ak Travel Guide
In case you missed it, over the weekend there was explosion over in Cleveland—but don’t worry—it wasn’t that Cleveland.
Apparently it’s time again for the annual volcanic eruption, and that means potential disruption to air travel. This time the ash and smoke is doing its thing up in Alaska, as the Cleveland volcano is getting a little cranky.
In case you want to know where to look for the troublemaker on the map, this volcano is roughly 940 miles southwest of Anchorage, stuck on Chuginadak Island within the Aleutian chain of islands.
Beer brewed with spruce tips!
It makes sense that Alaska has a thriving craft economy; after all, you need something to do when you’re cooped inside during a long winter. But Alaska’s longtime embrace of environmentalism and local pride, combined with the state’s unique plants and materials, means you can get awesome stuff here that you might not be able to find anywhere else.
If you want to buy a stuffed whale or a totem key chain, there are plenty of places happy to help you with that. But for something truly local* and meaningful, here are a couple of suggestions:
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** UPDATE ** The mystery has been solved! You awesome readers reacted on Facebook and via email to say that the airplane above is a National Airlines Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation. Edgar van der Meer even pointed out this page on the airliner.
Dear fellow aviation geeks: Can you identify this airplane and its airline?
We have our theories, but the blurriness of this old Kodak print frustrates. Anyway, we recently came across a stash of someone's souvenirs from a late 1950s trip around Alaska. This was the only photograbbing our attention immediatelybut it was included with a program from an Alaskan cruise and a pamphlet from Mt. McKinley National Park, all from around 1957 (the season date on the McKinley pamphlet).
To be honest, we really had no plans to fly with Era Alaska despite their expansive network of more than, like, 80 different destinations here, there, and everywhere in Alaska. However, when we heard that they were offering up some in-flight beers as part of a promotion...well, it definitely caught our attention. Unfortunately, it sounds like the free beers weren’t just meant to be.
The original plan was to offer up complimentary six ounce beers—to adults of course—aboard many of their flights. Things were quickly abandoned, as apparently the state isn’t really that cool with using booze as a marketing tool. Technically there’s no regulation when it comes to what’s offered up in the air, but it sounds like Era Alaska was just taking the high road when it comes to drinking and flying.
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A look at the plan for the new fish...
You know we’re suckers for anything to do with airplane liveries, and we also always get a kick out of travel stuff involving animals. So that’s why we couldn’t resist sharing an update regarding Alaska Airlines and their plans for the next generation of their “Salmon-Thirty-Salmon.”
The original fish-plane initially entered the hangar for the finned paint job back in 2005, but after a couple years of flying to here and there it was in need of an update. Unfortunately, it was repainted into the normal Alaska Airlines colors and the world lost this quirky airplane for the time being.
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Our favorite Idiot Abroad, Karl Pilkington, crossed whale watching in Alaska off the bucket list in this week's episode.
As usual, Ricky and Steve planned a few detours for Karl, including a hike through Heather Pass in the Arctic Circle. Karl was lead to a snowy cabin by his guide, Marty, who was incredibly patient considering Karl moved even slower than usual on his skis as he dragged along a sled that kept getting tangled. At one point Marty reassured Karl that it was all down hill from here, to which Karl replied, "since I got off the plane it's been down hill."
Today, Big Miracle opens in theaters across the country and the timing couldn't be better with Alaska's whale-watching season right around the corner.
The film, starring Drew Barrymore, is based on the real-life rescue of several gray whales near Barrow, Alaska in 1988. Barrymore plays a Greenpeace volunteer who, along with her reporter ex-boyfriend (John Krasinski), convinces rival world superpowers to come together and help save the whales.
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As you know we’re still in the first week of the new year, but there’s already a brand new volcano—complete with ash-cloud potential—getting ready to wreak havoc on air travel. Unlike the volcanoes over in Europe or down in South America, this one’s a little closer to home, and it’s a heck of a lot easier to pronounce.
Mount Cleveland—just rolls off the tongue—is located within the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska, and scientists believe that it’s getting ready to celebrate 2012 by starting to shake, rattle, and roll. Just over a week ago there was a little volcano hiccup that sent a whole bunch of ash and other particulate into the skies, but things quickly dissipated and flights weren’t really affected. The concern still remains, as the tippy top of the volcano is right in the way of one of the main commercial flight paths between North America and Asia.
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They’ve got a couple more planes here and there to finish, but by the end of June they’re thinking that around 92 percent of their planes will be equipped and able to hit up Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and more from around 35,000 feet in the sky thanks to Gogo—and this even includes flights in and around Alaska.
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It’s hard for us to complain about any type of in-flight entertainment, because as long as it’s something a little more involved than the in-flight magazine we’ll try out it. Alaska Airlines isn’t installing seat back televisions or fancy iPad adapters into their planes, but they are upgrading their portable—and unfortunately not complimentary—in-flight entertainment system they call the digEplayer.
The airline has been passing these out on longer flights for quite some time, but it looks like the next generation of the fun has arrived. No need to endlessly mash buttons on this new player, as touch screen controls are just one of the updated features on the lighter weight device. Being away from live sports will now be much more bearable up in the skies thanks to access to NFL Network, and there will also be plenty of Hollywood hits loaded up with a little help from the ReelzChannel.
If you find yourself up in the air over Alaska anytime soon, you won’t have any problem checking your email or getting a head start on a little online holiday shopping. Alaska Airlines has been hard at work to add WiFi to their fleet, and now they’re proud to announce the ability to connect at 35,000 feet between Anchorage and Fairbanks.
To celebrate their recent accomplishment, the airline is offering complimentary—as in totally free—access to those traveling between the two cities. The service will be free until the rest of their planes within the Alaskan network get the necessary internet goodies installed.
If you’re looking for the ultimate designated driver, Alaska is where you’ll find one. The Alaska Railroad usually runs trains through the scenic mountains and rivers of Alaska, and this weekend they’ll be doing what they usually do; however, they’re adding a little more fun to their bar car. The Great Alaska Beer Train runs on Saturday, October 2, so you’ve only got a little more than a week to get up north.
Tickets are $159 per person, which is a little pricey, but that does include plenty of adult beverages as well as a pretty scenic ride through the wilderness. Your booze
cruise train will depart at 4pm, and then will travel around 80 miles from Anchorage to Portage. You’ll be back around 8:30pm, so be sure to have a taxi waiting to take you back to the hotel.