More on Alaska – Talkeetna & Anchorage

Now for some more about our Alaska trip.  Day 3 started with the helicopter ride to the glacier that I wrote about last time.  Afterwards we went back into the little town near Denali park to meet up with our bus and the rest of the group in our tour.  They actually had to rearrange the schedule for the day so that we could take the helicopter excursion – we left later than planned due to the weather in the morning.  I’m glad they didn’t leave our little group behind.

We got a quick bite of lunch and then the bus took us to the town of Talkeetna.  The town is very small and the buses can’t drive through it so they stop at the edge where the train stops and let everyone out.  Then you walk into town.

2014 08 27 104Three rivers meet in Talkeetna – the Susitna, Chulitna and Talkeetna.  People come to the town in the summer for fishing, rafting and as a base camp for expeditions on Mt. McKinley.

2014 08 27 106The tiny town doesn’t have a real mayor but they do have an honorary mayor – its a cat named Stubbs.  We didn’t actually get to see him – but I did look in the general store where he is supposed to be.  I found this picture of him though.

Mayor_StubbsWe walked around town – luckily the rain stopped for us.  Strolled through some of the shops and the bakery and made a stop in the Brewery – Greg got some Raspberry Wheat beer and I got Salmon dip.

breweryOur group boarded the bus and drove to Anchorage where we stayed the night.  Since the skies were clearing we were able to see the Chugach Mountains.

2014 08 27 110Along the highway they have signs for how many moose have been killed on the highway. Over 100 moose each year are killed by cars.  Anchorage is the most populous city in Alaska and has about 40% of the states’ population.

Greg and I took a walk down to the park at Cook’s inlet.

2014 08 27 1202014 08 27 118We also found this statue of a whale while we were walking through the city.

2014 08 27 121I’ll have more later about the rest of our trip.

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Alaska Day 3 – Helicopter & Glacier Landing

I’m back to share more about our Alaska trip – Day 3 we decided to take an extra excursion in the Denali Park area – a helicopter flight and Glacier Landing!  Quite the exciting excursion!  I was a bit unsure about the helicopter – I’d never been in one before and wasn’t sure what it would be like – I’m not a roller coaster person and was thinking it would be something like that.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was NOT at all like a roller coaster.  And perhaps it depends on the pilot but ours was great and the flight was so smooth.  I sat in the front by the door on the right.  Greg was in the back in the center but said he could see without any problems.  There were 3 couples plus our pilot – 3 of us in the front and 4 people in the back.

Our adventure began at the heliport on the Nenana River.  Everyone had to be weighed so they could put us in the helicopter and keep everything in balance.  They also gave us special glacier boots to wear over our regular shoes.

2014 08 27 0072014 08 27 0122014 08 27 064It was another rainy sort of day with lots of cloud cover.  Up on the glacier it was snowing.  I have photos to post now and some videos I’ll post later once I can get them loaded to youtube.

2014 08 27 0142014 08 27 0172014 08 27 018The area we were in was Yanert Icefield and Mt. Deborah.  According to our pilot who has been flying these trips all summer  – the glacier that he took us too has only had around 20 people on it all year.  Once we landed and he turned off the helicopter and we got out it was incredibly quiet up there.  So peaceful.

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Looking at these pictures it was like having summer, fall and winter all in one morning!  I hope you are enjoying the photos of our trip.  There is still lots more to come!

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Alaska Day 2 – Denali Park

Had to look to see where I left off.  It’s only day 2!  Which was a really long day.  We got off the train at the depot in Denali and then went across to the visitor center for some lunch and then waited to get on our Tundra Wilderness Adventure Bus.  This was our tour through the park.  This park is huge and has one main road going through it – most of which is only accessible by the bus system.  The entire tour was 8 hours!  We drove I believe 53 miles into the park and then turned around and came back out on the same dirt road.  Along the way we made several stops at “rest areas” for bathroom breaks.  We also stopped whenever we saw any wildlife.  And made a stop at an overlook where we could walk around a bit.  This was another rainy day.  Luckily though the rained was minimal or stopped when we would get off the bus.  It did make for a very dirty bus and dirty windows so with every stop the bus driver got out – pulled a bucket of water (not very clean) out from under the bus and his squeegee and “cleaned” all the windows so that we could see again.  Since these were converted school buses we were able to drop down the tops of the windows to take photos of the wildlife.  And they did give us a snack box and water during the trip too.  Plus a nice photo book.  It is hard to capture the beauty and grandeur of this park on a camera – you really need to be there in the middle of it looking all around you.  Another thing you will notice is the colors starting to change in the foliage.  Apparently while we were there fall was starting and the colors were changing – and from what they said – fall only lasts a couple of weeks and then winter starts.  When we looked at the extended weather forecast there was already some snow predicted about a week out from our trip.  Here are some of the photos that I took.

