companion)

The long and short is that I spent only a few hundred bucks on all of those flights for me and the Sidekick. Points wise, I spent in the neighborhood of 220,000. 140,000 or so came from the sign up bonus, another 20,000 or so came from anniversary points, and a large chunk also came from multiplier offers they frequently advertise. And, just an fyi…you can get these bonuses again, as long as it’s been 24 months since the last time you got it! Sooooo…. I recently canceled my personal card and will be reapplying soon! My credit is great and I meet all requirements. Assuming I am approved again, I will shortly thereafter my canceling the business card and redoing that one as well! If all goes well, I will have another great Southwest Airlines travel spree awaiting me!

Alaska: Fairbanks and Denali National Park. Sept, 2022. Part II.

Hey there Adventurers! This is part two of my recent trip to Alaska! In part one I recount the beginnings of the trip in Fairbanks and Chena Hot Springs, and provided some general FYI of traveling throughout the interior of Alaska.

Now, it was off to Denali! This makes my second visit to this park, and it joins The Everglades, and Rocky Mountain, as big parks I have made a return visit. Denali is one of those ginormous parks that is vast, totally undeveloped, and mostly wilderness. There is one road through the park and private vehicles are only able to access about 13 miles of it at any given time. Buses will take a person the full 90 or so mile length of the road, most of which is unpaved and is spectacular! At least they used to. Unfortunately, the road features a spectacular vista which crosses a continual landslide that as of a year or two ago has now become unpassable. There actually is a lodge and resort at the end of that road, but you must fly in now to get there. Anyway, I came in and wanted to first check out the Denali sled dog kennels that I missed my first time there! After stopping at the Visitor Center for the requisite stamp entry into my passport book, it was off to see the dogs!

Can add this picture to my slate of National Park sign pictures!
Ranger led sled dog demo!

The kennels were certainly a neat experience! It is very educational, you can meet the dogs, and there is a live demo of the pups. These dogs are a very vital and iconic part of life in Alaska, and have been for thousands of years. In fact, in Denali, law requires that travel through the wilderness of the park must be done with sled dogs in the winter! They are working dogs for sure, and then after about 7 or 8 years, they are retired and adopted! Heads up, if you are a passport stamp collector, there is a specific kennel stamp there as well!

After the kennels it was back to the cabin to get settled in. Shout out to Lynx Pizza, a delicious pizza by the slice joint that I stopped at briefly before heading back to the cabin. Dinner that evening was back in the Denali canyon area, the touristy spot, mostly operated by Aramark and Princess Cruises. The spot selected was a restaurant called Moose-AKa’s. The name is a play on the eastern european dish, moussaka. This restaurant is absolutely delicious and is actually listed as one of the top restaurants not only in the US but worldwide! Afterward, it was back into the park to get a preview of the next day’s hike, some more pictures, and a bull moose sighting! On the way back to the cabin I stopped at the brewery and then it was time to sleep a bit. But I was waking up often to try and catch a glimpse of the aurora and for a brief minute or two I did see something that looked weird and then was definitely the aurora! It was very brief, but SUCCESS!

Other than some birds and the sled dogs, this huge dude was about the only wildlife seen on this trip!?

The Savage Alpine Trail is one of the best rated trails in Denali and was on the list of many things to do in Denali on my first trip, but didn’t happen. The next morning I set out to do this one. The trail is rated hard, 4 miles point to point, and has about a 1500 feet elevation gain. One end of the trail is at the Savage River and this spot is very steep and rocky traversing through the tundra. This is also the spot that is the farthest a private vehicle can drive into the park and there is a small parking lot there. The other end is more gradual, goes through the forest, and also has a parking lot. All trails reviewers suggest doing the steep part at the end and bussing back to the car…I totally disagree with that strategy. This is a difficult trail. That steeper “half” is about 1500 feet of elevation gain in 1.5 miles and the section a half mile to the parking lot is about 700 feet of it! The thought of doing that going down is not cool to me, so I would suggest knocking that out right away, then it’s another mile to so up another 7 or 800 feet, then a gradual descent for 2 miles. This is a very exposed trail, easy to follow, but exposed and very windy. If the weather is clear you can get spectacular views of the beautiful Alaskan Range, including Denali from about 40 miles or so away. If it’s not, you get killer views of the surrounding valley, and you hope for peeks, like I got, of Denali. After finishing the trail it was back to the Denali Village area for lunch and then back for a needed nap!

This is the start of the Savage Alpine Trail. If you click this picture you can get a clear sense of the scale of this section. The trail start is easy to see. Then it follows around to the right os the Savage Rock and around behind it up to the peak in the center. From there you get killer views of the valley. Then you follow the ridge, over to almost the far left and then cut across to the smaller peak following the vegetation line. Then the trail finishes out coming down behind that small peak.
Some of the gorgeous colors of Denali from the Savage Alpine Trail.
And the brief moment ot Denali! This was from the Savage Alpine Trail and I actually took this on my phone which was attached to a spotting scope and it turned out pretty well! She’s about 70 or so miles away from this vantage point!

Later that evening I found a sweet Thai food truck, and then spent some time hanging with the pal living up the road from my cabin! Like the previous night, I was on northern lights watch. When I got out of the vehicle and started looking up into the sky, mother nature definitely started giving a show! The lights are awesome to experience! Protip: I am not entirely sure why, but locals had mentioned this as well, taking a video of the lights does not work, but taking a picture, or even just watching them through the camera, makes them look awesome!

I realize this is not the best picture ever but I was excited to even get it considering I was using a phone!

The next day, Thursday, was the rainy day. As such, I made that the day to drive down to Talkeetna, for a return visit! A little outside of town is where you can find the Denali Brewing Company, home of some damn fine beer and some awesome pizza (at this location!) I stopped downtown for a bit to stroll and walk down memory lane, so to speak. The weather was pretty terrible which was a shame because Talkeetna is a very pretty town with some good walking stops, and if the weather is good, some killer views of Denali. But, such was the way it was! There is another Denali Brewing location in the town proper. I highly suggest making a stop at both locations! The in town tasting room had a totally different menu that was pretty damn killer. Protip: the vegan nachos are to die for (and I am a meat eater!) I left Talkeetna and headed further south. I had planned to go up a mountain/mining road, the same road that I had traveled earlier this year and was stopped by a snow covered closed area through the pass…this time I came at it from the other side and actually did drive to the top of the pass.

