ak Travel Guide - Page 2
The sight of a Bald Eagle always makes us feel a little warm and fuzzy inside. Obviously we love traveling the globe to experience new countries and cultures, but the nifty fifty is where most of us call home. That’s why we were kind of excited—in a nerdy way—to hear about the Alaska Bald Eagle Festival. This isn't some cute little festival either, it's pretty hardcore when it comes to learning about all things eagle.
Things take flight from November 11 through 15 as folks and fowl head to Haines, Alaska to celebrate the festival’s fifteenth anniversary. The highlight of the festival is the Flight For Freedom Eagle Release on Saturday afternoon. Here lucky participants get a chance to release rehabilitated birds back into the wild blue yonder. There’s an auction to get the opportunity to do so, so bring the checkbook—it all goes to charity, so don’t be a cheapskate. For those who prefer a little art with their wildlife, there will be plenty of photographers, artists, and other creative types in attendance to share their secrets and to share their wares.
We know someone whose biggest travel dream is to visit the Alaskan town of Skagway while on a cruise along the Alaskan coast. It's hardly unattainable, with cruise ships hitting up Skagway and other towns like Sitka and Ketchikan all through the summer. But what to do once you've done the typical Alaskan cruise? Thanks to melting of the polar ice capsor rather not, since this is a very bad thing, environment-wisecruise ships are discovering ports further north than every before. Now you can add the Bering Sea town of Nome to your must-see in Alaska list.
The LA Times drives home exactly what a big deal it is for big ships to be calling in Nome: "More than 500 roadless miles from Anchorage, rugged tundra and frigid Bering Sea waters have a way of discouraging visitors." But after Nome spent $90 million dollars renovating their port to accommodate big ships, the temptation of venturing beyond the tried-and-true Alaskan itinerary is majorly attracting tourists.
There's travel blog bait, there's travel blog bait, and then there's a train that takes you along one of the most scenic routes in these United States and serves you six half-pints of microbrews plus appetizers. Well played Alaska Railroad, well played indeed:
Take a scenic journey along Turnagain Arm with the world's best designated driverthe Alaska Railroad. The Microbrew Express travels 80 miles roundtrip from Anchorage to Portage and features an impressive assortment of the finest local microbrews and incredible scenery of Turnagain Arm.
We got tipped to this via The LA Times, which also notes that the BrewHouse beer menu includes Brewhouse Blonde and Oatmeal Stout. Tickets are $149 per person and cover the rail trip plus everything else. The event takes place Oct. 3 and purchases are obviously 21+.
We love airplanes, you love airplanes, so let's go look at airplanes! In our Prime Plane Spotting series, we'll let you in on all the best spots to whip out your cameras and binoculars for a piece of the aviation action.
It's cold and it's snowy and you just want to stay inside with a nice steamy mug of hot chocolate. Gosh, how we long for days like that while the weather is muggy like now. But in Alaska, the hot chocolate days are long and you've got plenty of time to get our your cross-country skis for a little winter weather plane spotting at Anchorage International Airport.
In fact, two accessible parks bookend the airport, so you've got your pick of views. For the more active, we recommend the larger Kincaid Park, also known to be one of the USA's premier cross-country ski destinations with 16.5 miles of trails. And you can see in the video above how close your encounter with air traffic will be.
Whether your heart is still aching over her loss in last year’s election or the fact that she's still around, you better hustle up to Juneau, since time is running out for Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Over the long weekend, she decided to light off some of her own fireworks by announcing she wouldn’t be seeking a second term, nor would she even be finishing out her term in office; she’ll be wrapping up her duties and stepping down by the end of July.
Go to Alaska and bring home a souvenir eBay can be proud of: go to Alaska’s Capitol Building and try to get her to sign your ticket stub. The facilities are open all summer, obviously to take advantage of all those cruisers looking for glaciers, moose, and 2012 presidential candidates. The tours last for about thirty minutes, are totally free, and run daily. The state legislature, governor, and lieutenant governor all call this building their home away from home.
Alaska Travel / Tours / Fishing / → All Tags
If your summer vacation plans include a cruise to Alaska with your grandparents, then you might want to seriously start considering some alternate shore excursions. Sure you can wander through some shops and check out the Totem Poles in Ketchikan like everyone else, or you can pretend that you're a true deep sea
Imagine being on the Deadliest Catch TV show, except not having to lift a finger. On the Bering Sea Crab Fishermen’s Tour, you’ll sit in a heated amphitheater right on the deck where you’ll be free to watch all the action while remaining totally safe. The crew will share some information about the ship, and before long you’ll be watching them haul in rockfish, cod, octopus, and king crab. Too bad they don’t bring drawn butter along.
