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DansDeals Forum => Destination Guides And Trip Planning Advice => Topic started by: Cheap dude on August 22, 2010, 11:33:55 PM

Title: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Cheap dude on August 22, 2010, 11:33:55 PM
Anyone have a trip report from alaska?
Title: Re: Anyone ever been to alaska?
Post by: Monsey on August 23, 2010, 01:10:55 AM
No trip report but i was there and can help you if you have any questions
Title: Alaska Kosher tour
Post by: PlatinumGuy on April 22, 2012, 03:41:36 PM
http://mim.io/2694f1

I know the guide...
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: michael on April 22, 2012, 04:58:52 PM
Was there a year and a half ago. Was awesome. Sheraton in Anchorage took starpoints, and was very nice.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on April 23, 2012, 10:29:58 PM
+1 I liked the sheraton anchorage when I was there.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: michael on April 23, 2012, 10:46:04 PM
Another important point: make sure to drive off on the side paths whenever you drive around. I found many beautiful lakes, trails, and fishing spots. Was well worth the extra time I spent.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on April 23, 2012, 11:01:06 PM
And it is imperative that you rent a 4wd which is allowed off road. The main rental agencies may not allow it so look at the local rental places as well. May be cheaper too!
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: michael on April 23, 2012, 11:04:06 PM
I found some cheap place for $25 per day. Rates went way up for the specialty cars, IIRC.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on April 24, 2012, 12:00:39 AM
did you drive the Denali Highway?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: michael on April 24, 2012, 09:37:31 AM
Don't think so. We drove south from Anchorage to Seward, a few hours drive. We then drove back and took a train up north to Denali. Wasn't worth it. If you can, you should definitely keep your wheels as long as you can, so you can choose where to go.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: whYME on April 24, 2012, 12:36:42 PM
Anyone have a trip report from alaska?
Not yet but I'm hoping to drive there this summer :)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Dan on April 24, 2012, 12:38:50 PM
Not yet but I'm hoping to drive there this summer :)
Seriously?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: whYME on April 24, 2012, 12:46:15 PM
Seriously?
Am I serious? yes.
Will it work out? I don't know yet.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Dan on April 24, 2012, 12:49:39 PM
Am I serious? yes.
Will it work out? I don't know yet.
Where will you be driving from?

Side note, is it better to see Alaska in the summer or in the winter when you can see the Aurora Borealis?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: whYME on April 24, 2012, 01:13:47 PM
Where will you be driving from?
San Francisco area.

Side note, is it better to see Alaska in the summer or in the winter when you can see the Aurora Borealis?
That's actually a very big problem I've had trying to decide on that.
They say the best time for the aurora borealis is March or September, but chances are the only time I'll have for a serious road trip is in July or August...
Also, I assume (I haven't researched this enough yet) that during the winter you're a lot more limited in the places you could get to and the things you can see / do...
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Ergel on April 24, 2012, 01:52:01 PM
San Francisco area.
That's actually a very big problem I've had trying to decide on that.
They say the best time for the aurora borealis is March or September, but chances are the only time I'll have for a serious road trip is in July or August...
Also, I assume (I haven't researched this enough yet) that during the winter you're a lot more limited in the places you could get to and the things you can see / do...
How long do you plan on road tripping for?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on April 24, 2012, 02:16:10 PM
if you do go August you will love the weather. Best of all the long days rock! We did a 9 hour cruise on friday and had five hours after till shabbos. And that was with early shabbos.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: whYME on April 24, 2012, 03:52:40 PM
How long do you plan on road tripping for?
Probably about two weeks.
Just driving time time from SFO to Alaska is something like 2 1/2 days which should leave about a week or so in AK.

Although right now it's probably closer to wishful thinking than actual planning...
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on April 24, 2012, 03:59:19 PM
if you are driving to Juneau then it may only be 2.5 days but to get to anchorage etc you have to go around through Yukon Canda which will make it like 4 days.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Dan on April 24, 2012, 04:06:41 PM
Probably about two weeks.
Just driving time time from SFO to Alaska is something like 2 1/2 days which should leave about a week or so in AK.

Although right now it's probably closer to wishful thinking than actual planning...
There was a lady on the DDFB page that was looking for someone to drive her car one-way from Portland, OR to Fairbanks.
Might want to contact her and negotiate free gas as well and then just use miles to fly back.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: whYME on April 24, 2012, 04:27:40 PM
if you are driving to Juneau then it may only be 2.5 days but to get to anchorage etc you have to go around through Yukon Canda which will make it like 4 days.
Just driving time time from SFO to Alaska is something like 2 1/2 days
According to google maps it's 2 1/2 days from SF to Fairbanks. (how long it actually takes will of course depend on what I want to do along the way)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: whYME on April 24, 2012, 04:28:01 PM
There was a lady on the DDFB page that was looking for someone to drive her car one-way from Portland, OR to Fairbanks.
Might want to contact her and negotiate free gas as well and then just use miles to fly back.
Thanks, I'll look into it...
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: whYME on April 24, 2012, 04:46:05 PM
There was a lady on the DDFB page that was looking for someone to drive her car one-way from Portland, OR to Fairbanks.
Might want to contact her and negotiate free gas as well and then just use miles to fly back.
Link?
I seem to be having trouble finding it...
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: rebdude on April 26, 2012, 06:14:52 PM
i have done the drive. if you go from california you would actually have to drive west to get to the alcan (alaska/canadian highway), the only paved road into alaska. unless you drive to Seattle and take a ferry with your car underneath. those ferries,also called the poor man's cruise, are still quite expensive. if you drive on the alcan, you drive into haines. take a ferry into Juneau. to drive from there to anchorage or denali is another 12 hours. haines and juneau are magnificent. lots to do with kids. lots of hiking, boating etc... we camped out during the week, hotels very expensive.........
Title: Summer Fishing in Alaska?
Post by: montey on June 06, 2012, 03:10:18 PM
Has anyone done this? Any recommendations or eating suggestions?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: montey on June 06, 2012, 04:18:54 PM
Thanks for the redirect. I am looking at a trip mainly around fishing, if anyone has done that or has recommendations. I didn't see anything really in the thread.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Reb Moshe on August 09, 2012, 01:09:31 PM
I just finished a 3day alaska trip. we hit up seward .went on the kenai fjords glacier tour. its amazing out of this world.
Then we drove up 7 hours to denali for the denali national park. its a must do, but quite honestly a bit boring and long for the 6 and half hour bus ride toklat bus shuttle
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: duvid crockett on August 10, 2012, 08:47:31 PM
I just finished a 3day alaska trip. we hit up seward .went on the kenai fjords glacier tour. its amazing out of this world.
Then we drove up 7 hours to denali for the denali national park. its a must do, but quite honestly a bit boring and long for the 6 and half hour bus ride toklat bus shuttle
arent u going on a cross-country amtrak ride now from the west coast all the way back to penn station? let us know how that goes for u please
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on November 18, 2012, 09:26:35 PM
I booked tickets to Alaska (Anchorage) for next summer. I'd love some suggestions for trips and especially kosher food...
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on November 18, 2012, 09:38:08 PM
Also for some reason car rentals prices are ludicrously high  :'(
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on November 19, 2012, 01:15:35 AM
Also for some reason car rentals prices are ludicrously high  :'(
Get an SUV which you can take off road or the unpaved highway. How long you going and where are you flying into?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on November 19, 2012, 03:29:22 PM
I'm going for one week in the summer, flying through Seattle and into Anchorage. An SUV seems to pricing out at about $1000 for the week.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on November 20, 2012, 01:44:33 AM
I'm going for one week in the summer, flying through Seattle and into Anchorage. An SUV seems to pricing out at about $1000 for the week.
Try to find the small companies or private guys with small fleets. I got an SUV for 2 weeks at 500 a week. You just need to research the small guys.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on April 07, 2013, 03:00:26 PM
I booked tickets to Alaska (Anchorage) for next summer. I'd love some suggestions for trips and especially kosher food...

This trip is coming up... Can anyone with experience going there share some info/tips? I want to avoid tourist traps and see the real Alaska..

Thanks
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: michael on April 07, 2013, 03:45:14 PM
I went, and I made sure to turn off at almost every exit (there aren't many) and meander around. Was awesome.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on April 07, 2013, 04:14:49 PM
I went, and I made sure to turn off at almost every exit (there aren't many) and meander around. Was awesome.

I like meandering! Which highway was that? When did you go? Was the traffic bad? Did you go to Denali? Did you see glaciers?

What did you do for kosher food?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: michael on April 07, 2013, 07:43:03 PM
I like meandering! Which highway was that? When did you go? Was the traffic bad? Did you go to Denali? Did you see glaciers?

What did you do for kosher food?

We flew to Anchorage. The highway was on the way south. Off the highway we saw awesome lakes, glaciers, bear trails (too scared to go on them), and streams FULL of non-moving fish. We went in August. Roads were nearly empty. We did Denali, but as we were only there Sunday through Thursday, we couldn't spend enough time doing everything. Enjoy!!!
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on April 07, 2013, 08:24:47 PM
Did you do anything in the south? I Assume you mean Seward. We are thinking of doing a glacier viewing cruise. Did you do that? Has anyone here taken the Alaska railroad?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: michael on April 07, 2013, 08:54:13 PM
Did you do anything in the south? I Assume you mean Seward. We are thinking of doing a glacier viewing cruise. Did you do that? Has anyone here taken the Alaska railroad?

I did a cruise. There are two of them, one an hour shorter and somewhat cheaper. We did that one, as people told us that we'd get bored after two hours. We are glad we did, as it was awesome, but longish at two hours.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on April 07, 2013, 09:50:38 PM
Just a couple of things we did in Alaska in 2010. We went to Seward for a few days and did a cruise of the Gulf of Alaska in which we saw killer whales and glaciers. We went on a float plane to view grizzlies catch salmon and eat them. Not cheap and not to be missed. We paid 300 per person, instead of 600 by going from some random place 2 hours from Seward. We went to Talkeetna for 2 days and did a flight over Denali, coolest flight ever, and did some hiking. We then went to Denali and did the 9 hour bus tour. We then drove across the Denali Highway to Valdez and other areas in the East of the state. Gotta run now but can follow up with more details!
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 05, 2013, 01:05:40 AM
I hope to go to Alaska 6/30-7/4. Anyone have any tips/ideas?

So far my (very tentitive) itinerary is fly into ANC, rent an RV (far cheaper than car+hotel and much more convenient), and drive down to Seward. Want to do sea kayaking (looking at some of the guided day trips), hiking, maybe ATVing, etc. Thinking of doing Denali on the last day (flight will prob be 10ish - is it doable?).

Any tips on kayaking? Which trip/outfitter? Where is the best place (in the Seward area) to see calving glaciers? Whales?

Suggestions on hikes etc.?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Ergel on May 05, 2013, 01:09:22 AM
Where are you renting an RV from? How much is it?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 05, 2013, 01:13:52 AM
Where are you renting an RV from? How much is it?

So far this (https://clippershiprv.com/index.php) place looks best. Pricing out at around $1050 for a premium class C incl. tax and unlimited mileage.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on May 05, 2013, 01:24:22 AM
1. You aren't going to drive from Seward to Denali and see anything in one day. The drive is very far.

2. In Seward: Do a fishing charter during the silver salmon derby. But, make sure you verify that the fish are still in schools and haven't broken up to start running yet, or you won't catch nothing and should be by the river heads on the shore instead. (half day fishing is like 150 pp)

3. I fee like the glacier cruises in that area mostly leave from Whittier, which is like a decent drive from Seward. There may be some from Seward also, I dunno. A decent glacier cruise will run you like 100 pp also.

4. Hiking near Seward. A cannot miss is the Exit Glacier hike. Pretty strenuous up to the top, but the views of the Harding Ice Field are amazing, and you can walk right up to (onto?) it. Bring a sweatshirt in your backpack on the way up even if its 100 degrees because it is cooooold up by the icefield.

5. Don't forget to include for the RV docking fees at the campgrounds you'll be docking at. I don't know anything about RV's. But, I do know there is a really great campgrounds on the road by the Exit Glacier (10 min out of Seward) which IIRC is free for tenters, and  a moose walked right though the night I stayed there.

6. There is a guy who makes hand made knives on the road down to Seward. His shop is called IRBI. He's cool, stop by and shmooze with him.

I have lots more info about the area, but my trip (3 yeshiva guys) was probly a bit different than what you want to do.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: whYME on May 05, 2013, 01:28:03 AM
If you plan on driving through AK definitely get The Milepost (http://www.amazon.com/The-Milepost-2013-Kris-Valencia/dp/1892154307/),
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on May 05, 2013, 01:33:55 AM
One more piece of unsolicited advice.

Alaska is really really big. I made the mistake of trying to do and see way too much in different areas. You really need to pick an area and pretty much just stay there. I'd say Kenai is big enough that you can do everything you want just there.

Think of it like someone from Europe coming to the "the US" on vacation. You can't go to "the US"--you need to pick a place you are going. You cannot do "alaska" on vacation; you do "Denali and area", or "Kenai", or "Kodiak Island", etc.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 05, 2013, 01:37:30 AM
I hope to go to Alaska 6/30-7/4. Anyone have any tips/ideas?

So far my (very tentitive) itinerary is fly into ANC, rent an RV (far cheaper than car+hotel and much more convenient), and drive down to Seward. Want to do sea kayaking (looking at some of the guided day trips), hiking, maybe ATVing, etc. Thinking of doing Denali on the last day (flight will prob be 10ish - is it doable?).

Any tips on kayaking? Which trip/outfitter? Where is the best place (in the Seward area) to see calving glaciers? Whales?

Suggestions on hikes etc.?
Not the best idea to do Denali same day as flight. Instead go to Talkeetna which is 2 hours closer to the airport IIRC and do a flight over Denali which is way cooler then going to the park. I did 2 days in Talkeetna and 2 in Denali.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 05, 2013, 01:38:09 AM
One more piece of unsolicited advice.

Alaska is really really big. I made the mistake of trying to do and see way too much in different areas. You really need to pick an area and pretty much just stay there. I'd say Kenai is big enough that you can do everything you want just there.

Think of it like someone from Europe coming to the "the US" on vacation. You can't go to "the US"--you need to pick a place you are going. You cannot do "alaska" on vacation; you do "Denali and area", or "Kenai", or "Kodiak Island", etc.
+1 we spent 2.5 weeks and only saw a fraction of what you can see.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 05, 2013, 01:39:15 AM
Just some pics
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 05, 2013, 01:46:01 AM
I hope to go to Alaska 6/30-7/4. Anyone have any tips/ideas?

So far my (very tentitive) itinerary is fly into ANC, rent an RV (far cheaper than car+hotel and much more convenient), and drive down to Seward. Want to do sea kayaking (looking at some of the guided day trips), hiking, maybe ATVing, etc. Thinking of doing Denali on the last day (flight will prob be 10ish - is it doable?).

Any tips on kayaking? Which trip/outfitter? Where is the best place (in the Seward area) to see calving glaciers? Whales?

Suggestions on hikes etc.?

We are going a couple weeks after you. We're going for about a week and that seems pretty short, 3/4 days seems like  very little time unless you don't plan on sleeping.

I'm working out our itinerary now and would be happy to share it/ get your ideas.

A couple things: we're using points at the Sheraton anchorage which is a pretty good deal.

We are renting from Avis: the price worked out well for pick up in downtown anchorage and drop off at the airport.

We are staying at a cabin near Denali for one night. It's a hostel that has great reviews. http://www.denalihostel.com/ (http://www.denalihostel.com/)

I found this company that takes you ice climbing on exit glacier in tiny groups. We really want to do it although it isn't cheap but it's probably a once in a lifetime thing. It looks amazing and has amazing reviews: http://www.exitglacierguides.com (http://www.exitglacierguides.com)

I am trying to figure out which cruise to take in kenai fjords park or prince William sound. This company: major marine looks good, I am leaning in that direction but for no particular specific reason. They have an evening cruise so that might work. I want to see whales and calving glaciers. I can sleep when I get home. www.majormarine.com (http://www.majormarine.com)

Anything else you want to know? Feel free to pm me.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 05, 2013, 01:47:54 AM
I found the cruise in the Gulf of Alaka cooler then the Prince william sound. We did both and they both had many glaciers but the Gulf of Alaska was a bit nicer, plus we saw a pod of killer whales.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 05, 2013, 01:50:41 AM
One more piece of unsolicited advice.

Alaska is really really big. I made the mistake of trying to do and see way too much in different areas. You really need to pick an area and pretty much just stay there. I'd say Kenai is big enough that you can do everything you want just there.

Think of it like someone from Europe coming to the "the US" on vacation. You can't go to "the US"--you need to pick a place you are going. You cannot do "alaska" on vacation; you do "Denali and area", or "Kenai", or "Kodiak Island", etc.

We are arriving early Thursday morning and leaving late tuesday. Our plan is two days in Seward, Shabbos in anchorage (got in touch with chabad there, seems like they have meals- for a fee- ) and Sunday/monday in Denali. I hope this isn't too much...I want to see the glaciers and mt McKinley.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on May 05, 2013, 01:53:04 AM
Just some pics

I didn't see that kind of stuff. but I did this

Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 05, 2013, 01:53:25 AM
We are arriving early Thursday morning and leaving late tuesday. Our plan is two days in Seward, Shabbos in anchorage (got in touch with chabad there, seems like they have meals- for a fee- ) and Sunday/monday in Denali. I hope this isn't too much...I want to see the glaciers and mt McKinley.
Seems like you can do the basics with that amount of time. The days are really long so that will be nice. We spent Shabbos in Seward and another Shabbos near Valdez.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 05, 2013, 01:53:53 AM
1. You aren't going to drive from Seward to Denali and see anything in one day. The drive is very far.
2. In Seward: Do a fishing charter during the silver salmon derby. But, make sure you verify that the fish are still in schools and haven't broken up to start running yet, or you won't catch nothing and should be by the river heads on the shore instead. (half day fishing is like 150 pp)
3. I fee like the glacier cruises in that area mostly leave from Whittier, which is like a decent drive from Seward. There may be some from Seward also, I dunno. A decent glacier cruise will run you like 100 pp also.
4. Hiking near Seward. A cannot miss is the Exit Glacier hike. Pretty strenuous up to the top, but the views of the Harding Ice Field are amazing, and you can walk right up to (onto?) it. Bring a sweatshirt in your backpack on the way up even if its 100 degrees because it is cooooold up by the icefield.
5. Don't forget to include for the RV docking fees at the campgrounds you'll be docking at. I don't know anything about RV's. But, I do know there is a really great campgrounds on the road by the Exit Glacier (10 min out of Seward) which IIRC is free for tenters, and  a moose walked right though the night I stayed there.
6. There is a guy who makes hand made knives on the road down to Seward. His shop is called IRBI. He's cool, stop by and shmooze with him.

I have lots more info about the area, but my trip (3 yeshiva guys) was probly a bit different than what you want to do.

Thanks - great info.

1. :(. Next time...

2. Don't think my wife will go for a fishing cruise. Most I could imaging doing is fishing off the shore somewhere for an hour or two just for the kicks.

3. Yes, we're looking into Whittier too. But so far though Seward seems to be more convenience for kayaking, which for us is a higher priority than a cruise.

4. Sounds very interesting, I'll look into that. Do you have any pics to share?

5. Fees in the Seward area seem to be around $15-20, so not a very big expense.

6. Sound interesting, I'll look him up.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 05, 2013, 01:54:00 AM
I didn't see that kind of stuff. but I did this
did you eat it?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on May 05, 2013, 01:55:33 AM
We are arriving early Thursday morning and leaving late tuesday. Our plan is two days in Seward, Shabbos in anchorage (got in touch with chabad there, seems like they have meals- for a fee- ) and Sunday/monday in Denali. I hope this isn't too much...I want to see the glaciers and mt McKinley.

Ok, so if you're in ANC for shabbos, that changes things because you have to drive back somewhere anyway. Still, consider how far ANC itself is from Denali. And FanOfDan is probably correct that the best way to see Denali is from the air. I spent a night in Denali and we didn't see McKinley at all--there was too much clouds/fog/smoke.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 05, 2013, 01:57:59 AM
Not the best idea to do Denali same day as flight. Instead go to Talkeetna which is 2 hours closer to the airport IIRC and do a flight over Denali which is way cooler then going to the park. I did 2 days in Talkeetna and 2 in Denali.

I found the cruise in the Gulf of Alaka cooler then the Prince william sound. We did both and they both had many glaciers but the Gulf of Alaska was a bit nicer, plus we saw a pod of killer whales.

Who did you use for the cruise and Denali flight? How much were they?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on May 05, 2013, 02:00:45 AM
did you eat it?

yes, after taking out the fish eggs
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 05, 2013, 02:01:36 AM
Ok, so if you're in ANC for shabbos, that changes things because you have to drive back somewhere anyway. Still, consider how far ANC itself is from Denali. And FanOfDan is probably correct that the best way to see Denali is from the air. I spent a night in Denali and we didn't see McKinley at all--there was too much clouds/fog/smoke.
I looked into this but it seems like flights over denali are mucho $$$. I vaguely recall about $300 p/p? Maybe more. This trip is turning out to be quite costly. I don't think we can spring for that much money. Also the bus trip through Denali seems pretty nice although it's 13 hours round trip to the end.

The Lubavitch website is www.alaskajewishgala.org (http://www.alaskajewishgala.org) and the Shabbos meals are also really expensive, about $40 per person per meal.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 05, 2013, 02:03:08 AM
I found the cruise in the Gulf of Alaka cooler then the Prince william sound. We did both and they both had many glaciers but the Gulf of Alaska was a bit nicer, plus we saw a pod of killer whales.

What about the kenai fjords tour? Glaciers, whales, and puffins! :-)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 05, 2013, 02:05:43 AM
I don't recall who I used for the flight as we did a walk in rate which was probably about 180 a person for the 2 of us. The cruise on the Gulf i had pre booked but this was in 2010 so I don't recall who I used.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 05, 2013, 02:06:19 AM
We are going a couple weeks after you. We're going for about a week and that seems pretty short, 3/4 days seems like  very little time unless you don't plan on sleeping.
I found this company that takes you ice climbing on exit glacier in tiny groups. We really want to do it although it isn't cheap but it's probably a once in a lifetime thing. It looks amazing and has amazing reviews: http://www.exitglacierguides.com (http://www.exitglacierguides.com)
Quote
While this tour does not require climbing experience, the physical ability to be outside hiking, climbing, and pushing your athletic abilities is a must

Definitely not a good idea for this out of shape city lump.

I can sleep when I get home.

I wish my wife thought so too :D.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 05, 2013, 02:09:34 AM
Wow, this really gives a sense of the sheer size of Alaska:

http://www.birds-eye-view.alaska.edu/ch2/story2-3.htm
(http://www.birds-eye-view.alaska.edu/ch2/images/comparison/Map-US.gif)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 05, 2013, 02:11:14 AM
What about the kenai fjords tour? Glaciers, whales, and puffins! :-)

Are you talking about any particular tour/operator?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 05, 2013, 02:13:40 AM
Are you talking about any particular tour/operator?
I guess the ones I mainly saw were major marine and kenai fjords tours. they Both have excellent ratings on tripadvisor.

Btw this trip is the reason I'm looking for a good but not too bulky camera :) does anyone do camera rentals?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 05, 2013, 02:16:06 AM
Definitely not a good idea for this out of shape city lump.

I wish my wife thought so too :D.

Try doing some running or kickboxing or biking a few times a week until the trip. Youll do fine!

If you want sleep you can do so right here. No need to fly 8 hours out into the great wilderness.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 05, 2013, 02:17:50 AM
does anyone do camera rentals?

I've used http://www.lensrentals.com/, http://www.csirentals.com/, and http://www.adoramarentals.com/ for cameras, lenses, and lighting gear and was very happy. Usually not too cheap, though.

ETA: http://www.borrowlenses.com/ is also supposed to be quite good, but I've never personally used them.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 05, 2013, 02:39:52 AM
I've used http://www.lensrentals.com/, http://www.csirentals.com/, and http://www.adoramarentals.com/ for cameras, lenses, and lighting gear and was very happy. Usually not too cheap, though.

ETA: http://www.borrowlenses.com/ is also supposed to be quite good, but I've never personally used them.
Do you know anything about underwater camera rentals?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 05, 2013, 02:48:31 AM
Do you know anything about underwater camera rentals?

Lensrentals and Borrowlenses will rent you underwater point & shoots. Borrowlenses also rents underwater SLR housings, but they're quite expensive.

What do you plan on shooting? Usually GoPro or P&S is good enough. But if you have the need for a real housing you'd probably also need a lighting system, weights, and who knows what else.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 05, 2013, 02:52:47 AM
Lensrentals and Borrowlenses will rent you underwater point & shoots. Borrowlenses also rents underwater SLR housings, but they're quite expensive.

What do you plan on shooting? Usually GoPro or P&S is good enough. But if you have the need for a real housing you'd probably also need a lighting system, weights, and who knows what else.
I just want a basic camera. I would probably not even rent a strobe. I will look into it thanks.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 05, 2013, 02:53:02 AM
I've used http://www.lensrentals.com/, http://www.csirentals.com/, and http://www.adoramarentals.com/ for cameras, lenses, and lighting gear and was very happy. Usually not too cheap, though.

ETA: http://www.borrowlenses.com/ is also supposed to be quite good, but I've never personally used them.

What do you think about the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Micro Four Third from borrowlenses.com? Can you recommend which lens to rent with it?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on May 05, 2013, 02:55:15 AM
I looked into this but it seems like flights over denali are mucho $$$. I vaguely recall about $300 p/p? Maybe more. This trip is turning out to be quite costly. I don't think we can spring for that much money. Also the bus trip through Denali seems pretty nice although it's 13 hours round trip to the end.

The Lubavitch website is www.alaskajewishgala.org (http://www.alaskajewishgala.org) and the Shabbos meals are also really expensive, about $40 per person per meal.

Sure, so scratch the flight. I've heard the bus ride is nice, you see lots and lots of wildlife on it. AK is expensive, but there are plenty good ways to have a great experience without spending so much.

You can do fishing from a river bank anywhere, with a rod purchased at walmart. And you can hike for pretty much free anywhere, or just see sights from your car.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 05, 2013, 03:06:41 AM
What do you think about the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Micro Four Third from borrowlenses.com? Can you recommend which lens to rent with it?

The OM-D is a great option, it's the best M4/3 camera on the market today. As far as lenses, for Alaska you'd want at least a wide-angle zoom for landscapes and a fast telephoto for wildlife. If you're willing to spend the money, for WA I'd recommend the Olympus 12-60mm f/2.8-4 ED or the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8, and for tele the Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 ED SWD or the Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8.

Or you could go the cheaper and more convenient way and get an all-in-one lens at the expense of quality and speed. The Olympus ED 14-150mm f/4.0 -5.6 would be a good option.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 05, 2013, 03:07:19 AM
Sure, so scratch the flight. I've heard the bus ride is nice, you see lots and lots of wildlife on it. AK is expensive, but there are plenty good ways to have a great experience without spending so much.

You can do fishing from a river bank anywhere, with a rod purchased at walmart. And you can hike for pretty much free anywhere, or just see sights from your car.
U will see a lot of wildlife from the bus but its usually pretty far from the bus as all the buses make the animals stay far from the road. Also you are seeing thru the windows of a bus. And when it rains the glass gets foggy. Not trying to discourage you just saying what happened when I went.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 05, 2013, 03:09:56 AM
U will see a lot of wildlife from the bus but its usually pretty far from the bus as all the buses make the animals stay far from the road. Also you are seeing thru the windows of a bus. And when it rains the glass gets foggy. Not trying to discourage you just saying what happened when I went.

Is Denali takkeh so awesome that it's worth it to go through all this trouble? Weather so iffy you might not even see the mountain, 13 hour bus rides, crazy expensive plane rides...
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on May 05, 2013, 03:21:17 AM
U will see a lot of wildlife from the bus but its usually pretty far from the bus as all the buses make the animals stay far from the road. Also you are seeing thru the windows of a bus. And when it rains the glass gets foggy. Not trying to discourage you just saying what happened when I went.

ah, I didn't do the bus. My preference is for walking around myself anyway
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: EMES on May 05, 2013, 04:54:49 AM
I hope to go to Alaska 6/30-7/4. Anyone have any tips/ideas?

So far my (very tentitive) itinerary is fly into ANC, rent an RV (far cheaper than car+hotel and much more convenient), and drive down to Seward. Want to do sea kayaking (looking at some of the guided day trips), hiking, maybe ATVing, etc. Thinking of doing Denali on the last day (flight will prob be 10ish - is it doable?).

Any tips on kayaking? Which trip/outfitter? Where is the best place (in the Seward area) to see calving glaciers? Whales?

