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Alaska – The “great land”

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Alaska – the largest state in United States of America, is considered as one of the most scenic places on earth. A fact that we came to know during our visit there was that Alaska was purchased from Russia in 1867 at approximately 2 cents per acre.

Our journey started with a surprise, an United airlines flight from Newark, New Jersey to Seattle, Washington on Saturday morning was rescheduled to fly one hour before the original time. Somehow, we didn’t receive an update in our mail but we were lucky to be in the airport on time. We were one of the last ones to board the flight. Thank God we made it!!!

When you are travelling east to west, looking at the departure/arrival times on e-ticket is another big task, sometime it gets so confusing to figure out the arrival times due to two different time zones. Seattle is 3 hours behind Jersey and Alaska, 4 hours behind.

Anyway, we reached Seattle safe and sound in the afternoon and were already running towards the departure gate to catch our connecting flight to Anchorage, Alaska. This time we were on time and boarded without any surprises. The flight from Seattle to Anchorage was good and the outside view was amazing.

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We were over Canada at this time, isn’t it a mesmerizing view. How about this?

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We reached Anchorage International Airport in early evening, the temperature was great – in early 70s but we were dead tired due to long flight and time difference. We rented an Impala, and went straight to Hotel – Americas Best Value Inn Executive Suits. Checked in and  were already getting ready to sleep :).

Next morning we got up early, had our breakfast, checked out and were on road to most beautiful ride of our life. We were heading south of Alaska, a town called – Seward. The road from Anchorage to Seward is called Seward Scenic Byway, it is recognized for its scenic, natural, historical and recreational values, the 127-mile Seward Highway holds triple designation: USDA Forest Service Scenic Byway, Alaska Scenic Byway, and All-American Road.

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Every turn on this highway had some beautiful surprise. The view was out of this world.

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The drive amazing, with mountain on left and water on right. I wish, there was more snow capped mountains :). Alaskan road department were so considerate to have these scenic viewpoint for the photographers like me every mile. Now, you can imagine how long it might have taken us to reach Seward (90 miles).

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It was so much fun to stop, click and click again and click just one more 🙂

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I was not the only one – if you are wondering my craziness. I am so grateful to my wife and a 3 year old, for letting me get down every 1000 meters to capture the beauty of Alaska but mind you – they were also enjoying this quiescent view.

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The roads were in great shape and most times it was single lane and again the views were breathtaking.

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I think we have stopped at almost every viewpoint we hit on our way to Seward. And, I am sure you will also do the same. These scenes are just amazing. July is the best month to travel to Alaska because of great weather. The temperature fluctuates between 55 – 75. It is very refreshing and fresh.

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Finally, we were in the port city of Alaska – Seward. It is a small city and is in middle of the mountains. Seward has been one of the major ports as it gets variety of vessels for their fishing business. It docks 100s of charter fishing boats, dozens of tour boats that take you to the famous Kenai Fjords National Park to show glaciers.

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Kenai Fjords National Park tours are very popular and they have tours ranging from 4 1/2 hour to 9 1/2 hours. They take you close to the glaciers and what not. With a 3 year old, we decided to take smaller tour, and we visited Fox Islands. It was a nice trip, we were able to see many whales, dolphins, sea lions, various birds and glacier.

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One of the best part of the trip was to trek to the Exit Glacier, it was so refreshing to crawl up the mountain – yes, crawl up, thanks to the kind of desk work that we do all day long in our bread and butter time in Jersey :). But it was a great experience to see this huge glacier in front of us.

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I had a best time getting up early and taking some long exposure shots to get that milky water look. I love these images – one of my favorites.

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Another Alaskan highlight is “Iditarod‘”. An ultimate dog sled race that starts every March from Anchorage to Nome. Iditarod trail sled dog race is one of the biggest event in Alaska. To get close to the sled dogs that were getting trained for the next Iditarod race was an experience of life time. We took an Ididaride sled dog summer tour where they showed us their brigade of sled dogs who were ready to take you for a 2 mile ride. During an hour and half tour, they also make you meet and cuddle husky puppies and watch a video on actual Iditarod race. It was an amazing experience, a must to-do-thing while in Alaska.

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And then we did a U-turn to get back to  our final destination –  Alaska’s most populous city Anchorage. Even before we started our trip to Alaska, I don’t know why but I had a wish to see Alaskan Moose and a Bald Eagle. Finally, on our way back to Anchorage, we saw the moose on the roadside. I so happy – don’t know why, may be due to some A&F connection 😉

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While in Anchorage we covered couple of beautiful neighbouring cities Girdwood and Hatcher Pass. Girdwood is best known for winter skiing and snowboarding at Alyeska Resort on Mount Alyeska. For our little one, we visited one of the major attraction for kids – Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Adhya was so excited to see Grizzly Bear, Black Bear, Bald Eagle, Lynk and Musk Ox.

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Hatcher Pass is a beautiful location and its stunning panoramas are some of the most photographed views in the Mat-Su Valley. I was fortunate enough to drive 3886ft to see two of the best things at that high altitude: Independence Mine Site Historical Park,  a huge, abandoned gold mine sprawled out in an alpine valley and Summit Lake,  is a small cirque lake, or tarn, reaching a depth of 20 feet. The turquoise water in the middle makes it a perfect place to picnic.

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It was a wonderful trip, a beautiful state that I highly recommend to people who appreciate nature and adventure. Finally, our trip was coming to an end and a big task on hand to pack our baggage to catch the flight back home.

While we were eagerly waiting for our check-in, we got an announcement that United Airlines flight to San Francisco is delayed by 2 hours. That means, we were surely missing our connection to Newark, NJ. We called United Customer service to move us to another flight that is on time and flying to Newark via Seattle. We waited for 3 hours and boarded the flight to Seattle to find that the connection is delayed by 4 hours. We were stuck in seattle in middle of the night/day – whatever. I hate to say that we had the worst experience with United during this trip but Alaskan beauty was worth all the pain.

Thanks for being there till the end going through our journey and hope you liked the photographs and the experience 🙂

More photographs from the trip is available here.

AUTHOR - Sri

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