Since we went in summer that meant that the sun would stay up until midnight. I have never seen anything like that so I was amazed that when we came out of the movie theater at 11:20(pm) that the sun was still shining bright in the sky. Before going on our road trip we spent days just relaxing in Anchorage; going to the mall, getting my nose pierced, drinking amazing coffee, seeing movies, going to the Saturday and Sunday waterfront markets and of course, eating Alaskan salmon.
We started our road trip by driving through the most beautiful regions of Alaska, mountains and lush green everywhere. We then went through Wasilla, the town where Sarah Palin lives, and then to a small island where my dad's best friend had a cabin. We had to take a paddle boat from where the car was parked to the middle of the huuuuge lake since the motor boat was broken...that was an experience all right. The paddle boat was fairly old and only two people could go on at a time, so my sister and I went on one then had to come back and sit on the back hoping it doesn't break, to pick up my dad and his friend. Plus we had suitcases and coolers of food. Not fun. It was a beautiful day but still, makes you grateful for cars, motor boats, etc.
After three relaxing days spent on the island, with just four people, the sunsets, canoes and board games, we got back on track and made our drive to Denali National Park. We stopped in Wasilla again for some lunch and supplies, walked around the gorgeous lake there- where people were bathing- and took some quality pictures. Unfortunately, I could not see Russia...
On our road trip to Denali, we stuck our heads out the window and just enjoyed the fresh air and beautiful mountains surrounding us. The air in Alaska is incredible, to this day I swear that I have not smelled or taken in such fresh and clean air. It's so nice especially if you live in a city like I do now, makes me crave Alaska! Anyways, the drive was several hours long and we drove through some very, very small towns where only about 100 people live. It was interesting to see how town life is in such small regions and I was amazed at how secluded they were. There was maybe one small, gas station sized store in the town and any other bigger stores were almost an hour away. How did these people survive, especially during snow storms in the winter? Boggled my mind. After several hours of driving in the most beautiful areas, we finally got to the camp ground in the middle of Denali. It was about 11:00 PM, so the sun was still shining in the sky, making it a great opportunity for pictures. We met up with two friends and their dog and pitched our tents around their camper. My dad was laughing while he said, "Careful, don't have your toes out of the tent or else the bears are going to come eat them." I remember having a heart-stopping moment at the mention of bears...it occurred to me that there WERE bears but I didn't think there would actually be any physically near us..
Another thing that surprised me was how freaking cold it got within seconds the sun finally set. It was pretty warm nice and sunny all day then all the sudden, when the sun was down for about four or five hours, BOOM! Coldness took over. In the tent we wore: leggings, pants, thermal shirts, sweatshirts, North Face jackets, two pairs of socks, a scarf, hat, glove and winter sleeping bags. Granted, I woke up sweating in the morning when the sun was up but during the night it was bloody cold. We stayed in Denali a few days, just relaxing, fishing, hiking and exploring, panning for gold and sitting around the campfire enjoying one another's company. We didn't see any bears but we did see some moose and other critters. The water in the rivers was incredible, you could just drink it with your hands- it was really clean and crisp. When we panned for gold, I was determined to find a massive nugget that was worth millions. It actually happened in that very lake, several times, that someone found decent sized nuggets. I was out of luck that time, but next time...
After Denali, we headed back to civilization in Anchorage and spent our last day or two shopping, going to the Saturday and Sunday markets in downtown Anchorage again, getting my nose pierced and going out to eat some good seafood. When we left, our plane stopped for a layover in Seattle, Washington, another one of my favorite cities in the world. I will do a post on Seattle in the future but at that time, I thought I would be going to college there. If you had told me at that time that I would actually be attending college in Prague, I would've laughed in your face and called you crazy. Amazing how dramatically plans can change, right?
Anyways, Alaska has always been one of my favorite places to go and relax ever since going there for the first time in 2001, 2002? My dad is planning on moving there once my younger sister graduates college so I am really excited to visit whenever I want. I'm trying to convince my family to go up there this summer again but it's unlikely...soon enough though, Alaska, I will be back for you!
Travel on wanderlusters! Tomorrow will start the new project with a post on Seychelles!