Suggestions on hikes etc.?
if u can get a satellite phone , it can come to good use , as a lot of areas out of the city had no service , as well as we there was service it comes up as restricted
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Achas Veachas on May 05, 2013, 07:24:32 AM
Wow, this really gives a sense of the sheer size of Alaska:

http://www.birds-eye-view.alaska.edu/ch2/story2-3.htm
(http://www.birds-eye-view.alaska.edu/ch2/images/comparison/Map-US.gif)
They say a Texans' biggest fear is that they'll decide to split Alaska in 2, making Texas the 3rd biggest state...
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 05, 2013, 09:37:10 AM
Is Denali takkeh so awesome that it's worth it to go through all this trouble? Weather so iffy you might not even see the mountain, 13 hour bus rides, crazy expensive plane rides...
It's cool but just putting it into perspective. The views are amazing and there are areas that the bus stops. Only thing I would say is don't do the 13 hour one it's a bit much. If I could do it again I would have picked a shorter route.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 05, 2013, 09:49:16 AM
It's cool but just putting it into perspective. The views are amazing and there are areas that the bus stops. Only thing I would say is don't do the 13 hour one it's a bit much. If I could do it again I would have picked a shorter route.
So how far in would you have gone?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 05, 2013, 09:49:41 AM
Hope this doesn't get in the way...

http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2013/05/05/alaska-dormant-volcano-spews-ash.html (http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2013/05/05/alaska-dormant-volcano-spews-ash.html)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on May 05, 2013, 09:49:49 AM
Is Denali takkeh so awesome that it's worth it to go through all this trouble? Weather so iffy you might not even see the mountain, 13 hour bus rides, crazy expensive plane rides...

lol, I wouldn't know. I didn't plan on spending real time there, and we came on thu at like 4 in afternoon, intending to get a backcountry pass, hike in somewhere, camp out, and hike out in morning. But the backcountry office wouldn't let us bec they had already started showing the last video that you have to watch before they let you out (seriously, you'd think the different park office would have some reciprocity on these videos). So we camped in a regular campgrounds in the denali state park across the highway, unsuccessfully fished in the lake there, went hiking fri morning in said state park, and it was smoky and cloudy the whole time.

But we did eat lots of wild blueberries and cranberries. The wild berries are a big part of what makes hiking in AK fun, bec you have fresh food to eat the whole time. We had some pancake mix in the car, so we made blueberry pancakes on our pocket rocket. And we grilled romanian salami on the fire we built there. Then we drove to ANC, and stopped off in Wasilla.

So we had fun, but didn't really do anything or see anything. But it is like the most popular destination there, so there must be something to it. See what people are saying elsewhere. We were more interested in wilderness than cool stuff, so we didn't really care to hang out there anyway.

(sorry, I'm not a pic person, you've seen just about all my AK pics)

ETA: No, here is me standing  underneath the Exit Glacier inside an ice cave. The hazard of this activity is that this is a live glacier, and huge chunks can start moving at any time (glaciers actually flow downwards, and are always shifting as the weight from above pushes the ice down). There was a sign that threatened a 5k fine for going past a rope that was set up, but I didn't see no park rangers around shall we say.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 05, 2013, 10:34:19 AM
Hope this doesn't get in the way...

http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2013/05/05/alaska-dormant-volcano-spews-ash.html (http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2013/05/05/alaska-dormant-volcano-spews-ash.html)

Oh wow, perfect timing. I don't think it'll be an issue for us though, Cleveland is supposedly a fairly low threat volcano. Even the Alaska Volano Observatory is not predicting a plume over 20000 feet, which is far below the 30000 needed to interfere with air traffic. And even if it does, it probably won't last long enough to get in our way. Even that unpronounceable volcano in Iceland only disrupted traffic for about two weeks.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 05, 2013, 11:41:24 AM
The OM-D is a great option, it's the best M4/3 camera on the market today. As far as lenses, for Alaska you'd want at least a wide-angle zoom for landscapes and a fast telephoto for wildlife. If you're willing to spend the money, for WA I'd recommend the Olympus 12-60mm f/2.8-4 ED or the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8, and for tele the Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 ED SWD or the Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8.

Or you could go the cheaper and more convenient way and get an all-in-one lens at the expense of quality and speed. The Olympus ED 14-150mm f/4.0 -5.6 would be a good option.

Thanks so much for this info. I think $120 for a rental is good deal since there's no way I could afford the $1000+ to buy it. It would kill me to take a trip to alaska and come away with so so pics. I just hope it's not too heavy/bulky.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 06, 2013, 01:03:37 PM
The OM-D is a great option, it's the best M4/3 camera on the market today. As far as lenses, for Alaska you'd want at least a wide-angle zoom for landscapes and a fast telephoto for wildlife. If you're willing to spend the money, for WA I'd recommend the Olympus 12-60mm f/2.8-4 ED or the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8, and for tele the Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 ED SWD or the Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8.

Or you could go the cheaper and more convenient way and get an all-in-one lens at the expense of quality and speed. The Olympus ED 14-150mm f/4.0 -5.6 would be a good option.

I was looking at the Sony Nex 6 and Nex 7. They are roughly the same price and have great ratings. Since they are so much lighter, is there any reason not to go with those over the olympus? I notice that they only accept Sony E-Mount lenses...
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 06, 2013, 01:42:21 PM
I was looking at the Sony Nex 6 and Nex 7. They are roughly the same price and have great ratings. Since they are so much lighter, is there any reason not to go with those over the olympus? I notice that they only accept Sony E-Mount lenses...

That's the issue exactly. While with M4/3 you have a huge selection of fast, pro-level zooms, there is nothing to speak of in NEX. No solid wide angles, no solid teles. The 18-200 is not bad, but a) is pretty big, b) it's slow, c) it's typical superzoom quality, and d), its only an effective 300mm vs. 400mm on M4/3.

Of course you could mount any full size (SLR) A-mount lens with an adapter, but then you're defeating the entire purpose of the NEX.

I think the OMD will serve you better in every way. It's what I would've gotten.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 06, 2013, 02:12:07 PM
That's the issue exactly. While with M4/3 you have a huge selection of fast, pro-level zooms, there is nothing to speak of in NEX. No solid wide angles, no solid teles. The 18-200 is not bad, but a) is pretty big, b) it's slow, c) it's typical superzoom quality, and d), its only an effective 300mm vs. 400mm on M4/3.

Of course you could mount any full size (SLR) A-mount lens with an adapter, but then you're defeating the entire purpose of the NEX.

I think the OMD will serve you better in every way. It's what I would've gotten.

Thanks. I am going to weigh it against the weight issue because I hate schlepping around bulky heavy things when I travel. I don't want it to drag on my trip.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 06, 2013, 02:15:42 PM
Thanks. I am going to weigh it against the weight issue because I hate schlepping around bulky heavy things when I travel. I don't want it to drag on my trip.

The NEX 7 is 4.7oz less than the OM-D. It's not a lot.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 11, 2013, 11:19:02 PM
I just got the Fodors Alaska guide and reading through it there are so many things I'd love to add to our itinerary. The town of Whittier sounds really cool. And taking a flightseeing tour of Denali sounds amazing.

Can anyone recommend whether to take the glacier tour of Prince Willam Sound or of Kenai Fjiords Nat'l park? They both sound great.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 11, 2013, 11:25:50 PM
Would anyone eat here? 

http://northjew.blogspot.com/2007_04_01_archive.html (http://northjew.blogspot.com/2007_04_01_archive.html)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 11, 2013, 11:28:46 PM
Can anyone recommend whether to take the glacier tour of Prince Willam Sound or of Kenai Fjiords Nat'l park? They both sound great.

This is exactly the question I was busy with all of last week, and still don't have a clear answer. From all my researching, it seems that PWS is better for glacier viewing, while KFNP is better for wildlife viewing. But KFNP has Bear Glacier, which is supposed to be even more awesome than the ones in PWS, although harder to get to.

This is compounded with the fact that I want to both go on a tour and go sea kayaking to the glaciers, and can't seem to decide where to do what. I don't even know if it worth it to do both.

Anyone have any ideas?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 11, 2013, 11:32:58 PM
Also, as I understand it, there's nothing to do in Whittier besides for the PWS tours (although the tunnel getting in is cool). In Seward there's hiking (Exit Glacier, Marathon Mountain) and the Sea Life Center. Whittier is not much more than an old military base, while Seward is a beautiful little town.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 12, 2013, 12:18:57 AM
Whittier is really pretty and cool. That being said I did a tour in the PWS and at Kenai Fjords, I did a 9 hour cruise at Kenai and found it a lot better then PWS although the PWS was also incredible.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 12, 2013, 12:21:23 AM
Whittier is really pretty and cool. That being said I did a tour in the PWS and at Kenai Fjords, I did a 9 hour cruise at Kenai and found it a lot better then PWS although the PWS was also incredible.

In what way was it better? And what time of the year was did you go?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 12, 2013, 12:28:03 AM
In what way was it better? And what time of the year was did you go?
I went in July. There was way more wildlife, including a whole pod of killer whales jumping in and out of the water. We also saw huge humpback whales breach next to the boat. We didn't see any of that in PWS just sea otters. The glaciers that we saw in the PWS were really nice but so were the ones at the Kenai Fjords. Make sure to pick a long cruise it's worth the extra time and money.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 12, 2013, 12:39:27 AM
I went in July. There was way more wildlife, including a whole pod of killer whales jumping in and out of the water. We also saw huge humpback whales breach next to the boat. We didn't see any of that in PWS just sea otters. The glaciers that we saw in the PWS were really nice but so were the ones at the Kenai Fjords. Make sure to pick a long cruise it's worth the extra time and money.

Why is it that simple answer on DDF could yield more concrete and useful info than a week of googling? :D

I think you just settled the issue for me.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 12, 2013, 12:47:41 AM
Why is it that simple answer on DDF could yield more concrete and useful info than a week of googling? :D

I think you just settled the issue for me.
Happy to have helped :)

I wanted to point out that not all the cruises on the Kenai Fjords go to the glaciers so make sure to pick a good one. The PWS is all about glaciers but Kenai has them too and if you pick only one for sure just to Kenai. We actually saw one calve which means to drop off a huge chunk of the glacier into the water. It sounded like firecrackers!

Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 12, 2013, 12:48:09 AM
Why is it that simple answer on DDF could yield more concrete and useful info than a week of googling? :D

I think you just settled the issue for me.

WAIT! Don't settle it until you watch this video: It looks so amazing.
http://bcove.me/o9ve0knm (http://bcove.me/o9ve0knm)


Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 12, 2013, 12:49:43 AM
WAIT! Don't settle it until you watch this video: It looks so amazing.
http://bcove.me/o9ve0knm (http://bcove.me/o9ve0knm)
Bringing back good memories  :)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 12, 2013, 12:52:46 AM
From Kenai Fjords ( just picked random picks I need to find the good ones)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 12, 2013, 12:52:51 AM
Before you decide, figure out which part of PWS Fan of Dan toured. Another difference seems to be that PWS has much calmer water. I think I'm tilting toward PWS for now, even though was almost decided on Kenai.

As far as Seward goes, I plan on (hopefully) taking the exit glacier ice climbing tour from exit glacier guides which sounds like an amazing adventure.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 12, 2013, 12:53:46 AM
WAIT! Don't settle it until you watch this video: It looks so amazing.
http://bcove.me/o9ve0knm (http://bcove.me/o9ve0knm)

Darn it. You had to do that, did you ;)?

On the other hand, this video (http://www.supthemag.com/features/from-the-mag-exploring-the-frozen-frontier/) was taken out of Seward...
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 12, 2013, 12:54:22 AM
SF - What type of outerwear do you plan on bringing? It might get very cold/wet.

I think if you have very limited time you might consider taking the flightseeing tour of Denali instead of going in.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 12, 2013, 12:57:01 AM
Before you decide, figure out which part of PWS Fan of Dan toured. Another difference seems to be that PWS has much calmer water. I think I'm tilting toward PWS for now, even though was almost decided on Kenai.

As far as Seward goes, I plan on (hopefully) taking the exit glacier ice climbing tour from exit glacier guides which sounds like an amazing adventure.
I went to the PWS out of Whittier. Don't get me wrong I loved it and I would certainly reccomend it, just not over Kenai Fjords. The water in PWS is calmer as it's more sheltered but that is why there is less wildlife. We took dramamin which is a must for the Kenai fjords.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 12, 2013, 01:01:55 AM
SF - What type of outerwear do you plan on bringing? It might get very cold/wet.

No idea, didn't get that far in my planning yet. Any recommendations?

I think if you have very limited time you might consider taking the flightseeing tour of Denali instead of going in.

Yeah, doesn't look like Denali's gonna happen at this point.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 12, 2013, 01:02:23 AM
I went to the PWS out of Whittier. Don't get me wrong I loved it and I would certainly reccomend it, just not over Kenai Fjords. The water in PWS is calmer as it's more sheltered but that is why there is less wildlife. We took dramamin which is a must for the Kenai fjords.

How bout a TR?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 12, 2013, 01:04:27 AM
How bout a TR?
I can try. Its almost 3 years so I won't get it all in but we can attempt it if you want.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 12, 2013, 01:05:15 AM

On the other hand, this video (http://www.supthemag.com/features/from-the-mag-exploring-the-frozen-frontier/) was taken out of Seward...

Darn it. You had to do that, did you ;)?
I want to do that now.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 12, 2013, 01:05:34 AM
I can try. Its almost 3 years so I won't get it all in but we can attempt it if you want.

Please do, I'd love to see it.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 12, 2013, 01:07:50 AM
No idea, didn't get that far in my planning yet. Any recommendations?

Not sure. I'm still trying to figure out camera, binoculars and whether to bring a burner to cook food.

What I really want to know is if I can (halachically) buy a wild salmon in a fish market and cook it for dinner.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 12, 2013, 01:12:08 AM
Btw I highly recommend Fodors Alaska  guide. I got mine from the library, there were two slightly older versions that are probably just as good.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 12, 2013, 01:14:35 AM
What I really want to know is if I can (halachically) buy a wild salmon in a fish market and cook it for dinner.
I did that once in New Foundland but I was with my father who knew exactly what to do. This summer I am going to Bali and there is zero kosher food on the entire island but they sell a lot of fresh fish so I am thinking about it.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: sky121 on May 12, 2013, 01:15:59 AM
Quote from: yehuda S link=topic=3395.msg1#msg1 date=1368335270

What I really want to know is if I can (halachically) buy a wild salmon in a fish market and cook it for dinner.
[/quote

I would.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 12, 2013, 01:17:25 AM
Not sure. I'm still trying to figure out camera, binoculars and whether to bring a burner to cook food.

What I really want to know is if I can (halachically) buy a wild salmon in a fish market and cook it for dinner.

I imagine you could, but I'll be asking a Rav myself to confirm. I'm actually thinking of trying to fish one myself.

Btw I highly recommend Fodors Alaska  guide. I got mine from the library, there were two slightly older versions that are probably just as good.

Considering that the Kenai Penn. is a relatively tiny part of the state, don't you think it's better to get on something focuses on just the Kenai area?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 12, 2013, 01:27:23 AM
http://www.alaska.org/advice/kosher-travel-in-alaska (http://www.alaska.org/advice/kosher-travel-in-alaska)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 12, 2013, 01:28:58 AM
I imagine you could, but I'll be asking a Rav myself to confirm. I'm actually thinking of trying to fish one myself.

I was referring to an issue i heard about- worms in the wild fish.

Considering that the Kenai Penn. is a relatively tiny part of the state, don't you think it's better to get on something focuses on just the Kenai area?
I guess but i think this one covers what you need to know for the four days. Where are you going to be staying?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 12, 2013, 01:40:02 AM
Where are you going to be staying?

RV.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 12, 2013, 01:46:44 AM
RV.
Cool. did you ever do that before?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 12, 2013, 01:47:40 AM
Alaska trip report, Disclaimer I did this 3 years ago so trying my best to get it right.

I planned this whole trip with my wife pretty last minute but it ended up working out really nicely.

We landed in the evening in Anchorage and rented a jeep from a local guy so that we could drive the Denali highway which you can't do without a jeep. We payed about 900 for 2 weeks. We spent the night in Anchorage. The next day we drove to Whittier and did a nice cruise of the Price William sound. We saw many glaciers and a few sea otters. Was really cold as Alaska can be when you are on the water so bring rain gear etc. We loved driving thru the tunnel and found the town small but quaint. We then drove to Seward.

The next day we drove to Homer AK to catch a float plane to some remote national park to see Grizzly bears catch fish. Was really cool taking off and landing from the water. We paid 300 per person which is why we did it out of Homer which was a 2 hour drive away. From the touristy areas they start at 600 pp. Was the coolest part of our trip. We saw many many grizziles swimming in the water all around us (some were less the 5 feet away!). A few of them had cubs and it was really something you gotta do one day. You can see the salmon swimming in the water, and when they get caught the bears just gobble them up!

The next day we did a 9 hour tour of Kenai Fjords. It was a Friday but we got back at 5 and Shabbos wasn't until 10 so that was not an issue. We saw humpback whales, killer whales and a lot of other wild animals as well. We saw glaciers and the coolest scenery and it was well worth it. Make sure to take something for the rough seas, the ships sell them and if you take before you leave you wil be fine.

Shabbos we walked around Seward and played games till Shabbos was over at around midnight!! We stayed right by the water so we got to watch the bald eagles and otters hang out right near where we were staying.

Sunday we drove up to Talkeetna, stopping many times along the 4 hour drive. we then checked into out log cabin deep in the woods. We did a small hike and just walked around town a bit. The town has a real charm. The next day we did a flight over Denali which was super cool and did another nice hike. Note that we had bear spray as the area has many bears. A few hikers were mauled the next year in Talkeetna so go prepared.

Tuesday we drove to Denali and did another hike near the cabin we had rented. The scenery was out of this world and even just the drive up to Denali was for the books. Our cabin had a balcony overlooking a huge river and was right next to the park.  Wednesdat we did the Kantishna bus into Denali park. It was very cool however we found it to be a bit long. There was a lot of animals but they were all far from the road and we were spoiled from our bear viewing experience so we were not as impressed. The mountains were really cool but seeing Denali from the flight was a lot cooler. It's still worth going into the park just to experience the vastness of the area.

Thursday we drove across the Denali highway to the Copper river princess lodge http://www.princesslodges.com/copper-river-lodge.cfm . The drive was on this rugged highway which you can only do with a jeep. Took a couple of hours but was from the more scenic drives in AK. As you can imagine there werent to many other cars out on the road. Friday we drove on a dirt road thru Wrangell-St. Elias national park. We only went in about 35 miles which is as far as you can go, but the drive was over 2 hours. Hard to describe how amazing it was. The park has the largest concentration of high peaks anywhere in North America and you see them along the whole drive. Pretty scary driving but was worth every minute of it. The whole area has less tourists but it's still on the tourist route so you don't feel like you are out of it.

Shabbos was very relaxing in the wilderness lodge. There is a huge sitting area in the back overlooking this huge valley and perfect mountain range in the background. The lodge caters mostly to cruise passengers so it's really nice. We booked our room through princess cruises.

Sunday we drove to Valdez to watch the ships and see the bay which was really pleasant. The drive from Copper River to Valdez has these huge mountain passes which was one of the reasons we did it. Valdez itself was also just a fun place to walk around. We then drove about 6 hours to Anchorage, stopping many times along the way. We went hiking on a glacier which was really cool. IIRC that night we flew back home.

We did many more small things while we were there, mainly stops along the way that caught our eye. We also tried finding Sara Palin in Wasilla (that was when she was still big) but we couldn't find her.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 12, 2013, 01:49:27 AM
Is this worth anything? Two for one coupons!
http://www.alaska-discounts.com/ (http://www.alaska-discounts.com/)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 12, 2013, 03:43:55 AM
Alaska trip report, Disclaimer I did this 3 years ago so trying my best to get it right.

Awesome report, thanks! Added to the wiki (http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=2882.0).

The next day we drove to Homer AK to catch a float plane to some remote national park to see Grizzly bears catch fish. Was really cool taking off and landing from the water. We paid 300 per person which is why we did it out of Homer which was a 2 hour drive away. From the touristy areas they start at 600 pp. Was the coolest part of our trip. We saw many many grizziles swimming in the water all around us (some were less the 5 feet away!). A few of them had cubs and it was really something you gotta do one day. You can see the salmon swimming in the water, and when they get caught the bears just gobble them up!

Do you remember if the was Katmai National Park? Or was it Kodiak Island?

Friday we drove on a dirt road thru Wrangell-St. Elias national park. We only went in about 35 miles which is as far as you can go, but the drive was over 2 hours. Hard to describe how amazing it was. The park has the largest concentration of high peaks anywhere in North America and you see them along the whole drive. Pretty scary driving but was worth every minute of it. The whole area has less tourists but it's still on the tourist route so you don't feel like you are out of it.

I'd love to do this, but my wife hates just driving around. She has to do stuff. Did you do anything in Wrangell-St. Elias besides driving around?

We also tried finding Sara Palin in Wasilla (that was when she was still big) but we couldn't find her.

Pity, you could've gotten a look at Russia from there too...  ;D
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 12, 2013, 08:40:47 AM
Great report! Thanks for writing it!

Couple of Qs: do you recommend driving through Wrangel St Elias over Denali? Also, I rented an SUV, do you think I can drive the dirt roads or does it have to be a jeep?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 12, 2013, 09:09:42 AM
Awesome report, thanks! Added to the wiki (http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=2882.0).

Do you remember if the was Katmai National Park? Or was it Kodiak Island?

I'd love to do this, but my wife hates just driving around. She has to do stuff. Did you do anything in Wrangell-St. Elias besides driving around?

Pity, you could've gotten a look at Russia from there too...  ;D
Happy you liked the TR wouldn't have done it had you not asked  :)

It was Katmai national park. Didn't recall name until you mentioned it. Oh we went ATV'ing in Denali cause my wife needs to do stuff! Forgot to put that in the TR!

At the Wrangel st Elias when we got to the end of the road there is a bridge you walk across and then we caught a shuttle to this old copper mine which was really cool! There is a lot of camping going on there which makes for good pics with the mountains in the background. The road we took into Wrangell st Elias was the McCarthy Road. On the way we saw a flipped over car which was a good reminder to drive safely!
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 12, 2013, 09:14:49 AM
Great report! Thanks for writing it!

Couple of Qs: do you recommend driving through Wrangel St Elias over Denali? Also, I rented an SUV, do you think I can drive the dirt roads or does it have to be a jeep?
Pleasure,

Wrangell St elia is way more Alaskan than Denali because it's more rugged with a  lot less tourists. You can also drive it yourself. The views from Denali are way more expansive and you realize how small we really are while at Wrangell St elias you will see cooler peaks without a question. It's not as vast and open until you get till the copper mine which will blow you away. It's hard to reccomend one over the other they are both really amazing. Denali does have animals although not always so close. I for sure enjoyed Wrangel more.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 12, 2013, 09:18:51 AM
Here is something to help with the cruise decision: http://www.alaska.org/advice/kenai-fjords-vs-prince-william-sound (http://www.alaska.org/advice/kenai-fjords-vs-prince-william-sound)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 12, 2013, 09:24:07 AM
Here is something to help with the cruise decision: http://www.alaska.org/advice/kenai-fjords-vs-prince-william-sound (http://www.alaska.org/advice/kenai-fjords-vs-prince-william-sound)
They hit it on the head. Note that on the longer tours at Kenai you will also see many many glaciers but not so much on the shorter.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 12, 2013, 09:25:51 AM
I just remembered that we did the bear viewing from a place called Soldotna which is a lot closer than Homer to Seward.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: mow on May 12, 2013, 09:38:17 AM
IMO Denali park is overrated
The side roads are beautiful ask the locals where the nice ones are .took one from east to west not sure the name .
The glacier cruise out of the city called Whittier is from the nicest things I have ever seen really worth it .
Bear viewing is really cool ( but expensive ) small propeller flight , land in water , see bears eating salmon , 50 feet away from them .
You can climb glaciers .
Make sure you plan very well as lodging is very tough and expensive
For Shabbos we stayed in anchorage and ate by the rabbis house fri night really impressed with him .
And Shabbos day ate in the shul with the community .
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 12, 2013, 10:28:30 AM
Cool. did you ever do that before?

Nope, never. Wanted to it for the longest time though.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 12, 2013, 01:48:57 PM
Nope, never. Wanted to it for the longest time though.
Do you know how to hook it up and all that?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 12, 2013, 01:59:19 PM
Do you know how to hook it up and all that?

No, but I daresay I'll figure it out ;).

They also give you an orientation class when you pick it up.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 12, 2013, 02:05:18 PM
No, but I daresay I'll figure it out ;).

They also give you an orientation class when you pick it up.
My wife would never go for it although it seems like so much fun. Would love to try it oneday....
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 12, 2013, 03:21:21 PM
http://www.groupon.com/deals/knik-river-lodge-palmer-1?pt=aUY_CTTAAAADC4f2OKFb2BFK5gAxOX72b (http://www.groupon.com/deals/knik-river-lodge-palmer-1?pt=aUY_CTTAAAADC4f2OKFb2BFK5gAxOX72b)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 12, 2013, 03:43:31 PM
http://www.groupon.com/deals/knik-river-lodge-palmer-1?pt=aUY_CTTAAAADC4f2OKFb2BFK5gAxOX72b (http://www.groupon.com/deals/knik-river-lodge-palmer-1?pt=aUY_CTTAAAADC4f2OKFb2BFK5gAxOX72b)
The ones that go to Denali also do glacier landings although that price is excellent!!
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 12, 2013, 04:07:54 PM
http://www.groupon.com/deals/knik-river-lodge-palmer-1?pt=aUY_CTTAAAADC4f2OKFb2BFK5gAxOX72b (http://www.groupon.com/deals/knik-river-lodge-palmer-1?pt=aUY_CTTAAAADC4f2OKFb2BFK5gAxOX72b)

Meh. $159 for a 30 minute flight and a 20 minute glacier hike doesn't seem worth it. I'd rather pay more for a plane over Denali, these last longer. It also leaves from Knik River Lodge, which is totally out of the way for me.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 12, 2013, 08:42:41 PM
Meh. $159 for a 30 minute flight and a 20 minute glacier hike doesn't seem worth it. I'd rather pay more for a plane over Denali, these last longer. It also leaves from Knik River Lodge, which is totally out of the way for me.
We didn't do a glacier landing at Denali as it was way more expensive. We did do it by chopper in New zealand though, which was very cool. Do the glacier landing if you can.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 12, 2013, 08:47:03 PM
We didn't do a glacier landing at Denali as it was way more expensive. We did do it by chopper in New zealand though, which was very cool. Do the glacier landing if you can.
The whole flightseeing thing seems waay outside our budget. I'm trying to figure out how to moderate our spending or whether to open the wallet for this once in a lifetime trip. 
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 12, 2013, 08:49:54 PM
The whole flightseeing thing seems waay outside our budget. I'm trying to figure out how to moderate our spending or whether to open the wallet for this once in a lifetime trip.

+1.

We did the helicopter in Kauai in November, so we're not exactly dying to do an air tour again. I'm trying to keep to a fairly tight budget, and was even afraid that I'll have to give up on either the cruise or the kayaking. Now that you mentioned the coupon book, everything looks a bit rosier :).
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 12, 2013, 08:54:46 PM
+1.

We did the helicopter in Kauai in November, so we're not exactly dying to do an air tour again. I'm trying to keep to a fairly tight budget, and was even afraid that I'll have to give up on either the cruise or the kayaking. Now that you mentioned the coupon book, everything looks a bit rosier :).
;)

I expect some help finding a good deal on a starter mirrorless camera now.  :D
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 12, 2013, 08:59:07 PM
;)

I expect some help finding a good deal on a starter mirrorless camera now.  :D

 :D I'll see what I could find.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 12, 2013, 09:52:44 PM
:D I'll see what I could find.
Wow thanks! No pressure but Alaska's scenery is calling..and it wants to be photographed!
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 12, 2013, 10:04:31 PM
Here's another coupon book, it might be even better!  ;D

http://www.toursaver.com/ (http://www.toursaver.com/)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 12, 2013, 10:13:24 PM
Here's another coupon book, it might be even better!  ;D

http://www.toursaver.com/ (http://www.toursaver.com/)

I've been comparing both since last night. The toursaver costs twice as much as the Notrthern Lights, but it seems to have some better deals. The NL seems to be geared more towards entertainment, while the TS is more towards activities/adventures.

According to TA you could get both slightly used on Ebay, but make sure that the coupon you need is still there.

The Toursaver requires you have the book in person and rip out the coupon, otherwise it's invalid, while the Northern Lights doesn't have this restriction.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 12, 2013, 10:24:29 PM
I've been comparing both since last night. The toursaver costs twice as much as the Notrthern Lights, but it seems to have some better deals. The NL seems to be geared more towards entertainment, while the TS is more towards activities/adventures.

According to TA you could get both slightly used on Ebay, but make sure that the coupon you need is still there.

The Toursaver requires you have the book in person and rip out the coupon, otherwise it's invalid, while the Northern Lights doesn't have this restriction.

How does it work? You book the tour/cruise/flight in advance and when you get there they refund the second ticket?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 12, 2013, 10:26:32 PM
I don't see anything on eBay...
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 12, 2013, 10:28:19 PM
How does it work? You book the tour/cruise/flight in advance and when you get there they refund the second ticket?

You mention during booking that you have the coupon and then you bring it in when you get there.

I'm thinking if the two of us won't be taking the exaxt same cruise/flight/whatnot it may be a good idea to get one boook together, and we each use the applicable coupons. Waddya think?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 12, 2013, 10:29:15 PM
I don't see anything on eBay...

Me neither... Could be that the TA thread I saw was outdated.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 12, 2013, 10:51:54 PM
You mention during booking that you have the coupon and then you bring it in when you get there.
But when you book it do you pay for two or one?

I'm thinking if the two of us won't be taking the exaxt same cruise/flight/whatnot it may be a good idea to get one book together, and we each use the applicable coupons. Waddya think?

That's a good idea, assuming it works out. What I'm worried about is buying it and then the operator says "Oh we're sorry you can't use it that day, or some such thing.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 12, 2013, 10:56:36 PM
But when you book it do you pay for two or one?

For one.

What I'm worried about is buying it and then the operator says "Oh we're sorry you can't use it that day, or some such thing.