Fun goofing around in Talkeetna!
I don’t generally do food pictures…but these nachos are legit. The sweet potato waffles fries and sauces were damn delicious as well…but those nachos …on point!

The top of the pass is like the rest, pretty and covered in that fiery red and yellow tundra. There is an active gold mining operation going on near the end of the pass and on the other side of the pass is the old historic mine that was the end of my earlier trip. If you are ever driving this road, do not let anyone spook you! It is dirt, and has some big holes…but I drove this thing even in slight drizzle at this point, and it was totally fine. I understand the rental agencies prohibit it, but my Turo host was fine with it. Since it’s not gravel, it was actually just fine to drive, by me! There are a handful of switchbacks, but nothing crazy, and not a whole lot of steep grades either. Make sure you are mindful of what happens if you have car problems though. I think I saw two other cars driving the road, and of course, no cell signal! The road was already closed for the season the week after I did this drive!

This is the environment at the top of the road through Hatcher Pass. I mean, really, it’s just more of the same, but still pretty! This was a rare break in the rain during this day!

This next part is probably not interesting unless you are really thinking of visiting and driving in Alaska. By the time I started driving back on the Parks Highway I was anticipating getting back to Healy right around sunset. This road is downright treacherous in not ideal weather conditions. The grooves on the road from all the traffic mean that the water literally pools without running off, just about the entire length of the road. Hydroplaning was a concern (and a bit of a reality) almost the entire drive! To make matters worse, because of the overcast skies, and also these 6 and 7000 foot mountains towering along the road, it started getting dark far earlier that I anticipated. The last 30 minutes or so of this drive was not an experience I ever want to repeat. The only vehicles on the road were me and the semi trucks, often pulling two trailers, flying toward me. Trying to navigate the wet road is one thing, doing it while these massive trucks are hurtling toward you is another, and doing it when you can barely even see the road, or the lines, is an entirely unpleasant experience! There are no reflectors on this road. There are no lights of any kind. And it is DARK. In a nutshell, do not drive this road in the dark! The locals don’t even like doing it! I will note that I *almost* saw Denali. There is also a state park called Denali State Park that I drove into and for a fleeting moment the weather was starting to allow some views into the Alaska Range and Denali was teasing! Then the weather and the light got in the way again!

So that pretty much wraps things up! The next morning, Friday, I started back toward Fairbanks for the early Saturday 2 AM flight. I did make a stop at Latitude 65 Brewery. It is delicious beer and a really neat spot. And I also stopped at a highly regarded restaurant called the Pump House. It is an old western saloon style place set in an historic pump house on the Chena River. If in Fairbanks, I highly recommend both!

Pretty outside setting at the Chena Pump House.

And that is a wrap! At the time of this post, this is looking like my last trip of the year (we’ll see!). I am really thankful for the opportunities that have come to me for sure! About this time last year I was fully anticipating two trips to Alaska and nothing more. What I really got was those two trips, plus a Maui trip, and a Utah trip! It was an awesome travel year for sure, and there might still be at least something else to two coming as well! Stay tuned!

Overall Impressions: Pros: It’s Alaska. Denali in the fall colors was spectacular. Fairbanks had some nice spots for sure and Chena Hot Springs is definitely a must do if you are up there.  Seeing the Northern Lights was amazing and I cannot wait to see them again! Cons: None that are worth elaborating on: Far away, expensive, and weather. Noticeable? Yes. A detractor? Not for me!

The Adventurer Final Word:
5 Stars!

Alaska: Fairbanks and Denali National Park. Sept, 2022. Part I.

Hey Adventurers! I am recently back from my fall Alaskan adventure! Departing from my new norm of separating National Park visits into their own post(s), this will be a singular post (in two parts, evidently.)

So this trip was actually booked at about the same time as my late May/early June trip, roughly Feb/March, so definitely a trip that was on my radar from a long time! The goal of this trip was 5 days to see the Alaskan fall foliage and tundra color changes, the Northern Lights, and hike one particular trail in Denali National Park (hopefully seeing Denali!) that I did not get to do 5 years ago! Before I get into the nitty gritty, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Now for the details! The flight pattern inbound was Tampa to Seattle to Fairbanks. I got another great shot of Mt. Rainier coming in! The flight was in the afternoon and we got to Fairbanks at around 1 AM. The airport in Fairbanks is small but actually pretty nice for the size. Getting a cab was difficult…yes, I know, the time, but this is a pretty busy airport at all times, so it was a bit surprising. Anyway, soon I was catching some zzzs in the airbnb, Turo vehicle at my disposal for the morning!

Mt. Rainier from the plane. Taken by me!

Fairbanks is a HUGE city in Alaska. As in, second largest in the state, has a major highway, has all the stores one would need, and has a healthy running water system (haha). That being said my neighborhood is about a third of the entire Fairbanks population of about 30,000 people! So anyway, after waking and stocking up on delicious Alaskan beer and quick visit to Downtown Fairbanks, it was off to the North Pole! That’s North Pole, Alaska, the town, mind you…about 15 minutes down the road from Fairbanks. I stopped at a kitschy Christmas store (because, of course?) and then afterward it was off to Chena Hot Springs!

Statue in a cool park on the Chena River in downtown Fairbanks. The whole park is a nice spot to chill and learn some stuff about the history or Fairbanks.
Obligatory sign picture!

I want to make a quick note right now about the spectacular color of Alaska this time of the year! The tundra was a fiery red and the trees a brilliant golden color. Every place I saw looked amazing! I think the week I was there was the perfect week for the colors! It seemed that Tuesday was prettier than Monday, Wednesday was prettier than Tuesday, Thursday was a wash, and Friday was not as pretty as Wednesday was. I feel like the peak happened while I was there, I might be wrong, but it was beautiful in any event! Most of the pictures are going to display the awesome colors but they may appear muted as it was pretty cloudy every time I took a picture!

