We are lucky to be able to share a new itinerary courtesy of one of our favourite globetrotters - Alok's sister and Blue Lamingtons blogger Archana Mishra.
The Mishras moved to Anchorage, Alaska two years ago and have been making us jealous ever since with stories and photos of pristine lakes, mountains, forests and of course, moose! It has certainly inspired us to take a visit to this gorgeous place.
Read more of Archana's escapades around Alaska in our Alaska Overview, and check out her wonderful blog Blue Lamingtons. Did we mention Archana is also a published author? Her book A Fortunate Child is out now!
Two years in Alaska: 10 things I want to say, and show!!
Almost six years ago, my husband had an opportunity to relocate to America from Australia. Potential locations included Anchorage, Alaska, and we got super excited. However, due to logistics and timing, we moved to Midland, Texas instead, and spent over a year there. We loved our brief stay in which we explored a large part of the country before moving back to Australia.
Even though we were perfectly happy in our home base of Australia, the desire to live in Alaska never left us. So when the opportunity arose once again, in 2012, we grabbed it with both hands.
We didn’t know what to expect from our life in Anchorage. Our move meant me leaving a great job and starting afresh in a new world, with a completely different environment, both culture and weather-wise. We knew it was in America and that it was going to be cold. With that as our basis for what was to come our way, we landed in the 49th State.
In the past two years, every moment has taken our breath away. What we see and experience on a daily basis can only be described in pictures. A glimpse of our daily life in Anchorage, and highlights from travels around the state in the last couple of years are captured below.
1. Our urban wilderness
We work in downtown and live in the hillside area of Anchorage which lets us enjoy the unique wilderness. I spend my office time looking at Cook Inlet , the Alaska Range mountains, and Mt Susitna, also known as Sleeping Lady. I come home to the Chugach Mountains range with O’Malley Peak and a local favorite, Flattop Mountain. We frequently find moose, bears and lynxes roaming around in our backyard, as well as ducks in our lake and bald eagles in the trees surrounding them.
2. Sunrises and Sunsets are amazing
There are many places in and around Anchorage that could easily beat any sunrise and sunset hotspots in the world. Don’t believe me? These pictures will show you what I mean.
3. Seasonal shows by Mother Nature
The change of seasons and the surroundings in Anchorage are nothing I’ve experienced before. The extra-long days in summer, and very short ones in winter keep us busy and make time fly quicker than usual.
4. Last Great Race on earth
The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is an annual long-distance sled dog race, run in early March from Anchorage to Nome. Mushers and a team of 16 dogs, of which at least 6 must be on the towline at the finish line, cover the distance in 9–15 days or more. The Iditarod began in 1973 as an event to test the best sled dog mushers and teams, but evolved into today's highly competitive race.
5. Travels around the State
Alaska is so big that it’s impossible to see in just a few years, but we would love to share a glimpse of our trips so far. There are a variety of things to see and experience in this great state, for sure.
Where the Road Ends and Life Begins!
And Stubbs the Cat is the Mayor.
We stayed in Susitna Lodge, watched Denali from the frozen Susitna River, and ate at Talkeetna Roadhouse and the Flying Squirrel. Highly recommended!
Denali National Park
A six million acres of wild land, bisected by one ribbon of road!
During our 9 hour bus trip into the park, we saw the relatively low-elevation taiga forest give way to high alpine tundra and snowy mountains, culminating in North America's tallest peak, 20,320 feet Mount McKinley, also known as Denali-the Great One.
The largest island in Alaska, and home to the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge!
We drove on 85 miles of paved and gravel road, flew in to the extreme wilderness in a float plane and saw Kodiak Bears gorging on salmon in Frazer Lake. We highly recommend taking a guided tour by Kingfisher Aviation.
Chena Hot Springs
A quaint little resort where you play outside when it’s -35F in a natural hot spring and eat great food.
Our trip to Chena Hot Springs and stay at Chena Hot Springs Resort was a perfect one. We explored the winter wonderland, soaked in the amazing outdoor hot spring, visited the ice museum and watched the magical Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). The food was surprisingly great (some fresh from the resort’s own greenhouse), even for the vegetarians like us!
Matanuska Glacier Hike was undoubtedly one of the most amazing things we’ve done!
Nestled between an unbelievably pretty surrounding, this glacier is simply amazing and invites you to explore and appreciate its many interesting characteristics.
One of the most beautiful sea-side communities of South-East Alaska, where culture and nature coincide to mesmerize the visitors!
We stayed with friends on an island home, joined our daughter at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp, and imbibed the memorable offerings from Sitka’s natural and cultural offerings.
We visited Sitka National Historic Park /Totem Park, Sheldon Jackson Museum, and Alaska Raptor Center, to name a few.
Imagine a little town nestled on the shore of a glistening bay; glaciers and mountains rimming the shoreline and active volcanoes looming in the distance!
We made this trip to the ‘Halibut Capital of the world’ into a hiking, beach combing, foodie and art vacation, and loved it.
We stayed at Driftwood Inn and ate regularly at Two Sisters Bakery and Fresh Sourdough Express. An afternoon hike in the Wynn Nature Center trail, and a visit to the Pratt Museum made this a dream family vacation.
One of the most gorgeous places situated on the confluences of the turquoise waters of Kenai River and the clear glistening water of the Russian River!
We stayed at Gwin’s Lodge, hiked up to the Russian River Falls where we spotted a bear eating fish, floated on the Kenai River and saw the fishermen catching and releasing rainbow trout in the water filled with red (sockeye) salmon toward the end of their life cycle.
Glacier sight and hike: Prince William Sound Cruise and Matanuska Glacier Hike
A fascinating trip watching abundant sea life and calving glaciers in the waters in Prince William Sound!
We took a 26 Glacier Phillips Cruises on Klondike Express on a bright sunny day and drank refreshing water with glacier ice. We witnessed the 2014 race, both its ceremonial start in Anchorage and the real one in Willow.
6. Parks and trails are unlimited
Anchorage has 10,946 acres of municipal parkland; 223 parks with 82 playgrounds; 110 athletic fields; 5 pools; and 11 recreation facilities. It has 250 miles of trails and greenbelts linking neighborhoods with surrounding natural open spaces and wildlife habitat.
Anchorage Park Foundation and Parks and Recreation Department deserve recognition for what they do.
7. The coffee here is unbelievable
Anchorage is crazy about its coffee, and just like people in Australia, is only satisfied with the best. Luckily we have Steam Dot, Kaladi Brothers, and lots of roasters, brewers and servers to keep us happy.
8. Extremely diverse and international population
Anchorage’s Mountain View was named the most diverse neighborhood, and East, West and Bartlett were named the most diverse high schools in the Country.
9. The sense of community is heartening
People in Anchorage are the friendliest bunch, who look out for each other, and are always ready to lend a helping hand. I’ve met a lot of tourists who won’t stop praising the ‘friendly locals.’ I am proud to be a part of this community.
10. But there is something I’d like to point out, too:
· The breakup and meltdown time is supremely ugly
· Drivers here are not the best
· Nicer downtown buildings would be welcome
· Driving on days of freezing rain is not fun
· Running into wildlife is both exciting and dreadful
So you see why I love living in the last frontier and not willing to trade this life with any other. I invite you to visit this great state and, fall in love.
~ Archana Mishra
Author, The Fortunate Child ; Read about the Book here , Author Video here and The Book Video here
Cara and Alok like planning travel itineraries. We like it a lot.