All the reviews I've read say the same thing: Go to their website, find the coupon you want to use, call the vendor to confirm your daters/tours, and only then buy the book.

The books generally pay for themselves with one coupon, so say you want it for a certain cruise make sure that that one works for you, and all the other coupons are just gravy.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 12, 2013, 10:59:28 PM
For one.

All the reviews I've read say the same thing: Go to their website, find the coupon you want to use, call the vendor to confirm your daters/tours, and only then buy the book.

The books generally pay for themselves with one coupon, so say you want it for a certain cruise make sure that that one works for you, and all the other coupons are just gravy.
Sounds good. I'll take a look at which cruise works and let you know.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 12, 2013, 11:00:15 PM
Do you know which cruise you want?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 12, 2013, 11:07:35 PM
Do you know which cruise you want?

I still didn't decide between Kenai Fjords and PWS. But if it's KF, I'd probably go with this  (http://www.toursaver.com/major-marine-tours-kenai-fjords-cruise/)one.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 12, 2013, 11:34:40 PM
I still didn't decide between Kenai Fjords and PWS.

Just do both!!
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Dan on May 13, 2013, 08:38:23 AM
Don't have time to read this thread, but AK is on my bucket list. (http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=10537.0)
Anyone want to Wiki the must-do activities and their cost? 
Maybe include the nearest airport? Should be pretty easy to jump around with Avios on AS, no?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 13, 2013, 08:55:46 AM
Don't have time to read this thread, but AK is on my bucket list. (http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=10537.0)
Anyone want to Wiki the must-do activities and their cost? 
Maybe include the nearest airport? Should be pretty easy to jump around with Avios on AS, no?

Good idea, I'll get started on a wiki soon.

Although from what I've seen on your other posts you're planning on going during the winter  to see the northern lights, so remember that many places won't be open or accessible. Not to mention  that you'll only have a couple hours of daylight at best,  vs. 20-22 during the summer.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Dan on May 13, 2013, 09:12:51 AM
Maybe I'll have to go twice.  Or go to Iceland to see the NL.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 13, 2013, 09:38:57 AM
Iceland is next on my list. I should really start planning that.

(http://www.amazingplacesonearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Ellidaey-Island-Iceland.jpg)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: ual902 on May 13, 2013, 09:59:23 AM
Iceland is next on my list. I should really start planning that.

(http://www.amazingplacesonearth.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Ellidaey-Island-Iceland.jpg)

What's the best award options to Iceland? I hear DL will start jfk iceland.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 13, 2013, 12:49:09 PM
As expected:

From K2 Aviation
"Unfortunately both of our TourSaver slots have been filled for the morning of July 21st.  There is one Tour saver coupon that can be used on July 20th and both spots are open July 22nd.  If you have a group of four or more, you might look into the Northern lights coupon, which you can find on google.

I need to check out other options for flightseeing.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 13, 2013, 07:48:01 PM
As expected:

From K2 Aviation
"Unfortunately both of our TourSaver slots have been filled for the morning of July 21st.  There is one Tour saver coupon that can be used on July 20th and both spots are open July 22nd.  If you have a group of four or more, you might look into the Northern lights coupon, which you can find on google.

I need to check out other options for flightseeing.
We used K2 aviation IIRC.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: ual902 on May 16, 2013, 09:35:24 PM
Any DDF Friends\Singles heading to AK this summer? would like to join a group or some friends for an Alaska trip.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 16, 2013, 11:10:03 PM
Seward / Whittier is at about 62 degrees of latitude, so according to this website there's a chance of seeing the northern lights during the summer if the auroral index is 3 or more (which happens quite often). Mind you there's only maybe 2 hours of complete darkness per night, but hey, you gotta hope :D.

http://www.gi.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast/SummerViewing
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 31, 2013, 12:49:21 AM
I had the following conversation with the Star-K yesterday regarding fishing:

Quote
I will be going to Alaska in July and was thinking about fishing for salmon (king and/or sockeye). I was wondering if there are any issues in regards to eating it, as far as worms etc.
 
Thanks,
SF

Quote
We are not recommending wild salmon due to the anisakis. Perhaps in that area there aren’t anisakis, you’d have to research to determine.
Best Regards,

Rabbi Zvi Goldberg
Kashrus Administrator
Star-K Kosher Certification
www.star-k.org
www.kosherclasses.org
Phone 410-484-4110
Fax 410-653-9294

After a bit of Googling, I found this study from 2011 (http://www.int-res.com/articles/dao_oa/d094p201.pdf) taken in Prince William Sound, showing that 100% of the salmon caught in Prince William Sound were infected with anisakis, and 90% of those had the parasite in parts of the edible flesh.

No fishing for me I guess :(.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 31, 2013, 01:07:29 AM
I had the following conversation with the Star-K yesterday regarding fishing:

After a bit of Googling, I found this study from 2011 (http://www.int-res.com/articles/dao_oa/d094p201.pdf) taken in Prince William Sound, showing that 100% of the salmon caught in Prince William Sound were infected with anisakis, and 90% of those had the parasite in parts of the edible flesh.

No fishing for me I guess :(.

Or me  >:(

Thanks for researching and sharing this info. Much appreciated.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 31, 2013, 01:08:48 AM
On another note, do you have your itinerary put together? If so, can you share it with us?

I'm still deciding if I want to splurge another $400 to go ice climbing on Exit Glacier.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 31, 2013, 01:20:29 AM
Just curious what the Star K told you.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 31, 2013, 01:21:58 AM
On another note, do you have your itinerary put together? If so, can you share it with us?

Somehwat... Still figuring out some options.

Land ANC Sun. 1:30PM. Pick up RV and get settled. Drive to Walmart to stock up.
Spend the rest of the day driving down to Seward, taking it nice and slow. Stop at lookouts, etc. Take the Alyeska tram if the weather is nice (2 for 1 w/Toursaver). Want to do the Gridwood hand tram hike, but it's an 8-mile RT from the last place an RV could access., so probably not gonna happen. Camp in the Seward area.

Mon. - 7.5 hour Kenai Fjords cruise with Major Marine (2 for 1). Relax and explore Seward afterwards. Camp in either Seward or Miller's Landing.

Tue. - Half day Kayaking in the Seward area. Still didn't decide on an outfitter or trip, but it'll probably be Miller's Landing Tours. Hike Exit Glacier afterwards (probably not all of it, will probably be too sore and tired). Have reservations for the Williwaw campground on Portage Lake (on the way to Whittier).

Wed. - Very open at this point. Want to do ATVing and hiking in the Talkeetna area, but still working out the timing to see if it's possible at all.

Thu. - Some more hiking and driving. Depending on what I end up doing Wed., it'll probably be something in either the Talkeetna / Wassila area, or the Chugach National Forest area. Return RV by 6pm, and depart ANC at 9:25.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 31, 2013, 01:22:46 AM
Just curious what the Star K told you.

We are not recommending wild salmon due to the anisakis. Perhaps in that area there aren’t anisakis, you’d have to research to determine.
Best Regards,

Rabbi Zvi Goldberg
Kashrus Administrator
Star-K Kosher Certification
www.star-k.org
www.kosherclasses.org
Phone 410-484-4110
Fax 410-653-9294
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 31, 2013, 01:26:17 AM
Thought you discussed the halacha angle, not which fish are safe to eat  :)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 31, 2013, 01:32:36 AM
Sounds great! Have you considered going biking one day? I've been thinking about it but I read that a lot of paths are gravel, making it a hard ride.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 31, 2013, 01:35:53 AM
Thought you discussed the halacha angle, not which fish are safe to eat  :)

According the the above report, as long as the fish are properly cooked there is no health hazard whatsoever. The only issue is halacha then, I guess.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 31, 2013, 01:37:08 AM
Sounds great! Have you considered going biking one day? I've been thinking about it but I read that a lot of paths are gravel, making it a hard ride.

My wife won't enjoy it.

How's your itinerary coming along?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 31, 2013, 01:47:25 AM
My wife won't enjoy it.

How's your itinerary coming along?

Here's what I've got so far:

Arrive: Thurs at 1am, get to the hotel in ANC. Wake up early, pick up car rental from around the corner and head to Whittier, (maybe stopping at that store that sells kosher food) for (2 for 1) PWS Surprise glacier tour. I need to book a cabin or something in the area for that night.

Fri: Still debating between an Exit Glacier hike, climb or just another activity such as kayaking or biking around Seward. Head back to ANC for Shabbos, davening and maybe eating at Chabad.

Shabbos: Well, Shabbos!

Sunday: Head out early towards Talkeetna and take the Summit flight to the top of Mt. Mckinley (2 for 1). Then head up to Denali and our reserved cabin.

Monday: Take the shuttle bus into Denali hopefully up to Wonder Lake. (Something like an 11 hr drive). Then head back to ANC.

Tuesday: Nothing scheduled but probably something local as our flight is that night.

I still need to figure out how much/what type of clothing to bring. Also I was debating about the kayaking, wondering if the water might be freezing cold. Also I need to get a pair of binoculars.

Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 31, 2013, 02:01:53 AM
maybe stopping at that store that sells kosher food

Which store is that? In ANC?

Also I was debating about the kayaking, wondering if the water might be freezing cold. Also I need to get a pair of binoculars.

The water will be freezing cold. But you won't get too wet while kayaking (unless it's raining). Most outfitters provide rubber boots and gloves, and all provide a spray skirt, which will seal the opening of the kayak cockpit all around you. And if it rains, most places also provide rain gear, I think.

I don't think you have to worry about it.

And FWIW, Major Marine provides free binoculars on board all their cruises.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 31, 2013, 10:56:28 AM
Which store is that? In ANC?


Kosher Food and Dairy In Alaska
Natural Pantry Store In Anchorage
Natural Pantry is an excellent natural-foods supermarket in Anchorage with a kosher foods section, and just a 10-minute walk from the synagogue and Residence Inn l (3801 Old Seward Hwy, near the intersection of Old Seward Ave. and 36th Ave).
Natural Pantry provides a great kosher service: You can pick up microwavable, frozen kosher dinners and a disposable Styrofoam cooler to take to Denali or other spots where it's easy to warm up meals. Call ahead (907-770-1444) to speak with Vicki, Natural Pantry's owner. She'll tell you what's available, and set things aside for you. In addition to frozen dinners, Natural Pantry usually carries:
Empire cold cuts, frankfurters, turkey, chicken, chicken and turkey pot pies, Meal Mart frozen meals, J2 frozen pizzas, Tillamook cheddar cheese, blintzes, cream cheese, smoked mozzarella cheese, puddings and snacks, frozen whole grain Pas Yisrael bread.
Frozen unbaked Kineret brand Challah (check availability).
Kedem Grape Juice.

Take from: http://www.alaska.org/advice/kosher-travel-in-alaska (http://www.alaska.org/advice/kosher-travel-in-alaska)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 31, 2013, 10:58:18 AM
Not too shabby, huh?   ;D
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on May 31, 2013, 02:38:05 PM
Somehwat... Still figuring out some options.

Land ANC Sun. 1:30PM. Pick up RV and get settled. Drive to Walmart to stock up.
Spend the rest of the day driving down to Seward, taking it nice and slow. Stop at lookouts, etc. Take the Alyeska tram if the weather is nice (2 for 1 w/Toursaver). Want to do the Gridwood hand tram hike, but it's an 8-mile RT from the last place an RV could access., so probably not gonna happen. Camp in the Seward area.

Mon. - 7.5 hour Kenai Fjords cruise with Major Marine (2 for 1). Relax and explore Seward afterwards. Camp in either Seward or Miller's Landing.

Tue. - Half day Kayaking in the Seward area. Still didn't decide on an outfitter or trip, but it'll probably be Miller's Landing Tours. Hike Exit Glacier afterwards (probably not all of it, will probably be too sore and tired). Have reservations for the Williwaw campground on Portage Lake (on the way to Whittier).

Wed. - Very open at this point. Want to do ATVing and hiking in the Talkeetna area, but still working out the timing to see if it's possible at all.

Thu. - Some more hiking and driving. Depending on what I end up doing Wed., it'll probably be something in either the Talkeetna / Wassila area, or the Chugach National Forest area. Return RV by 6pm, and depart ANC at 9:25.

Looks pretty good.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on May 31, 2013, 02:39:31 PM
Here's what I've got so far:

Arrive: Thurs at 1am, get to the hotel in ANC. Wake up early, pick up car rental from around the corner and head to Whittier, (maybe stopping at that store that sells kosher food) for (2 for 1) PWS Surprise glacier tour. I need to book a cabin or something in the area for that night.

Fri: Still debating between an Exit Glacier hike, climb or just another activity such as kayaking or biking around Seward. Head back to ANC for Shabbos, davening and maybe eating at Chabad.

Shabbos: Well, Shabbos!

Sunday: Head out early towards Talkeetna and take the Summit flight to the top of Mt. Mckinley (2 for 1). Then head up to Denali and our reserved cabin.

Monday: Take the shuttle bus into Denali hopefully up to Wonder Lake. (Something like an 11 hr drive). Then head back to ANC.

Tuesday: Nothing scheduled but probably something local as our flight is that night.

I still need to figure out how much/what type of clothing to bring. Also I was debating about the kayaking, wondering if the water might be freezing cold. Also I need to get a pair of binoculars.

cool.

Water will def be cold if you are planning to go up near the glaciers, and probably anyway. Ask the outfitters what they recommend, and they probably rent wetsuits if that is what is recommended.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on May 31, 2013, 02:40:42 PM
Also, have I not mentioned that I loved the chabad folks there, the Greenbergs. Although, it is definitely a tourist area chabad, and shabbos meals cost about 80 bucks a person for both meals.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on May 31, 2013, 04:13:34 PM
Also, have I not mentioned that I loved the chabad folks there, the Greenbergs. Although, it is definitely a tourist area chabad, and shabbos meals cost about 80 bucks a person for both meals.
It's a lot of money.  ???
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on May 31, 2013, 04:19:34 PM
It's a lot of money.  ???

It is. Alaska is a tourist trap, and an expensive one at that. While some of us ddf-ers manage to do it on a budget, most tourists there are spending wild amounts of money, and 40 dollars for a good meal is not off the wall. People would pay that much with no questions if there was a commercial enterprise running shabbos meals in ANC.

It also is a bit more manageable if you are only a party of 2 and it's a grand total of 160.

If you are 7-8 people, then it really does make sense to do your own shabbos. Buy some fresh salmon if you don't mind the buggies, and a disposable grill, and eat like (eskimo) kings.

What % of ddf-ers do we think don't eat the buggies? Is there a chabad consensus on it? We certainly ate salmon there when I was there, but I don't remember if that was before or after we found out about the buggies.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on May 31, 2013, 04:24:08 PM
Quote
We are not recommending wild salmon due to the anisakis. Perhaps in that area there aren’t anisakis, you’d have to research to determine.
Best Regards,

Rabbi Zvi Goldberg
Kashrus Administrator
Star-K Kosher Certification
www.star-k.org
www.kosherclasses.org
Phone 410-484-4110
Fax 410-653-9294

WADR, I think this may not be correct even according to the opinions who are not eating the buggies.

The shulchan aruch says that bugs in the fish are muttar because they come from the fish. However, people have observed that the buggies are migrating from the stomach to the flesh, which would make it assur.

The theory I have heard to align the halacha with the observation, is that we are eating fish a longer amount of time after caught, which allows time for them to migrate. And that the ones which migrate are assur. If you go fishing, and eat the fish with a few hours like people used to, then that theory would not apply.

Do we know how long it usually takes before the buggies migrate?

Am I right about all this?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 31, 2013, 04:50:56 PM
Am I right about all this?

From the study:

Quote
Previous studies on other fish species have shown rather controversial results concerning possible migration, and a hypothesis has been proposed that Anisakis larvae are only stimulated to migrate in ‘fatty' fish species (Wharton et al. 1999). Alaskan salmon can be considered as more fatty than lean, and the purpose of this part of the study was to obtain more knowledge about possible post-mortem migration of Anisakis larvae from the viscera into the surrounding flesh of Alaskan salmon under commercial storage conditions either on ice or in RSW (refrigerated sea water).

The storage of fresh-caught salmon in RSW for up to 24 h is normal practice which is applied widely on board the tenders receiving fish from small fishing boats during the salmon run seasons. Storage on wet ice was also tested, which is currently not viable due to the lack of ice manufacturing capacity in the US salmon industry. No tendency of post-mortem migration was observed from the viscera into the flesh, irrespective of the fish species and the storage conditions (Table 5). The results are not unexpected, considering the low abundance and intensity of Anisakis larvae in the viscera. The high number of nematodes in the muscle meat of fresh-caught Pacific salmon indicates that a migration into the flesh must occur either directly after intake of the nematodes via feeding or during earlier stages of the host life cycle.

Can anyone make heads of tails of this?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on May 31, 2013, 04:57:31 PM
From the study:

Can anyone make heads of tails of this?

It looks like that is directly contrary to the migration theory.

Maybe the machmirim are using a theory of migration while alive, and thinking that the nature of buggies changed since the time of the shulchan aruch? I'm not entirely convinced that the psak of the shulchan aruch would not apply to live migration, since undoubtedly there was never really spontaneous generation, so the buggies must have come from somewhere outside the fish at some point.

Unless, maybe Hashem creates new teva when we develop the technology to observe it. So maybe buggies used to spontaneously generate, but then when pasteur figured out how to observe that, then Hashem made them be born from eggs, etc. So maybe it was true in the time of chazal but not now.
But if that was the case, then we should stop using any of the halachos which rely on it, such as eating cheese mites.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 31, 2013, 05:08:18 PM
such as eating cheese mites.

Oh gosh. I really do NOT want to know what that is. :o
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 31, 2013, 05:22:52 PM
We bought  food at natural pantry when we went to AK.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on June 01, 2013, 11:09:38 PM
We bought  food at natural pantry when we went to AK.
How was the selection?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on June 02, 2013, 02:18:43 AM
How was the selection?
Was ok. They has some frozen turkey but not much on the meat end. Grape juice and matzah snacks etc there were plenty of. You can also stop in Walmart, you will pass one on the way from Anchorage towards Seward where we found kosher bagels and a lot of good food options.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on June 02, 2013, 02:28:20 AM
Was ok. They has some frozen turkey but not much on the meat end. Grape juice and matzah snacks etc there were plenty of. You can also stop in Walmart, you will pass one on the way from Anchorage towards Seward where we found kosher bagels and a lot of good food options.
Interesting. Thanks for sharing. Any other recommendations on where to find kosher food?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on June 02, 2013, 02:28:43 AM
This place looks nice: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g28923-d144480-Reviews-Hatcher_Pass-Alaska.html (http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g28923-d144480-Reviews-Hatcher_Pass-Alaska.html)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on June 02, 2013, 11:07:01 AM
Oh gosh. I really do NOT want to know what that is. :o

Cheese mites (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milbenk%C3%A4se)  are little buggies that live in cheese that is aged specifically with those buggies. It is muttar to eat cheese that is infested with cheese mites, but if they crawl out onto your plate, then you can't eat them anymore.

Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on June 02, 2013, 02:39:13 PM
Interesting. Thanks for sharing. Any other recommendations on where to find kosher food?
When I went that was it, besides for what chabad has I guess. I didn't end up going to chabad. I brought food with me as us domestic is pretty simple to bring your own.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on June 14, 2013, 12:34:37 AM
Fishy, have you thought about this place? It looks amazing.

http://www.sewardbiketours.com/Alaska_Mt._Bike_Trails/Alaska_Mt._Bike_Trails.html (http://www.sewardbiketours.com/Alaska_Mt._Bike_Trails/Alaska_Mt._Bike_Trails.html)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on June 14, 2013, 12:49:31 AM
Fishy, have you thought about this place? It looks amazing.

http://www.sewardbiketours.com/Alaska_Mt._Bike_Trails/Alaska_Mt._Bike_Trails.html (http://www.sewardbiketours.com/Alaska_Mt._Bike_Trails/Alaska_Mt._Bike_Trails.html)

Interesting, but not for me. My wife will hate it.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on June 14, 2013, 01:02:27 AM
Somehwat... Still figuring out some options.

Land ANC Sun. 1:30PM. Pick up RV and get settled. Drive to Walmart to stock up.
Spend the rest of the day driving down to Seward, taking it nice and slow. Stop at lookouts, etc. Take the Alyeska tram if the weather is nice (2 for 1 w/Toursaver). Want to do the Gridwood hand tram hike, but it's an 8-mile RT from the last place an RV could access., so probably not gonna happen. Camp in the Seward area.

Mon. - 7.5 hour Kenai Fjords cruise with Major Marine (2 for 1). Relax and explore Seward afterwards. Camp in either Seward or Miller's Landing.

Tue. - Half day Kayaking in the Seward area. Still didn't decide on an outfitter or trip, but it'll probably be Miller's Landing Tours. Hike Exit Glacier afterwards (probably not all of it, will probably be too sore and tired). Have reservations for the Williwaw campground on Portage Lake (on the way to Whittier).

Wed. - Very open at this point. Want to do ATVing and hiking in the Talkeetna area, but still working out the timing to see if it's possible at all.

Thu. - Some more hiking and driving. Depending on what I end up doing Wed., it'll probably be something in either the Talkeetna / Wassila area, or the Chugach National Forest area. Return RV by 6pm, and depart ANC at 9:25.

Updated itin:

Tue.: Kayaking with Miller's Landing (Cains Head Adventure). Leave Seward about 4, skipping Exit Glacier, and head to the Williwaw campground directly. Check out the salmon run and possibly hike to Byron Glacier. Make an early night.

Wed.: Leave the Kenai Penn. early (6ish) and head to Palmer to meet up with Heiny's ATVs. ATVing the Boulder Creek trail (approx. 9 hours) or the Elkutna Lake trail (5 hours). Camp at Grandview campground on the Glenn Highway.

Thu.: Manenuska Glacier Ice trek (3-4 hours). Make our slow, scenic way back to ANC, return the RV by 6, and catch our flight at 9:30.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: bem684 on June 14, 2013, 09:20:34 AM
Admittedly I didn't read any of this thread, though I did quickly search it for keywords :)  Has anyone driven the Dalton Highway or toured the Prudhoe Bay area?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on June 14, 2013, 10:25:56 AM
Admittedly I didn't read any of this thread, though I did quickly search it for keywords :)  Has anyone driven the Dalton Highway or toured the Prudhoe Bay area?

Yes, and no.

It is generally unadvised, since:
1. it is hundreds of miles of dirt road that takes forever
2. It is against the rental contract.
3. It is highly likely you will get a flat tire or broken windshield.
4. if you get that broken windshield or flat tire, you will pay quite for a tow truck to come get you hundreds of miles (there is a gas station at about mile 60 and about mile 180)
5. You will be trying to get that hitch to the gas station to ask the tow truck to come, for  a long time (no cell service)

and most of all:
6. There is NOTHING to do at prudhoe bay. The area is restricted, and they will not allow you to go to the ocean or see anything.

(I was hiking in the Gates of the Arctic, that is why I drove it, till  just past coldfoot)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on June 14, 2013, 10:40:48 AM
Yes, and no.

It is generally unadvised, since:
1. it is hundreds of miles of dirt road that takes forever
2. It is against the rental contract.
3. It is highly likely you will get a flat tire or broken windshield.
4. if you get that broken windshield or flat tire, you will pay quite for a tow truck to come get you hundreds of miles (there is a gas station at about mile 60 and about mile 180)
5. You will be trying to get that hitch to the gas station to ask the tow truck to come, for  a long time (no cell service)

and most of all:
6. There is NOTHING to do at prudhoe bay. The area is restricted, and they will not allow you to go to the ocean or see anything.

(I was hiking in the Gates of the Arctic, that is why I drove it, till  just past coldfoot)

+1, mostly.

All correct about driving, is not worth it. However, there are guided tours which will fly you there (from Fairbanks and possibly some points further north) and give you an official tour of the oil fields. You'll also be able to "dip your toes into the Arctic ocean" according to their website.

All in less then a day for quite a reasonable price IIRC.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on June 14, 2013, 10:44:27 AM
+1, mostly.

All correct about driving, is not worth it. However, there are guided tours which will fly you there (from Fairbanks and possibly some points further north) and give you an official tour of the oil fields. You'll also be able to "dip your toes into the Arctic ocean" according to their website.

All in less then a day for quite a reasonable price IIRC.

Didn't know about that. In any event, certainly don't expect to drive up and be let in
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on June 14, 2013, 11:02:48 AM
Anyone know if there is a close glacier to Anchorage that people go hiking on? I'm going to be in ANC on Monday but don't want to drive 2 1/2 hours to do hike a glacier.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on June 14, 2013, 11:07:45 AM
Anyone know if there is a close glacier to Anchorage that people go hiking on? I'm going to be in ANC on Monday but don't want to drive 2 1/2 hours to do hike a glacier.

Matanuska Glacier is the closest at 2 1/2 hours. Byron Glacier in Portage Valley (on the way to Whittier) is a bit closer, but you can't really hike ON it, only TO it.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: bem684 on June 14, 2013, 11:22:52 AM
+1, mostly.

All correct about driving, is not worth it. However, there are guided tours which will fly you there (from Fairbanks and possibly some points further north) and give you an official tour of the oil fields. You'll also be able to "dip your toes into the Arctic ocean" according to their website.

All in less then a day for quite a reasonable price IIRC.

Yeah I read about the tours.  They sound interesting.  The drive didn't sound too great unless maybe doing it in an RV?  Then you'd be much higher up so less likely to crack a windshield :)  I heard there's a decent amount of wildlife up there to see (moose, grizzlies, etc).  Not worth the time I guess.

I guess if you want to see the North it probably makes more sense to do Barrow.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on June 14, 2013, 11:33:41 AM
(I was hiking in the Gates of the Arctic, that is why I drove it, till  just past coldfoot)

You hiked Gates of the Arctic?  :o Pics or it didn't happen!

(What was that like??)

Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on June 14, 2013, 11:35:14 AM
Yeah I read about the tours.  They sound interesting.  The drive didn't sound too great unless maybe doing it in an RV?  Then you'd be much higher up so less likely to crack a windshield :)  I heard there's a decent amount of wildlife up there to see (moose, grizzlies, etc).  Not worth the time I guess.

I guess if you want to see the North it probably makes more sense to do Barrow.

RV companies are even stricter with giving on restricted roads.

And there are plenty of moose and grizzlies further south...
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on June 14, 2013, 05:38:48 PM
Yeah I read about the tours.  They sound interesting.  The drive didn't sound too great unless maybe doing it in an RV?  Then you'd be much higher up so less likely to crack a windshield :)  I heard there's a decent amount of wildlife up there to see (moose, grizzlies, etc).  Not worth the time I guess.

I guess if you want to see the North it probably makes more sense to do Barrow.

Actually, it is good you mention that.

There are no wildlife in the north. Of course, there are tons and tons of them, but you aren't going to see them, because they aren't used to humans. When I was in Gates of the Arctic, we saw fresh track everywhere of grizzly and deer, but not a single animal.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on June 14, 2013, 05:39:47 PM
You hiked Gates of the Arctic?  :o Pics or it didn't happen!

(What was that like??)

Ultimate wilderness experience.

Not nearly as majestic as most places I've hiked, but wild as all get out.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on June 16, 2013, 02:57:06 PM
Ultimate wilderness experience.

Not nearly as majestic as most places I've hiked, but wild as all get out.
Did you make it up to Barrow?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on June 16, 2013, 03:03:20 PM
Did you make it up to Barrow?

lol, not quite. We parked our car somewhere around here (https://maps.google.com/maps?q=67.494051,-150.177011&hl=en&ll=67.494051,-150.177011&spn=0.008805,0.042272&sll=67.494051,-150.177011&sspn=0.008805,0.042272&t=m&z=15), and hiked into the wilderness, yutzed around, camped, etc, and then found our way back with a GPS (we had the GPS, but didn't have the topo maps, like real yeshiva guys).
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on June 18, 2013, 12:04:17 AM
Ultimate wilderness experience.

Not nearly as majestic as most places I've hiked, but wild as all get out.

I just found this video - that place is simply amazing. Wish I could go.

https://vimeo.com/19731783

(Kol isha warning at 6:30)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on June 18, 2013, 12:51:57 AM
I just found this video - that place is simply amazing. Wish I could go.

Dansdeals adventure?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on June 18, 2013, 12:58:40 AM
Dansdeals adventure?

LOL. My wife sure isn't coming on this one. ;D
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on June 18, 2013, 01:02:56 AM
http://www.groupon.com/deals/alaska-backcountry-adventure-tours-2

Same price as with the Toursaver book, but 3x UR ;).

I would've gone with them if they'd had front-to-back 2 person ATVs. I spoke to them today and they confirmed that the only 2 person ones they have are Rhinos, which are side-by-side.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on June 18, 2013, 01:39:21 AM
Why did you want front to back?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on June 18, 2013, 08:23:56 AM
SF, can you share what you are planning to bring along in terms of clothing? I read that you are always supposed to be prepared for rain and cold.

Apparently, lots of mosquito spray and even head bug nets are needed in Denali, I'm not sure what that is like in and near Seward but you might want to look into it.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on June 18, 2013, 08:40:29 AM
Why did you want front to back?

The side by side is like a glorified golf cart. Sure it could go the same places as a regular ATV, but you sit in bucket seats with a seatbelt, you steer with a wheel and drive with regular pedals. It also has a roof and windshield, which is nice in lousy weather, but it doesn't have the whole ATV feeling to it.

It has far les power, since it has the same engine and wheels of an ATV but it's double the weight. It gets you far wetter when crossing rivers, since you can't stand up. Etc., etc...

