Tuesday we docked in Skagway about 7am. We had to meet on the pier for our excursion at 9:15am. We had a little breakfast in the buffet and off we headed. It was cold and windy on the pier where we boarded a bus for the Kroschel Animal Refuge. This was an excursion I picked and was excited about. It got great reviews on Trip Advisor. Apparently I didn't read too much about it because when we boarded the bus I didn't realize we had to take a 40 minute ferry ride to Haines and then a 40 minute bus ride to the wildlife center. It was ok although the bus driver was a little strange.
We were greeted at the gate by Mario and a red tailed hawk. I knew we were in for a real treat here. We had packed the bug repellent and applied as soon as we unloaded from the bus and was really able to enjoy the entire excursion.
Shortly after Mario arrived we met Steve Kroschel....what a character! So entertaining. Our visit began...
This hawk was eating a dead quail.
This was a beautiful fox we got to pet.
This was Steve walking his Wolverine....
Chris petting the porcupine....
Cute little Mink...
Then the moose....Chris got to feed....
Where Steve lives year round.....
Saved the best for last....the grizzly bear. The entire excursion was interesting and fun. Highly recommend!
Sorry it's been a few days since I have updated the blog. So much has been happening here and no fast internet until we are in port and have down time. There is definitely not much of that.
So lets back up a few days....
We took the 5 hour train ride to the Grand Princess on Saturday...Pretty
scenic ride . We did not board the Grand until late so we just had
pizza and fries for dinner
Our first day (Sunday) was at Hubbard Glacier from 3-7pm....It was really foggy when we were headed there.... but cleared up when we go to the Glacier. We stood on the front bow for an hour or so coming in just to see if we could see any whales or sealife. Plenty of seals but no whales here....
This glacier was huge. We had to go through plenty of icebergs to get there but we got pretty close.
The second day we headed to Glacier Bay which was even more amazing than
Hubbard Glacier. We once again were worried it would be too foggy but
again it turned out beautiful. The scenery was great to look at.
To explain the size of these mountains if you look close at the bottom photo you will see the Coral Princess Cruise ship....
We were in Glacier Bay most of the day and just wandered outside and back and forth to our balcony to keep seeing wildlife and glaciers. We saw several whales in the distance and tons of sea otters, seals, and eagles. At the end of the day I felt like I often feel after snow shoveling all day as the temperature was in 50s most of the day.
Two great days followed by two evenings of buy one get one free at the One 5 lounge. Awesome!
Today we are headed on a 5 1/2 hour train ride to the Grand Princess who is awaiting us in Whittier, AK. We awoke to another beautiful day and another beautiful view of Mt. McKinley. A few reflections so far....
I will never take this trip again because it has been so wonderful
weather wise I don't want to ruin any of the memories I have. Nothing could ever come close.
I would definitely start north and work south. Fairbanks was OK but
nothing compared to the next two lodges. As you move south the scenery
just gets better and better.
I would definitely consider a connoisseur tour again because the convenience of not
having to check into hotels, move luggage, pay for breakfast/dinner, and make dinner reservations
was fantastic. Princess has done an exceptional job with the logistics
of the land portion.
Here are a few photos of the lodge....
This one is from our window at 12:30am.... you can see how light it still is.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about our journey so far. More of Alaska awaits us aboard the cruise ship. Internet access may be a little more difficult so posts may be delayed.
Today is our final full day at a lodge as tomorrow we will take the train to meet the Grand Princess cruise ship in Whittier. For today Chris and I decided to take a tour called South Denali Experience. After our bus ride to Talkeetna yesterday we decided we didn't want to do that again. We met up with the Kleins for breakfast and then began the tour. This tour was a brief look into the wonders of the south side of the mountain and Denali State Park. First we went to the Alaskan Veterans Memorial. Here there were some great views of the mountain.
Our second stop on the tour was Byers Lake. What a peaceful place. It was quiet and beautiful.
Here the lake is full of baby salmon.
Our next stop on the tour was the house where the tour director lived. She performed a fire making demonstration as means of survival in the wilderness. Then she invited us inside for some Alaskan made tea and crackers and jam while she showed some videos of Denali and wildlife photos from their backyard camera.
After the tour we headed back to the lodge for some picture taking and lunch. We decided to eat in the 20320 Alaskan Grill restaurant. We just chilled for the afternoon sitting on the deck taking in the spectacular views as the mountain was very clear today.
At 4:30 I sat in on the mountain talk presentation.... I only caught the first 20 minutes and this is one thing I am sad I missed throughout our stay here. Twice a day they have a presentation from someone who has summitted Mt. McKinley. I find this extremely fascinating. The person today was a woman who was a park ranger. She showed photos and shared her experiences. I am told that currently there are 500 climbers on the mountain as we are in peak climbing season. Only 2 people have actually summitted however with the weather so clear and little wind today they felt there would be a lot more actually finishing today. You have not actually summitted until you are down from the mountain.
At 5pm our next tour began....horseback riding. I was not too excited about this tour but it was something Chris was really looking forward to. I was worried about the bugs and came prepared with my bug head net. Once we arrived we were paired up with a horse. I rode Denali and Chris had Montana. We mounted the horse and off we went. I will say I did use bug spray but the bugs were not bad. I will be returning my head net to Cabela's when I get home. It is better to be prepared though. The trail was very rugged and you rode up to an overlook with spectacular views. At one point the guide said there was a moose on the other side of the brush and to pull tighter on our reins but we did not see it. The brush was very thick but we heard it.
We finished the day with dinner at the Mountain View restaurant again. Chris had crab legs and I had a delicious Alaskan seafood pasta. We finished with raspberry white chocolate cheesecake.