What Recession? / Cruises / Celebrity Cruises / Royal Caribbean / Norweigian Cruises / Carnival Cruies / → All Tags
While tourism boards whip out all the bells and whistles in an effot to convince people to hit the road in 2009, aka the era of the staycation or heaven forbid, the nay-cation, expensive and far-flung locales are having to work the hardest to attract tourists.
For this reason, we sympathize with the "Visit Alaska" pitch we recently received, which argues that there's no better time to see the last frontier since the recession has cut resort and cruise prices. And with packages so low, now's the time to take advantage and spend that last bit of rainy day cash in the cookie jar.
Not to be outdone by the underwater volcano in Tonga, Alaska's own Mount Redoubt has erupted four times last night, spraying ash nine miles into the air but fortunately sparing the nearby city of Anchorage any immediate ashfall. However, Alaska Airlines canceled 19 flights in and out of the Anchorage airport because of the ash and meteorologists do expect ash to begin falling later today.
Geologists at the Alaska Volcano Observatory have been closely monitoring the 10,200-foot volcano which is located in the Chigmit Mountains, about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage. It lasted erupted in 1989 and actually caught a KLM plane in its plume. Thankfully, the plane later landed safely at Anchorage but now we understand why Alaska Airlines was quick to ground their flights.
The AVO has (not surprisingly) been Twittering the volcano's activity and their last update from 38 minutes ago says, "Another large explosion is occurring at Redoubt." Yikes. But the last time Mount Redoubt erupted, it did so for about four months. So we could be in for the long haul here, folks. Alaska Airlines does have an advisory note on its website so check your flight status regularly if you think you might be affected.
· Alaska volcano Mount Redoubt erupts 4 times [AP]
· Alaska Volcano Observatory [Official Site]
· Tonga's Underwater Volcano Might Affect the Fiji Beach Scene [Jaunted]
We really do appreciate the ubiquitous travel deals, but the constant reminder of the economic situation sort of ruins our travel buzz.
Sometimes we just want to escape from it all, and luckily, big ol’ Alaska has served as an escape for many years. As recently as the 1890s people searching for a better way of life fled to Alaska in search of a new life, open spaces, and gold. At this point, we’re thinking that all the good gold is picked over, but the state still has a lot of beauty to share.
Fifty years ago this week, President Dwight D. Eisenhower made Alaska and Hawaii the 49th and 50th states. And they barely look a day over 25! Alaska has already taken the bull by the horns and started planning for its milestone year.
The state nicknamed the Last Frontier, scrutinized in 2008 for its colorful governor, already partied in Anchorage and Valdez on Jan. 3 to celebrate the official date on the state proclamation. But the Anchorage Museum's expansion opens in June, the same month Seward's Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge opens its doors to offer visitors the chance to stay within a protected wildlife sanctuary. Fairbanks got its own visitor center last year, but its airport is getting a makeover, and Juneau will reenact its first raising of the state flag on July 4 along with a parade and community picnic.
Sadly, we can't find any information on Hawaii's official tourism website about a birthday celebration, aside from an acknowledgment that the state came into being in 1959. However, our sis site, HotelChatter, has discovered a "Nifty to be Fifty" deal for Aqua Hotels. Room rates for the first night of stay are $50 and guests over 50 receive a free amenity. Not sure what that free amenity is but we're guessing it's something to do with the AARP.
[Photo: Fish Taxi]
Alaska Senator Ted Stevens was convicted today of seven counts of making false statements, a verdict that renders him a felon. Guess that means he won't be voting for himself on November 4!
Earlier this year, we tracked some of the senator's pet projects with our Ted Stevens' Alaska Map. Now that he's been convicted, maybe we should to add his Girdwood home (pictured) to the list?
We hope to one day visit all 50 states in the US and are shamed that actress Eva Mendes got there first. Not only that, she left special memories in every place: The Miami native who plays the other woman in "The Women" claims to have had sex in all 50 states.
Seems Eva and a long-ago boyfriend did a major road trip where they hit most of the states. After that, we assume she just cashed in some frequent flier miles once she became famous to take dates to romantic, exotic Missouri and West Virginia. Best roadside rendezvous according to Mendes? Arizona and Colorado:
Maybe it was the clear air or the quiet or the endless sky. Whatever it was, it was really, really good."
Fun election-year tie-in: Mendes claims that the worst sex she had out of all 50 was in Alaska. We'll have to take her word for it, but why isn't there a term for this feat? Tangomag.com suggests "50 state sex cycle," but you can do better than that in the comments.
[Photo of Mendes in this month's ELLE magazine: Just Jared]