The front to back is a standard ATV just with another seat in the back instead of a cargo bay.

(http://img.tapatalk.com/d/13/06/18/3ury8a7u.jpg)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on June 18, 2013, 08:52:36 AM
SF, can you share what you are planning to bring along in terms of clothing? I read that you are always supposed to be prepared for rain and cold.

Apparently, lots of mosquito spray and even head bug nets are needed in Denali, I'm not sure what that is like in and near Seward but you might want to look into it.

I'll have specifics at the end of the week iy"h, but for now the plan is quite simple: regular clothing as the first layer (and no special underwear), a warmer layer (wool sweater or jacket (NOT cotton), and an even warmer layer (heavier wool jacket). I'll pick up rain gear in Walmart in ANC (coat, pants, and hat) and always keep those handy.

Also taking warm waterproof boots, gloves, warm hat, sun hat, and sunglass (vital on the water and glaciers).

As far a mosquitoes go, simple repellant should do the job, no need for nets where I'm going AFAIK. (Mind you, according to what I've read, the only place in Denali you might need a net is in the Wonder Lake area. But then again I didn't do too much Denali research.)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: ual902 on June 26, 2013, 05:55:06 PM
Would like to travel NYC - ANC early july, is 25k aa or ual miles to much? Or I got a good deal? I have tons of UR, UA, AA, Amex MR and SW points, what's the best option? I'm planing:

NYC - ANC
ANC-LAX
LAX-NYC
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on June 28, 2013, 12:21:04 PM
Would like to travel NYC - ANC early july, is 25k aa or ual miles to much? Or I got a good deal? I have tons of UR, UA, AA, Amex MR and SW points, what's the best option? I'm planing:

NYC - ANC
ANC-LAX
LAX-NYC
yeah sure go for it. Assuming 25k round trip.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: ual902 on June 28, 2013, 01:09:58 PM
yeah sure go for it. Assuming 25k round trip.

25K one way NYC-ANC  :-\
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on June 28, 2013, 01:16:00 PM
25K one way NYC-ANC  :-\

ANC is a top tourist destination. Will be hard to find 25k rt during peak season.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on June 28, 2013, 01:54:16 PM
25K one way NYC-ANC  :-\
What's the cost if you buy a ticket? That's what I did when I went.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: ual902 on June 28, 2013, 03:10:03 PM
What's the cost if you buy a ticket? That's what I did when I went.

Friday july 5th $200 lga-ord-anc one way on aa.com shabos starts at 1125 pm lol
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on June 28, 2013, 04:01:39 PM
Friday july 5th $200 lga-ord-anc one way on aa.com shabos starts at 1125 pm lol
That's a way better value then 25k UA points. No question about that. You will also earn miles for the long flight with AA.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on June 30, 2013, 10:06:53 AM
In ORD now en route to ANC. Yoo hoo!
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: chucksterace on June 30, 2013, 10:21:32 AM
In ORD now en route to ANC. Yoo hoo!

Jealous. Been there a couple times. Always my favorite vacation place. How long you goin for? Where ya stayin?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on June 30, 2013, 10:37:22 AM
Jealous. Been there a couple times. Always my favorite vacation place. How long you goin for? Where ya stayin?

Till Thursday night. We're RVing, so staying somewhere different each night.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: chucksterace on June 30, 2013, 11:07:56 AM
Till Thursday night. We're RVing, so staying somewhere different each night.

Gotchya.. Enjoy, safe trip.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on June 30, 2013, 11:12:46 AM
Till Thursday night. We're RVing, so staying somewhere different each night.

We are expecting nightly TR updates. I want to vacation vicariously while studying for the bar back here (and hating on the ORD DO for making it a couple weeks before I'm scheduled to go to ORD to take the bar).
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on June 30, 2013, 11:43:20 AM
In ORD now en route to ANC. Yoo hoo!
Keep us updated! with pics!!

Have an awesome time!
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on June 30, 2013, 01:42:15 PM
Emjoy!
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on July 12, 2013, 01:40:50 AM
Over the last few days I've been having a back and forth PM discussion with Yehuda S discussing my trip last week and helping him plan his trip (he's going next week). With his permission, I'm posting the conversation here, since I think there's info here which would be of interest to more people. (I have a full TR in the works too.)

His questions are followed by my answers in bold, with each quote being a newer discussion.

Quote
To answer your question about clothing, we didn't take anything special - just regular clothing plus 2 or 3 jackets/sweaters each, so that we could dress in layers. Also a full set of rain gear (jacket, pants, and hat) and waterproof boots.

Quote
What do you mean by rain pants? Did you actually use that?
Yup. Bought a jacket/pants set in Walmart for $25. The day of the cruise was pouring freezing rain (we had 70mph winds and 10 foot seas at one point). At some point I was the only person on deck, crawling around on all fours and holding on to some chain for dear life trying to shoot some orcas. The rain pants were heaven sent - kept me warm and dry. I also got a rain hat in the hardware/sporting goods store across from Major Marine, it cost $35 a pop but was worth every cent.

Mind you the rain jacket split in half after 2 days, so it was obviously junk, but was perfect for what I needed it for.

Was it cold there?
45-55 mostly. Quite pleasant (except on the cruise).

Did you find kosher food?
Didn't look for any, we brought everything from home. We did find some Sabra chummos in Walmart though.

Any chance for a minyan at chabad?
No idea, maybe check their site. I don't see why you'd want to spend any time in ANC though, nothing to do there (they say that Anchorage is a half-hour drive from Alaska ;D)

Did you need lots of sunscreen?
In theory, but we hardly saw any sun :(. If it's sunny you'll need it for sure.

Was there tons of traffic/tourists?
Not at all. The only traffic we had was cutting through ANC going from Portage to Palmer during rush hour, and even that would not be remotely considered traffic in NY. And not too many tourists, it's big enough that they all get spread out)

Did you see any aurora borealis?
It didn't get dark at all during the entire trip, so nope. This is the darkest it ever got:
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7444/9238423860_d9815b2f50_c.jpg) (http://www.flickr.com/photos/morrishersko/9238423860/)

Quote
No traffic? strange, all the travel books say to expect tons.
Maybe it depends where you go, I assume Denali is more tourist country than other places for instance. Although Seward on July 4th is the most popular place in AK and we had no traffic whatsoever. Go figure.

Any tips on what type of food you brought and how you did it? I'm trying to figure out frozen meat and single burner with a pan.
We were going to make a BBQ every night, but in the end we only had one night where it wasn't pouring. In any case, there's lots you could do in a single pan - for example one day we had sliced keilbasa and scrambled eggs all fried and mushed together - it was delicious. My wife also pre-cooked most meals (chicken cutlets, knishes, etc), which could be warmed up in a pan or microwave. We also had lots of wraps, with tuna, peanut butter, and jelly (all brought from NY). And we took along some meal-mart meals just in case.

I'd like to get a tripod to bring along in my backpack I'm guessing that's a good idea.
Personally I never travel or in fact go on any photo shoot without a tripod, but whaddya know, I used it exactly once on the trip, and even then it wasn't really necessary. But that's because I didn't end up taking any real landscape photos, since we had fairly cr***y weather (photography-wise - vacation-wise it was perfect). But yeah, I'd still suggest you take one.

Do you want to go back again someday?
Sure. We only saw a tiny fraction of AK, so there's still lots to see. And I'd even want to go back to where we already were, to actually see the mountains, not just the fog most of the time :(.

Are you happy you ended up doing the glacier hike? Ii think I remember who pushed you to do that! 
It was actually the highlight of our trip 8). And yes, it's really all your credit.

BTW, I'd skip Exit Glacier if I were you, Matenuska is better in every way so you'd be wasting your time. Make sure to bring a bottle to fill up with meltwater. I had prepared one but left it in the RV :o. I stood there hunched over and drank and drank and drank. It was the best water I ever had. Make sure to ask the guide about watermelon snow upstream, it's some kind of fungus that's common in some places and you don't want to drink water that came in contact with it.

Oh and the ice is delicious too ;D. There are spots all over where it's a bit slushy and you could break of chunks.


Quote
Thanks for the tip about exit glacier - I was going to do it. Now I'm not sure what to do instead :-p
What were your plans for before/after?

Did you pack your meals/ meats in a cooler with ice packs?
No, just froze them beforehand. Everything arrived pretty much frozen.

What did you do for maariv and zman kriyas sh'ma in the morning?
I woke up at about 2 each night for maariv, during the "darkest" time.

Were the locals friendly?
Very. I didn't interact with too many, but the ones I did were great.

Quote
My plans are to take the major marine prince William sound tour on Thursday afternoon from Whittier and then to head to Seward, sleep the night there and Friday slowly make my way back to ANC for Shabbos.
I was going to do the hike to exit glacier but now maybe I'll stop at Alyssa resort and take the cable car to the top.
Originally I had wanted to do mountain biking or maybe fat biking on the beach but its really costly and I can't afford it.
However, If you have any suggestions I'd love to hear them.

Basically you were going to Seward only for Exit glacier and to sleep... I'd rather take the tram and sleep somewhere in Gridwood, no reason to drive 2 hours out of the way to Seward. Take the hand tram hike in Gridwood, it's supposed to be amazing and a great way to spend the afternoon.

Quote
Well the other reasons for going were to see Seward and drive the Seward highway. I thought that's a 'cant miss'.
Also the cheapest place to stay was a hotel in Seward.
Do you think the Seward highway is worth driving past Whittier?

The last 15 minutes or so or road going from Seward towards the Whittier/Anchorage junction are what I'd consider 'can't miss', and maybe a spot or two closer to Seward (Kenai Lake area). So maybe when coming from Whittier go toward Seward for 15 minutes or so and then double back. Remember that you'll be driving a good part of the Glenn Highway on the way to Matanuska Glacier, and most of the time it's more awesome and beautiful than the Seward Highway.

However what you're saying regarding hotel price in Seward is a good point. Mind you you'll have a great time there, it's a lovely little town, especially if it's not pouring rain and you could actually see all the mountains on the other side of the bay (you could tell I'm slightly bitter ;D ;D ;D)

Quote
Can you suggest a good tripod for the GX1? I'm looking for something small and cheap that I can shove in a backpack on a long hike. I've been looking at the Pedco UltraPod II but if there aren't any trees to attach it to I might not be able to get the shot.

The Pedco UltraPod II is useless for pretty much any picture you'll try to take. Get a cheap lightweight full size tripod and you'll be much happier. Some come with bags that have their own shoulder strap, or you could shove a leg or two into a side pocket on your backpack (maybe a water bottle pocket) and use a large carabiner to secure the top part to the top handle of the pack.

You could also get a special tripod shoulder strap, but it's probably overkill for a little tripod and one trip.

Quote
I'm sure as a photographer you've been many nice places, how does Alaska compare to them?
AK should have won in theory, but TBH I didn't get a single landscape photo that I'd put in my portfolio due to the horrible weather (except maybe one or two of the glacier). So at this point my top location is still the Tetons in Wyoming. (Mind you that was a dedicated week long photography trip with perfect weather.)

Can you share info on what the process was for renting the RV (and maybe what it cost)?
Renting the RV was basically just like renting a car, reserve online, pickup and walkaround, and return. The only real difference was that they make you watch a 45 minute video first explaining the systems (electric, propane, and tanks) and unique driving issues (tailswing etc.). Cost was about $240 a day including mileage.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: jj1000 on July 16, 2013, 01:12:36 PM
Sorry for not reading though, I'm trying to plan a trip today and Alaska is my first choice, I just have to know- is it worth going if I only have 4 days, and if so what city should I fly into?

I may be able to stay longer myself, but the person I'm going with can only take off up to 4 days... And he wants to plan where we are going today...
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on July 16, 2013, 01:21:13 PM
Sorry for not reading though, I'm trying to plan a trip today and Alaska is my first choice, I just have to know- is it worth going if I only have 4 days, and if so what city should I fly into?

I may be able to stay longer myself, but the person I'm going with can only take off up to 4 days... And he wants to plan where we are going today...

I was 'on the ground' for only 4.5 days and has a fantastic time. You could hit up Seward, take a cruise to Kenai Fjords NP cruise, trek Matanuska Glacier, and plenty more in 4 days.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: jj1000 on July 16, 2013, 01:45:44 PM
I was 'on the ground' for only 4.5 days and has a fantastic time. You could hit up Seward, take a cruise to Kenai Fjords NP cruise, trek Matanuska Glacier, and plenty more in 4 days.
Awesome! Where did you fly into?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Achas Veachas on July 16, 2013, 01:57:17 PM
Awesome! Where did you fly into?
Is there anywhere other than ANC?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Dan on July 16, 2013, 01:58:45 PM
Is there anywhere other than ANC?
http://www.alaskaair.com/content/route-map.aspx
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on July 16, 2013, 02:00:31 PM
Awesome! Where did you fly into?

ANC. From all the major airports is the most convenient, especially for a short trip.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on July 16, 2013, 02:56:11 PM
I think you can enjoy even if only going for 4 days. I would def plan to only do one thing there then, like only go to Denali and right nearby, or only go to Kenai.

The real question that I would think might come up is the fact that you'll be spending so much time in the air. If you can fly direct, would make a big dif.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on July 17, 2013, 01:36:31 AM
I'm heading out there tomorrow. SF thanks for all the help. I don't know how I could have done it without you.

We are packing everything but the kitchen sink now. My packing list is a mile long. Frozen dinners, pot, electric burner, etc.

We'll be in ANC for Shabbos, as of now seems like heading to Chabad for the meals. They said that Salmon was on the menu and earlier in this thread people found that the Star-K is not recommending wild salmon bc of anisakis...how do I approach that?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on July 17, 2013, 01:41:29 AM
I'm heading out there tomorrow. SF thanks for all the help. I don't know how I could have done it without you.

We are packing everything but the kitchen sink now. My packing list is a mile long. Frozen dinners, pot, electric burner, etc.

We'll be in ANC for Shabbos, as of now seems like heading to Chabad for the meals. They said that Salmon was on the menu and earlier in this thread people found that the Star-K is not recommending wild salmon bc of anisakis...how do I approach that?

Enjoy and good luck! Hopefully you'll have nicer weather than I did :'(. Don't forget the Toursaver book!

Re. salmon maybe ask them if it's wild caught or farmed? Although I can't see why they should sell farmed in AK at all.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on July 17, 2013, 02:09:30 AM
Enjoy and good luck! Hopefully you'll have nicer weather than I did :'(. Don't forget the Toursaver book!
Denali is showing light snow for Sunday so I don't know about that..But hopefully.

Don't forget the Toursaver book!
Don't worry, It's already packed.

So, any final suggestions?


Re. salmon maybe ask them if it's wild caught or farmed? Although I can't see why they should sell farmed in AK at all.
I guess I'll have to but that will probably feel awkward.

Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on July 17, 2013, 02:16:59 AM
So, any final suggestions?

Pack it in. You could sleep when you get home ;).
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on July 17, 2013, 02:20:46 AM
Pack it in. You could sleep when you get home ;).
Can you tell me what you did re: davening shachris? for zmanim and direction faced...
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on July 17, 2013, 02:24:13 AM
Can you tell me what you did re: davening shachris? for zmanim and direction faced...

Shachris first thing in the morning, usually about 7-8. Mincha right before bed (12-1), maariv I woke up for about 2:30, which was the "darkest" part of the night. For direction I simply faced east (maybe a bit southeast).
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on July 17, 2013, 02:26:49 AM
Have a safe trip enjoy.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on July 17, 2013, 08:58:38 AM


Re. salmon maybe ask them if it's wild caught or farmed? Although I can't see why they should sell farmed in AK at all.

no chance of farmed salmon in AK
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Dan on July 17, 2013, 11:00:03 AM
I guess I'll have to but that will probably feel awkward.
I'd be up-front about it.  If it is wild then email them the Star-K stuff and ask them if they know otherwise or have another psak.

They wouldn't do it without a good basis.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on July 17, 2013, 02:27:04 PM
I'd be up-front about it.  If it is wild then email them the Star-K stuff and ask them if they know otherwise or have another psak.

They wouldn't do it without a good basis.

Also, I love the greenbergs. Almost as nice as my chabad at harvard.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on July 17, 2013, 03:33:59 PM
Thanks. I'm going to get in touch with them about the salmon.

Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on July 24, 2013, 11:40:21 PM
Well, I'm back.  ;D That was fun!
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Achas Veachas on July 25, 2013, 08:34:15 AM
TROIDH ;D
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on July 25, 2013, 12:22:11 PM
It happened. Trust me, it happened.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Achas Veachas on July 25, 2013, 12:35:15 PM
Lol I'm kidding! Good to have you back and I'm sure you had a blast. :)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on July 26, 2013, 04:50:43 PM
I'd be up-front about it.  If it is wild then email them the Star-K stuff and ask them if they know otherwise or have another psak.

They wouldn't do it without a good basis.

Here's what happened about the fish. I contacted Rabbi Greenberg who sent us this email from Rabbi Levi Feigelstock of the BCK Kosher in Vancouver Canada:

From Rabbi Feigelstock: "All Major Hechsheririm OU, BCK, Hisachdus, Volver, MK don't feel it's a shaila. We all eat salmon here. It is not only salmon that has this issue."

We weren't sure what to do so my wife asked a Rabbi from Brooklyn who advised us not to eat the wild salmon.

So we didn't. But there was plenty of other food to eat. We definitely did not go hungry. The Greenbergs were wonderful hosts and made us feel very welcome. They also had delicious food!

Subsequently, I emailed the cRc about the shaila and they responded: "The cRc has no halachic concern about those worms."

I guess you can take your pick.  :)

Here is an article on the subject: http://www.star-k.org/kashrus/kk-OpeningACanOfWorms.htm (http://www.star-k.org/kashrus/kk-OpeningACanOfWorms.htm)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on July 26, 2013, 05:07:25 PM
Here's what happened about the fish. I contacted Rabbi Greenberg who sent us this email from Rabbi Levi Feigelstock of the BCK Kosher in Vancouver Canada:

From Rabbi Feigelstock: "All Major Hechsheririm OU, BCK, Hisachdus, Volver, MK don't feel it's a shaila. We all eat salmon here. It is not only salmon that has this issue."

We weren't sure what to do so my wife asked a Rabbi from Brooklyn who advised us not to eat the wild salmon.

So we didn't. But there was plenty of other food to eat. We definitely did not go hungry. The Greenbergs were wonderful hosts and made us feel very welcome. They also had delicious food!

Subsequently, I emailed the cRc about the shaila and they responded: "The cRc has no halachic concern about those worms."

I guess you can take your pick.  :)

Here is an article on the subject: http://www.star-k.org/kashrus/kk-OpeningACanOfWorms.htm (http://www.star-k.org/kashrus/kk-OpeningACanOfWorms.htm)

+1
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on August 15, 2013, 12:58:01 AM
Hi Everyone,

I wrote up a nice trip report but first:

There wasn't a ton of info on Alaska in this forum when SomethingFishy and I started planning our trips so I took some time to write up some technical notes about my trip. These are for people who want to or are planning to go to Alaska. I hope they help and feel free to ask me about things I may have missed. For the trip report, just skip the intro.

A very important note about the cost of this trip:

Soon after deciding on Alaska as a destination, we discovered one relevant factoid: Alaska is a VERY expensive trip to make. The airfare is (or can be) expensive, the hotels are expensive, the food is expensive, the rental cars are VERY expensive, the activities are expensive. Since places are very spread out the cost of gas (which is expensive) can quickly add up.

However, I had booked tickets a year ago during which I did my best to cut costs wherever possible. Here is what the different things ended up costing me:

$880 for two tickets - PHL-SEA-ANC via the icelandair/Alaska air deal.

35,000 SPG points for six nights at the Sheraton Anchorage. This would have cost us $1500.sheratonanchorage.com (http://sheratonanchorage.com)

$400 for a one week car rental (Toyota Highlander) at Avis. I played around with the Avis website a lot and the cheapest was picking up the car in downtown Anchorage and then dropping it off at the airport.

$130 for a room at the Hotel Seward - hotelsewardalaska.com (http://hotelsewardalaska.com).

$110 for a room at the Denali Mountain Morning Hostel  -- denalihostel.com (http://denalihostel.com).

For activities, DDFer SomethingFishy and I split the Toursaver coupon book ($99 toursaver.com (http://toursaver.com)). I used two coupons.

$50 for the Toursaver coupon book.

$150 for a buy one get one free Prince William Sound cruise majormarine.com (http://majormarine.com)).

$300 for a buy one get one free Summit Tour of Mt. McKinley from talkeetna aero services (talkeetnaaero.com (http://talkeetnaaero.com)) (reg $600 for 2).

$258 for ice climbing on the Matanuska glacier for two with MICA guides micaguides.com (http://micaguides.com)

app. $90 for two seats on the 11 hour Wonder Lake bus into Denali National Park.

  --- We saved $400 using the toursaver coupon book. ---

App $300 for gas - though I think it was even more.

$150 for night and day meals for two at the Chabad in Anchorage - lubavitch.com/centers/detail.html?id=389 (http://lubavitch.com/centers/detail.html?id=389).

Plus some money for random drinks/food/souvenirs/clothes/supplies and gear for the trip.

Total about $2,800 plus 35,000 points. Wow. Writing it up now, it just seems like a ton of money. And we tried to be frugal. The part that made it easier was buying the airfare a year in advance.

My wife and I love travelling and we trade off a lot of other things to be able to support it. I guess some couples might feel lost without a nice bedroom set, but we'd rather spend the money exploring the world.

A note about food:

The idea of bringing la-briut meals sounded less than tempting so instead my wife made several meat meals, and froze them together with their side dishes. We brought along a stick free pan and a single burner. This meant that after a long day we could come back to our room and cook up a hot homemade meat dinner. It was amazing although making sure that the food stayed frozen was an effort. She also made a big bag of homemade granola which we ate as cereal with almond milk that we purchased there. Of course the huge beautiful Safeway/Carrs supermarkets in Alaska with plenty of kosher food meant that we would never go very hungry.

A note about the pictures:

A few months ago, per SomethingFishy's recommendation, I purchased a Panasonic Lumix GX-1 along with an 14-45 wide angle lens. I almost went with just that but thankfully, in the end I rented a 45-200 zoom lens from atsrentals.com (http://atsrentals.com) for $44. I was very happy with their service. My only regret is not ordering an even longer lens. I really needed the zoom lens, I wouldn't have gotten all my most amazing pictures without it.

A note for people going to Alaska and considering going by cruise ship:

I had a conversation with a woman recently, who had gone on a cruise to Alaska and she felt being on the cruise she had missed out on the best parts. I didn't take the cruise so I can't compare, but let's just say that I don't feel the way she did. Perhaps the only thing I regret about going was coming back  :D

If you decide to go to Alaska, think very long and hard about taking this once in a lifetime trip stuck on a floating carnival casino with a bunch of city slickers. The boat will take you on shore to the same tourist traps that exist in every touristy destination in the world. The real Alaska is beyond the shores in the rugged wilderness far outside the bubble of a floating hotel. So grab that mothballed backpack from deep in your coat closet, shake it out and strap it on. Alaska awaits.

I did it, and so can you.

And now...
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Racer7400 on August 15, 2013, 01:14:38 AM
Sounds great so far can't wait for the actual report. Thanx for taking the time to write up all this info.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on August 15, 2013, 11:25:57 AM
Does anyone know why the technical notes that put up last night disappeared?  ???

 >:(
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Racer7400 on August 15, 2013, 02:29:02 PM
Does anyone know why the technical notes that put up last night disappeared?  ???

 >:(
no idea, but I but I was hoping to use some of that info when I am able to set up a trip to Alaska so I hope it's not completely lost.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on August 17, 2013, 10:02:48 PM
Some Motzai Shabbos reading:

Part one

(http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5441/9515370384_e3a71e7b09_b.jpg)

Imagine driving down an empty smooth two lane highway winding through towering mountain ranges in mid-summer. The mountain peaks appear in every shape and size (except small) some covered in the greenest rain-forest, some bare exposed granite and some crested with glistening white snow. The road dips and turns and going downhill the mountains are suddenly so high you cannot see the peak.

The windows are wide open and the great crisp outdoors is pouring into the car. The temperature blends perfectly with the spotted sunshine to drench you with a cocktail of absolutely perfect weather.

It is 10:30 PM.

Although it is peak tourist season, the highway is blissfully empty aside from the occasional RV chugging along. Lining the road is an endless parade of patches and clumps of tall purple flowers, bright fireweed laying out a royal welcome mat in a vivid display of color.

The occasional moose traipses across the road in search of some greener grass.

As the road dips down, you drive along wide rushing braided rivers, heavy with melting mountain snowfall and glacier ice. Looking high up, you can see dozens of rivulets run down the side of green mountains meeting together at the bottom in a rushing waterfall right at the side of the road, so close you can practically reach out the window and dip your hands into it's crystalline waters.

Every few miles a creative and unique display of mailboxes belies the seeming emptiness as it indicates the hidden presence of some collection of homes. Homes that vie with each other for the claim of living in front of the most incredible views mankind has ever been privileged to contemplate.

The road meanders through small towns and patches of homes. Every home is unique, appearing to have been lovingly handmade by some backpacking adventure seeker who accidentally stumbled into Alaska and suddenly knew they were never going back home.

Suddenly you crest a hill and floating in the distance appears a shimmering white mountain. Enormous, it appears to hover in the haze, bigger than any tourist guide could have prepared you for. It looks down seeming to mock every mountain you thought was huge until now. Every turn you make, it floats into view towering above the clouds so high you're not sure where the mountain ends and the bright sky begins.

It's now 2:00 AM and it's finally dark. Well, only if you're facing southeast. Turn around and you can see the eternal twilight of the midnight sun. The horizon is sprayed with orange light and half the sky is a dim light-blue color. It will stay that way for a couple of hours and then the sun will rise again for an incredible 19 hours of bright sunlight.

This is Alaska as I, along with my wife, discovered it, this past July.

We scored tickets with this deal: http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=19249.0 on Alaskan Airlines a year ago and settled a short while later on the PHL to ANC via SEA redemption with the two long flights (between Philly and Seattle) in first class and the short ones (ANC - SEA) in economy). Alaska Airlines does not offer any kind of specialty meals. Instead they offer many different courses so that there will be something for everyone. Not very helpful at all. The tickets ultimately (after a surprise $75 per ticket booking fee) costed about $440 per person round trip. Not a bad redemption when you consider that economy tickets seem to go for about $650 from the little research I did.

I actually started off the flight a bit depressed. I had spent the entire previous year researching Alaska and I thought to myself that was a bit of a shame since I felt I already knew Alaska and there would be no surprises or adventure. I had already 'seen' all the places. Boy was I ever wrong. NOTHING could have prepared me.

The flights went smoothly. We took off at 10:30PM from SEA in darkness heading north and 20 minutes later I could see a small band of blue light on the horizon. It got brighter and brighter as we approached Anchorage until when we landed at 1:30 AM the horizon was streaked with the orange/red dusk of the midnight sun. Before we landed I could clearly see the black silhouette of Mt. McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America at a stupendous 20,000 feet or 17 times the height of the Empire State Building, framed against the red sky, 145 miles to the north. Beneath us, a maze of white capped mountains, ice fields, and glaciers spread out into the distance in a tangle of rock and ice.

We landed and hailed a cab to the Sheraton hotel in downtown Anchorage, the only SPG property in Alaska. There are no Hyatts in Alaska. There are quite a few Best Westerns, though. I stepped into the one in Seward to buy a drink and it was easy to see why prices were over $300 per night. IHG has some hotels in Alaska as well.

The cab driver was friendly and told us which bars to go to for the best seafood. We listened politely. He also informed us that practically everyone in the city spent the winter months smoking marijuana. The fare cost about $20.

We used SPG points at the Sheraton, 6 nights at 7000 points each minus 7000 for the 'fifth night free' promotion. The room was clean and nice although it seemed unable to hide its age with a bathroom that looked a bit dated. I would definitely recommend it. The staff was very helpful regarding helping us get into our room on Shabbos. I bet they don't get too many religious Jewish people staying there.

The next morning we made our way to the Avis three blocks away. They were super helpful. Our biggest expense in Alaska other than the flights, we rented a Toyota Highlander. They definitely don't allow any driving off road though, so the usefulness of renting a four wheel drive is very debatable. Gas prices were approximately $4.

We packed up and headed south to the tiny town of Whittier. An hour twenty from Anchorage, this town wasn't always accessible by car. That only happened as recently as 2000 when the DoT turned the train tunnel into a shared one lane highway/ railroad. Cars have to line up for a once per hour chance to drive through. It is the second longest Highway tunnel in N. America at 2.6 miles long.

The drive south of Anchorage is a destination itself. The Seward highway has the highest scenic designation in the U.S. It is an All American Road and it easily lives up to that. The drive is stunning. Green and granite mountains on either side and a bay in the center, you can see glaciers nestled between the peaks and waterfalls everywhere. Every turn demands a photograph but there isn't a single picture that can do it justice.

(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7325/9396520747_995dbb021d_c.jpg)

(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7321/9396418343_f854fe065c_c.jpg)

Whittier is tiny, a former military base, but we didn't get much time to explore because we had to catch our day cruise, a five hour tour of stunning Prince William Sound to Surprise glacier by Major Marine tours.

Town of Whittier

(http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2844/9396485551_50bb745e7c_c.jpg)

The tour was narrated by an elderly, very entertaining Alaska forest ranger. Every time some wildlife was spotted the boat stopped for people to take photos. It was quite cold on the upper outside deck - although it was warm on land there was a need for thick sweaters especially near the ice fields and glaciers.

