Monday, June 7, 2010

Into the Archives: Alaska

(When not much is going on in my present-day Life of Lacey, I'll go back to the archived Life of Lacey. You know, that time way back when before 'blog' was even a word....well maybe not in this case, but definitely before 'Life of Lacey' was born!)

Two years ago, my parents and I were flying back from a vacation of a lifetime. We had just spent 9 adventurous days in Alaska that we won't soon forget. Well, I hopefully won't forget but I can't make any promises since my memory is dicey. But still, I'll always have these pictures. & they can't even do it justice.

We visited Anchorage, Seward, Denali and Talkeetna all without renting a car. I had arranged for buses or trains to get us to every city, and everything was either within walking distance from there or a shuttle would come pick us up at our hotel to get us wherever we would need to be. This was, by far, my favorite trip I have ever planned!

But, instead of telling you the big stories, here are some of the little stories that I remember from this trip.


When we arrived in Anchorage we had to find a way to get to our hotel from the airport. I knew we could take a cab, but in an effort to save some money and see the "real" Alaska, I had printed the public bus schedule out and knew that if our flight arrived on time we would get there just in time for the last bus route of the day. We made it on time and lugged our gigantic suitcases onto the bus.

When we paid our fare, the bus driver warned us to not slip and fall on the liquid that had leaked all over the floor. We were careful and made our way to our seats and discovered that the mystery liquid all over the bus floor was beer. Welcome to Alaska!

But, in all honesty the bus ride was very pleasant and the bus was clean (besides the little beer hiccup) and was not full of scary people. And, if that's not good enough, the bus driver pointed out one of our only moose sightings along some railroad tracks we stopped by. You can't get that tour-guidish service from most public bus drivers!

However, we were not too enthused with this particular moose. He had no antlers! What good is an antlerless moose? We soon realized that it was too early in the season for moose to have antlers since they lose them in late autumn and just start developing new ones in spring. But I didn't know that at the time so I'd like to take this time to publicly apologize to that moose for snubbing him. Apology accepted Mr. B. Winkle?


Dolphins don't excite me. I mean, I see them almost every morning when we vacation in Daytona. Sharks...well, they are exciting for a minute, as long as I'm up on a pier and not in the water with them. But the sea creature that I've always wanted to see is a whale. Whales are mysterious. Hard to imagine just how gigantic they are. (Except for that one time at Sea World where the current "Shamu" jumped out of the water and showed me his size, but that doesn't count.)

When we would go on dolphin cruises on vacation I would secretly be hoping to see a whale instead. Regardless of the fact that if a whale did come by for a visit he could have easily capsized our little dolphin-watching boat. Now THAT would be an adventure!

But finally, I got my chance to see real whales on a whale-watching cruise in Seward and it was amazing. But the one thing I learned is that we always seem unenthused with whatever we are used to. The lady that sat beside me was a local and obviously used to seeing whales and was just along to bring some out of state friends on this cruise. She was clearly unenthused by the local wildlife just as I am with dolphins:

She slept through the whole thing! With a coat over her head! She clearly was not impressed.

So, I then decided that I need to be thankful for the local wildlife that I am able to see regularly as well. I would like to take this time to publicly apologize to the local dolphins I may have previously snubbed. Apology accepted, Mr. F. Lipper?


The major thing to do while in Denali is to go on a tour through Denali National Park. Actually, I'm pretty sure it's the ONLY thing to do. Well, that, and stay in a cabin on the side of a mountain that is so crooked you can't even set a drink on your nightstand without it falling. But if given the choice to stay in that cabin or one of the nicer resorts again, I would choose the cabin hands down. It's all a part of the experience!

So, we (along with the other busloads of people) met at a resort early one morning to begin our 6 hour tour through Denali park. The tour buses were all completely sold out and since we were a group of 3, and the rows consisted of only 2 seats each, we chose to sit in the very back row which had 5 seats across so we could all sit with each other.

As we made our way into the park, our tour guide told us we were very likely to see grizzly bears and that we would be allowed to put the bus windows down and take pictures but to be very quiet when doing so. The reason, he said, was because these were wild animals and they didn't want them to get used to the sound of the human voice. Something about if they got used to humans they may incidentally get too close because they wouldn't be scared and bad things could happen. Whatever, that's not important.

What IS important, is that our bus tour guide dude spotted a grizzly just off the side of the road having a morning snack consisting of a berry of some sort. We were lucky that the bear was on our side of the bus so we had ample picture-taking opportunities through our opened window. Our neighbors to our left, however, couldn't get close enough to get a good picture so they asked me to take one for them. While handing me their camera, I forgot the quiet rule and made some joke of some sort in my normal speaking volume (with the windows still open...GASP!), and the ENTIRE bus turned around and shushed me!

Hello red face!

I would like to take this time to publicly apologize to Mr. Yog E. Bear for disturbing breakfast with the sound of my voice. And to please ask him not to maul the next hiker you see because you heard my voice and thought it was okay. I do not want to be an accessory to the crime!


This city was mainly a stop over from the long ride from Denali to Anchorage so I wasn't here long enough to offend any animals. We were here just long enough, however, to take a little plane ride to see Mt. McKinley. 'Little' being the operative word there...the plane just held 10 people, including the pilot and co-pilot.

The pilot must have thought that of the other 6 guests on the plane that we looked the most trustworthy and responsible. For me, I was seated in the very back (which coincidentally wasn't that far away from the very front) because he wanted me to be in charge of the emergency exit. He showed me all the latches and such and I assured him I would be able to handle the task at hand. I think.

For my dad, however, he must have trusted him to pilot the plane instead of just co-pilot. He had, after all, learned to drive a dogsled earlier in the much harder could a plane be? Because when boarding, the pilot instructed my dad to go sit in the seat on the right, but instead he went straight to the seat on the left (the pilot's seat) and sat down.

I would like to take this time to publicly apologize to Mr. Pilot for rubbing off on my dad for a few minutes. I too have trouble with my left and right and it was a perfectly honest mistake (which made for a great picture!).


Whew! I feel better now that I've shed 2 year old Alaskan guilt! How are you feeling? I bet you're needing a nap after reading all of that!


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Joy said...

You are hilarious! Love it!! We will have to go back one day.. .ALLLLL of us! LOL!! What in the world was wrong with the lady on the whale watching tour! NUTS!