AK-90 Alaska (USA), Yukon (CANADA)
Date of travel: Aug 24 – Sep 9, 1990
On Aug 24, 1990 at 4:15 AM I leave Vista in a car of Rancho Limousine Service. I am at San Diego airport at 5:40 AM. Here I board an Alaska Airlines plane for a 2.5-hr flight to Seattle. From northern California and Oregon to Washington I see the volcanoes of the Cascades. In Seattle, Washington I change the plane for another Alaska Airlines flying 3-hr 20 min. to Anchorage, Alaska, USA.The plane lands there at 2 PM. Alena with her younger daughter Diana takes me to the shop of her husband Petr, my childhood friend from Chrudim. Their older daughter Jana with Diana takes me for sightseeing of Anchorage. Accommodation in Petr and Alena house.
Next day Petr and Alena take me on a trip to Portage Glacier. Along the way we see down-hill runs for skiers at Alyeska Resort. In places we observe salmons swimming in ditches along the highways. The following day they drive me on Glenn Hwy north to Hatcher Pass, where in pouring rain Petr and I explore an abandoned gold mine. Then we make a stop in Eklutna Village at a Russian Orthodox Cemetery with a Russian Church. It is very colorful. In the evening a dinner in a very nice restaurant and a view from the tower of the “CaptainCook Hotel.”
In the morning on Aug 27 Alena takes me to the airport. I have a 2-day tour booked with Alaska Airlines. From Anchorage the plane flies 1-hr 20 min to Nome and then continue 30 min. to Kotzebue. Before 11 o’clock the plane lands there. In a bus with driver’s explanation we leave the airport. In Kotzebue I am first time above the Arctic Circle. The town is built on a sandspit peninsula. A stop at a museum followed by a sightseeing of the town with its wooden houses. Then to a Nullagvik Hotel for lunch. In the afternoon visit to Arts and Craft Center with dances of local Inuits. Then back to the airport. There we (there are 10of us in the group) board a plane and after 30 min. flight we land in Nome. A bus takes us to our “Nugget Inn Hotel.”
Next day there is a sightseeing tour. We make a stop at a beach. The sand contains gold and one can get about $150 of gold in an 8-hr work. Then we are taken to tundra. It is like a sponge when walking on it. We see sled dogs. There is a dredge in operation from June to October here. Then we pan for gold at Little Creek ourselves. After 1 PM we take a plane to Anchorage. Alena picks me up at the airport. In the afternoon I explore downtown Anchorage by myself. Overnight in Petr and Alena house.
In the morning on Aug 29 Alena drives me to the railway station. At 8:30 AM I take a train north to Denali. Every car has a guide. The train goes through wooded area. Later snow-covered mountains. In midafternoon I leave the train in Denali. A bus takes me to my lodge. I visit the village in the evening. Next day morning I take a bus of “Denali Natural History Tour.” First, we see dog kennels at the park headquarters. Then outside the village we see number of moose and later caribou. After midafternoon I continue on the train to Fairbanks. There I go to my “Fairbanks Hotel.”
On Aug 31 morning I get a Grey Line tour of the city and its vicinity. We see the Alaska pipeline, Dredge #8, and houses sunk in permafrost. Back in Fairbanks a visit of the University Museum with a prehistoric mammoth and drive through the city. After lunch another Grey Line tour. This time a bus takes tourists to a boat on Chena River. After a while Chena River ends in a bigger Tanana River. Both rivers are at the flood stage. On Tanana River we see contraptions for catching salmons. Later a stop at one bank to get explanation of dog mushing by Mary Shields a famous dog musher and writer. Then back to Chena River and Fairbanks. The following day I visit “Alaskaland Historical Park.” I explore the area showing mostly Alaska mining. While yesterday there was on and off rain, today is sunny.
On Sep 2 morning I take a bus from Fairbanks over “Richardson Highway.” The driver gives us information. Soon we pass through North Pole Village where kids send their letters to Santa. To the south there is the snow-covered Alaska Range. After 5 hours ride we come to a town Tok. Here I change the bus. Tok is known for its biting flies. We are on the “Alaska Highway” built during WWII. At 5:45 PM our bus crosses from Alaska,USA to Yukon, CANADA. Little later our bus makes an overnight stop in a Canadian town Beaver Creek. I get a room in Ida’s Motel. The biting flies are here, too.
On Sep 3 we continueonthe bus on the “Alaska Highway.” At 2 PM we come to town Haines Junction, where we switch buses. At 4:30 PM I leave the bus in the capital of Yukon Territory, Whitehorse. My hotel is only a block away. In the evening I go to see S.S.Klondike sternwheeler, beached on the shores of the Yukon River.Built 1929, sunk in 1936 and was rebuilt in 1937.The following morning, I make a walking tour by myself of Whitehorse visiting a museum, a government house and again the S.S.Klondike for a guided tour. At 4:40 PM I leave on a bus. I am the only passenger. After 3hr20min I am in Skagway, Alaska, USA. The ferry leaves after midnight, so I explore Skagway in the meantime. Skagway was a starting point for the Klondike Gold Rush (1896-99). The town still looks like it is at the turn of the century.