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2014 08 26 1342014 08 26 1432014 08 26 133We did see some wildlife too.  And I was the first one on the bus to spot something.  I wasn’t sure what it was – and it took us a while to find it.  It turned out to be a Caribou.   So all total we saw 3 Caribou, 3 Grizzly Bears, 3 Moose, plus a bunch of Dall Sheep.

2014 08 26 006Caribou is in the very center of this first photo looking directly at us.  Then he walked up the hill and up to the dirt path.

2014 08 26 0172014 08 26 0272014 08 26 0372014 08 26 0662014 08 26 0682014 08 26 0902014 08 26 1092014 08 26 119This last photo shows the bear stepping down onto the road and then he crossed directly behind our bus.  I bet whoever was sitting at the back of the bus got some good photos.

At the very end of the trip as it was getting dark we saw the moose.  It was on the other side of the bus from where we sat so I really didn’t get any photos.  Hoping one of the people that we met on the trip will send us their photos.

We arrived late to our hotel that night.

There was one video that we took inside the park – I’ll try to get that posted. Here is the little video  –

Thanks for stopping by.

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Alaska Day 2 – Wilderness Express Train

This was our longest day that we had – up early to board the train and didn’t finish the day and get to our next hotel until almost 11 pm at night.  Another busy day so this one will be in more than one post too.  We woke early to go board the Wilderness Express train.  We took the train from Fairbanks to Denali.  But it goes further than that too.  It is a double decker train and the top is a dome so you can see out.  The lower level was a restaurant – since we left early in the morning we ate breakfast on the train.  The trains are privately owned but pulled by the Alaska Railroad.  Each train car eats about 80 people on the upper level – we only had our group of 34 so there was plenty of room – and if we wanted everyone could even have their own window seat.  The restaurant level seats 36 people – so that worked out that we could all eat together too!

2014 08 26 0112014 08 26 005Breakfast included Reindeer Sausage – which we were a bit unsure about but it was good.  Also Blueberry Pancakes and birch syrup.  Plus a bar upstairs for fancy coffee drinks and your morning alcohol.  I opted for some yummy hot chocolate during the trip. And there was a host guide that talked and shared information with us along the trip.

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The views were amazing.  Since our car was the caboose I was able to go outside on the back of the train.  It was great for taking photos.  I spent much of my time out there watching Alaska go by.  We traveled through the forests, past lakes, along the mountains, along the river, over bridges and through some really small towns.

2014 08 26 0152014 08 26 0302014 08 26 0362014 08 26 0472014 08 26 0552014 08 26 075That’s the whole train – I was standing outside on the back while we went around the curve so I could get the whole train.  The last two cars are Wilderness Express cars.

148729_938023419547938_5953467263398990709_nI didn’t want to drop my cell phone – but I was able to get a selfie on the back of the caboose!

2014 08 26 089We found rafters out on the river.  I bet they were cold.

2014 08 26 0942014 08 26 110Almost to our destination at Denali.  The train station was right across the street from the park visitors center.

2014 08 26 116We arrived in Denali and all tell you about the rest of the days adventures in another post.

i would highly recommend this train ride.  If we ever get to go again I’ll try to schedule us on a different section of the route.

Enjoy your weekend.

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Alaska Day 1 – Fairbanks – the rest

To finish up our first full day in Alaska we left the Riverboat and got on our tour bus.  There were 34 people in our group.  We drove out to see the Alaska Pipeline or the Alyeska Pipeline.  Greg was tall enough to touch the pipe –  me not so much.  The things that go through the pipe are called pigs – they help improve the flow of oil through the pipeline.

2014 08 25 0762014 08 25 0712014 08 25 0732014 08 25 072This photo shows what the pig looks like inside the pipe.  On the far left of the photo is an old retired pig – it was a scraper pig that they used when they first open the pipeline.  Now they use the other one to help smooth the oil as it flows through.

We got back on our bus – her name was Sable.  I thought it was odd to name the bus – but then you go somewhere and you see a whole line of buses and they all look the same and then you are glad that you know the name of your bus.

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We headed to downtown Fairbanks for lunch and then a visit to the Cultural & Visitors Center.  We found a BBQ restaurant – the northern most southern BBQ – it was good!