I took this just down the road from the Healy Airbnb. The ground cover was pretty much this everywhere…
…and the trees were pretty much this, on their way to even more gold. This was alsonear my Healy Airbnb.

Chena Hot Springs is about 70 miles outside of Fairbanks and marks the furthest north I have ever been. At a little north of 65 degrees latitude, the arctic circle is only a couple dozen miles north! (But this is the end of the road here, so getting to the arctic is more time consuming and requires a lot more travel!) This spot is a very different and definitely old school Alaskan spot that features…a hot spring! They also have a resort, an Ice Museum, a bar/restaurant, and sundry other touristy things to do. The Ice Museum is definitely a spot to check out if there. It is 30 bucks a person which includes a drink at the Aurora Bar inside and the use of a parka. The drink is no good, but it comes in a martini glass made of ice, which you can smash outside! Now, for the main draw: the hot spring itself! It is entirely natural and was found about a hundred years ago when the area was wilderness and some guys noticed the steam rising in the distance and eventually found it. The pool is not overly large but it is hot (some spots, very hot), and is quite relaxing. There is a pretty strong sulphur smell if that bothers you. Do not expect cell signal here, although there is wireless inside the buildings. The whole area is nestled in some small mountains and is quite beautiful, especially with the colors this time of year.

This is the hot spring. It’s a spring. It’s hot! Taken by me.
This really pretty plant life thrives in this spot. The hot spring is just behind all of these plants and I would assume this area stays moist and warm(ish) all year round!
The Aurora Ice “Bar” at Chena Hot Springs Resort. Everything is made of ice.
Welp. I could not resist. But you cannot touch the ice!

On the way home, I stopped at a pizza joint, The Hungry Robot, and got a …pickle pizza…It was interesting and different. I have never heard of a pickle pizza so I make mention of it for that reason…if you ever stop by you can make judgement for yourself! The next morning was checkout of the Airbnb and the drive to the Denali area!

At this point we need a reminder on the sheer size of the state of Alaska, and the remoteness. My trip earlier this year was focused on the Kenai Peninsula area and the remote area to the west of Anchorage. To drive from Seward (where I stayed two nights in June) to Fairbanks takes about 9 hours without stopping! Also bear (ha!) in mind that is a pretty small area of the state as well! The drive from Fairbanks to Denali is desolate, though quite pretty and peaceful (at least during the day), but you aren’t going to find many options for stopping for any reason other than the occasional pretty spot for a picture! This road is called the George Parks Highway and is only about 50 years old. It is the only road running directly north/south between Anchorage and Fairbanks. The road is one lane each direction, paved but in constant need of repair, has no reflectors, has faint stripes, and of course has no lighting of any sort. Road signs are very, very infrequent. Before this road one would have to take a route that is not as convenient. To be certain, about 55 miles south of Fairbanks is the town of Nenana (population 482), a little further down is Clear, AK (population 61), and Anderson (population 177). That’s it until Healy. A little outside of Fairbanks, though, there is the wonderful not safe for work tourist spot called Skinny Dicks. A stop there ensured a morning (ahem) beer at the bar and a fun shirt and conversation with the owner!

Another sign picture haha…this place is great, and super inappropriate!

I had an AirBnb set up in Healy (population nearly 1100!). Healy is notable for being the concessionaire employee town that is close to Denali national park. There is a grocery store! Of note, the grocery store has one of the few gas stations you will find along that entire stretch of the Parks Highway, also has a hardware store, a convenience store, a sporting goods store, and a liquor store – all under one roof, it’s a veritable Alaskan mall! The town is also home to a very delicious Alaskan brewery called 49th State Brewery. (The website intro is worth the visit if you want to see some pretty Alaskan stuff!) You may remember from my earlier trip that I visited their location in Anchorage. That’s pretty much it for Healy, and my cabin was off the Parks Highway a few miles (paved), down another rocky road a few miles, then down another rocky road another mile, was dry, with a port-a-john and outdoor open air shower, and unbeknownst to me was on the same road as someone I knew! How neat! More on that later, and be sure to continue on to part 2 where I return to Denali and do some more cool shit!

2023: Off to a Tropical Start!

Hey there Adventurers! I am still working on the recount of my latest Alaskan adventure! That one should be up in the next few days (hopefully)! In the meantime here are some updates!

Our Bark Ranger page is taking off! We have over 800 dog and national park loving members at this time! If you want to check it out please visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/1110565603061011/ and join!

Now for travel stuff! In a rare change of pace (being from Florida and all), the sidekick and I have booked two trips south and (further) into the tropics! In January she is doing a volleyball tournament in Ixtapa, Mexico and I am tagging a long for a few days! This will be my first visit to our southern neighbor. And in March, we are headed to the U.S. Virgin Islands, specifically St. Thomas and St. John/Virgin Islands National Park. Looking like a couple days in the V.I. and one day in San Juan! If you have any suggestions drop them in the comments!

By the time March comes around it will be 6 months between National Park visits, and 9 months between new park visits….so stay tuned for something between now and March!

ALASKA BOUND (AGAIN)!

Hey there Adventurers! I am super excited to be getting on a plane to Fairbanks, AK here in a few hours! The flight path is Tampa to Seattle (6 hours and change) and the Seattle to Fairbanks (3 hours and change). With a 1 am arrival.

This trip is a very unstructured one with the goal to be seeing the northern lights (the forecast for both lights and weather looks pretty great!) and hiking a great trail in Denali national park (and praying to see the mountain!) but here is the framework and things on the list to think about or do! Monday is all day in the Fairbanks area. Stops to include North Pole and Chena Hot Springs. Tuesday, depending on other things to do in Fairbanks, will entail driving to the airbnb in the wilderness outside of Healy, AK. Between then and Friday AM the plan is to do the Savage Alpine Hike in Denali, see some friends in a dinner theatre show, see the sled dog kennels in Denali, visit Talkeetna, 49th State Brewing, and head up the other side of the Hatcher Pass road! You might remember from my June trip that I went up the Hatcher Pass road, but from the opposite side until the road was closed! This time would be the other direction! Cool stuff! Friday is a back to Fairbanks day and hopefully a nice dinner and a visit to HooDoo Brewing before catching a 3 AM flight back to Tampa!

