Cruising Alaska: Into the Great Wide Open
By Jody Yetti
When planning your next adventure trip, whether it’s with your favorite gal pal or as a single mom taking the kids away for summer break, consider an escape somewhere different and enjoy some of the most spectacular views in the world.
Mode of transportation: Boat. Cruising is the best way to see Alaska, which offers experiences on land and by sea.
Weather or Not
What comes to mind when someone says Alaska? For most, it’s the frigid temperatures and the perception of endless dark nights and icebergs.
It’s true Alaska can be cold (about as cold as your last break-up) but if you know when to go and what to see, you’ll warm up to the idea and plan a trip for next season. The best time to cruise Alaska is mid May through mid September. During this time, the weather is cool and comfortable with average temperatures ranging from 60 degrees to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Because the temperatures can change quickly and be a bit extreme, it’s always good to pack layers of clothing, including pullovers, vests or jackets.
What to Do
In addition to those “boring” (read: breathtakingly beautiful) icebergs, Alaska has wildlife, culture, sport fishing, Denali National Park, gold, that pipeline, and Mt. McKinley.
McKinley was a U.S. Senator before becoming the 25th president, and he arranged for the purchase of Alaska for $7 million — less than 7 cents an acre. He was considered a fool at the time for wasting so much money on such a barren wasteland. Today, this wasteland is regarded as one of the country’s most beautiful states.
But there’s more to do than sightsee in Alaska. If you’re a single mom, there’s plenty to keep the kids occupied. For example, when was the last time your kids were bored river rafting or sliding around on a glacier?
Head down the river on the Riverboat Discovery sternwheeler and visit Athabascan Indian village, where they train the Iditarod dogs. There is a petting area for caribou and new born Iditarod pups. After this adventure, you can end your day by taking a train to the El Dorado Gold Mine and pan for gold.
When planning your cruise to Alaska you’ll want to consider adding a side trip or two.
Some of the side trips that can be purchased through the cruise lines include helicopter landings on icebergs, flightseeing tours, salmon bakes, domed Denali rail trains through Denali National Park (which totals over 90,000 acres), and quads that can be rented to ride through scenic mountain ranges with breathtaking views that create the photographic opportunity of a lifetime.
If that’s not enough for you, try your hand at river rafting or just sit down in a town bar and hang with the locals.
As the state that put the Iditarod on the map, Alaska still has the annual dog race which covers over 1,100 miles over the most extreme terrain known to woman. It was started when a team of dogs was assembled to deliver serum when diphtheria threatened Nome in 1925.
What You’ll See
Even if you only choose to cruise, the opportunities to see wildlife are endless. You need only to sit out on your balcony to see whales, dolphins or even bald eagle when docked ashore. In Denali National Park there are deer, caribou, bear, moose, and a whole plethora of birds native to the region. Watching these animals free in the wild is mesmerizing and humbling.
For the best overall sensory vacation, Alaska is without a doubt the very best. The sights, the sounds, the visions of settlers past, the hopes and dreams of thousands of people that came in the early days to make their fortune panning for gold are unforgettable. One of the most memorable experiences in my lifetime was being woken up by the hotel manager at 2:00 a.m. while in Fairbanks to witness the inspiring Northern Lights. Never again, and never since, have I been so captivated by such beauty, like neon in the sky, greens and blues, dancing along the darkness and stretched across the whole horizon.
American pride shines through when you’re in Alaska. Remember that years ago, people came to Alaska with hopes and dreams of making something of their lives, and that they took chances with great risk. It was with immense pride I experienced such a throwback in time, in such a pristine state.
As I hung over the rail watching the icebergs becoming smaller in the distance, I mentally crossed the Northern Lights off my bucket list. As we headed south into the great wide open, I heard a young boy yell out, “Look, there’s a whale!”
Now, what could be better than that?
Jody Yetti, a single woman business owner and seasoned traveler, has been in the travel industry for more than 20 years. She owns Jody’s Travel Inc., a full-service travel agency for single women and other savvy travelers, located in Moriches, NY. Jody can be reached at 631-281-3636 or www.jodystravelagency.com.