We have returned from our two week trip to Alaska. It was absolutely a great time and the first time in Alaska for the both us. We started by flying into Anchorage and spending the night there. Apparently mother nature had not gotten the memo about spring and winter was still enjoying a little extra time in Alaska. The day before we arrived Anchorage had four inches of snow fall and some of the roads heading north were still difficult to travel due to snow. Our friends Judy and Gary are making this trip with us and also will be seeing Alaska for the first time.
I have heard a number of descriptions of Anchorage from fellow Coasties who have been stationed there. I would say that it was more or less what I expected. It is the largest city in Alaska with a population of just over 350, 000. That is more than half the population of the entire state. Area wise, it is a huge city with most of a mountain range within the city limits. Our bus driver reported that there is a resident population of black and brown bears that number in the hundreds that can be seen roaming the streets from time to time. Now that really is what I would expect from Alaska! Driving thru town, you have to be impressed by the number of small aircraft to be seen flying around, sitting at large and small airports and on the banks of any body of water large enough to allow them to take off and land. One out of three people here have a pilot's license and there is one airplane for every eight people in the state. It is a very practical statistic, as much of the state can only be reached by plane.
Our first outing was a bus trip to McKinley lodge with hopes of getting a clear view of Mount McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America. Many folks have traveled to see the mountain only to be deprived of any view by clouds and /or fog/snow. 70% of the time there is little or no view of the mountain and much of the remaining time it is only partly visible. The drive to Denali Park began to reveal the real beauty of the countryside along with its rugged wild nature.
Even before we got close to the National Park, we knew we were going to get lucky as McKinley could be seen clearly in the far distance as we rode along. We were going to be in that 30% group. This fortuitous beginning was going to prove to be a pattern for our entire trip. Everywhere we would go, we would hear how lucky we were to have such clear weather for seeing the rugged beauty. We enjoyed near perfect conditions for gazing at the mountains for the two days we were there.