Stay tuned for some updates! Hopefully I will have some more amazing fall pictures! Thanks for following and if you have any suggestions, drop them below!!

Fun Alpine Coaster at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, CO

Hey there Adventurers! Here is a fun video of the Alpine Coaster at the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs, CO! I best most of you have not been on an alpine coaster! This is my first and so far only one! They are not common it seems! Basically, go to top of mountain. Put your seatbelt on. Push off. Finish at the bottom of mountain! Braking is optional and controlled by you. You are solely responsible for your own death. This park is really fun and lots of scary height stuff!

I left my go pro at the bottom of the mountain. So the phone it was!

This was a few years ago and I have been bit remiss on doing videos of some of my previous trips! Although this year has already been epic with trips to Maui, Utah, one trip to Alaska, and one more upcoming to Fairbanks there is nothing else currently on the horizon. I am looking forward to catching up on videos from some of my previous trips this fall! Thanks for reading and following! And please consider joining my new Facebook group, the Bark Rangers of the U.S. National Parks, we are over 500 members now!!!!

See you all soon!

Bark Ranger Trip, June 2022

NPS Unit count: 54

Hey there adventurers! Hot on the heels of my epic Alaska adventure, it was time for Bark Ranger Bella to do some exploring! My mother, in Indiana, was closing on a house and moving, so Bella and I went up there, but took some side adventures to and fro! BE SURE TO VISIT AND JOIN Bark Rangers of the U.S. National Parks!

My hometown of Evansville, IN is about 900 miles from my house in St. Petersburg. The drive sucks. There’s no 2 ways about it. It’s 3 hours to even get to Georgia, then another 6 plus to get out of that state, then about 4 more hours from there. At this stage in life, both for me, and for her, it’s a two day trip. This time we stayed the night in Chattanooga, TN on the drive up.

On our way, we stopped for a bit at Cloudland Canyon State Park about 30-45 minutes outside of Chattanooga. This is a really cool spot! It is one of Georgia’s 40 some state parks and I have to say that this is my 4th or 5th and they are all awesome so far! This one definitely has some sketchiness of both drive and area to get to it, but it’s definitely worth the side trip! This park, as the name suggests, features a large canyon. What I didn’t know is the canyon is actually a part of Lookout Mountain. I guess that mountain is actually very long and has many area to explore! Anyway, as with many state parks, this one has on-leash and picking up poo as the only rules! B and I did some hikes and I got some adorable pictures of her in her new hat. She was a hit with the others there! (Of course!).

Ranger Bella inspecting the area in front of the sign.
The Ranger giving the “are you sure we want to go that way” look!
Cloudland Canyon.

I will say that Chattanooga has always been the grungy looking river town that I breezed through many times. This time though, I stopped and looked around, found some breweries, got some decent food, and was quite pleasantly surprised by the town! Chattanooga is SEMI DOG FRIENDLY. They don’t seem to be allowed inside, but many places have outdoor areas for them. I went to two breweries that were able to accommodate us. They were the Chattanooga Brewing Company and also Oddstory Brewing Company. Oddstory told me no dogs inside, but I was ok bringing her in to wait in line to order beer. Heads up. Both breweries were actually really good! The next morning we got up early to catch the sunrise at Raccoon Mountain. As luck would have it, the La Quinta I selected was literally only about 3 miles or so from this great viewpoint. Totally not planned! I didn’t even look up good sunrise locations until I went to bed that night!

Sunrise over Chattanooga from Racoon Mountain.

After we finished up with son duties a week later, we were back on the road! This time we planned on driving from Evansville to Macon, GA. Bella and I have stopped over in Macon before. Atlanta is the halfway point, but from Evansville, it’s about 10 or so hours, realistically, to Macon. On our drive down Bark Ranger Papa had some stops in mind! We stopped at Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro, TN. The Bark Ranger inspected some canons and was just cute in general! This park is preserving a battlefield from the civil war. There is no Bark Ranger program at this park, but it is very dog friendly. Per federal regulations, dogs are NOT allowed in federal buildings, which include buildings on National Park grounds. Also, this park has a cemetary. Dogs are NOT allowed within the cemetery either.

The Ranger inspecting the canons at Stones River National Battlefield.

After departing Murfreesboro, we headed back to Lookout Mountain, specifically Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, also referred to as Point Park. This is also what everyone considers “Lookout Mountain”. It is a tourist trap in every sense of the word. If you know you know: this is where Ruby Falls and Rock City are as well…however, the park itself is a great stop for the Bark Ranger! This park preserves a civil war battlefield area and it offers awesome views of Chattanooga and actually does have quite a bit of hiking in the area. Unfortunately, there is no Bark Ranger program, but dogs are quite fine here other than the usual on leash and not in the visitor center type stuff. The human ranger working the entrance even had treats, which the Bark Ranger happily accepted!

Ranger Bella poses in front of a monument on Lookout Mountain, showing off a couple previously earned Bark Ranger tags!

After getting some cute pictures on Lookout Mountain we headed toward Macon, GA. We checked in to our La Quinta and headed toward the Ocmulgee Brewpub. We (I) got an awesome turkey burger and some decidedly Georgia health quality fries (see delicious and dripping in bad stuff) and some great beer. In contrast to St. Pete where dogs are pretty much allowed inside just about anywhere I ever go to, other places, including Georgia are not as cool…it had been raining earlier, and the bar staff told me that usually we’d have to stay outside, but considering the weather, the rules could be bent ;). The next morning we went to the brewery’s namesake park: Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park. This place is very interesting! It is basically right in Macon and charts a settled history of thousands and thousands of years, up to nearly modern times, of mound builders. The park is not very large and is extremely dog friendly. They have a bark ranger program! We hiked all the trails, saw all the mounds, then Bella had to go into a cool Earth Lodge, which contains the only, or the oldest original native temple floor in the country. It’s actually really neat. I appreciated that they not only allowed her inside there but that it was “required” for the Bark Ranger tag!

