Please note, this post is part of a series. Click here to read it from the beginning.
The last full day of our G Adventures tour around Alaska I think symbolised the Alaskan easy going attitude to life. As we packed our bags in the trailer one last time to return to Anchorage, the air was still cool but the rain and heavy cloud from the previous day had cleared. The weather changes in Alaska just as quickly as it does in the UK. On our drive out of Denali National Park, we stopped at all the viewpoints to see if we could spot the mountain. However, we were still just taking photos of cloud. The South Viewpoint was our last chance. We pulled up,expecting the same disappointment. The cloud still looked so bad that none of us even bothered to get out of the van. Our guide, Miles, went to use the bathroom and a couple of minutes later we could see him running back towards us, waving his arms in the air like a madman. I thought maybe he was being chased by a bear, but as he got closer we could hear him shouting ‘You can see Denali! You can see Denali!’. We all grabbed our cameras and ran to the lookout. The cloud around Mt McKinley/Denali only moved for a couple of minutes, but it was enough. I can say that I have seen the highest mountain in North America. The experience was typical Alaska, they’ll give you what you want eventually but you have to accept that things work on Alaskan time.
After spending 3 weeks in Alaska, it was hard to return home to dark nights, impatient drivers and no gluten-free beer in bars (one of my favourite thing about Alaska). I really surprised myself by cramming in so much in such a short time, but I was blessed with (mostly) beautiful weather and some great people along the way. I checked off all the wildlife I wanted to see, plus more. In just three weeks I spotted (or rather, someone else spotted and then got my attention) orcas, humpback whales, porpoise, dolphins, bald eagles, puffins, sea otters, ground squirrels, marmots, moose, caribou, dahl sheep, a brown bear AND a black bear. Plus a lot of other birds and small mammals whose names escape me now.
I visited Ketchikan, Juneau (OK, only the airport and ferry port, but I’m still including it), Haines, Skagway, Anchorage, Homer, Seward, Whittier, Valdez, McCarthy, Kennecott, Tangle Lakes and Denali. It felt like so much, yet when you look at a map of Alaska even all those areas barely cover much of the state. There is so much more to see and experience in Alaska, and I want to make a promise to myself to return one day.
From initially deciding that I wanted to visit Alaska after seeing it in a travel brochure, it has taken me five years to realise that dream. In the process, I’ve proven to myself just how much I am capable of achieving and this blog helps to motivate me to do more too. Alaska is a destination that will always stay close to my heart as it gave me so much more than I ever thought it would, even if it was on Alaskan time.