Wildlife included sea lions, stellar sea lions, sea otters, a huge salmon hatchery which consists of a bunch of small boats and fisherman reeling humongous nets full of fish and handing it over to the mother boat for processing Also, an enormous and incredibly loud rookery with thousands of squawking sea birds and their young hungry ones. And eagles. We cannot forget the eagles. We didn't see any whales though.

The final destination was the enormous tidewater glacier, Surprise glacier. As you get closer, the water begins to fill with ice floes and small icebergs. If you are lucky you will see huge house sized chunks of ice plummet into the water with an accompanying Boom like a crack of thunder. This is the epitome of the trip for many people but we only got to see a bit of that from a distance.

(http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2827/9515460334_19d4037c5e_c.jpg)

Sea Lions

(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7366/9396432717_b06b997c77_c.jpg)

(http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3798/9399191112_cf7fe12e1c_c.jpg)

Surprise Glacier

(http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3711/9396442303_366c107a0b_c.jpg)

(http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2871/9399224462_6c74a14a92_c.jpg)

(http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2876/9396460765_537f953a3f_c.jpg)

Sea Otters

(http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2809/9399234656_eb36849c84_c.jpg)

(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7349/9396470733_7d087a34bb_c.jpg)

Ridiculously loud bird Rookery

(http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3722/9396488983_640e131d03_c.jpg)

Feed us Mommy!
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7387/9399250104_7dd6d73087_c.jpg)

Sunglasses are a must almost everywhere in Alaska and the many hours of sunlight is another reason to get a good pair.

After the cruise we headed to the tunnel and after waiting ten minutes to be let in, we headed south to Seward. Once again, the drive was stunning, this time turning away from the water and heading through the mountain ranges.

One interesting thing is that everywhere we went, the road signs were riddled with bullets. i guess there isn't a lot to do during the long winter months, or maybe they just hunt moose and have horrible aim. ::)

(http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5534/9396411629_ac6d9d27e0_c.jpg)

The drive is about two hours long and all the way we passed small homes that looked as though they'd been hand built by nature lovers and mountain hermits. We arrived at the coastal town of Seward at about nine o'clock pm, or as it's known there, 'mid-afternoon'.

We checked into the Hotel Seward, a very interesting hotel with prices that were certainly not commensurate with what we got. We paid $130 on hotels.com for a tiny room with two shared bathrooms down the hallway. The bathrooms were neat and clean but the room was insufferably hot since the day was warm and the room lacked any air conditioning. One saving grace was that the room had a sink and a fan, but I barely got any sleep because of the heat, the first of many sleepless nights to come.

The hotel itself has a really fascinating lobby, filled with stuffed animals, Alaskan tchotchkes, and paintings and maps. I would have hung out there longer but the coldly polite staff made us feel less than welcome. I'd give them one star for being in a nice location and having a cool lobby. I could see being happy though, if they lowered the price a bit.

I got up around seven on Friday morning and threw on some clothes and a camera. It was a one block walk to the bay. It still felt like pre-dawn, the town was empty and fog hung everywhere, rolling down the mountains and hovering over the bay. There were seagulls flying overhead though, and some early riser fishing boats were heading out to open waters through the bay.

Early morning fog hangs over the Seward bay

(http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2857/9515476686_32629389ba_c.jpg)

(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7337/9396491585_9132e7286a_c.jpg)

There were also ravens wandering the streets, making a racket and that's where I got this shot, one of my favorites from the trip:

(http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2884/9396499569_76e4b47b24_c.jpg)

We had planned on leaving Seward early and going to Alyeska Resort in Girdwood which is about halfway back to Anchorage, but the town was so beautiful that we just stayed and wandered the streets making our way downtown where a giant cruise ship had docked and it's passengers were browsing the tourist traps downtown. Going into the Safeway supermarket there, I heard a little girl behind me say "Look, Mommy, there are Jews in Alaska!" (Why doesn't my baseball cap ever work? :-[ Kidding... I assured them that I wasn't a local.

With all the activities we did, I think my wife and I agree that our favorite place was Seward. Peaceful, calm and surrounded by outrageously beautiful scenery, I feel like I could have stayed there for a month and not notice the time go by.

Tall Purple Fireweed

(http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5495/9396511807_2696a2c03e_c.jpg)

Fog is gone from the Seward Bay

(http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5333/9399284948_7466d45c9a_c.jpg)

Freedom
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7421/9396514937_b24a819a8b_b.jpg)

Hotel Seward

(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7295/9512966921_3c94efdc19_b.jpg)

However, at about 4:00pm we reluctantly left and headed north to Anchorage. Although Shkiyah in ANC was around 11:30pm, there was only one community there and that meant we were subject to the time they brought in Shabbos and that was at 9:15. Besides, we had made reservations to eat both meals with the Greenberg family. Rabbi Greenberg is the local Chabad Shliyach and the secretary had called to inform me that I was completing the minyan for Maariv.

The drive back was, once again stunning and the road was quite empty although we could see the opposite lane full of RVs as they headed out for the weekend.

We got back to Anchorage about an hour before Shabbos, checked into the Sheraton and explained that we'd be needing help getting into our rooms on Shabbos. They were very accommodating and I'd bet they don't get too many orthodox Jewish people staying there for Shabbos. Then a Shabbos miracle happened and it seems their automatic doors broke just for Shabbos and they had to be kept open the entire day. Thank you Hashem for that, because there were no service doors available to use.

We drove to the Greenberg's home and davened there, followed by a delicious Homemade Shabbos meal. There were lots of interesting people from all over who joined us there. Most of them had booked hotel rooms nearby but the Sheraton was just under an hours walk. We walked through the city at 1:00am uneventfully, a walk made easier by the midnight sun which meant that even at that hour, the sky was stuck in a permanent state of post sunset.

Shabbos morning it was raining but we made the wet trek (an hour fifteen) to the beautiful new Chabad center. Shachris was followed by a boisterous meal in which a day camp from Michigan joined us. We slowly wandered back to our hotel taking a very long detour through the city and a peaceful park. By now the sun had come out and was high in the sky by the time we made it back to the hotel at 7:00pm. We went to sleep, waking up after 12:00am and around 1:20am we walked back to the Greenberg's home to hear havdalah and pick up our car. Then we went back to the hotel to sleep.

About the midnight sun: I didn't understand what the 'midnight sun' was exactly, before the trip. Basically the sun moves extremely slowly, dipping over the horizon at 11:30 for a few hours before coming back up. It slowly gets darker until the night peaks at about 2:00 am (when we were there). It never goes too far down though, so throughout the short night there is an eternal twilight on the horizon. I guess it can get pretty dark if it's cloudy or if you are facing the opposite direction.

Taken at 2:50 AM:
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7454/9515386502_82149b81ea_c.jpg)

Now, although it may not sound overly impressive, it was VERY weird to experience it. I can't really explain it, but maybe it's like a never ending jet-lag. I kept marveling every time I looked around late at night and the horizon was well lit. Also, the long daylight hours trick your brain to think it is mid afternoon at 9:00pm so that although your body may be exhausted, your brain thinks it's supposed to be wide awake. This slowly caught up with us until by the end of the trip we had gotten barely any sleep and were both utterly exhausted.

To be continued...

 

 

 

P.S. A word about the state:

Alaska is not 'like the rest of the U.S. just with mountains'. It is very different, exotic even. Everything is different; the trees, the plants, even the weeds. Certainly the scenery everywhere is breathtaking. The Kenai peninsula, (where Seward is), is an actual rain-forest.

Along with glaciers and waterfalls everywhere and the fact that barely anyone lives there (the population of Alaska, an area twice the size of Texas is less than 3% of the NY metro area) the sense I got was that I was truly in another world, the last great wilderness.

Thus, I think it is a mistake to leave the U.S. looking for exotic locations internationally when you have a wonderland like this in your own backyard. Well - maybe your backyard's backyard.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: sky121 on August 17, 2013, 10:16:45 PM
Nice TR! Keep it coming.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on August 17, 2013, 11:01:05 PM
Awesome! Amazing TR.

Lucky you, i wasn't even aware that there was a view to be seen from Seward, all I saw was fog >:(

Can't wait for the rest of it.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: sky121 on August 17, 2013, 11:23:02 PM
How much was the cruise?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on August 17, 2013, 11:41:52 PM
How much was the cruise?
$150 per person. We used a buy one get one free coupon.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: michael on August 17, 2013, 11:52:25 PM
The TR brings back some awesome memories. It really is amazing!
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on August 18, 2013, 01:16:12 AM
Nice job!
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Achas Veachas on August 18, 2013, 12:21:27 PM
Wow! Excellent writing and amazing pics, what more can you ask for in a TR :)
Title: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Racer7400 on August 18, 2013, 02:20:32 PM
Awesome TR!! Can't wait for part 2 :)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Dan on August 25, 2013, 11:55:06 PM
Does anyone know why the technical notes that put up last night disappeared?  ???

 >:(
Site backup seems to indicate that you deleted 2 posts, the technical post and the TR part 1. 
I guess you reposted the TR part 1?

At any rate I've restored the technical post from the DDF backup to its proper place.
Now keep it going :)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on August 25, 2013, 11:57:50 PM
Thanks. I guess I accidentally deleted the technical notes.

-What happened with the TR, was, I was editing it and accidentally hit post before it was completed so I deleted and then posted the final version.

But the technical notes deletion was accidental.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on August 25, 2013, 11:59:24 PM
Thanks. I guess I accidentally deleted the technical notes.

-What happened with the TR, was, I was editing it and accidentally hit post before it was completed so I deleted and then posted the final version.

But the technical notes deletion was accidental.

Excuses, excuses >:(. Now where's the rest of your TR?!
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on August 26, 2013, 12:14:42 AM
It's coming.  ;)
But for the record, these things take forever to write.  :-\
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on August 26, 2013, 12:18:44 AM
Don't I know. I've been working on mine for a while already, plus I'm also in the middle of a Wyoming one.

It's worth it though, it's like reliving the trip a little. As you write all these little details come rushing back...
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Dan on August 26, 2013, 12:19:16 AM
But for the record, these things take forever to write.  :-\

It's worth it though, it's like reliving the trip a little. As you write all these little details come rushing back...
All so true.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: ayman on August 29, 2013, 01:31:28 AM
Don't I know. I've been working on mine for a while already, plus I'm also in the middle of a Wyoming one.

It's worth it though, it's like reliving the trip a little. As you write all these little details come rushing back...
PM'd you
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on August 30, 2013, 12:29:28 AM
Is anyone going to Alaska soon?

I forgot my tie at the Rabbi's house. I would really appreciate if someone can bring it back.

Please let me know.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on August 31, 2013, 08:55:29 PM
Is anyone going to Alaska soon?

I forgot my tie at the Rabbi's house. I would really appreciate if someone can bring it back.

Please let me know.
Update: I found it in my suitcase. Thanks everyone for the help.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on October 22, 2013, 12:03:18 AM
Here is part two. It's shorter than part one because I've decided to let the pictures do most of the talking.

Enjoy!

On Sunday morning we headed out into the last frontier. We passed through Wasilla (Hi Sarah Palin) our destination was the tiny town of Talkeetna, whose mayor is a cat named Stubbs. We were booked on the Summit flight with Talkeetna Aero, an excellent company which provides flights around and on Mt. Mckinley.

About 1/3 of the visitors to this part of the state get to see the Summit of Mt. McKinley because the mountain creates its own weather patterns and that is usually clouds. B”H we were blessed with clear skies.

At about halfway to Talkeetna we crested a hill and suddenly there it was. The mountain loomed over everything. Enormous, you could barely make out where it ended and the sky began. It was definitely a sight to see. Roughly the height of 15 Empire State Buildings stacked on top of each other, I’ve never seen anything that tall in my life.

Mountains on top of mountains
(http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3786/10415356076_6f5c20f7e4_b.jpg)

By the way, bugs are everywhere in Alaska. Here is our very own bug cemetery - and this is with cleaning several times. I guess you never know what you are going to find because I found three chips in the windshield that I'm pretty sure I didn't cause. Thank G-d they didn't charge me for it.

(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7346/10415359544_22823b044a_b.jpg)
The highway north from Anchorage is a two lane highway and with no warning at all, traffic was completely halted for road construction about an hour from our destination. We sat there for a half hour and were definitely going to miss the flight. So I called Talkeetna Aero and they were absolutely amazing. They immediately reserved the last two seats on the next flight and even offered to put us on a different style flight with a glacier landing instead of the summit flyover.

Talkeetna
(http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3685/9439292951_529ba68807_b.jpg)

We opted for the summit flight and took off with our pilot Charlie in a tiny, cramped oxygen equipped, ten seat prop plane. I immediately felt sick although my wife had a great time. We strapped on flimsy oxygen masks at 12,000 ft and headed up to around 23,000 ft with the enormous mountain surrounded by glaciers, smaller peaks and canyons below. The mountains are all in a relatively small area so it is somewhat shocking to take off on a flat plain and be in the midst of an enormous mountain range 20 minutes later.

Mt mcKinley up close and personal:
(http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5520/9442086958_f3ee4d213e_b.jpg)

(http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2847/9439303885_f2f36958b6_b.jpg)

(http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5343/9442081578_f53f32f570_b.jpg)

Look close and you can see a plane on the glacier. We opted out of that tour.
(http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3674/9442079766_ae8de8255a_b.jpg)


This is the enormous Ruth Glacier. It actually has a forest growing on it.
(http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3773/9442078888_26760830e6_b.jpg)

The pilot was very informative but one story stood out. Apparently one climber made it to the top, chucked his backpack over the mountain face and skied straight down. Looking at the sheer cliff rising through the mists, the absolute insanity of doing that boggles the mind. However, he did survive and it’s a feat that's never been replicated.

Skiing anyone?  ;D
(http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3783/9442085420_a879500064_b.jpg)

After landing (and bentching Gomel), we headed to Talkeetna and hung around the general store for a bit before heading out on the two hour drive to our lodgings, the Denali Mountain Morning Hostel, a fantastic little place with a bunch of cabins surrounding a big cozy central cabin. This place was so cool I wish I could have stayed more than one night. The central area has a kitchen – obviously not kosher, with lots of couches, guest books, tons of photo albums with pictures that I guess were taken by guests, free wifi and more. Lots of people were there and the atmosphere was very friendly and inviting.

We paid app $110 for the night.

Denali Mountain Morning Hostel:
(http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5444/9520343118_42069e73af_b.jpg)

We arrived there after twelve and fired up the burner for a hot meal of meatballs and rice before conking out. The alarm rang at 5:30 so we could catch the 7:20 Denali Shuttle to Wonder Lake inside Denali National Park. We ended up missing the bus by seconds and they were unfriendly if not downright hostile about that but grudgingly put us on the next bus. It worked out great though, because our bus driver Jerome was fantastic. His dry sense of humor kept us entertained and distracted while the green school bus made terrifying hairpin turns on the narrow gravel road overlooking 1000 foot cliffs.

The park inside is beautiful. Here are some pictures to get an idea:

(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7381/9517574473_3a6706fbcf_b.jpg)

(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7460/9520362474_519f49fe3f_b.jpg)

(http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3764/9517571137_2d3f980434_b.jpg)

And of course:

(http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3833/9520353876_830cb695bc_b.jpg)

From outside the park
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7319/9442074560_c9eaea21c5_b.jpg)

We saw several grizzly bears, caribou, ptarmigans and others and of course got close up views of the mountain on this spotless day.

Grizzly Bear
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7436/9517568129_3e3c19fbb1_b.jpg)

Caribou
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7301/9517557483_f4e6c0cf31_b.jpg)

Young grizzly
(http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2807/9517558685_b700a154b6_b.jpg)

Moose (right outside the park)
(http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2817/9520342212_547f833d31_b.jpg)


We ended up taking the bus all the way in and after 11 1/2 hours of driving we started the 4.5 hour drive back to the Sheraton in Anchorage so we could head out early the next day to Matanuska Glacier, a 2 hour drive from Anchorage. Needless to say at this point we were utterly exhausted from the endless driving and lack of sleep. I'm sure we would not have been able to do it, if not for the eternal sunlight which seriously messed with our internal clock. Somehow we made it back to the hotel though I had to practically hold my eyes open when it was my turn to drive.

The long drive home
(http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3806/9517553155_6198a0fa31_b.jpg)

Early the next morning we headed out west. This drive was stunning, easily on par with the Seward highway and empty as anything. There was barely anyone on the road. Just empty highways and drop dead vistas.

We were going ice climbing.

We arrived at our destination MICA guides where we strapped on crampons - spiky shoes- and gear and headed down on a nauseatingly bumpy ride to the massive gorgeous glacier. Our two guides showed us how to carefully wedge our spikes into the ice and swing the ice tools into the ice, carefully kicking our way up the walls of ice. I don't care how it looks, when you are 20 feet up an ice wall, you don't feel secure at all. I couldn't shake the feeling that the ice would just give under my crampons and several times it did - luckily I was harnessed and our guides had the job of catching us if we fell, by hanging on the rope that was secured into the ice on the other side of the wall.

It was very scary but thrilling when it was over and you were safe on the floor having made it to the top. This is what the guides called type two fun.

After trying several different (and harder) ice walls we headed for a short tour on the glacier before heading back and then to Anchorage.

After showering and eating we headed to the Airport for the flight to Seattle and then to Philly. And that was the end of our Alaska adventure.

We can't wait to go back.

Matanuska Glacier
(http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5531/10415493473_efe217687f_b.jpg)

Tiny people on the glacier
(http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2848/10415377264_acb4a3da59_b.jpg)

Climbing the cliffs
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7343/10415374874_f6a6ea81cf_b.jpg)

(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7341/10415398075_90f199cf2e_b.jpg)

200 year old meltwater. I drank some (from a cleaner spot) SF- it was delicious!
(http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2891/10415535483_5654a5f994_b.jpg)

The mailbox situation
(http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2845/10415393225_3ae1802db9_b.jpg)

More mailboxes
(http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5488/10415530383_1371c6edd5_b.jpg)

And that's all!
Hope you enjoyed reading this!
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on October 22, 2013, 12:22:58 AM
Incredible pics! I really like the one from outside the park. Brings back such good memories....
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on October 22, 2013, 12:25:54 AM
WOW! Awesome! Great pics.

You really lucked out with the weather, I'm jealous :P.

Can't wait to go back and do Denali.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on October 22, 2013, 12:44:39 AM
You really lucked out with the weather, I'm jealous :P.

I said you should have come with me!  :P
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Cbs on November 06, 2013, 03:21:14 AM
Hi all, Time for the next trip - Leaving this sunday morning iy"h thanks to Dan - the sale on orbitz a few months ago for $275-350 tickets..

I just sat for 2 hours reading this thread, and what it seems from here is to choose a spot and really take it in. im not sure how to do this pls advise.

So we (3 or 4 of us) will be there from this coming sunday landing at 1pm and staying till next motzei shabbos . so about 1 week .

Sunrise: 8:45am
Sunset: 4:45pm

I was thinking to head stay in ANC for the Sunday night, and head to Seward Monday before sunset, then get stay there Monday and tuesday and do the Kenai Fjords Glacier tour and Glacier exit.....Then Wednesday to go to Kenai area and take a plne around to see bear view from Soldotna, then head that eve towards talkateena area (knick river lodge ... ) and check out Denali for a day - or take flight around it . then Friday early head to ANC and spend shabbs there .

Please advise if possible. i need to close up details and hotels .

Are there any thing here that i have to pre reserve?

where is the best place to see northern lights?

Thanks
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on November 06, 2013, 08:51:38 AM
Hi all, Time for the next trip - Leaving this sunday morning iy"h thanks to Dan - the sale on orbitz a few months ago for $275-350 tickets..

I just sat for 2 hours reading this thread, and what it seems from here is to choose a spot and really take it in. im not sure how to do this pls advise.

So we (3 or 4 of us) will be there from this coming sunday landing at 1pm and staying till next motzei shabbos . so about 1 week .

Sunrise: 8:45am
Sunset: 4:45pm

I was thinking to head stay in ANC for the Sunday night, and head to Seward Monday before sunset, then get stay there Monday and tuesday and do the Kenai Fjords Glacier tour and Glacier exit.....Then Wednesday to go to Kenai area and take a plne around to see bear view from Soldotna, then head that eve towards talkateena area (knick river lodge ... ) and check out Denali for a day - or take flight around it . then Friday early head to ANC and spend shabbs there .

Please advise if possible. i need to close up details and hotels .

Are there any thing here that i have to pre reserve?

where is the best place to see northern lights?

Thanks

I'd you still have time, get the Tour Saver book, it'll save you a mint.

I would head to Seward right away, there's no reason to waste an entire day in ANC. In the very least leave for Seward first thing Monday morning so you have time to really enjoy the Seward highway. It's considered one of the most beautiful roads in the country and for good reason. You will want to pull over every five minutes for another spectacular view and interesting sight. It took us over five hours to do the highway, and that was with rushing it since it was getting dark.

Regarding the Kenai Fjords tour, I'd suggest Major Marine - both YehudaS and I used then this summer and were very happy. I would check with them before booking however, since the whales may not be there anymore (they winter in Maui (lucky bastards >:( )). You may also consider taking the cruise out of Whittier instead, much calmer waters there (but less wildlife).

Flying out to Katmai to see the bears was never really on my radar, and I didn't end up doing the Denali flight, so I really don't know much about those personally.

As far as prebooking, If it were me I'd make sure that the cruise, flight(s), and hotel for shabbos were booked in advance. Maybe also the Knik River Lodge.

For the northern lights, check here for the forecast - http://www.gi.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast/Alaska/2013/11/10. Preferably you want to be in the wide green band, where your have the best chance of an overhead display, but the aurora should be visible from anywhere above the thin green line.

The best area in AK is about 30 miles north of Fairbanks, but you still have a fairly good chance even lower down. Find a location with a wide northern view to the horizon, that'll be your best chance. If it's cloudy you won't see a thing (obviously), so clear weather is a must. Get as far away from city lights as you could. Midnight to 2am usually has the highest activity.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on November 06, 2013, 08:57:36 AM
Also, if you don't have time to order the Tour Saver book, maybe contact YehudaS. We bought the book together this summer, he may still have it and there may still be some useful coupons for you.

And make sure to check Groupon Anchorage, they usually have some good deals on cruises, flights, etc.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Cbs on November 06, 2013, 11:48:11 AM
Also, if you don't have time to order the Tour Saver book, maybe contact YehudaS. We bought the book together this summer, he may still have it and there may still be some useful coupons for you.

And make sure to check Groupon Anchorage, they usually have some good deals on cruises, flights, etc.
Thank you

btw thwy have an app: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.toursaver.alaska
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Cbs on November 06, 2013, 01:31:55 PM
everywhere im calling is saying theyre closed! all the glacier boat tours and some flights....pretty crazy - bad season
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on November 06, 2013, 10:02:57 PM
everywhere im calling is saying theyre closed! all the glacier boat tours and some flights....pretty crazy - bad season

Maybe try dog sledding places?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Cbs on November 06, 2013, 11:32:45 PM
seems like well leave to Seward at 4:30pm - 15 minutes b4 sunset time and have some light on way down.

then stay for monday tuesday and figure out some attractions once were there cuz glaciers trips closed. - all i know is the glacier exit.
then head wednesday morning to Soldotna, -kenai are - and take a flight to see the bears.

then head that night to Matansuka Glacier area (or sleep in ANC that night and then head there in morning)
 -maybe do dog sledding   :-\

then Thursday night to talkeetna and try to get a glimpse of northen lights. then friday early either take a flight around denali or drive around a bit . and head back to ANC by 4pm for shabbos at 4:45 or so ..

hows that sound ?


Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on November 07, 2013, 01:31:38 AM
What do you plan on doing in the Matanuska area? Is the glacier even accessible? The road down is dirt and goes over a one lane wooden bridge. Dunno how possible this is in winter, even July was hairy.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Cbs on November 07, 2013, 02:09:01 AM
What do you plan on doing in the Matanuska area? Is the glacier even accessible? The road down is dirt and goes over a one lane wooden bridge. Dunno how possible this is in winter, even July was hairy.
i was gonna see http://www.matanuska-glacier.com/

but if this isnt possible, ill go directly to talkeetna and spend more time there /denali

i was thiking maybe to do one night in seward and one in kenali area. - it doesnt seem like much attractions around. would you say theres stuff to do for two days there, now that cruise and parks or closed..?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on November 07, 2013, 02:54:48 AM
I'm thinking if you could make it up to Fairbanks there are probably dedicated aurora tours which may be worth it.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Cbs on November 07, 2013, 09:22:54 AM
That's a good idea. I see avios availability (or aa saaver) it may be worth it to fly there for 2-3 daya, then either drive down or fly back and go south, or totally skip south and stay in Denali or Talkeetna area

How's Verizon service there? Is it only while driving highways you lose it and in city your fine?

Btw I got that camera you recommended :) $800 on best buy. Com
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on November 07, 2013, 12:13:51 PM
How's Verizon service there? Is it only while driving highways you lose it and in city your fine?

I could only speak for sprint, but I was just about cut off for most of the week. Which i didn't exactly mind, but still, the service was horrible.

Btw I got that camera you recommended :) $800 on best buy. Com

Remind me? With the amount of cameras I suggest to people here i can't remember what I told whom...
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Cbs on November 07, 2013, 04:23:31 PM
I could only speak for sprint, but I was just about cut off for most of the week. Which i didn't exactly mind, but still, the service was horrible.

Remind me? With the amount of cameras I suggest to people here i can't remember what I told whom...
Sony Nex-6

What do u say about my plan ? and should i spend more time in one over the other?

Sunday afternoon/eve till tuesday AM -  Fairbanks /and surroundings - hope to see Borealis

Tuesday - Denli / talkeetna

Wednesday early - drive to Seward and enjoy the drive down and stay till Thusday eve

Thursday eve - kanali area / flight to bears on friday first thing in AM

Friday noon  drive to ANC and spend shabbos and motzei there until our flight out

Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on November 08, 2013, 10:07:06 AM
Sony Nex-6

What do u say about my plan ? and should i spend more time in one over the other?

Sunday afternoon/eve till tuesday AM -  Fairbanks /and surroundings - hope to see Borealis

Tuesday - Denli / talkeetna

Wednesday early - drive to Seward and enjoy the drive down and stay till Thusday eve

Thursday eve - kanali area / flight to bears on friday first thing in AM

Friday noon  drive to ANC and spend shabbos and motzei there until our flight out
Wow you are really trying to get it all in, in one week. Are you spending any time in Denali? When would you get there? Also what are you paying for the bear viewing? We paid 300 in 2010 out of Soldotna while everywhere else it was 600+.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Cbs on December 01, 2013, 10:51:14 PM
TRIP REPORT:

This past summer there was a massive sale on flights from NY to Anchorage , and right when i saw that i jumped on it and booked tickets for November (last week) with 3 other friends. There was one Problem, November is the wrong time to go to Alaska!! i did some research , but i couldn’t do much since the prices were going higher by the minute. I tried reading through this thread but there was no proper trip report for the winter and i guess i just TOFTT and here goes:


Sunday:
6 AM flight out of LGA connecting Through ORD. All 4 of us had a bag (and food) + one big box of food that we brought with. They each weighed about 70 lbs or so! Thank G-d i have status with AA and i am allowed 3 bags up to 70lbs along with the complimentary upgrade i got until ORD which allowed me an additional bag and one of the guys had a citi AA card which gave the 5th bag free. A little tip to the curbside check in guy and are few extra pounds above 70 were fine :)

Arriving in Anchorage, it was cloudy and snowy. The first snow fall of the season came that morning and all the roads were slippery and dangerous. Weather was in the low 20’s.We went straight to hertz to pick up a 4WD - Tahoe  - which was redeemed using 4400 Hertz points for the week (saved us $1100) and hit the road for a long drive to Fairbanks. We stopped at the Chabad in Anchorage and dropped off some stuff they asked us to bring from NY and took a small tour of the nice building. Very welcoming rabbi and Rebbetzin. They invited us to come Friday night and eat with them which was nice.

Fairbanks: - Sunrise 9:15am / Sunset 3:58p
7 hours later in snowy and carful night drive we arrived in Fairbanks and checked in to the Holiday inn express which was cheap and comfortable and we booked it an hour before we got there. In general every night we were spontaneous , so we would book the hotels online right before we got there. Morning came in Late :)

Monday:
CHEENA HOT SPRINGS - An hour and half drive east from the city but worth it. its a pleasant drive and decent scenery. The hot springs is a pool of water in middle of a bunch of rocks which is naturally hot and really relaxing. The weather was 6 degrees outside and we got into our bathing suits and jumped in! really cool - Entrance Fee: $15 per person (unless your a guest at the resort there) and bring your own towel or it costs $5 more for a small towel.
ICE MUSEUM - before we entered the hot springs we signed up for the 1 o’clock tour of the ice museum and we opted for the $15 apple martini in glass cups which is pretty cool. The ice museum was warmer then outside as it was 20 degrees indoor and everything is made of Ice . Really nice sculptures. - its quite small though. Entrance fee  - $20 per person (i think)
There are other things to do there but didn’t look interesting. We drove back to the city and night fell. We checked in to the next hotel and waited till about 11pm where we left to go try and find the Northern Lights……We drove far out into the deep night away from all city lights and the temperature got soo cold there, about -15 degrees! . We couldn’t find the lights so we just hung out in the snow a bit and headed back to Hotel.