Ranger Bella inspects the grounds leading up to one tallest mound in the park (we were already on top of another mound here).
This is the biggest mound at the site. There is a second mound slightly in front of it to the left. That one was pillaged of dirt to build a nearby railway….
The entrance to the Earth Lodge. Not for tall people!
This floor is 100 percent original. The spot in front looks like a bird if you are the important person sitting looking toward the entrance. The floor in either direction is tiered. If you have a good eye, you can see on the right side two levels. They continue stepping downward all the way to the entrance. On the left side is the same thing. The highest people on each side are the next highest, and the next spots are the next highest, so forth and etc. Also, this bird design is what is on the entrance sign!

Afterward, with a long drive ahead, we departed to go visit the Jimmy Carter National Historic Park in Plains, GA. On the way I discovered there was ANOTHER National Park unit nearby, Andersonville National Historic Site. We stopped there first. This place serves three purposes. Number one: it is an active National Cemetery, and while we were there, there was a funeral occurring. Dogs are not allowed in the cemetery grounds. Number two: it memorializes the dead from a civil war prison camp here. This was a pretty sobering spot – there is a large section where the tombstones, which thankfully are all labeled, are almost touching each other. Apparently, soldiers during the civil war were buried in a mass trench grave at this spot. At least they recorded their names so stones could be put up, even though they might not be in the right spots. And thirdly, there is a large open field which was the location of the inhumane prison that union soldiers were kept in during the civil war. The history here is amazing!

The cemetery is still active, but this section is all old and you will notice how crammed all these headstones are. These were put up after all the deceased soldiers were put into the trench and then covered. They don’t really have any personal space down there, but at least they have a headstone.

After leaving Andersonville, it was only a 30 minute drive to the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in Plains, GA. This is an pretty depressed area and the only claim to fame is being the birthplace of President Carter. His old school, his campaign office, and his old home are all part of the national park area. Again, very dog friendly, but no dogs inside the school/museum/visitor center and no bark ranger program, as of now! The farm is entirely dog friendly! The problem here were the bugs, which were driving me and the dog insane! We did as much as we could. It is a working farm of sorts, goats and horses reside there. Jimmy’s childhood house, his tennis court, the barns, etc, are all still here for viewing. The campaign office is interesting, and so is the school, but the dog was in the *turned on and air conditioned* car, so I was only in those spots for a few minutes. Fun fact, Jimmy and Rosalynn still live exclusively in Plains! You can drive on the road by their house, but no stopping! I also saw a mean looking suburban pulling out of a church parking lot. It could have been them! After finishing up in Plains, we departed for Florida.

Jimmy’s boyhood home and farm.

Bella was pretty tired after all of this, and so was I! She has a new bark ranger tag, I got 4 new national park units in and all in all, everything went very well!

Overall Impressions: Pros: Cloudland Canyon was the only outdoorsy spot and was superb. All of the rest were historical in nature and part of the NPS system. I am not as history loving as I used to be, but still, it’s some great history! All of them were very dog friendly, outside of the usual rules. Cons: Only one Bark Ranger tag to be found out of 4 pretty dog friendly national parks sites!

The Adventurer Final Word:
5 Stars! If the Bark Ranger gets to be a part of it, 5 stars!

Alaska, June 2022. Part 3.Days 5/6

Hey adventurers! Thanks for checking out this multi-part series on my most recent trip to Alaska! If you made it through all of them, awesome, and thanks!! If not, and you are interested, you can check out the first two parts of the trip here and here and also my entry on Kenai Fjords National park and also Lake Clark National Park!

This entry is picking up right after I departed Girdwood on day 4. I continued back toward Anchorage along the iconic Seward highway, with fantastic and too warm weather. The drive from Girdwood is only about 30-45 minutes – rather short but extremely scenic. For my lodging the next two nights I had selected an Airbnb very near to Merrill Field, the civil aviation field in Anchorage for my needs the following day. After checking into my Airbnb I drove the short distance to the Tent City Taphouse in downtown Anchorage. I definitely recommend this spot! The beer is exclusively local Alaskan from all around the state and the food I had was on point!

The next morning, Day 5, was a big day as I was catching a flight! No, I was not returning home! I was headed to Port Alsworth and Lake Clark National Park! This was an 8 seater plane operated by Lake Clark Air. The plane flew fairly low, but high enough to actually see Denali! We traversed the Lake Clark pass and landed at Port Alsworth, about 100 or so air miles from Anchorage and the only way to actually get to the actual lake. Please feel free to check out the post for my visit to Lake Clark National Park. Afterward we returned to Anchorage and it was only 5 or so, and remember that the sun was not going to set until after 11 PM! I went to 49th State Brewing Company for some beer and some snacks. (The website itself is worth a visit!). I highly recommend this place! Although the Girdwood Brewery is by far the better beer, it’s a small brewery. 49th State is a full restaurant as well. Afterward, I drove around Anchorage a bit. I stopped by the university there, and then managed to make my way all the way up to the local hiking spot, Flat Top Mountain. I wanted to scope out some things as I was thinking about heading there on my last day to hike.

Kayaking in Lake Clark! Super cool experience!

My last full day in Anchorage was a total mystery! I actually slept in a bit, until like 7, and left with no real clue as to what I was doing, and it was awesome! What I ended up doing was heading north out of Anchorage to Palmer. Situated on the Matanuska River a little northeast of Anchorage, Palmer is a decent sized (for Alaska) town that is probably most known for the reindeer farm just outside of town and also for being at one end of the famed road that ascends to Hatcher pass.

Lazy Mountain, near Palmer, AK.

I visited the reindeer farm. It took about an hour, cost about 15 or 20 bucks, and I got to feed a moose! Also, I fed some reindeer, but a moose! This place is worth the money, but probably even more so if you have kids. They have pony rides and bunnies that can be petted, etc. Additionally, there are all kinds of other wildlife: pigs, elk, alpacas (??), highland cows (??), and some other critters. These animals are not “wild.” Like the animals at the Conservation Center, these critters are either injured, abandoned by mom, or in some other state that wild living would be deadly for them.

