I waited too long to visit the 49th state and it was as beautiful as I had imagined, it was also the 50th state I have been to! My husband and I flew into Anchorage and arrived in the middle of the night, even though it looked like the sun had just set, the sky was still glowing. We took a cat nap in the car and then drove around to explore the city and had breakfast downtown. It was a crystal clear day, so our possibilities for seeing Mount McKinley were good. Two hours north of Anchorage is Talkeetna which is located where three rivers come together, Susitna, Chulitna and Talkeetna. It’s a very short walk from town to the rivers and there is a wonderful view of Mount McKinley and the mountains in Denali National Park. Driving north to visit the park wasn’t on our agenda, so we spent the afternoon walking along the river and having lunch in Talkeetna, which as of the 2010 Census had a population of 876.
The Musk Ox Farm is located about 50 miles north of Anchorage in Palmer, surrounded by picturesque mountains. Tours of the farm start every 45 minutes and you can get very close to these wonderful mammals that have survived the ice age. The Musk Ox have an under-wool called qiviut that is used for handmade garments that are sold at the farm. Since these are all handmade from the qiviut, they are not cheap, but well worth it because not only are they beautiful, soft and light, they are also eight times warmer than sheep’s wool by weight.
We spent the night at Alaska Garden Gate Bed and Breakfast in Palmer, located between Palmer and Wasilla. This wonderful B&B was opened in 2002 and sits on the hillside off of Trunk Road with views of the mountains to the south. After a generous breakfast at the B&B, we headed south to Soldotna. We ate lunch at a little spot along our drive down and then had dinner at Caribou Family Restaurant in Soldotna. Having never been to Alaska before, my husband and I had to try some halibut fishing, we booked our trip with Alaskan Gamefisher. I got dressed up in so many layers I didn’t think I’d be able to move. It was good to over dress, then I could always take clothes off, but being cold and wet stuck on a boat for hours wouldn’t be fun. We each took Meclizine so we wouldn’t get sick and I’m so glad we did, the waves were about four feet high or more. We were going out about 20 miles to our fishing spot and with the waves it took us an hour and ten minutes to get there, normally would’ve taken a half an hour. Did I mention I’m glad I took Meclizine? One person on our boat was sick before we got to our site, and then another was sick by the time we got there, and everyone on the boat took motion sickness pills.
The waves did calm down throughout the day, which was good for our stomachs and stability and made for a much quicker trip back to shore. Fishing was fun but a lot of work. Captain Collin was great and helped us with the rods, bait and with our catches, even when we would get skates, which went back in the water. This seemed to be my specialty, and they were harder to reel in than the halibut, well the small halibut that I got and lost as we brought the rod to the other side of the boat. I think I caught about five of these skates on the trip, my arms were getting very tired after about seven hours of fishing, the five pound weight on the line didn’t help. After the fifth skate I finally put my rod down, I was done. I could barely lift my arms and I was frustrated with catching skates instead of halibut. That is part of fishing, but I didn’t have anything left to hold that rod up, let alone reel in another fish. My husband did catch his share, even though we were hoping for larger fish, I think he did a pretty great job. It was definitely an experience and I would love to try it again, maybe after a month of push ups to get my arms conditioned! We drove down to Homer and the Homer Spit, high rent district. After a long day of fishing, we were ready for a nice dinner and some drinks, so we ate at Harbor Grill Seafood & Steak house. The location was great and because of that it was a little pricey which we were expecting. I had Chicken Alfredo which was a good sized portion, but my husband had a variety of different seafood with vegetables and potatoes and for the price, his portion could’ve been bigger.
Since one whole day was spent fishing, we spent two nights in Soldotna. Great place with views of the Aleutian mountain range on the other side of the Cook Inlet. Seeing the moose was the best part and most of the moose that we saw had two calves with them. A mother and two calves were eating in the front yard four doors down from where we were staying! The next day on our drive back to Anchorage, we stopped at Portage Lake to see some glaciers and there were even broken pieces of ice floating in the lake which was very neat to see. There is so much more to explore in Alaska, hiking, seeing wildlife and taking pictures. I’m glad I finally made it to Alaska and ready to start planning another trip!