Tuesday:
The plan was to go to talkeetna 4 hours south and take a plane ride around Denali but we left Fairbanks too late so we scheduled for the next day.
We drove down towards Denali. An hour in to the ride the view became gorgeous! We didn’t know what the view was since we drove through the night on the way in. It just got nicer and nicer. Amazing mountains covered in snow. Just driving around like that is worth it to go there. Passing through Denali everything was shut, all stores, kiosks, and attractions are boarded up or gated for the winter. Really deserted. we also had the highway to ourselves almost the whole week!. We entered Denali National Park, but 3 miles in it was closed off. :( and only on park ranger around which pulled us over but thats for a diff time :) So we found a nice little spot with a gorgeous view and parked for lunch. After lunch we continued down the beautiful highway towards Talkeetna township where we found online a bed and Breakfast which id defiantly recommend you go to.

Its called Overlook inn. It overlooks the mountain view line of Denali. Google them, its a little hard to find them at night, but we managed. Its a big house (building) 4 stories and an older sweet couple taking care of it. They have different options for rooms which obviously all include a non kosher breakfast. We took the biggest suite which had a queen size, a pull out sofa bed, a twin bed on top level of room (studio style) and a blow up mattress. - Best view from there. The whole house was empty and the couple stayed away so we had the whole thing to ourselves. Theres a very lounge comfy lounge space thats supposed to be shared but was empty. couches , game tables, furnace, dining table all wooden and nice, and a beautiful large kitchen which we used to make our own BBQ n stuff. price for the suite was $219 (split by 4)

Wednesday:
The Denali plane ride place called us and told us the weather was too cloudy and they canceling flights….so we didn’t do it. Continued driving down south towards anchorage and stopped in whissler. (where Sarah Pallin lives) Nice little town. Nothing really to do there so we drove another hour and half to Matanuska Glaciers.
MATANUSKA GLACIER - it is a must in the winter. (and summer prob) its a gorgeous drive -diff then denali highway - at mile marker 102 theres a place there where they give tours and stuff which we went on. It was a snowmobile with a big sled in back which had benches on it and he took us around all the glaciers until night fell. AMAZING place!! Glaciers are really cool, we got to go in them and around and on top. Don’t miss it.
We then drove another 3 hours past Anchorage to Seward. They say the view is unbelievable there, but we knew we’d see it on return. The nice thing was that the full moon was out and very bright so we were able to see the mountains in the moon light which was also breathtaking .
Checked in to the holiday inn

Thursday:
We woke up to no snow! Seward is all the way south so it was just nice and cool. The funny part was that 10 min north when you leave Seward its all snowy. We drove around but there was nothing to do besides look at the scenery and town that was all closed up. There is an exit nearby thats called exit glacier which we planned on going there but they closed it that morning. So we started drive north west to Keenai. about an hour and a half. This drive was also beautiful and the best spot was the frozen lake with mountains surrounding it 360 degrees at the fork where you can go down to Keenai.
KEENAI - had bad weather. small blizzard and annoying. - We went to Walmart there and got some pans and coals to make a BBQ on the Frozen snowy deserted beach. When Night came we decided to go closer to anchorage so we don’t get stuck for shabbos was it comes in at 4pm
We decided to go to Whittier for the night. we googled a place to stay there and found June’s Suites. which she has a bunch of rooms on top of the tales t building there and over looks the small tiny town. We paid like $135 total for Queen size, 2 x twin and couch .
WHITTIER - its a small town that originally was trying to hide from Japanese! weird if you ask me :) The road to get in is really interesting. You need to enter a one way - one lane tunnel that is supposed to accommodate two way traffic and a train. So they set up times for each direction and train. - Every 15-30 min one side gets to go through. Even though it was empty theres a gate closed so we couldn’t just go . When we did go the speed limit is 25 and i went about 50 - which i only found out later i was being watched when a cop found me at the hotel and asked why i was speeding. but he was cool, no ticket, he was just telling me to be careful and welcoming me to his ton cuz he’s the only cop there!! - the town is walking distance

Friday:
We drove about 10 miles to Alaskas Animal Recreation Center. Entrance fee per person is $12 or $35 for a full car. We were lucky that we saw one brown bear, because now the bears are all in hibernation. but there are many other interesting animals you don’t see at your local zoo. besides that the view surrounding you just makes you want to stay there! - on the way up to anchorage we stopped in gird wood where they have Aleyeska Ski resort , but skiing was closed until the 28th of november so no skiing!
Made it to anchorage an hour and half before shabbos - took a hotel suite behind the chabad house. Raddisson inn - $160 for 2 queens , a pull out couch and a roll away .

Friday night: No minyan at Chabad , and we walked to Rabbis house for a nice meal.
Shabbos Day : 10 am Minyan at Chabad and nice full fledged Kiddush - by the time your  done your cholent shabbos is almost over!

Motzei Shabbos: The Jewish federation had a massive fancy dinner (450 ppl ) and an auction with 800 + items. So we just stopped by to show support and helped out with the Jewish Classical Chassidic Dancing - Then went to shower up and headed for the Airport for a midnight flight with a stop in SEA (and a complimentary upgrade from there)

Landing in NY at 50 degrees was the hottest 50 degrees I’ve ever felt!! :)

OVERALL: Don’t go in November - if your not sure Seward or Denali (south or north) its a tough call cuz i like to see it all but i personally liked the south view a lot more although some may disagree.
Cell phone service - we had in al the cities 4G LTE (at least i did with Verizon) and on road 3g or 1x and then an hour out of city Dead service.

Tip: when its freezing outside , make sure you have a nice bottle of whisky or tequila as it really feels amazing!
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on December 01, 2013, 11:31:17 PM
TRIP REPORT:

Nice TR! Sounds like you made the best of a fairly lousy situation. Any pics to share?

I think this sums it up best:

OVERALL: Don’t go in November

 :D :D :D
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on December 01, 2013, 11:36:05 PM
I like your trip report. It sounds like you had a great time!
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Dan on December 01, 2013, 11:50:40 PM
So when is the right time to go to see Northern lights?
Or is it just too infrequent to plan on?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on December 01, 2013, 11:56:17 PM
So when is the right time to go to see Northern lights?
Or is it just too infrequent to plan on?

December-February is supposedly your best bet. But it's always a crapshoot, no matter when or where in the world.

The Alaska Geophysical Institute is the top predictor around, they're usually quite accurate.

http://www.gi.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Cbs on December 02, 2013, 12:06:23 AM
So when is the right time to go to see Northern lights?
Or is it just too infrequent to plan on?
U cant plan on it really.
The week before i came it came all the way down to the edge of Anchorage which is quite rare and it was a moderate 3 rating. and they were able to see it from the city .
We had 2 and 1 rating all week so it wasnt good, and we had a full bright moon. so it was pretty light even though we drove deep into night .

there are some blogs that ppl have seen the lights say when best time to go , when its really cold like Jan , feb time . but there will be NOTHING else to do as u see that we didnt do much . Unless you are a photographer id say scratch it and go in the summer , but if you're a photographer then ud prob love it.

Also the best spots are near Fairbanks , a little more north of it .

Nice TR! Sounds like you made the best of a fairly lousy situation. Any pics to share?

I think this sums it up best:

 :D :D :D
lol, yes true. and i have pics
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on December 02, 2013, 12:10:08 AM
there are some blogs that ppl have seen the lights say when best time to go , when its really cold like Jan , feb time .

An important distinction - the aurora has nothing to do with temperature. It's always present, even during the summer. The reason the coldest months are best is because they're the darkest. During the summer it simply never gets dark enough to see it.

lol, yes true. and i have pics

So let's see 'em!
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Cbs on December 02, 2013, 12:21:53 AM
btw i bought the nex 6 for alaska and my friend brought a Canon Rebel T3i or T5i and IMO his took nicer shots, better zoom, quicker shutter, night shots better, overall seemed better quality.
dont get me wrong, it tkes nice pics, but not better or the same
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on December 02, 2013, 12:33:44 AM
btw i bought the nex 6 for alaska and my friend brought a Canon Rebel T3i or T5i and IMO his took nicer shots, better zoom, quicker shutter, night shots better, overall seemed better quality.
dont get me wrong, it tkes nice pics, but not better or the same

The only thing the Canon is better is quicker shutter (by which I assume you mean less shutter lag - quicker to take the picture when the button was pressed). That would be due to the focusing advantage all DSLRs have over mirrorless. Night shots should be the same, since they have the exact same type of sensor. The reason his may have come out better could be due to many things, such a faster lens (larger aperture), more stable camera (due to using the viewfinder pressed against his face), and a myriad of other factors. Basically, what I'm saying is that it is probably due to technique or something like that, not simply the camera.

"Better zoom" has nothing to do with the camera...
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on December 02, 2013, 12:36:15 AM
It'd actually be interesting to dissect this... If you have a chance please post two similar pictures from both cameras with the EXIF data and we'll see if we could see exactly what happened.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Cbs on December 02, 2013, 12:54:14 AM
Here are a few shots from the Canon.

The one and only bear we saw
(http://i40.tinypic.com/2yki4w9.jpg)

On way to Matanuka Glacier
(http://i44.tinypic.com/ve9dtg.jpg)

(http://i40.tinypic.com/2igkob6.jpg)

Me, Waiting for the northern lights in minus -15 degrees, moon light ahead and phone light in my hand
(http://i39.tinypic.com/r2n6.jpg)

Denali from afar
(http://i44.tinypic.com/11ka6ap.jpg)

Ice Museum in Fairbanks
(http://i43.tinypic.com/2vinza0.jpg)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: deenz on December 03, 2013, 02:10:49 PM
Cbs, how close did you get to that bear?
My bears are all tiny!
Had to register just to tell you that's one Spectacular shot.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Dan on December 03, 2013, 02:33:08 PM
Here are a few shots from the Canon.
Post pics Sony vs. Canon.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: lubaby on December 03, 2013, 03:08:58 PM
btw i bought the nex 6 for alaska and my friend brought a Canon Rebel T3i or T5i and IMO his took nicer shots, better zoom, quicker shutter, night shots better, overall seemed better quality.
dont get me wrong, it tkes nice pics, but not better or the same
I'm the friend with camera. It's a T3i, i got it before going to Israel last year.
Ill send you the pics later today (or Tomorrow if I can't get the internet at home working before then).
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: lubaby on December 03, 2013, 03:12:10 PM
So when is the right time to go to see Northern lights?
Or is it just too infrequent to plan on?
There is a site hosted by a guy in Talkeetna which has a twitter account so you can get notifications when there are good chances for seeing Northern Lights; but that's for knowing the day of.
http://softservenews.com/Aurora.htm
https://twitter.com/Aurora_Alerts
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Dan on December 03, 2013, 03:14:18 PM
We should make a DDF DO to fly to Jasper when there's a strong Aurora forecast that night...
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Cbs on December 03, 2013, 03:41:12 PM
I'm the friend with camera. It's a T3i, i got it before going to Israel last year.
Ill send you the pics later today (or Tomorrow if I can't get the internet at home working before then).
so now i know ur here! :)

Cbs, how close did you get to that bear?
My bears are all tiny!
Had to register just to tell you that's one Spectacular shot.
it was behind a barbed fence, and it was really close to us and we just put the lens in between the fence. not much of a zoom there
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: deenz on December 03, 2013, 04:24:19 PM
it was behind a barbed fence, and it was really close to us and we just put the lens in between the fence. not much of a zoom there
ah, a zoo :)
dunno why I assumed it was in the wild
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on December 03, 2013, 05:04:52 PM
There is a site hosted by a guy in Talkeetna which has a twitter account so you can get notifications when there are good chances for seeing Northern Lights; but that's for knowing the day of.
http://softservenews.com/Aurora.htm
https://twitter.com/Aurora_Alerts

I actually used this guy when I went. The problem is that his forecasts are based solely on the KP numbers, but don't take into account the BZ component or, more importantly, the weather.

Using his reports along with NOAA's space weather prediction (http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/SWN/index.html,) and Clear Sky charts (http://cleardarksky.com/csk/) you might be able to piece together a very short-term forecast (12-24 hours).

But like I said, you could have the best forecast and still see nothing, and vice versa.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on December 03, 2013, 05:09:34 PM
We should make a DDF DO to fly to Jasper when there's a strong Aurora forecast that night...

Why davka Jasper? It's not particularly known for aurora displays.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Dan on December 03, 2013, 05:26:34 PM
Why davka Jasper? It's not particularly known for aurora displays.
Looked pretty awesome to me:
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/05/24/northern-lights-jasper-video_n_3331754.html

And it's just a beautiful place and a nonstop flight from NYC, ORD, etc.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on December 03, 2013, 05:35:29 PM
Looked pretty awesome to me:
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/05/24/northern-lights-jasper-video_n_3331754.html

And it's just a beautiful place and a nonstop flight from NYC, ORD, etc.

Agree that it's awesome, but the article itself states that it was due to an exceptionally large solar flare - a fairly rare event. If there's a solar event I'd rather run somewhere where sightings in general are more probable. It's all about maximizing your chances.

But you have a strong point - it's fairly easy to get to, and it's a beautiful place in any case. It won't be a complete waste, even if there ends up being no aurora.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on December 11, 2013, 08:06:48 PM
http://petapixel.com/2013/12/11/aurora-borealis-time-lapse-photographed-airplane-window/ (http://petapixel.com/2013/12/11/aurora-borealis-time-lapse-photographed-airplane-window/)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Achas Veachas on December 11, 2013, 08:14:53 PM
http://petapixel.com/2013/12/11/aurora-borealis-time-lapse-photographed-airplane-window/ (http://petapixel.com/2013/12/11/aurora-borealis-time-lapse-photographed-airplane-window/)
Cool! I wouldn't think that was possible, I could never see anything out those windows without reflections getting in the way...
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: sky121 on December 11, 2013, 08:17:07 PM
Wow, awesome.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: deenz on January 08, 2014, 08:58:40 AM
If you can drop everything and hop on up this should be great  :)
http://t.nbcnews.com/science/sunspot-goes-wild-x-class-solar-flare-blasts-our-direction-2D11875714?ocid=msnhp&pos=4 (http://t.nbcnews.com/science/sunspot-goes-wild-x-class-solar-flare-blasts-our-direction-2D11875714?ocid=msnhp&pos=4)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on January 08, 2014, 09:30:23 AM
If you can drop everything and hop on up this should be great  :)
http://t.nbcnews.com/science/sunspot-goes-wild-x-class-solar-flare-blasts-our-direction-2D11875714?ocid=msnhp&pos=4 (http://t.nbcnews.com/science/sunspot-goes-wild-x-class-solar-flare-blasts-our-direction-2D11875714?ocid=msnhp&pos=4)

http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=36852.msg690146.msg#690146
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: ushdadude on February 02, 2014, 10:26:36 PM
I'm going to LA this summer (thanks Dan!) for about 12 days. I was thinking about hopping over to Alaska from sunday morning to thursday morning. Is that enough time or should I just skip it? TIA
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on February 03, 2014, 12:32:45 AM
I'm going to LA this summer (thanks Dan!) for about 12 days. I was thinking about hopping over to Alaska from sunday morning to thursday morning. Is that enough time or should I just skip it? TIA
What are you interested in seeing? AK is a huge state so if you want to really see a lot it's not enough time but if you want a good feel for the area and don't mind a lot of driving I think you can do it. Split your time between the Kenai Peninsula and Denali.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: ushdadude on February 03, 2014, 08:19:22 AM
What are you interested in seeing? AK is a huge state so if you want to really see a lot it's not enough time but if you want a good feel for the area and don't mind a lot of driving I think you can do it. Split your time between the Kenai Peninsula and Denali.

I guess we would want to see the main attractions. Seward out of the question?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: ushdadude on February 03, 2014, 08:20:50 AM
I guess we would want to see the main attractions. Seward out of the question?

NV. I now see that Seward in on the Kenai Peninsula  :-[
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on February 03, 2014, 08:54:52 AM
I would absolutely NOT suggest that you cram in both the Kenai and Denali. It could be done of course, but why would you? You won't enjoy either place if you're running around like a chicken without a head.

The trick to AK is to take it easy. Officially, driving time from ANC to Seward is about 2.5 hours. It took us 6, and we didn't stop by half the places we wanted to. And I'm only talking about road pullouts here - you'd need a full day to do the drive properly including Alyeska, Girdwood, etc. My point being that driving in Alaska is not simply getting from point a to point b - every single road is a destination by itself.

I would say stick to the Kenai, and maybe head to Matanuska Glacier on the last day for a guided trek or ice climbing (this was the highlight of our trip).

Spend a nice relaxing day driving the Seward Highway, take a cruise out of Seward to Kenai Fjords National Park (tremendous amount of wildlife, and the amazing Aialik tidewater glacier), or a cruise out of Whittier (more glaciers, less wildlife). Kayak Resurrection Bay out of Lowell Point, hike around Seward, check out Portage Lake and the salmon run, take the Alyeska tram or do the Girdwood hand tram hike.

The last day take the STUNNING Glenn Highway east out of Anchorage to the Matanuska Glacier, it's something you'll never forget.

OR you could take a cruise from Seward and then spend two more days driving north to see a big mountain - because if you do try to cram in Denali, that's just about all you could do in that amount of time. (I guess maybe you could take a Denali sightseeing flight out of Talkeetna, but personally I'd rather do Matanuska and save Denali for next time).

TL;DR - focus on one region and you'll have a much better time.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: mordyl19 on April 25, 2014, 12:17:25 PM
Has anyone tried to order pre-packaged meals from Pomegranate, Noahs Ark...ect to bring on their cruise? I am taking

Norwegian Cruise Line to Alaska in the summer leaving from Seattle, and was thinking to order a few of these meals to bring to have better food.

Anyone have experience with doing something like that on a cruise line?

Thank you 
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on April 25, 2014, 12:19:04 PM
Has anyone tried to order pre-packaged meals from Pomegranate, Noahs Ark...ect to bring on their cruise? I am taking

Norwegian Cruise Line to Alaska in the summer leaving from Seattle, and was thinking to order a few of these meals to bring to have better food.

Anyone have experience with doing something like that on a cruise line?

Thank you

You should probably ask this in the cruise thread.

ETA: Never mind, I see that you already did.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: mordyl19 on April 26, 2014, 11:57:36 PM
You should probably ask this in the cruise thread.

ETA: Never mind, I see that you already did.
I tried to cover both the Cruise side and the Alaska side.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Yaalili on April 27, 2014, 12:26:12 AM
I tried to cover both the Cruise side and the Alaska side.

Alaska will not ban you from entering with your food - lol :)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on April 27, 2014, 03:07:11 AM
Trip Report

We went to Alaska last summer for a couple of days, from June 30th to July 4th - I finally got around to writing up the TR.

Fair warning: It's long :D.

Click on any picture to see it in high resolution.

Planning and preparing:

The first thing we discovered while planning this trip is that Alaska is incomprehensibly large - there is absolutely no way to 'see it all'. You have to choose a region or two, and leave the rest of the state for a different time. We decided to focus on the Kenai Peninsula, which offered a tremendous variation of activities and sights, without involving crazy amounts of driving time. Even so, we weren't able to see all of the Kenai - even this tiny portion of Alaska is huge.

This map put the sheer size in perspective. The Kenai Peninsula is the little thing sticking out from the mainland in the south (directly above the "A" of Alaska):

(http://www.birds-eye-view.alaska.edu/ch2/images/comparison/Map-US.gif)
(Source) (http://www.birds-eye-view.alaska.edu/ch2/story2-3.htm)

The second thing we discovered was that the weather, no matter the season, is simply nuts. No matter what the forecast calls for, the weather will change in a matter of minutes. Our mindset was that we could expect to be cold and wet during the entire trip; if we weren't, it'll be a bonus. (We ended up with two days of pretty miserable weather and three which were quite nice.)

We also learned very fast that this is tourist country. Prices are insane all over - cars, hotels, activities. Cars especially - unless you book 6-12 months out, you could expect to pay an obscene $100-150/day for a compact, and that's with after status, codes, and all that. Want an SUV? Good luck with that.

Hotels presented a problem for us. Outside of Anchorage and Fairbanks there are hardly any big chains hotels. Everything is a small, private operation. The prices were not that horrible - they're around what you'd expect in a touristy area during the high season. However, Alaska being the size that it is, it's silly to be based in one spot, since you'd be driving hours every day to get where you want to go. We also hate switching hotels in the middle of a trip, so a different place every night or two was not the answer either.

After puzzling over this issue, and considering the cost of a car, we decided to rent an RV instead. The market there is dominated by one company - Great Alaskan Holidays. There's a Cruise America location there too, but not only were they more expensive, but they were closed on Sunday too. There are a couple of smaller rental places, but I found far too many horror stories online about them.

Even though Great Alaskan Holidays was the most expensive per day, it turned out that after taking into account all the fees the others were tacking on that GAH was actually the cheapest. We got a 25' Winnebago (sleeps 6) for $243 a day. The price included 400 miles (for all 5 days), with unused miles being refunded @ $0.20/mile (we got about $35 back in the end). Even including gas, this was still much cheaper that a car+hotel.

The RV was fantastic. We were able to go where we wanted, when we wanted. Every night we camped somewhere else, so we didn't waste time driving back and forth to the hotel. Tired? Just stop on the side of the road and get into bed for an hour. Hungry? Microwave leftovers from last night's dinner in the middle of nowhere. Covered in dirt and dust after ATVing for 5 hours? Take a shower in the parking lot! The sense of freedom you have is incredible.

This was our first time in one, but we're definitely hooked.

Most activities in Alaska are also quite expensive. While we usually like to do things on our own and shun tours and the like, Alaska is a wild place. Many places are either inaccessible by yourself (such as most glaciers), or unwise without a guide (ATVing in remote grizzly country). There are tons of outfitters available for just about any activity, but they'll cost you dearly. I scoured Groupon for months beforehand and was able to get some really nice discounts. The Alaska Toursaver (https://www.toursaver.com/) coupon book is worth it's weight in gold and paid for itself with the first deal. At 100 bucks it's not cheap, but it saved us far more than that. Even better, I bought it together with YehudaS who was going two weeks after me, so it was only $50. You could also sometimes find them on ebay, just make sure to see which coupons were already used.

Another thing we were totally unprepared for was the midnight sun. In the summer, the sun hardly sets. Further north the sun doesn't set for weeks at a time, but even south in Anchorage and Seward it never really gets dark. The Sun sets around 11:30 and rises again around 3 - the "night" is really a perpetual twilight, never quite getting dark. We of course knew all this, but we weren't aware of the effect this would have on us. Since it's always light, your body thinks is time to run around non stop. We found ourselves getting exhausted and wondering why, before we figured out that we've been doing stuff for 15 hours straight. It's quite disconcerting to feel like it's 7, but knowing that it's actually 11 at night. It was quite the experience, although waking up on vacation at 2am every night for Maariv was quite annoying ;).

Midnight in Alaska (it didn't get much darker than this):

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5111/13922991532_c24126945b_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/6G0py7)

As far as clothing the trick is to bring layers - there's no real need for specialized clothing during the summer. I also picked up a raincoat and rainpants set in Walmart for $25. The raincoat split after two days, so it was obviously really crappy quality, but it was definitely good enough. Waterproof boots/hiking shoes are vital to keep you warm and happy. We also got these phenomenal rain hats in the general store across from the Seward harbor for $35 a pop - they were worth their weight in gold.

Day 1:

Sunday morning we flew United LGA-ORD-ANC. We landed at about 2PM, and caught the shuttle to Great Alaskan Holidays to pick up our RV. The process was painless, if not exactly quick. Before you take the RV, you have to sit through a 45-minute video giong over the systems (water, electric, generator, etc.), as well as learning how to deal with some driving issues unique to RVs (tailswing, leveling, backing up, etc.).

Eventually we were given the keys and did a walk around, with the attendant giving us a complete tour. We spent some time unpacking our stuff and getting settled. Our 25' Winnebago officially slept 6, so there was plenty of room and storage space. In addition to the closets and cabinets in the cabin, there were plenty of large outside compartments to keep our suitcases, lawn chairs, and whatnot.

(https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3816/13946039485_a5791742c5_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/067rK8)

(https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2924/13946088093_6942087736_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/3Ex0p4)

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7257/13946036005_f671295f6b_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/0i5rvE)

The largest vehicle I had driven up until that point was a 15-passenger van, so the first couple of minutes driving such a large truck was a challenge, to say the least. It took a few miles for me to get comfortable, but a while longer for my wife to become convinced that we're not going to die just yet and put her tehillim down :D.

We stopped in Walmart in Anchorage to stock up on paper goods, rain gear, and bear spray. The only kosher food I saw was some Sabra hummus; there may have been more, but I wasn't really looking.

As soon as we were done we headed south on the Seward Highway. This is considered one of the most beautiful and scenic highways in the US. It's only about 125 miles long, but it could take a full day to do it properly; there are countless pullouts and amazing places to stop on the way. We had about 5 hours of full daylight left, so we had to take a bit faster than we had wanted to. The weather was pretty lousy, cloudy and windy most of the time, and raining and cold otherwise, but that didn't diminish the beauty of the road at all.

The highway winds alongside bays, rivers, and lakes. Huge mountain ranges, their snow-capped peaks hidden in the clouds and glaciers hanging precariously on are visible throughout. Every now and then a turnout leads to amazing views. It is absolutely spectacular.

I had a GoPro mounted inside the windshield - here are some of the highway highlights:



Alongside the Turnagain Arm:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7379/13946428444_53dcf03439_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/8i9X18)

Alaska Railroad tracks:

(https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3834/13946009895_9ce353e90a_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/7M7pD6)


The Chugatch Mountains:

(https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2903/14049644563_8f8c2cd563_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/240819)

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7005/13946092903_de8e88ac41_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/06p6P6)

The first night we didn't have any campground reservations, figuring we'll stay in one of the 6 Seward municipal campgrounds on the bay. However, since we got into Seward relatively late, all campgrounds were full, so we camped in their overflow campground (basically a big parking lot). There were no hookups, but the RV had plenty of electricity and water to last the night (and longer). The picture of the "night" sky above was taken from this campground.

Day 2:

On Monday we had booked a cruise to Kenai Fjords National Park with Major Marine. Using the Toursaver book we got 2-for-1 tickets, saving about $160. When we were planning the trip we had to decide if we want to take a cruise out of Seward, or rather out of Whittier (which is a bit further north). After lots of research it seemed that the Whittier cruises focused mostly on glaciers, while the Seward ones saw much more wildlife in addition to the glaciers.

Most of the national park is only accessible by water, and is extremely remote. The six-hour cruise would sail out of Seaward and through Resurrection Bay, into the Gulf of Alaska, round Cape Aialik, and up Aialik Bay to the immense Aialik Glacier. Along the way we'd search for humpback whales, orcas (killer whales), sea otters, and bald eagles, as well as visit sea lion colonies and bird rookeries.

We woke up in the morning to freezing cold and pouring rain - perfect cruise weather ::). We bundled up in 3 jackets each, plus raincoats, rainpants, hats, and boots, and headed down to the Major Marine office by the Seward harbor. According to their website they would cancel the cruise in horrible weather, but they claimed that today wan't horrible enough.

Off we sailed...

Supposedly there are gigantic snow-capped mountains all around us... Yeah right :D.

(https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3755/13950282395_d581e32c97_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/tgrR8S)

(https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3682/13927171601_d09a3aa712_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/327f66)

It didn't take us long to start seeing wildlife - and lots of it:

Far-off bald eagle:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7070/13927233176_5c5a9b4419_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/Q42775)

Humpback whale:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7276/13927247922_aefe1543b2_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/Kp3aYh)

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7223/13950810324_b07311ac97_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/K10v68)

Cute little sea otters:

"Hey, look! Tourists!"

(https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3711/13927388666_7a91f96c1c_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/5q5x8U)

"I think it's Something Fishy"

(https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2898/13950473125_d8bffe9624_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/G701M7)

"Hi!"

(https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3808/10898033796_b6812fb632_b.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/hB2gLq)

Passing Pederson Glacier in the fog:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7069/14027889884_ba335cecc0_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/194c62)

The weather was getting progressively worse. As we approached the Gulf of Alaska the captain ordered everyone into their seats, and as soon as we headed into open ocean the ship started jumping like a bucking bronco in the high seas. After a few minutes we rounded the cape and headed into the much calmer Aialik Bay.

A while later we approached the absolutely immense Aialik glacier:

(https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2896/13927481241_9129144ef9_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/V2A15D)

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7451/13950654153_a516f0a536_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/P6PRX2)

(https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3751/13950693843_26a0dc4889_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/29125i)

50-foot icebergs were floating all around:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7369/13927550326_98555e16d9_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/W0f76t)

(https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3761/13950650595_3eac467d9a_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/181685)

Every 2-3 minutes, house-sized chunks of ice would break off and fall into the water with deafening noise (it sounded just like thunder):

(https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3709/13927547701_6e4c8bfa1c_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/982Y9q)

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5073/13927553106_5a20697d82_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/Pq8ng1)

(https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2931/13951108754_b25f9b50f8_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/3bnro7)

The size of this glacier is incomprehensible: the face (the wall entering the water) is more than a mile across and over 600 feet tall - imagine a 50-story building stretching halfway across Manhattan. The chunks breaking off every few minutes are as large as houses - big houses.

The scale really hit me when I was getting frustrated trying to shoot the calving (that's what the ice breaking off is called) - by the time I heard the crash, the event had long ended. It took about 5 seconds passed from when the ice hit the water until I heard the sound.  I had thought we were at most a couple hundred feet away from the glacier - turns out that the boat was almost a mile away from it, and the sound simply had to travel all the way over. That's when I realized how tremendous the thing I was looking at was - from a mile away it still looked like I was right beside it.