Cool dude at the reindeer farm!
This guy looked very concerned about the whole thing.
Bullwinkle!
Cuteness! These three little baby reindeer have been rejected by the mother.

Afterward, I did some recon for my upcoming fall trip! The Sidekick and I will be visiting the Fairbanks and Denali areas in September and we have discussed driving Hatcher Pass. We would be coming from the other side, but I wanted to scope out the road from the Palmer end. This is a super cool drive. It runs next to the little Susitna River and it was raging! This road is known for it’s amazing views, and an old abandoned mine that is now a state historical park that is very popular. As the road ascended there were plenty of pullouts to see some great vistas down the valley! Eventually you come to the end of this part of the road, which leads to some lodges and that old gold mine. From here you can make a turn and head up the unpaved part of the road through the pass. For my visit, this part of the road was under feet of snow and closed! Again, bear in mind the unusual mix (at least to me) of 70 plus degree weather and feet of snow blocking a road!

A view from the road leading to Hatcher Pass looking down the Valley below.

After this adventure I drove back down toward Anchorage and stopped at the famed Moose’s Tooth Pub and Pizzeria. This is a place to have a good time, drink good beer, and get really fat! I went here the first trip to Alaska as well…it’s world famous for a reason! After waiting a long little while to get a seat, I was content with a belly full of delicious pizza and beer! Of course, now it was time for a hike! I made my way up to the well known Flat Top Mountain overlooking Anchorage. This trail is rated hard, 3.5 miles round trip with about 1500 feet of elevation gain. My goal was the summit. Seemed reasonable. Parts were in the snow. One part was extremely sketchy, and then I hit a very extended stairway, and I am not a fan of stairs. The first mile of this trail sees about 400 feet of gain. The last half mile is 1000 feet of gain and the last 2 tenths has a gain of 500 feet. And that last part is entirely loose rock scrambling and very steep mixed with parts of the “trail” under a couple feet of snow…I got up there a bit and decided it wasn’t going to be a pleasant or safe experience coming back down, so I turned back short of my goal 😦 However, There were awesome views of Anchorage and the surrounding area, so I would definitely suggest giving it a try, just maybe when half the trail isn’t under snow! After a return stop at 49th Street Brewing company for beer and some chowder I headed off to the direction of the airport.

Flat top mountain from a pretty close vantage point.
Some of the stairs on part of this trail.
More of the stairs leading upward…there were many…
View from my tapout spot, pretty close to the top. If you look at the woman below me you can kind of get a sense of the terrain. Also, there is no actual trail. Just pick your way through loose rocks. And that is after getting through that snow down there.

Near the airport is the Earthquake Park and also Point Woronzof. Those spots seemed like a good wrap to the trip. Earthquake Park is also where my first trip wrapped up, so it seemed a fitting end. One quick aside here before I conclude. The mosquitoes in Alaska are notorious and lovingly referred to as the real Alaska State bird. My first trip did not involve them very much. This trip, up to this point was pretty mosquito free as well. Earthquake Park is a metropolis cesspool of mosquito hell and misery. The park is interesting and is entirely in the woods, in a section of land that fell 30 or more feet during the Good Friday Earthquake. There are info placards spread throughout and I was intending to do a video narration of them. No. The skeeters came for me with a fury that I have actually never ever seen before in my entire life. And that’s saying something coming from a childhood in southwestern Indiana, and an adult life in the swamp that is Florida. And yes, I was covered head to toe in 40 percent DEET. I have since learned from locals that 40 doesn’t do it sometimes…so plan accordingly. THEY CHASED ME OUT OF THE PARK AND BACK INTO MY CAR. Not only that, they ALSO CAME INTO THE CAR . I mean, this is crazy level stuff here. Damn skeeters! And, after watching some planes come in directly overhead at Point Woronzof, that concluded my 2nd visit to the most amazing place in this country!

Overall Impressions: This was an awesome trip. When I first came to Alaska 5 years ago, it was a huge unknown, almost dangerous place. Also, at that time I didn’t really have any clue of how to explore, hike, etc, etc. This time with a lot more experience under my belt I had a blast just ad libbing and not being worried about anything! And, this place is magical in a way that eludes description. There is a rugged beauty here that is so natural, pure, and disconnected that it is easy to forget the rest of the world is still churning on. All pros. No cons.

The Adventurer Final Word:
5 Stars for the entire trip!

Alaska, June 2022. Pt. 2 Days 3&4

Hey Adventurers! This entry will be pretty critter heavy and if you are catching this entry and haven’t caught part 1, and want to, go ahead and check that out here! (This entry will be independent of that one, fyi). I had just arrived in Anchorage, visited Seward and taken a boat tour where this entry picks up. The morning of day 3 I got up super early; the sunrise was like 4.30 AM after all! This was the start of my hiking in the national park.

You can check out my experiences of Kenai Fjords National Park here! It’s a nifty park, rather low attended in the grand scheme of things, but actually one of the most visited in Alaska. The park showcases, of course, some beautiful Fjords and also the famed Exit Glacier.

From the Harding Icefield Hike, very early on, in Kenai Fjords National Park, not all that long ago everything behind me was under a thousand feet of ice. And by not that long ago I do mean only a few decades…

After finishing up my hikes at Kenai Fjords I headed back to Seward proper to check out the Alaska Sealife Center. You might have seen this place featured in every episode of Alaska Animal Rescue on Nat Geo or Disney Plus. Wait, what? Am I the only one who watches all the Alaska shows? 😉 This is a neat spot and although small, I’d say it’s a must see! The animals here are injured or sick and the goal is to rehab them and release them back into the wild. They have puffins, other fowl, Alaska fish, seals, sea lions, otters…all kind of cute critters! Did you know sea lions have ears and seals don’t? I didn’t! And I got to get some awesome pictures of one sea lion that I swear knew her picture was being taken and was posing for me! Super cool! Afterward, I stopped by the Seward Brewing Company for a pretzel and some beer. Honestly, this brewery is ranked pretty low in Alaska and the bartender at the alehouse the previous day didn’t speak well of it, but I thought it was ok! Afterward, I drove around a bit and then the magic for this trip really began to happen!