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And then we ended our evening at a Salmon Bake.  The weather was nice while we were in the city and at the Salmon Bake we even sat outside to eat dinner.

2014 08 25 1202014 08 25 1232014 08 25 1222014 08 25 133A busy day for us.  And that was just the first day!

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Alaska Day 1 – Fairbanks

I’m going to share some about our Alaska trip – some of what we did and what we saw and experienced.  I would definitely recommend this trip and if you go to Alaska make sure to include the land portion of the trip – doing just the cruise you really don’t see Alaska. 

We flew into Fairbanks – and they have a tiny airport – we are from Atlanta, Georgia area and we have a HUGE airport.  So seeing the one tiny building and just 6 gates when we landed – I guess we weren’t getting lost in there! It was rainy when we arrived and transferred to our hotel. Even though we arrived late in the evening (later than planned) our tour guide – Megan –  was still at the hotel waiting to meet us and give us the agenda and info for our first day.  We stayed at the Sophie Station hotel which was nice and had gorgeous flowers outside.

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2014 08 25 112On our first day we headed to the Riverboat Discovery Tour on the Chena River. This is the exert from their website and is exactly what we did –  “Your three-hour cruise will take you into the heart of Alaska and introduce you to a family who has made the rivers of Alaska a way of life for five generations. You will see a bush floatplane takeoff alongside the boat, visit the home and kennels of the late four-time Iditarod winner Susan Butcher and see her champion sled dogs in action. Be immersed into the ancient Athabascan Indian culture when our Alaskan Native Guides take you on a personalized tour of the Chena Indian Village. The Binkley family invites you to experience a slice of Alaskan life!”

Here are some photos –

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2014 08 25 0182014 08 25 0262014 08 25 0562014 08 25 0252014 08 25 0422014 08 25 0662014 08 25 0502014 08 25 0402014 08 25 050We learned about the smoked salmon, the Iditarod , and how the Athabascan’s lived in the village.  They even served smoked salmon dip on the riverboat – yum!  The young girl – Laura Allaway – talking to us about the Iditarod will be a rookie – racing for the first time – she has already qualified to race.  The race is in March 2015 – and it will be something that we will try to follow this time.  This was a great tour and I would highly recommend it if you are in Fairbanks.

The other thing we did in the landing area was go into the 40Below room!  If you look at the thermometer it was colder than 40 below – more like 50 below! 

40belowafter we came out our glasses fogged up and took forever to clear so we could see again.  So that was just our morning!  I think I’ll save the rest of the day for another post. 

I’ll also have a stamping related post in a little while – but thought you might like the Alaska stuff too.

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Stamping night in Utah Mountains

Thursday night during convention I had the special privilege of being invited to stamp with my 4th level upline (Sandy Hancock) and my 5th level upline’s (Margaret Goodfellow) house.  And when I got there my second level upline (Kathy Thorn) was there too!  What an exciting chance to be with them all.   It’s my Stampin’ Up! Family and its always exciting to me to think it goes directly to the top.  Margaret is demo #1 and Shelli’s Aunt – she is the first demonstrator!  Also there was demo #2 Janet Baker – she is also Shelli’s Aunt.

She has a beautiful home in the Utah mountains and there were about 20 of us there.  We had a wonderful dinner and then went down to her stamp room for some card making fun.  Everybody made 4 different cards.  I’ll get photos of those and post later.  For now here are some pictures from the evening.

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most of the group – it seems a few more people arrived after we took this group photo.

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View from the porch

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one side of the craft room. One card station was on the counter under the quilt. Another was at the table on the left. The Big Shots were under the window on the right.

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The other side of the craft room. two more tables with card projects on them. And a wall full of display shelves and baskets of supplies.

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I wanted to catch the sunset over the mountains but got busy stamping and forgot – so I was a little late…

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Kathy Thorn and me

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Janet, me and Margaret

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Sandy and me

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It was getting dark but the flowers were beautiful at the front of the house

We had quite the adventure driving and returning the rental car.  Sandy rented the car and took 7 of us in it.  I navigated on the way home and then got us through downtown Salt Lake City and through the concert traffic from Pioneer Park, over to the Radisson to drop off a few of the girls, then back to find a gas station and the rental car place.  Then we walked from there back to the hotel.

It was a fun evening and I hope to be invited back again.  I wish I had taken a picture of dinner – it was delicious and also of everyone stamping.

Thanks for stopping by come back again!

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