The ferry “Matanuska” leaves Skagway on Sep 5 at 1:30 AM and docks in Juneau just before 9 AM. Juneau is a capital of Alaska. Soon after reaching Juneau, I take the “City and Mendelhall Glacier tour.”The bus drives through Juneau with explanation then outside to the glacier, which is (as many others) melting. In the afternoon I do some waking through Juneau visiting Alaska State Museum, Alaska Capitol building and others. My “Alaskan Hotel & Bar” used to be a brothel. The wall paper reminds me that. Early in the morning next day by taxi to the airport. Here I board a 10-seatplane flying 25 min. to Gustavos. Then by bus 20 min. drive to ship “Spirit of Adventure.” Soon we are sailing on the “Glacier Bay” with explanation of a naturalist. There are islands in the bay with many “Bold Eagles” on their trees, various other birds, and sea lions. Our ship makes stops at several glaciers around the bay for us to watch calving (pieces of face of glacier falling off). After 8.5 hours on the “Glacier Bay” our ship docks in the harbor. By bus to the Gustavos airport. We board 6-seater Piper Cherokee for less than 30 min. flight to Juneau, where at 5:40 PM. I spend the evening in a city library. It’s cold outside.
After midnight I take a bus to ferry. Its name is “Malaspina.” It leaves Juneau at 2:15 AM on Sep 7. The ferry sails south among the islands of “Inside Passage.” At noon the ship makes a call in Petersburg and some 3 hours later at Wrangel. These names remind us that Alaska belonged to Russia until 1867. I leave the ferry in Ketchikan. I have a room in hotel “Best Western Landing.” Next day Iexplore Ketchikan in the morning hours. The town has quite an artist colony. In early afternoon by ferry to an island with the airport. At 2:30 PM I leave on flight to Seattle where at 4 PM. Van from the “Best Western”takes me to that hotel. In the evening I take a bus to explore downtown.
In the morning on Sep 9 I take a bus to “Space Needle.” I make pictures and video from its top. Then by monorail and on foot to Sheraton Hotel. At noon by Grey Line bus to Lake Union. I board a boat. Through locks on a canal to Puget Sound. The boat docks at 3 PM at waterfront. Then I take a Grey Line bus to Westin Hotel, the biggest hotel in Seattle with 900 rooms. From here to the airport. I board Alaska Airlines plane with 6 PM departure. The plane lands in San Diego at 8:30 PM. Rancho Limousine Service takes me to Vista where at 10:40 PM.
Travel office: Alaska Airlines (trip to Kotzebue with 10 passengers), I arranged the rest
Who took part: In Anchorage Alena and Petr, but everywhere else I traveled alone
AK-15 Alaska (USA)
Date of travel: Feb 12 – Feb 17, 2015
In the morning on Feb 12, 2015 I leave Vista in a car from Enterprise for San Diego airport. There I board Alaska Airlines plane to Seattle. This time I don’t have a check-in luggage. From northern California, above Oregon and Washington I take pictures of Cascades with their snow-covered volcanoes. After 2.5 hours flight the plane lands in Seattle, Washington. Here I change to another Alaska Airlines plane and fly to Anchorage, Alaska. The plane lands there late in the afternoon. I am picked up by my friends Alena and Petr both originally from Chrudim, where I spent my childhood. They take me to theirhouse. It is my second visit in their home. The first was 25 years ago.
Next day I visit their shop where Petr repairs clocks and watches of every type. Later, Petr drives me to the center of Anchorage. There is snoweverywhere. I enter “Captain Cook Hotel.” It is the most interesting hotel v the city with an appealing lobby and a great view from its upper floors. In an underground floor there are large paintings showing Captain Cook’s travels in Pacific. Then I walk through the main Anchorage streets and because there is quite cold I spend some time in the “5th Avenue Mall.” To celebrate birthday of their younger daughter we go to a nice restaurant in the city.
In the morning on Feb 14 Petr takes us to the “Hilltop Ski Area.” Here their younger daughter has ski lessons. In the afternoon the older daughter comes with 2 of her 3 sons. The following day Petr shows me a Kincaid Park around which there are now empty rocket silos from the Cold War. Then we visit a gigantic canvas tent covering a football stadium and other sport facilities, so local people can use it the whole year. In midafternoon neighbors come and their older daughter with her husband and 2 sons to celebrate their younger daughter’s birthdate.
On Feb 16 we spend time in their shop talking about times long gone. I invite them to dinner to thank them for the nice time I had with them. After that they take me to the airport. I board Alaska Airlines plane to Seattle. The plane lands in Seattle at 2 AM on Feb 17. My plane to San Diego leaves 9 hours later. After 11 AM I leave Seattle on Alaska Airlines plane for a 2-hr and 15 min. flight to San Diego. There I rent a car at Hertz and drive the 40 miles home to Vista where at 3:30 PM.
Travel office: I arranged the trip myself.
Who took part: I traveled alone and in Anchorage spent time with Alena and Petr.