This is 2 year old Mist. I took several pictures of her just like this, on three circle arounds she did. She would swim by very slowly…then sit there and look right at me so I could take pictures. Then, no kidding, she would swim off and circle back around and repeat this. She did it at least three times!
Puffins!

The other side of Resurrection Bay across from Seward has roads and some development. I saw a beach on the map and decided to make a stop. At this point I had been in Alaska for 48 hours and had yet to see any of the desired land based critters! But there it was! Finally, a MOOSE. In a lake. Not close. From the car. Perfect. I snapped my pics and moved on. I meandered my way to that beach. This was not a beach. Maybe in Alaska, but not in Florida. It is more of a tidal area, but it was BUSY. This is a popular fishing area and the peeps were out in droves. And then I saw the bald eagle just chilling on a sand bar off yonder. Unfortunately, my water resistant hiking shoes are only ankle high and there was about 2 feet deep water separating me from a better views of said eagle. So, cold and soaked feet later I was as close as I wanted to get to the bird. And then I noticed about 3 or 4 others started swooping all over this area harassing other birds. They were flying all over the place. How cool!

Yes, a camera would have been better…but it pooped out on the trip! This girl was just chillin on her own. Didn’t see a little one.
I am no wildlife photographer, so this isn’t awesome quality, but still cool to see! There is one eagle chillin, and then at least 3 or 4 more zipping through the skies doing eagle things here!

At this point I was pretty content with wildlife sightings but there were more to come! On the drive back to the main road I found another bald eagle hanging out in some trees. I finished the Seward area with a stop back at the national park both on this evening and the next morning and had some awesome moose and grizzly experiences . All of this and only 2 and a half days!

Large number of eagles make the Seward area home!
Mama here let her newborn get into some trouble then came to the rescue for the hungry calf!
Now I saw these kids very near, about where I am in the picture, to a female moose that had a similar scar marking on her side as the one with the baby the night before. But I saw no baby. These two were in this spot literally 30 seconds later…kinda hoping the circle of life didn’t connect to that baby moose!

After seeing the furry bear kids, I departed Seward and drove up to a place called Cooper’s Landing to check out the brewery there. The beer was quite tasty and had some good food, but other than some lodges and fishing opportunities, this is a pretty small town with not much going on. There is river rafting there however, and I kinda wish I had known that ahead of time, so here it is, heads up! Then I headed toward my next adventures at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and to Portage Lake.

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is another location featured on every episode of that Nat Geo show! The animals here are not to be released. None of these animals would survive in the wild for one reason or another; for instance, the bald eagle here has one wing. Sad, but I am happy that the critters all have a safe spot to live out their days! The location of this place is perfect! It is right off the Seward Highway at the very end of Turnagain Arm. In case you are wondering, they have moose, elk, bison, brown and black bears, musk ox, bald eagle, lynx, black tail deer, porcupine, wolves, and coyotes!

A black tail deer. I didn’t even know this was a thing.
Bison.
Baloo.
This guy and some of his friends are the stars of the place, apparently!
Playing Yogis!

Just past the center is the split in the road that goes off to Portage Lake and Whittier instead of into the Kenai Peninsula. Portage Lake is stunning. It is easily visible from the main road, but there is an offshoot road that goes into a parking area for a lake cruise landing. I did not do that cruise, but I did walk in that area to take in the views of the lake! Near this spot is Byron Glacier. There is a relatively simple and flat hike that follows a creek into a valley where you can see what remains of the glacier that carved this section. Again, despite the extreme warmth of the air, the last bit of this hike was covered in a few feet of snow. I went out as far as I was comfortable, which was not nearly as far as the people out there before me who actually crossed the big creek via snow bridge (at 75 degrees mind you)…but I have some (I think) sense, so I hung back and took in my views from a safe distance. Portage Lake itself is a glacial lake that was not even visible until 100 years ago!

Byron Glacier. I snagged this picture from Wikipedia. The date listed is June, 2009.
In case you can’t see it….That’s Byron Glacier June of 2022, middle left…the retreat from the above picture is not as bad as Portage Glacier. This is my picture. The ground under my feet here…is actually under a few feet of snow. I think the trail technically ends closer to the glacier but I don’t think anyone had done it recently enough to leave any marks…so I just stayed here and viewed!
Portage Glacier, 1958. Courtesy of Wikipedia.
This Portage Glacier, also June 2009, courtesy of Wikipedia.
This is the GORGEOUS Portage Lake. Now….you might have trouble seeing the Portage Glacier. It’s actually not even visible anymore unless you take that cruise or hike to it. The “top” part of the lake and between the two mountains is where it now has it’s terminus. This is my picture.

I began the beautiful drive back to Anchorage. I did make another stop in Girdwood for beer, and to repeat a hike from 2017! In 2017 I found a cool waterfall in Girdwood. The hike is pretty steep but not long and has quick and awesome payoffs! This is rainforest land here and the difference in temperature from next to the creek versus only 10 feet away is nuts! Anyway, I highly recommend if you are in Girdwood!

Part of Virgin Creek in Girdwood.

And with that it was back to Anchorage to prepare for the last two days! Stay tuned for part three (I promise the last part!)

Alaska, June 2022. Part I, Day 1&2.

Hey there adventurers! I am recently back from my biggest solo adventure yet, and really one of the biggest of them all! When I first went to Alaska in 2017, I was not doing a blog at all other than the pictures I took on my phone and the GoPro videos I took. This trip was shorter but no less amazing and this time I get to really keep track of everything! I also want to take a brief moment to reiterate that there is no more amazing place in this country than Alaska and I don’t think anyone really gets it unless they have been there, so get there and check it out!

This trip is going to end up encompassing 5 (yes 5, and possibly even 6!) parts. I might be a little long winded…but this was another epic trip! You can also read about my excursion to Kenai Fjords National Park and also to Lake Clark National Park during this trip.