The crew lowered a bucket and scooped up some mini icebergs ("bergy bits" they call it in Alaska), and chopped it up and gave it to the kids on board, which was cute.

After hanging around the glacier for a while we turned around and headed back down the bay and around the cape, passing Three Hole Point:

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5312/14047791823_b677c26cec_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/2aL0M8)

As we headed into the the ocean ocean in the Gulf Of Alaska, the captain got a call that a family or orcas (killer whales) had been spotted not far from where we were. Orcas being somewhat rare around here, we headed straight over. By the time we got there, the weather had reached it's worst point. 70mph winds (!) were driving pouring freezing rain nearly horizontal, and 10-foot seas were tossing the boat violently up and down. Everyone was sitting in the relatively warm cabin trying to keep their lunches down, not exactly being interested in what's going on outside. I was the only person outside, crawling across the upper deck on all fours. One arm was wrapped around a chain for dear life, the other holding a camera and shooting madly ;D. Luckily a $5k+ camera and lens combination is built to take abuse, as both were deluged with icy water. They continued working just fine, although the viewfinder was completely blocked by water the water that had gotten inside.

(https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2939/14024583032_6f82d81bba_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/1YKs4b)

All the tour companies cooperate with each other (in fact it was a competitor who called in the orcas in the first place) - as soon as we arrived other boats started showing up too:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7079/14024584812_9226f69b31_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/93wrk4)

After a bit we headed back into Resurrection Bay. This time we went along the other coast as the way out, and headed to an area called the Eldorado Narrows. 1000-foot cliffs tower above the ocean. Thousands upon thousands of seabirds nest in every tiny crevice, flying back and forth and feeding their chicks. Dozens of sea lion lie lazily on the rocks below, while puffins swim and fish all around them. Every now and then a humpback whale blows a spout of water high in the air. It is truly and amazing (and loud!) spectacle to watch. At this point the weather had turned almost nice - the rain and wind had died down, and the waves relaxed.

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5007/14027822835_a4409bc649_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/G66AT2)

(https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2915/14024595912_829c4d3cba_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/12phu7)

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5320/14024611911_f074a354c7_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/4F29W3)

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7223/14024605551_c1365a5dfe_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/49s0d1)

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7384/14004693006_12e9d7d01c_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/NU0859)

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5001/14028231384_7a4b2450b2_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/JE4WXF)

(https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2898/14027820145_9a939784ed_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/678b2j)

We then headed back to Seward. We spent some time in the RV warming up and drying out, then headed towards Lowell Point, where we were going to camp that night. It's only about 2 miles down the road from Seward, but gosh what a "road". Only a bit wider than one lane, with cliffs on one side and the ocean on the other. More potholes than asphalt, rocks all over, and pouring rain. All this in a huge RV, having to pull over for oncoming traffic, as well as anyone behind me... Oddly enough, I thoroughly enjoyed driving it. Go figure.



(https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2898/14006328946_1dfa85e645_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/7Vv312)

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7449/14026236722_1e10820927_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/DFc03h)


That night we camped at Miller's Landing campground. We had a beautiful spot right on the beach, with water and electric hookups.

Whenever an RV is parked for longer than half and hour, it has to be perfectly level, or the refrigeration system could break down. High-end RVs have a self-leveling jack system, but for most regular RVs you have to use leveling blocks. I discovered that night that attempting to level an RV on blocks on a pebbly beach, in the rain, with only inches of clearance to the water hookup post, is no fun at all :'(.
 
Hooking up:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7458/14049453693_124bb0316a_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/b6F7w1)

Lovely location:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7181/14029440605_09f2ee9cef_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/6ykci3)

To be continued...
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Yaalili on April 27, 2014, 03:22:43 AM
Wow, your report is almost as incredible as your pictures. Reminds me of when i went cruising around Glacier Bay National Park, to hear those huge "houses" as you call them, rocking into the sea. Keep it coming.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Achas Veachas on April 27, 2014, 08:03:40 AM
Truly amazing as usual.
Loved the otters :D
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on April 28, 2014, 02:16:38 AM
Amazingly detailed. These things are hard to write.

Thanks for the gorgeous pictures, they are magnificent!

Sometimes rainy weather offers much more interesting lighting than sunny weather.

Don't stop!
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: smart brit on April 28, 2014, 08:04:24 AM
Thanks! Amazing tr
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: yehuda S on April 28, 2014, 10:12:35 AM
Your TR is making me want to go back and do the Kenai Fjords Tour. It looks like it provided much more wildlife than the PWS tour that we took.

The scenery also looks much more wild and rugged than the peaceful PWS.

 
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: ushdadude on May 08, 2014, 09:00:28 PM
Gorgeous! The gopro is an interesting idea. If I'm driving down the california coast, would you recommend it?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 08, 2014, 09:36:45 PM
Thanks for the great TR!! Brings back such good memories!

Funny what you mentioned about your camera getting soaked when shooting the Orcas. I was in same exact situation with the winds and rain. Only difference was that my camera wasn't worth 5k and after shooting the orcas (which I luckily captured) it was hardly worth 5 dollars  :)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 08, 2014, 11:44:48 PM
Gorgeous! The gopro is an interesting idea. If I'm driving down the california coast, would you recommend it?

Sure. It's an amazing little camera. Get the suction cup and mount it inside the windshield, outside on the side (use a safety tether!), etc.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 08, 2014, 11:45:39 PM
Funny what you mentioned about your camera getting soaked when shooting the Orcas. I was in same exact situation with the winds and rain. Only difference was that my camera wasn't worth 5k and after shooting the orcas (which I luckily captured) it was hardly worth 5 dollars  :)

 :'( :'( :'(

But hey, at least you got the shot ;)!
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: lubaby on May 09, 2014, 02:47:37 PM
.
That's not the least bit annoying ;)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on May 09, 2014, 02:48:19 PM
That's not the least bit annoying ;)

now your'e dissapointing me
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: lubaby on May 09, 2014, 02:50:40 PM
now your'e dissapointing me
Should I have quoted SF's post, and sub-quote your post?

ETA I guess that would have gotten my point across better.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 14, 2014, 08:02:11 PM
Trip Report Part 2 (Link to part 1 (http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=3395.msg797231#msg797231))

Warning: this one's even longer than part 1.

Click on any picture to see it in full resolution.

Day 3:

We woke up to another cold and wet morning (surprise, surprise!). Looking out of the window of the RV we watched a couple of otters cavort around the early morning fishing boats right off the beach. According to the weather report it was supposed to stop raining soon, so we were a bit hopeful.

Miller's Landing, where we were camping, also offers guided kayak trips. We had booked the Caines Head Adventure from them through Groupon before we came. The guided trip included a 9-mile round trip paddle in Resurrection Bay to Caines Head Recreation Area, as well as a 5-mile hike.

By the time we were at the office and ready to go, the weather had cleared. It was still cloudy and quite cool, but actually very pleasant.

We met our group and guide, who gave us some paddling instruction and geared us up. This part was easier said than done. Ever see a 6'-8", 260lb guy try to stuff himself into a kayak? Trust me, it's a sight to behold. After trying all of their kayaks (and getting stuck in most of them too :D), I was finally able to squeeze my legs into one of them, kinda sorta.

First things first: let's get that GoPro mounted 8):

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7396/14079090312_8afc5bc986_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/2e92Am)

Before we knew it, we were in the water. It was an absolutely amazing experience (at least the first while, when our arms were still functioning :-[). The kayak sits four inches above the surface; your feet are actually underwater. It's completely quiet: the only sounds are the waves lapping at your kayak and the rhythmic splish, splash, splish, splash of the paddle hitting the water. All around you are snow-covered mountains as far as the eye could see; here and there, an otter floats lazily on his back. A pod of porpoises swims by.

Splish, splash, splish, splash.

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7307/14076335771_d8238a0144_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/h16028)

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7209/13892913787_979c64e172_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/U63Nmx)

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7450/14056441416_2e55504dae_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/VEUAK4)

After a while however, the magic started to wear off. 4.5 miles is a long way to paddle for first timers - and that's just one way. Our arms started hurting, plus our rudder wasn't working properly, so we were wasting a tremendous amount of energy just trying to go in a straight line. The splash skirt you wear which seals the opening of the kayak didn't fit me either (duh!), so each and every time I took a stroke with my paddle freezing cold water would land right on my lap. I was soaked to the bone.

Eventually we made it to Caines Head and landed on the rocky beach. We all sat on some logs and took a well deserved break. We got to know our guide a bit then - turns out she only lives in Alaska during the summer where she guides wilderness tours. In the winter she lives in a self-sustaining jungle colony on Molokini in Hawaii. They grow all their food, build their own shelter, and only come out into the real world once every couple of months.

She got curious when she saw us eat some Green's rugulach, so I offered her one. It was the weirdest thing - you could think I offered her the most exotic delicacy on the planet. She simply could not stop raving about them, and promptly finished the whole entire bag ;D. "Man, these Jewish pastries are awesome! You could get anything you wanted by trading this stuff!" I told her that she should save some for when we get back so she could try it with milk, as it's even better that way. Nah, she says, she hasn't had any milk in weeks: "I only drink milk from cows whose names I know". :D ::)

After the break we started the 5-mile hike up to the top of the head, where there’s an abandoned WWII fort called Fort Mcgilvray. The hike itself was exceedingly underwhelming - basically walking up a wide gravel pathway through the rainforest. It was more an "uphill walk" than a hike. The fact that it's actually a rainforest as probably the most interesting part of the hike, as you don't quite expect to find a rainforest in Alaska. On the way we passed some abandoned bunkers and storehouses, all uninteresting. When we got to the top we spent some time exploring the fort itself, which did actually prove quite enjoyable. There were also some great views from the top.

The very difficult "hike" ::):

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5512/14078540926_84e4b69e05_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/j4K3d9)

Some interesting rainforest scenes - totally unexpected in Alaska:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7041/14098556832_07605848ec_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/2D7h6S)

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5467/14121769983_1046d8fbaf_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/Mo8o81)

The cliffs of Caines Head:

(https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2898/13915042077_fcc4d95e22_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/4d6R26)

Abandoned bunkers and storage areas:

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5463/14101665335_7a8cefe76f_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/YV9Z92)

(https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2897/13915051197_8699e28209_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/3F3hwM)

The view from the top:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7410/14098464891_cfd2c583ed_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/55o7U7)

The huge gun platforms:

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5553/14078589066_b67a101f31_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/6KF9dv)

We explored the fort for a bit and then headed back down through the rainforest to the beach, and another 4.5-mile paddle back to Lowell Point. On the way back the weather had cleared up a bit and the sun even peeked through once or twice:

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5152/13915105969_3459cb782e_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/V5V1b3)

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7070/14121814253_f8072cd292_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/4grJ49)

We had planned on exploring Seward when we got back, but we were so exhausted and in so much pain that we just fell into bed and slept for a couple of hours. Basically we had bitten off far more than we could chew. Neither of us had ever been in a kayak before, and today we had paddled for 9 miles, plus hiked another 5 miles. Every muscle in our body was aching.

What I would recommend for anyone considering such a trip is to take it easy - don't go for such a long paddle if you've never done it before, and skip the Canes Head hike. Miller's Landing (and of course all their competitors) have many different trips to choose from, plenty of them shorter or less strenuous.

After a good long nap and shower we headed north again on the Seward Highway towards the Portage Glacier Highway, where we would be camping that night. The campground was called Williwaw Campground, and is administered by the National Park Service. We had a wonderful pull-through spot in a private, wooded area. Again here we were 'dry camping', meaning that there were no hookups whatsoever. No matter; the RV had plenty of water, propane, and battery power left.

The campsite has beautiful grounds, including views of Portage Glacier and a platform over the river where you could watch the salmon running. Unfortunately we weren't able to take advantage of any of those, as we arrived late at night and left early the next morning.

Day 4:

We left the campground in the wee hours of the morning, and headed north. Again onto the lovely Seward Highway and through Anchorage, and on to the town of Palmer to meet up with our ATV guide.

There are many companies that will take you ATVing in Alaska. All however do it in large groups. In addition, all of their 2-passenger ATVs are the side-by-side golf cart style ones. What I didn't like about those is that they're not nearly as powerful as regular ATVs, plus sitting in a bucket seat with seatbelts and a roof and windshield doesn't sound like too much fun to me ;).

Eventually I discovered Heiny's ATV Adventures (http://alaskatrailtours.com/), which is a small one-man operation and gives private tours on standard front-to-back ATVs. I was a bit nervous of having a random redneck take me into the Alaskan wilderness, and read every review I could find on the guy. Everything I found turned out to be very positive, with most people saying how much fun Marty (the owner) was. I decided to give it a shot and called him up. He asked me lots of questions about my ATVing experience (of which I had a bit of, but definitely not too much), then proceeded to talk me out of the route I had chosen. He said that the trail is really messy this year, and he had a few people tip over already. He recommended a completely different trail, one that was actually cheaper. I was fairly impressed by his honesty, and decided to book.

Since this was a private tour I was able to choose the starting time and meeting location. We met up with him in the parking lot of a grocery in Palmer, and then followed him for about half an hour to the trailhead.

Following our ride out of town:

(https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2911/13915321328_e5c1c9fd83_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/Y1vm4N)

Turns out Marty was a really funny guy and a great guide. He was armed too, in case we get into a confrontation with a mad grizzly (which unfortunately didn't happen in the end :(). We were a bit annoyed that he had brought a visiting friend along, but as it turned out the guy was also great company and didn't get in the way at all. He just hung back behind us and didn't make us feel crowded.

We did the Wishbone Lake Trail, and had the times of our lives. Up mountains and into valleys, from open meadows to deep forest and bushland. The trail itself was also a great combination of fairly smooth track and deeply rutted and rocky sections, with lots of steep ups and downs. There were plenty of puddles and river crossings to keep us nice and muddy ;D.

The weather was wonderful too, overcast and cool. Unfortunately we didn't meet any bears, but we saw plenty of moose. All told it was about 5 hours of driving.

I had the GoPro clamped to my ATV, and also put in on the ATV behind us for a different perspective:



(https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2929/14102537514_0a9013d4ce_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/j00s88)

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7419/14079002526_b9accb84ce_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/r6EVe3)

Marty showing us some gold mining equipment from the early 1900's:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7196/14102536874_d5696e653e_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/7HPL72)

(https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2922/13915459497_e9d66f8e7a_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/zQ80Fe)

Crossing a stream:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7069/13915465797_f511f84437_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/Gvoo2N)

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5449/13915502560_98c9890f21_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/D5zM6q)

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7350/14122197093_5cbac92766_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/3596pS)

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7345/13915461767_049eced92a_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/w42u0F)

Some of the scenery along the way:

(https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2924/14122193153_757c6bdf4a_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/DD0r4W)

Lunch by Wishbone Lake:

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5239/13915457907_7c63eccc53_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/845203)

Shooting for the first time 8):

(https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2903/13915640838_6041415b56_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/822tY6)

(https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2926/14102537234_50c95430be_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/C86pnj)

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7423/14099025852_b4f90390de_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/5Y04W0)

With Marty and his friend:

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5508/14102538484_991e9ddf86_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/1Bo807)

We then headed west on the Glenn Highway, another breathtakingly beautiful road. It follows the course of the Matanuska River, sometimes at its level, sometimes rising hundreds of feet above it. The mighty Chugach Range follows alongside the entire time, towering over the river.

While I found the highway beautiful, it was also quite nerve wracking. Driving a heavy RV along a curvy, high road, with everything in the back rattling loudly with every bump, and the wind buffeting it all the time is not for the faint of heart. On top of that there are lots of stretches with very long downhill grades, and going at fairly high speeds it always feels like you won't be able to brake in time. In reality it's a brand new, well maintained, and extremely safe road; nonetheless, I was not as comfortable here as I was on the Seward Highway.

Along the Glenn Highway:



(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7412/14138847841_ffb88472e0_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/21CwhF)

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7385/14118986696_6e0a57d88f_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/yW38Sw)

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5329/13955490887_485b03ae27_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/Dio9W8)

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7436/13955536628_4e638737b7_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/869Gm1)

(https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2918/14138846921_b01761c296_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/XG8d32)

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5501/14142378524_b72318005b_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/5cd785)

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7296/13955527420_1b81fe53ed_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/13xRJ8)

In many places the road is cut right out of the mountain:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7439/14142166305_f1154dba96_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/NjA661)

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7330/14138956581_b721200e4e_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/B853j1)

Our destination was Grandview Campground, located right on the highway. This was our fanciest campground yet. Every site had full hookups (water, electric, and sewer) and a fire pit and picnic table. There were beautiful grounds, as well as hiking trails. All for $37 bucks a night.

Walmart was out of those little barbecues, so we MacGyvered our own :):

(https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2915/13955666820_113d152207_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/5DxQk1)

View from the campground - the mountain to the right is called Sheep Mountain (supposedly it looks like a sheep's head), and the white area to the left is Matanuska Glacier, where we’re going trekking tomorrow:

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5529/13955757068_488e67e0fa_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/R7z2Sn)

Day 5:

Today was our last day, and we were going glacier trekking.

Most people who come to this region of Alaska and want to get up close and personal with a glacier visit Exit Glacier in Seward. This was our plan as well. In researching it we saw that while it's easy to get to the glacier, the only accessible part is the very edge of the ice - and even that is (officially, at least) not allowed. There is one path that brings you to the edge, as well as another which brings you to an overlook where you could see the entire thing. None of this sounded very exciting, so I started searching for alternatives. Then I discovered Matanuska Glacier.

Matanuska Glacier is one of the largest Glaciers in Alaska, and only 100 miles or so from Anchorage. This picture from Wikipedia  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Matanuska_Glacier_From_The_Air.JPG) was taken from 20,000 feet and shows the size of the glacier - an immense 4 miles wide by 27 miles long!
(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/29/Matanuska_Glacier_From_The_Air.JPG/1024px-Matanuska_Glacier_From_The_Air.JPG)

Only the 'toe' of the glacier (on the bottom right) is accessible - even that relatively tiny area is incomprehensibly massive.

The glacier itself is part of a state recreation area, but the road access is through private property. There are a couple of different outfitters leading treks and climbs, all of whom were pretty highly recommended online. MICA guides are the biggest, but we ended up signing up with Matanuska Glacier Adventures (http://www.bestglacier.com/) for a couple of reasons:

- MGA is operated by the landowners, so the access fee is included in the guide fee. With the other you have to pay their fee plus the access fee.
- Since they are run the place, they are able to take more - and therefore smaller - groups than the others, where it's a whole process of being shuttled in from a remote office.
- They actually had crampons for size 18 boots ;D, as opposed to MICA.
- We were leaving from ANC later that day, so we had to be on the road at a certain time. MGA had no problem letting us set up a tour with times which worked for us, whereas the MICA tours were all 'official' and inflexible.

The best part of setting a custom time for our tour was that we were able to start at 8:30 - a good hour before anyone else arrived at the glacier. This meant that instead of being in a loud, busy group, we had a private tour and the glacier all to ourselves.

Our campground was a short 10-minute drive away from the glacier, so before we knew it we were driving down the steepest, hairiest, dirt road and over a shaky wooden plank bridge to the glacier. Before we went I checked out the road on Google street view to see what it looks like, and couldn't believe that an RV could make it down there. But lo and behold, there were some 18-wheelers visible at the end (https://maps.google.com/?ll=61.793064,-147.796618&spn=0.001147,0.003484&t=h&z=19&layer=c&cbll=61.793057,-147.796817&panoid=08R3CfGclVSctvz6CnTmTg&cbp=12,310.26,,0,12.26), so I figured that if they made it I could too.

The "road" down (you could see the glacier off in the distance):

(https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2939/13979434040_a928391f4b_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/8HDx04)

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7296/13979437177_fd7d181093_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/1C6xQ5)

Oy vey:

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5490/14166074655_4a29657a0e_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/u04ENx)



We went into the office/gift shop to sign the waivers and meet our guide, Michael. We then headed out to the glacier proper and got fitted with crampons, helmets, and trekking poles. Michael also carried an ice ax, rope, first aid kit, and radio in case of an emergency.

Michael had been guiding treks on the glacier for a couple of seasons, and knew it like the back of his hand. More than once he held us back just before a yawning chasm in the ice. He was also extremely knowledgeable in the geology and physics of the glacier, and kept up a constant stream of fascinating commentary.

The snout of the glacier is actually buried in the rubble of rocks it pushes forward. While it seems like you're walking on solid ground, it's actually a layer of pebbles an inch or so thick. The meltwater cuts channels ahead of the glacier, and every couple of days the portable bridges have to be moved to keep up with the ever-changing channels. The cones in the background mark the rough path from bridge to bridge:

(https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2912/13987912628_651b79fdae_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/q024M9)

Right away the ice takes on fascinating shapes where the water had undercut it. In the beginning the ice is quite dirty, with lots of pebbles mixed in:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7326/13987922970_7261a6a7a3_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/6ed7Z4)

(https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2899/13987903399_4e5f67cf74_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/384dhb)

Soon though the ice becomes more pristine:

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5485/13987955167_104f0405ab_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/6Z10qR)

Now we were on the glacier proper, trekking across ridges, along crevasses, and into deep valleys. It was an absolutely amazing experience. It's absolutely, perfectly quiet, and you're surrounded by towering walls of ice in every shade of blue. It's like being on a different planet.

The glacier is so huge that it creates its own weather - very few glaciers are capable of that. The immense volume of ice absorbs all the moisture from the air, so even if it's pouring rain all around the area, there will usually be perfectly clear skies over the glacier. Indeed, even though it was cloudy when we arrived, as soon as we got onto the ice we were under beautiful sunny skies most of the time. The glacier also absorbs cool air, so while everything around you is ice cold (duh!), the air is warm and balmy. In fact this was the only time during the entire trip that we were able to take our jackets off.

The effect is so complete, that at one point I sat down on an outcropping to rest for a moment, only to jump right up with my pants sopping wet and freezing cold. Between the warm, sunny weather and the amazing grip crampons give, I had literally forgotten that it's ice I'm walking on.

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7425/14174839104_560313634c_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/Bn0665)

Most of the ice surface was melted into this beautiful pattern:

(https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2926/14174844274_b416457e66_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/Hubs46)

The meltwater had carved deep crevasses, which are cracks only about a foot or two across but hundreds of feet deep. Michael, being familiar with every nook and cranny, kept us safely away from these. Whenever we came across a random rock, we would drop it into a crevasse and time how long it took till we heard the crash. We were able to estimate the depth of the cracks like that - they were all at least a hundred feet deep, some a few times that.

The way a glacier works is that its own weight presses down on itself, expelling every impurity from the ice down to the molecular level. This means that the meltwater is the purest water anywhere in the world. Since the glacier forms high in the mountains and is constantly moving forward, it means that the ice which is now melting is about 400 years old - perfectly perfect, with not a trace of dirt, pollutants, or anything else.

There are some spots where the water pours out above the surface, and we stopped to drink. Never in my life have I tasted anything like this - it was absolute heaven. I had prepared some bottles back in the RV to bring along, but of course I forgot them ::). I sat in an ice crevice and drank and drank and drank. The water comes out under extreme pressure, in a supercooled state. This means that it was about 25° cold and still liquid - delicious, but painful when you're using your hands as a cup :o. My hands were numb, but I didn't care; I simply could not stop ;D:

(https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2921/13988161247_2f256aca9c_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/9z9x8z)

Soon we came to a massive icefall - tremendous pinnacles of ice all leaning against each other and ready to come crashing down at the slightest disturbance:

(https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2902/14174833055_d3769bae94_b.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/nAzJ2n)

(https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2925/14174880324_10c716f9d5_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/U85c9Z)

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7406/13988229257_6bfcd7a312_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/db5H71)

(https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2913/14174887094_46a10d6a4d_b.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/nAA165)

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7426/14172197672_47e29926f4_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/dDH688)

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7440/13995682689_4fc5cab0cf_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/m0nxTA)

We then headed to a glacial lake, where meltwater had been accumulating:

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5527/13995329099_cc38469421_b.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/njHHKz)

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7344/14171596611_a1f63c63b3_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/3s9YZW)

We then reluctantly headed off the glacier and back onto terra firma. In total we had done about 4 miles on the glacier, plus another mile or two back and forth from the parking lot.

One last stop for a view of the glacier from the Glenn Highway:

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5111/13988278249_2c128362f4_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/rkqRHu)

We had a plane to catch :'(...

Conclusions:

- Alaska is huge; don't try to see it all
- The weather can be nasty; don't be surprised if it's cold and wet the entire time
- RVs are great, and extremely practical in Alaska
- A Kenai Fjords National Park Tour is probably better than one out of Whittier
- Don't kayak 9.5 miles if you've never done it before
- Skip Exit Glacier - go for Matanuska
- Matanuska Glacier is awesome
- Matanuska Glacier is so awesome I had to repeat it twice :)

---The end---

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7381/14195080633_d2cabc55bd_b.jpg) (https://www.flickr.com/gp/morrishersko/592B4g)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: ChAiM'l on May 14, 2014, 09:16:09 PM
That must be the most fascinating TR I've ever read.
Thanks!
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Crazy tools on May 14, 2014, 09:17:20 PM
Wow nice clear and informative report.
Need some help staying in the lanes with the RV??
Jk. Looks like your going really fast till I see all the cars whizzing by you!!

Awesome pics btw
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Yaalili on May 14, 2014, 10:29:43 PM
Stunning pictures and made for a great read. You got the real alaska experience. Thanks.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Joe4007 on May 15, 2014, 12:15:01 AM
That must be the most fascinating TR I've ever read.
Thanks!
+1. Amazing stuff!

Much appreciated!
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Ergel on May 15, 2014, 12:21:57 PM
Amazing TR. What was the cost of the different activities?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Traveler718 on May 15, 2014, 02:50:13 PM
What is the minyan situation like in Anchorage? I realize that there's few if any locals, but on Shabbos in July and August, is there a reliable minyan at Chabad Friday night and Shabbos morning? Any chance for Shabbos mincha or Motzei Shabbos maariv, Sunday morning, or Rosh Chodesh?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 15, 2014, 10:02:32 PM
That must be the most fascinating TR I've ever read.
Thanks!
+1. Amazing stuff!
Much appreciated!
Stunning pictures and made for a great read. You got the real alaska experience. Thanks.

Thanks all :D

Wow nice clear and informative report.
Need some help staying in the lanes with the RV??
Jk. Looks like your going really fast till I see all the cars whizzing by you!!
Awesome pics btw

Mind you the wind was a real issue. Buy when you speed up the video it definitely looks worse than it was.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 15, 2014, 10:09:36 PM
Amazing TR. What was the cost of the different activities?

Cruise - $184.33 p/p, paid only one with the 2-for-1 coupon from the Toursaver book.
Kayak - $360 for both of us, paid $120 through Groupon, plus $10 state park fee.
ATV - $300 ($200 driver, $100 passenger).
Glacier - $75 p/p.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 15, 2014, 10:12:32 PM
What is the minyan situation like in Anchorage? I realize that there's few if any locals, but on Shabbos in July and August, is there a reliable minyan at Chabad Friday night and Shabbos morning? Any chance for Shabbos mincha or Motzei Shabbos maariv, Sunday morning, or Rosh Chodesh?

I wasn't there over shabbos and didn't visit Chabad at all. If I remember correctly Yehuda S did - he'll probably have more info.

Also check out their site (http://www.chabad.org/centers/default_cdo/aid/117927/jewish/Lubavitch-Jewish-Center-of-Alaska.htm).
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Achas Veachas on May 15, 2014, 10:15:23 PM
I wasn't there over shabbos and didn't visit Chabad at all. If I remember correctly Yehuda S did - he'll probably have more info.

Also check out their site (http://www.chabad.org/centers/default_cdo/aid/117927/jewish/Lubavitch-Jewish-Center-of-Alaska.htm).
http://www.alaskajewishcampus.org/
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on May 15, 2014, 10:21:58 PM
The guy who checked me in at the RV place was suggesting I go check out the reform temple - it's called the Frozen Chosen ;D. No, thanks...
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Achas Veachas on May 15, 2014, 10:26:34 PM
I believe that pun has been used as the headline of EVERY news headline that has to do with Jews in Alaska...
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: wonderlust on June 17, 2014, 12:46:00 PM
I have a plethora of various  airline miles( as most ppl on ddf) which Milage programs offer the best value for economy from east coast?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on June 17, 2014, 12:55:12 PM
I have a plethora of various  airline miles( as most ppl on ddf) which Milage programs offer the best value for economy from east coast?

Try flying Alaskan direct from Newark, using AA miles. I'd say that's the best value.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on June 17, 2014, 01:00:53 PM
Make sure you also check cash prices. Sometimes they're really low - I paid $172 for ANC-MSP-LGA on DL last summer.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: wonderlust on June 17, 2014, 08:45:18 PM
Try flying Alaskan direct from Newark, using AA miles. I'd say that's the best value.
Thanks that sounds real sweet.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: wonderlust on June 17, 2014, 09:03:31 PM
Make sure you also check cash prices. Sometimes they're really low - I paid $172 for ANC-MSP-LGA on DL last summer.
Wow. What's the shortest time frame that is still reasonably worth going for? 6days?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on June 17, 2014, 09:10:14 PM
Wow. What's the shortest time frame that is still reasonably worth going for? 6days?

I went Sun-Thu.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: bem684 on July 30, 2014, 08:13:09 PM
A friend of mine has been RVing for the past 12 months with his family all over the western US, Canada, and Alaska.  He's also a professional photographer so he has some nice shots if you are interested in seeing them.  This link takes you to the day or two before they entered Alaska, but day 1 started in Monsey and there's a "Trip Map" page with an interactive google map so you can find any day from that map.

http://lookbeforeyoulive.com/?p=4770 (http://lookbeforeyoulive.com/?p=4770)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: meshugener on July 31, 2014, 12:35:00 PM
A friend of mine has been RVing for the past 12 months with his family all over the western US, Canada, and Alaska.  He's also a professional photographer so he has some nice shots if you are interested in seeing them.  This link takes you to the day or two before they entered Alaska, but day 1 started in Monsey and there's a "Trip Map" page with an interactive google map so you can find any day from that map.

http://lookbeforeyoulive.com/?p=4770 (http://lookbeforeyoulive.com/?p=4770)
This is sick
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: whYME on July 31, 2014, 04:16:58 PM
A friend of mine has been RVing for the past 12 months with his family all over the western US, Canada, and Alaska.  He's also a professional photographer so he has some nice shots if you are interested in seeing them.  This link takes you to the day or two before they entered Alaska, but day 1 started in Monsey and there's a "Trip Map" page with an interactive google map so you can find any day from that map.

http://lookbeforeyoulive.com/?p=4770 (http://lookbeforeyoulive.com/?p=4770)
Wow, that is just so awesome on so many levels.
I don't think I've ever been so jealous in my entire life...
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: 12HRS on July 31, 2014, 05:07:37 PM
Wow, that is just so awesome on so many levels.
I don't think I've ever been so jealous in my entire life...

+1

Just need more time to read through all the posts.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Joe4007 on July 31, 2014, 05:11:10 PM
This is sick
Wow, that is just so awesome on so many levels.
I don't think I've ever been so jealous in my entire life...
"The difference between you and him and him and me isn't different at all: we’re all different.” ~ Jarod Kintz
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: meshugener on July 31, 2014, 09:00:20 PM
"The difference between you and him and him and me isn't different at all: we’re all different.” ~ Jarod Kintz
"The trouble with quotes on the Internet is that it's difficult to determine whether or not they are genuine." - Abraham Lincoln
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Achas Veachas on July 31, 2014, 09:42:55 PM
"The trouble with quotes on the Internet is that it's difficult to determine whether or not they are genuine." - Abraham Lincoln
The most inane musing of the commonest of folk can be made to sound important by affixing the name of a famous philosopher at the end.  -Plato
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: meshugener on July 31, 2014, 10:10:35 PM
The most inane musing of the commonest of folk can be made to sound important by affixing the name of a famous philosopher at the end.  -Plato
  ;D
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Dan on August 03, 2014, 01:34:22 AM
- Alaska is huge; don't try to see it all
- The weather can be nasty; don't be surprised if it's cold and wet the entire time
- RVs are great, and extremely practical in Alaska
- A Kenai Fjords National Park Tour is probably better than one out of Whittier
- Don't kayak 9.5 miles if you've never done it before
- Skip Exit Glacier - go for Matanuska
- Matanuska Glacier is awesome
- Matanuska Glacier is so awesome I had to repeat it twice :)
Absolutely incredible TR, can't believe I'm just reading it now.
Another one of those places I should've done pre-kids. Now it'll probably wait until the kids can do all that and come along :)

Drinking the water from the glacier near Jasper was just other-worldly. Though we remembered to bring bottles to fill up.
I haven't been able to appreciate water since trying that.  Well, except perhaps after a fast ;)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: jaywhy on August 03, 2014, 09:59:20 AM
Amazing TR!
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: jaywhy on August 03, 2014, 10:03:48 AM
A friend of mine has been RVing for the past 12 months with his family all over the western US, Canada, and Alaska.  He's also a professional photographer so he has some nice shots if you are interested in seeing them.  This link takes you to the day or two before they entered Alaska, but day 1 started in Monsey and there's a "Trip Map" page with an interactive google map so you can find any day from that map.

http://lookbeforeyoulive.com/?p=4770 (http://lookbeforeyoulive.com/?p=4770)
Wow.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: AJK on August 03, 2014, 06:58:44 PM
SF,

Mind-numbingly great TR.

I know from having written just a few how hard it must have been to write, let alone to to catalog it appropriately when in Alaska itself.

Well done.

You've made the water on the glacier sound otherworldy; I'm now parched.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Dan on August 03, 2014, 07:03:57 PM
The crazy thing is that glacier water is even better than he describes :)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: AJK on August 03, 2014, 07:05:34 PM
(http://i.gyazo.com/e71369f7b799219b0676b8aa288379ca.png)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on August 03, 2014, 11:28:21 PM
Thanks guys :D

That water was otherworldly; I remember sitting there with this stupid grin on my face and not being able to stop drinking. My hands were numb and my butt was frozen but it was just absolutely sublime.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: jaywhy on August 03, 2014, 11:36:16 PM
You guys are really making me thirsty for glacier water :D
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: GreatFoodinMiami on August 24, 2014, 02:00:29 PM
Just returned from 8 days in Alaska with the family (4 children). Best thing I ever did. Dan, sorry, you were wrong. I am not suicidal. had an absolutely amazing time.

Not going to write a lengthy trip report as I simply do not have the time or energy.

Families who are interested, feel free to post Q's or PM me. My trip was very different than SF's as I went with kids (ages 4-14)

Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: sky121 on August 24, 2014, 02:04:41 PM
What about a short TR? Can we get one of those ?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: GreatFoodinMiami on August 24, 2014, 02:48:50 PM
Ok. Here's where I went:

Thursday
Thunderbird Falls - http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/maps/thunderbirdfallsguide.pdf
Not worth making a trip for this, but if it happens to be on the way to somewhere, as it was for me, then well worth it.

Talkkeetna Air Taxi - Plane ride into the mountains with glacier landing. -
http://www.talkeetnaair.com/
Very expensive, though the memories / experience will last a lifetime. If you can figure it into your budget, do it. Of all the private flights to the mountains with glacier landings, this one is the most affordable.

Friday
Hatcher Pass -
http://www.alaska.org/detail/hatcher-pass
Absolutely awesome! maybe the best thing I did in Alaska.
It's free.

Raindeer Farm in Palmer
http://www.reindeerfarm.com/Pages/default.aspx
Great fun for the kids.
Genuinely unique to Alaska
Total cost was about $45

Shabbos
Shabbos at the Residence Inn (Marriott) next door to the Chabad House.
They have a 2 bedroom room, with a "full" kitchen.
May be pricey.

Paid for Shabbos lunch at the Chabad House. Considered it Tzedaka. Was well worth getting fed and not having to make my own meal.

Sunday
Beluga Point
http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=viewinglocations.belugapoint
Great to climb the rocks and hope to see beluga whales, and depending on the time of month, a bore tide.
Free

Bird Creek
http://www.alaskanoutfitting.com/fishing/birdcreek/birdcreek.shtml
Great place to watch fishermen do their thing
If you can or want to, i believe you can rent fishing equipment and join the fun.

Hike up Mount Alyeska
http://www.alyeskaresort.com/events-activities/summer-hiking-trekking.aspx
For adults and children, who can make it up the 2.5 mile hike, with 2,300 ft elevation.
For those who cannot make it, there is a cable car that takes you to the top.
The cable car cost money to go up, free on the way down.
Warning! you may encounter a bear. make sure you have either, bear spray, a gun, or someone accompanying you who has bear spray or a gun.
Approximate cost is $45.

Drive down the Seward Higway to Seward. One of the most scenic rides you will ever do.

Monday
Wildlife Boat Cruise
https://www.majormarine.com/kf/kenai-fjords-halfday-wildlife-cruise/
MAKE SURE YOU TAKE YOUR DRAMAMINE BEFORE GETTING ON THIS BOAT.
Wildlife varies. We saW seals and whales up close. Bald eagles, porpoises and mountain goats from a distance.
About $300.

Tuesday
Seavey's Dog Sled
http://www.ididaride.com/
Great fun for the kids and genuinely something you will only do in Alaska.
About $250.

Exit Glacier
http://www.nps.gov/kefj/planyourvisit/exit-glacier.htm
Yes. SF, will tell you that there are better. But if you do not want to spend the whole day in the car driving, and / or your 5 year is not up for a crazy hike, this will do just fine. We were able to go to the bottom of the glacier and climb on the ice. Graet hike.
Not worth it to hike to the top of the mountain to see the glacier from a distance. Hike to the "toe" and feel and climb on the glacier from the bottom up.
Free

Wednesday
Fishing
http://www.sewardfishingclub.com/
This company has lots of negative reviews online and they may be deserved. They had a groupon running and I took advantage of it.
If you are an experienced fisherman and are looking to catch a ton of fish, this may not be the charter you should choose. But if you have no experience fishing and just want to have a good time, and maybe catch a few fish, this is a great choice. The crew was excellent with my kids. We caught 7 fish, sent 5 back and kept the two salmon.
$450

Thursday
Drove slowly back to Anchorage to catch out evening flight. Stopped at some lakes / small hikes, that we missed on the way down.
Stopped at portage lake for lunch. Happened to be, there were a few SMALL icebergs floating around.
Me personally, I would not waste my time and money on the portage glacier cruise. It's proibably very similar to going on the Maid of The Mist. You go out there, take a few pictures and come back. <Much better idea, if you can, is to rent a kayak and / or stand up paddle-board and go out to the glacier yourself. That's a whole day activity in itself.
Free, unless you rent the board / kayak.

A drive to Whittier, through the one way tunnel is a awesome drive, so I was told by the locals, but did not have time.

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
http://www.alaskawildlife.org/
Great fun for the kids and if you have not yet seen a moose or a bear, you will see one here.
$35 max per car.

A few things to note:
Alaska is expensive. I had free airfare, but paid for rental car, hotels, food and entertainment.
My guess, is that for one week, you need to budget $3,500 for the 1st person and then $500 for each additional person. This doe NOT include airfare.

There are few national chain hotels outside of Anchorage. Don't expect to be able to get hotels with points. Joe's Cabins does not take points.

Use public restrooms when you find them. Most parks have outhouses. Ok for the boys. Not much fun for the girls. When you find a real bathroom, use it!

Fill up with gas, whenever you can. Gas is expensive in Alsaka and not always readily available. There will be multiple stretches of 40, 50 or even 90 miles, where you will not find gas.

I prepared lots of meat and chicken in advance. Made hamburger patties, bought think sliced chicken breasts, cold cuts and steaks. Marinated the meat and chicken, made the hamburger patties in advance, vacuum packed them in meal portions.
Here's the vacuum that I bought. worked just fine. http://www.walmart.com/ip/FoodSaver-FreshSaver-Handheld-Vacuum-System/15777783

Here is the grill that I used:http://www.amazon.com/Fuego-Element-Portable-Gas-Grill/dp/B004PZN2SS
I bought it on woot for $58. If you can have it shipped directly to Alaska, that's probably a good idea.

Any cooler can be used to transport your fish back to the mainland. Alternatively, every supermarket in Alaska sells cardboard boxes with Styrofoam inserts which fit perfectly with airplane luggage regulations.

There's no perfect time to go to Alaska, each month seems to have it's pro's and cons. I went in August, just returned. My guess is that July is best. by the time I got there, the berries had all been picked, the salmon had already done their upstream swimming, which means that the bears were not readily available.

I loved the long days, Shabbos was a challenge, though the Chabad House starts Shachris at 10:30, followed by a kiddush and then mincha, which goes on until about 3PM. Shabbos ended at 11:30, the week I was there. In July, you might find it ending at 1am.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: smart brit on August 24, 2014, 05:51:21 PM
Thanks for the report!
Contemplating going with kids or not!
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: GreatFoodinMiami on August 24, 2014, 08:43:25 PM
Not sure how old your kids are, but if they are old enough to appreciate it, ABSOLUTELY take the kids. You will give them an experience that they will never forget.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Dan on August 24, 2014, 09:30:42 PM
Great stuff, thanks for sharing.

Have more photos?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Yehoshua on August 24, 2014, 11:15:52 PM
@CBS and @Something Fishy great TRs! Brings back good memories of going 7 years ago; I need to be back.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: GreatFoodinMiami on August 24, 2014, 11:29:39 PM
I tried uploading more photos but I was limited to 4 photos and a total of 512KB. each of my photos is about 400KB.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Yehoshua on August 24, 2014, 11:40:42 PM
I tried uploading more photos but I was limited to 4 photos and a total of 512KB. each of my photos is about 400KB.
Try linking them from another source. It's quicker, they can be in line, and there are no limits.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: GreatFoodinMiami on August 31, 2014, 09:41:03 AM
I posted a video on youtube of my ride from Anchorage to Seward.

SPOILER ALERT! Watching this now, will definitely decrease the "ooo" and "aahh" factor when you get there, since you will have already seen everything online before you get there.

Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: AJK on September 10, 2014, 02:04:20 PM
@GreatFoodinMiami

Great breakdown of your itinerary! Thanks.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: chucksterace on January 18, 2015, 07:06:26 PM
Any recommendations for hotels near Fairbanks?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: henche on January 18, 2015, 07:11:40 PM
Any recommendations for hotels near Fairbanks?
http://www.chenahotsprings.com/
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: chucksterace on January 18, 2015, 07:27:23 PM
Any point possible hotels nearby?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Traveler718 on January 20, 2015, 08:52:35 PM
We stayed at Holiday Inn Fairbanks, I think it was 15K IHG points, and had a nice time. Though we were platinum and didn't get upgraded. There's also a Best Western there but it was 36K. Marriott is 25K. These were summer rates, may be better in the winter.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: shmebeble on January 20, 2015, 09:11:01 PM
Any recommendations for hotels near Fairbanks?
Are you going? If yes, when? I am headed there March 29- April 1st
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: chucksterace on January 20, 2015, 09:17:58 PM
We stayed at Holiday Inn Fairbanks, I think it was 15K IHG points, and had a nice time. Though we were platinum and didn't get upgraded. There's also a Best Western there but it was 36K. Marriott is 25K. These were summer rates, may be better in the winter.

I saw those, but I am looking outside of the city, more in the open.

I saw some airbnb or vrbo options that look interesting. Even one with a out house  ;D

Are you going? If yes, when? I am headed there March 29- April 1st

I might be but dunno when yet.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: shmebeble on January 20, 2015, 09:25:00 PM
I saw those, but I am looking outside of the city, more in the open.

I saw some airbnb or vrbo options that look interesting. Even one with a out house  ;D

I might be but dunno when yet.
One listing on airbnb was very helpful with planning. Not sure if I want to stay there alone though. They have a separate guest house
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: chucksterace on January 20, 2015, 09:44:46 PM
One listing on airbnb was very helpful with planning. Not sure if I want to stay there alone though. They have a separate guest house

Care to share the listing?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Traveler718 on January 20, 2015, 10:34:51 PM
Ok, I don't know anything about Fairbanks outhouses! You're definitely not getting those with points. We were there last summer for 2 weeks and tried to use points as much as possible. I got 5 free nights in Anchorage (1 the night we arrived, then 2 Shabbosim in Marriott next door to Chabad), 2 in Seward, and 1 in Fairbanks.

The night we were in Fairbanks there was supposed to be a chance to see the Aurora, so I looked online to find the best place to go and drove out at midnight to what felt like the middle of nowhere. I pulled up in total darkness to find ... an RV full of Japanese tourists who'd been camped there for 3 days! And it was cloudy that night and no Aurora.

While there check out the Ice Museum (the one in Chena gets better reviews, but it's a long drive, and we enjoyed the one in Fairbanks, esp. the real ice slide with a sled you can go down), and you must go to the Antique Car Museum - it's an absolutely amazing collection! If you like museums, Museum of the North is good, as is the Thompson Visitor Center (free). Pioneer Park is a tourist trap.
Title: Re: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Supereema on January 31, 2015, 09:33:47 PM
Anyone go on an Alaskan cruise? Best cruise line?
Title: Re: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: ushdadude on March 09, 2015, 11:10:38 PM
Anyone go on an Alaskan cruise? Best cruise line?

+1 I'm debating a cruise or flying to Alaska. Any input?
Title: Re: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Aj3042 on March 09, 2015, 11:25:20 PM
+1 I'm debating a cruise or flying to Alaska. Any input?
Yes I know Alaska geography and stuff to do very well and have spent countless hours researching and reading about it. Cruises won't get you to the best places. Only going off the beaten path will show you the true Alaska. But obviously that's only if you want that.
To put it in blunt terms cruises are for city dwellers who want to catch a glimpse of the grandeur from the comfort of the boat but end up missing 99% of what Alaska is about.
Title: Re: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: ushdadude on March 09, 2015, 11:51:32 PM
Yes I know Alaska geography and stuff to do very well and have spent countless hours researching and reading about it. Cruises won't get you to the best places. Only going off the beaten path will show you the true Alaska. But obviously that's only if you want that.
To put it in blunt terms cruises are for city dwellers who want to catch a glimpse of the grandeur from the comfort of the boat but end up missing 99% of what Alaska is about.

interesting way of putting it. I would have to see if the cruises dock at all and allow excursions. I am a city dweller and probably wouldn't go too far off the beaten path
Title: Re: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Aj3042 on March 10, 2015, 12:14:58 AM
interesting way of putting it. I would have to see if the cruises dock at all and allow excursions. I am a city dweller and probably wouldn't go too far off the beaten path
:) If you're not interested in the real wilderness then you're not interested: as long as you know what you're going for and how to get what you want you're good. And I'm pretty sure they do dock and allow excursions though in a state a fifth the size of the whole US 48 a short excursion can't get you very far.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: ual902 on March 21, 2015, 09:05:03 PM
Who wants to Drive one way  to ANC from either Edmonton or SEA > ANC?  ;D  July\Aug, dreaming of this road trip for a while, it can be done very cheaply with the Barclays landing card $440 in  free travel if  you have 2 or 3 guys with the card.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Adam101 on March 21, 2015, 10:22:50 PM
Who wants to Drive one way  to ANC from either Edmonton or SEA > ANC?  ;D  July\Aug, dreaming of this road trip for a while, it can be done very cheaply with the Barclays landing card $440 in  free travel if  you have 2 or 3 guys with the card.
Dm sent
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: ushdadude on March 25, 2015, 11:30:53 PM
are there no direct flights anc-nyc?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Yaalili on March 25, 2015, 11:31:43 PM
are there no direct flights anc-nyc?

No. There was a seasonal nonstop on United from EWR.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: ushdadude on March 25, 2015, 11:39:34 PM
No. There was a seasonal nonstop on United from EWR.

thanks. and i see the united flights are mostly to ord with no lie flat options :(
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: benjie1305 on March 30, 2015, 12:44:49 PM
Wow! That SF TR is not normal. Now I need to look up any other SF TR's that are online bc they must be awesome. And also now I need to try convincing my wife to do Alaska. Why does she hate going to cold places?  :P
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: DMYD on March 30, 2015, 01:09:53 PM
Unreal! Amazing Stuff!!!
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on March 30, 2015, 01:18:53 PM
Thanks guys ;D
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on April 13, 2015, 08:45:12 PM
For those who have dreamed of RVing from the mainland to Alaska (paging whYME), this may be a pretty good deal:

http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?ca=315e97d6-c24f-4609-9594-025d026ba3f9&c=82ca90f0-35d0-11e3-8a53-d4ae5292c3f3&ch=83ddd5b0-35d0-11e3-8bef-d4ae5292c3f3
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: whYME on April 13, 2015, 08:51:54 PM
The big problem with that is the dates
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on April 13, 2015, 08:54:42 PM
The big problem with that is the dates

Hmm. Shavous in an RV doesn't entice you :D?

I guess it's not such a good deal for the people here then...
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: ual902 on April 13, 2015, 09:01:25 PM
For those who have dreamed of RVing from the mainland to Alaska (paging whYME), this may be a pretty good deal:

http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?ca=315e97d6-c24f-4609-9594-025d026ba3f9&c=82ca90f0-35d0-11e3-8a53-d4ae5292c3f3&ch=83ddd5b0-35d0-11e3-8bef-d4ae5292c3f3


I'm in, anyone else?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on April 13, 2015, 09:03:44 PM

I'm in, anyone else?

No issues with the dates?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Yehuda25 on April 16, 2015, 01:12:10 AM
Are there daily minyanim at the chabad here?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: benjie1305 on April 16, 2015, 09:09:24 AM
Are there daily minyanim at the chabad here?

Are you there?


According to this (http://www.godaven.com/detail.asp?Id=2103&City=Anchorage&State=AK) it seems to be only on Shabbes and only in Anchorage.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Yehuda25 on April 16, 2015, 09:46:21 AM
Are you there?


According to this (http://www.godaven.com/detail.asp?Id=2103&City=Anchorage&State=AK) it seems to be only on Shabbes and only in Anchorage.
I'm planing a trip there, I tried calling the chabad/shul ill have to call back during regular business hours
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Traveler718 on April 19, 2015, 12:03:02 PM
No daily minyanim. Chabad is only in Anchorage. Shabbos morning is year-round. Shabbos mincha is after lunch (in the shul), at the earliest zman. Friday night in season and dependent on visitors. Motzei Shabbos can be quite late (think 2 am), though when we were there in August it was a realistic 11 pm, and we had enough visitors to make it happen. We also got lucky to have Sunday morning, but it seemed that's quite rare.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Yehuda25 on April 19, 2015, 02:43:52 PM
No daily minyanim. Chabad is only in Anchorage. Shabbos morning is year-round. Shabbos mincha is after lunch (in the shul), at the earliest zman. Friday night in season and dependent on visitors. Motzei Shabbos can be quite late (think 2 am), though when we were there in August it was a realistic 11 pm, and we had enough visitors to make it happen. We also got lucky to have Sunday morning, but it seemed that's quite rare.
thank you!
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Dani on July 19, 2015, 02:18:23 PM
planning an 11 day trip to alaska. what the best way to get there using points. assume i have all major currencies...leaving from NYC
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Traveler718 on July 19, 2015, 02:40:48 PM
We flew Delta NYC-MSP-ANC using Skymiles.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Dani on July 19, 2015, 02:44:43 PM
We flew Delta NYC-MSP-ANC using Skymiles.
how many? what class?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Traveler718 on July 19, 2015, 02:50:28 PM
4 seats (2 adults, 2 kids), coach, forgot how many miles per ticket it was, but we booked somewhat last minute and it was by far the best rate. If you're planning for 2015 you're very late, if for 2016 you should be able to get a good rate.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on November 03, 2015, 09:00:51 AM
Random cool fact I recently learned:

Not only does Alaska have the northernmost and westernmost spots in the US, but it actually has the easternmost spot as well! The Aleutian island of Semisopochnoi is around 10 miles past the 180th meridian, making it east of the rest of the US.

(If your dividing line is the International Date Line, then this doesn't hold true, but only because the Line was arbitrarily deviated to accommodate precisely this island...)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: blue eyes on June 30, 2016, 03:18:24 PM
I know this thread hasnt been posted in forever, but is denali an ideal place to spend shabbos? has anyone done that?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: LookBeforeYouLive on June 30, 2016, 03:21:37 PM
Are you tenting, RVing, or looking for a hotel?

I know this thread hasnt been posted in forever, but is denali an ideal place to spend shabbos? has anyone done that?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: blue eyes on July 14, 2016, 12:37:27 AM
Are you tenting, RVing, or looking for a hotel?
Looking for hotel
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: blue eyes on July 24, 2016, 08:04:29 PM
Has anyone tried the ranger led tour at exit glacier?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on July 24, 2016, 08:10:14 PM
Has anyone tried the ranger led tour at exit glacier?

That was my plan before I discovered Matanuska. It seemed quite nice.

If you have the time though, I would definitely recommend Matanuska over Exit.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: nafnaf12 on August 22, 2016, 09:14:59 PM
so here's my itinerary so far for this upcoming week
Arriving Tuesday night in Anchorage
Wednesday go to do some ice trekking in Matanuska
Paging SF anything else we should do there?
Thursday taking a 26 glacier cruise( booked not refundable)
Need some advice for Friday shabbos gets it at about 8-9 was thinking to take the train up to girdwood and maybe to whitewater rafting or rappelling. And other idea for friday?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: blue eyes on September 04, 2016, 11:26:36 PM
That was my plan before I discovered Matanuska. It seemed quite nice.

If you have the time though, I would definitely recommend Matanuska over Exit.

I did both exit and MAtanuska and it's no comparison At all!!!!!!!!!
MAtanuska is 100000000 times nicer (especially if you take the mica guides trekking your)
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: blue eyes on September 04, 2016, 11:36:22 PM
so here's my itinerary so far for this upcoming week
Arriving Tuesday night in Anchorage
Wednesday go to do some ice trekking in Matanuska
Paging SF anything else we should do there?
Thursday taking a 26 glacier cruise( booked not refundable)
Need some advice for Friday shabbos gets it at about 8-9 was thinking to take the train up to girdwood and maybe to whitewater rafting or rappelling. And other idea for friday?

Not sure if it's still applicable but here is my suggestion assuming you are staying in anchorage
Hike or take the tram up to Alyska mountains in gird wood.
They have a gold mining tour for like $20 or something. I didn't do it but heard it's really cool.
On your way back you can stop on the Seward highway along the way. Like at the potters marsh - the bird point- mchugh creek etc
Also closer to anchorage you can hike the flat top peak. It's really cool even if you don't make it to the top ( which gets steep cliffy and extremely windy)
knicaid beach is cool and on sunny days you can see McKinley from genre
You can always do the zoo is supposed to be really good


Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: nafnaf12 on September 04, 2016, 11:55:22 PM
Not sure if it's still applicable but here is my suggestion assuming you are staying in anchorage
Hike or take the tram up to Alyska mountains in gird wood.
They have a gold mining tour for like $20 or something. I didn't do it but heard it's really cool.
On your way back you can stop on the Seward highway along the way. Like at the potters marsh - the bird point- mchugh creek etc
Also closer to anchorage you can hike the flat top peak. It's really cool even if you don't make it to the top ( which gets steep cliffy and extremely windy)
knicaid beach is cool and on sunny days you can see McKinley from genre
You can always do the zoo is supposed to be really good
too late but thanks!
http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=65249.msg1547822#msg1547822
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Thingywingy on March 28, 2017, 10:20:05 PM
Has anyone been up to Barrow? Is there anything to see this time of year? Can I find polar bears? I have seen some reviews on tripadvisor recommending taking a taxi around over one of the tour companies. Anyone have experience?
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on March 29, 2017, 12:01:14 AM
Has anyone been up to Barrow? Is there anything to see this time of year? Can I find polar bears? I have seen some reviews on tripadvisor recommending taking a taxi around over one of the tour companies. Anyone have experience?

Everything I've researched (a number of years ago, to be fair) indicated that there's nothing really to do there, other than the slight novelty of the place.

Don't count on Polar bears, and there isn't any access to the Arctic Ocean either.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: mendy613 on April 27, 2017, 10:50:07 PM
Does it make sense to to Alaska during the 9 days?
We do a trip evrey summer (trying to visit all 50 states)..

We have two children, Ages 2 and <1
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on April 27, 2017, 10:54:56 PM
Does it make sense to to Alaska during the 9 days?
We do a trip evrey summer (trying to visit all 50 states)..

We have two children, Ages 2 and <1

As much sense as any other trip would make during the 9 days. Nothing particularly different with Alaska.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: mendy613 on April 27, 2017, 10:56:58 PM
We go for the whole summer so we have to be somewhere then.
I am just starting to look into details, but i had the impression most activity's there are boating, extreme sports etc..
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: mendy613 on May 01, 2017, 11:58:02 PM
I know this is from 2013, but what a great TR,

This last line stands out!


Some Motzai Shabbos reading:

Part one


P.S. A word about the state:

Alaska is not 'like the rest of the U.S. just with mountains'. It is very different, exotic even. Everything is different; the trees, the plants, even the weeds. Certainly the scenery everywhere is breathtaking. The Kenai peninsula, (where Seward is), is an actual rain-forest.

Along with glaciers and waterfalls everywhere and the fact that barely anyone lives there (the population of Alaska, an area twice the size of Texas is less than 3% of the NY metro area) the sense I got was that I was truly in another world, the last great wilderness.

Thus, I think it is a mistake to leave the U.S. looking for exotic locations internationally when you have a wonderland like this in your own backyard. Well - maybe your backyard's backyard.
Title: Re: Alaska Master Thread
Post by: Lamppost on May 08, 2017, 08:38:04 AM
Hey, Something Fishy, this is for you;
I have a Marriott 7 night cat 1-5 voucher. I was trying to figure out where to use it, id like to go somwhere in the USA thats got great natural beauty (we are a parks family, we enjoy hiking, etc...) that I havent yet been to. Problem is that after having been to 47/50 states there isnt much left to see. Also I need the parks or whatever to be reasonably close to the hotel if i am staying in one place the entire time. I thought maybe Id go to Banff but the closest hotel is in calgary which is 90 min away and the DDF seems to think that going back and forth is nuts.

So I was looking for some other inspiration and I thought that maybe Alaska might work... (its one of the 3 states not yet visited; OK,AR and the grand prize AK). My question is if you think its crazy to try to stay in Anchorage and drive around the local area (say within 2 hours)? We have a 2 year old and an 8 month old. They travel well. But i dont want to overdo things.
Also thought maybe skip Marriott and do an RV after reading your TR. Is that something tht could work with 2 Adults and 2 kids? Can a pack and play or crib (2 i guess) open up in there? Also would the crazy late sunset wreck havoc on bedtime schedules for them? Are attraction  really not nogea (Glaciers look really awesome but will it work with 2 little kids, say in a carrier)?
I'd love to hear your feedback, let me know if I have a chance of pulling this off or if i should just give it up.
Thanks!