My flight to Anchorage was on the house, courtesy of my Alaska Airlines credit card! The outbound flight pattern was Tampa to Seattle then Seattle to Anchorage. This was an 8 am flight with arrival in Anchorage at around 3 PM. The flights were pleasant on Alaska Airlines. A pattern to Alaska via Seattle is probably the best one, heads up. The plane did pass by Mt. Rainier on the way which was very cool!

National Park 30? No….that doesn’t count!! But still…seeing Mt. Rainier this spectacularly from the plane was not anticipated!

The Seattle to Anchorage leg kept us out over the ocean but the gorgeous snowy coastline was close enough to be seen! Protip, if you are on an Alaska inbound flight that leaves from pretty much anywhere west of Houston you are probably going to want to sit on the side of the plane that will face northeast for this very reason. If you are leaving from Chicago, or Minneapolis you probably want the side that will be facing toward the Pacific. You’re welcome 😉 The really cool part of our flight pattern was that the plane actually flew right over the scenic Seward Highway, and I was actually able to see Girdwood, the town I was staying in that evening, from the sky. Super neat!

The view you can get on the correct side of the plane on the approach to Anchorage. From Seattle, Houston, Dallas, other west locations I am missing, at some point your plane is going to parallel the coast and the other side is an open ocean view instead of snow covered mountains and glaciers!This is actually in the Wrangell-St. Elias areas. This flyover doesn’t count either!
Girdwood, AK from the air! Pretty cool vantage point! The the famed Seward Highway can be seen running along the base of the mountains along the Turnagain Arm.

Upon landing I picked up my rental car, picked up my bear spray from Alaska Outdoor Gear, and headed to Midnight Sun Brewing Company I got a couple delicious beers and some tacos and then headed on my way to Girdwood! I have stayed in Girdwood before, and this time I was only staying one evening since it would make my next morning drive 45 minutes faster. I got to my airbnb, a beautiful spot in the mountain woods just outside of town. After unloading I went to my favorite brewery of the trip, the Girdwood Brewing Company. I had flights of 8 of their 9 beers…and they were all good. The 9th was a sour. Sorry sour lovers, it ain’t my thing!

Super pretty view from this brewery! Was hard to get the shot I wanted without interference! What can you do!?
Some fine, fine beers at the Girdwood Brewery!

The next morning I got up and drove around Girdwood a bit and then drove the rest of the scenic Seward Highway all the way down to Seward. This is really some of the most stunning, untouched country you will ever find. As this is the only road between Anchorage and the locations in the Kenai Peninsula (Seward, Homer, Whittier, Soldotna, among others), this is a busy road. And, because of the scenic nature which motivates people to stop and take pictures, be smart. There are turnouts aplenty, but if you are driving you need to be really attentive to people stopped on the road and crossing the road, generally doing the wrong things. It’s a legit problem and many people are killed on this highway every year. A bit of a asterisk to the next couple pictures…these were taken on my way to Seward. In the next part, there will be more taken along, or at least very near, to this highway on my trip from Seward.

Very briefly my favorite and best ever picture. Taken with my phone! I believe this is called Summit Lake.
And then, 10 minutes water I stumbled on this. Come on! For record keeping this Lake is called Tern Lake.
You will be hard pressed to find a more beautiful place in the country that this peninsula.
Beautiful spot with the flowers somewhere outside of Seward.

Upon arriving to Seward I boarded a Kenai Fjords Tours Cruise to check out wildlife in Resurrection Bay en route to a glacier viewing within Kenai Fjords National Park. At this point I do need to stop and talk weather. The weather during my entire trip was absolutely STUNNING, and alarmingly warm. I saw very few clouds my entire trip and every day saw high temperatures in the 70s and even low 80s. This is not right and there is something very wrong. Those temperatures are not even normal for the middle of summer. This was the last day of May and the first days of June…The NORMAL temps in Seward this time of year are highs in the mid 50s and lows in the upper 30s to low 40s. Meanwhile, I had to buy sunscreen for this 6 to 7 hour long cruise. That being the case I did bring some cold weather apparel. This is Alaska after all, and I have already done one of these cruises out of Seward in 2017. Despite how hot it was dockside, once we got moving, I was very happy to have my layers because that water is very cold in that wind!

Ok? I mean…it’s a huge tourist destination. It has cruises. It has a national park. It has a world renowned sealife center. It has a famous mountain race. Alaska State Flag. Ok.
The Seward Marina…but you know, famous for the Alaska State Flag.
The Tanaina is the ship I took for the day cruise.

In an effort to not recount something that I already did (although in proper fashion I typed it up anyway and it was entirely different!) you can read about this cruise and see pictures on my Kenai Fjords entry! Going back to a statement I made about people not “getting” Alaska until they actually go there – a lady about my age sitting next to me was there with a tour group, and told me Alaska was her last state. She said she wasn’t initially all that excited, but at this point she was totally enamored with it and basically said the same thing! She also gave me some tips for Seward – suggesting a stroll along the waterfront of the town. After disembarking from the cruise I did just that! It was probably a mile or two round trip along the shore. Of course, there were spectacular views of the other side of the bay and also of the mountains Seward is built along, Mt. Marathon among others. Not any type of proper hike at all, and it does basically walk right through in town campgrounds, but definitely a nice stroll to take in the bay and the mountains looming above the town! It made the news, even here, of a huge landslide in Seward in early May that totally blocked the road going from Seward into the little community just a mile or so south. Luckily, they had it mostly passable by the time I got there so I drove down and saw how immense that landslide was. For an FYI, that area is called Lowell Point, and there isn’t much going on there! To top off this evening, I stopped at the Seward Alehouse, grabbed some brews, and got some KILLER tacos at the Mexican joint next door, The Lone Chicharron Taqueria. This is the place if you are looking for low key relaxed beer spot and great food – good enough that I went there at least one more time!

A humpback showing off the town of Seward!

This was all just, ahem, about 30 hours into my trip! Stay tuned for the next part!