Back in January when I booked my flights and most of my Alaska vacation itinerary, it seemed the trip was a long way out. Well, in about three weeks, I’ll be meeting up with a couple of dear friends I worked with in Yellowstone back in the day (the ’90s) for a week’s adventure in America’s Last Frontier.
I know we’re probably packing in too much in a short amount of time, but the basic itinerary is:
Plans in Anchorage
Arrive in Anchorage, overnight in Palmer with a stop at the Alaska State Fair (I just HAVE to see those giant vegetables I hear and have seen video! See the video below for one big cabbage.)
Visit to the Musk Ox Farm – It’s an Ice Age mammal still roaming! Native Alaskans call these wooly beasts “Oomingmak” which means “The Bearded One.” Bonus: I registered to receive Anchorage Groupons and scored discounted admission into the farm. It’s just a few bucks but every little bit helps!
Perhaps a stop in Wasilla, the land of Sarah Palin.
Yup, Seeing Denali
Overnight a couple of nights near Denali National Park with a motor coach tour into the park offered by Denali Park Resorts.
The place we’re staying has a kennel with sled dogs and I’m hoping for a tour.
Fairbanks, So Close to the Arctic Circle
Next stop, Fairbanks for a couple of nights.
The Fairbanks Convention & Visitors Bureau suggested via Twitter (@insidealaska) to check out this amazing blog post written by an explorer who had an incredible time in Denali. They also suggested the Pump House Restaurant & Saloon for a nice dinner that locals enjoy.
A Twitter user suggested a visit to Poker Flat Rocket Range, the world’s only scientific rocket launching facility owned by a university. University of Alaska Geophysical Institute operates the facility under contract to NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, which is part of the Goddard Space Flight Center. It’s home to scientific instruments designed to study the arctic atmosphere and ionosphere and site for launching sounding rockets.
Find a salmon feast! (Okay, I could eat salmon EVERYDAY, three times a day!) I’d really like to catch my fish but there isn’t enough time.
Return to Anchorage for a red-eye back to the mainland. I just realized my flight from Anchorage to Houston is just over 8 hours long. Eight hours! That’s longer than a flight from Florida to London! I considered upgrading to first-class for that leg but seats are already sold out. Bummer.
My Pre-Alaska Vacation Read
Another Twitter user suggested I read Coming into the Country by John McPhee. I promptly ordered it and absolutely love, love, love it! Accustom to scanning Internet content, reading a book with depth and bite is refreshing. It’s what literature is meant to be.
Have ya been to Alaska? What shouldn’t we miss?
How Many Bowls of Cabbage Soup?
4 thoughts on “Planning for My Alaska Vacation Continues”
I spent a week in Alaska back in June and I have to say that the glaciers and Juneau ice fields were absolutely breathtaking! They are hidden down behind the huge mountains so your best view is flying over by plane. A bit costly but well worth it! If you are in that area, I highly recommend seeing them. Alaska is amazingly beautiful everywhere you go! Have fun! =D
Ooh, glaciers! I found a glacier walk but one of traveling companions isn’t interested because she’s been on a glacier in Europe. Hoping I still get the chance on this trip to do so. I’m so excited and can’t believe the trip is almost here!
While you’re in Alaska, you may hear people talk about the Iditarod. For the dogs, the race is a bottomless pit of suffering. What happens to them during the Iditarod includes death, paralysis, frostbite (where it hurts the most!), bleeding ulcers, bloody diarrhea, lung damage, pneumonia, ruptured discs, viral diseases, broken bones, torn muscles and tendons and sprains. At least 142 dogs have died in the Iditarod, including two dogs on Dr. Lou Packer’s team who froze to death in the brutally cold winds.
During training runs, Iditarod dogs have been killed by moose, snowmachines, and various motor vehicles, including a semi tractor and an ATV. They have died from drowning, heart attacks and being strangled in harnesses. Dogs have also been injured while training. They have been gashed, quilled by porcupines, bitten in dog fights, and had broken bones, and torn muscles and tendons. Most dog deaths and injuries during training aren’t even reported.
Iditarod dog kennels are puppy mills. Mushers breed large numbers of dogs and routinely kill unwanted ones, including puppies. Many dogs who are permanently disabled in the Iditarod, or who are unwanted for any reason, including those who have outlived their usefulness, are killed with a shot to the head, dragged, drowned or clubbed to death. “Dogs are clubbed with baseball bats and if they don’t pull are dragged to death in harnesses……” wrote former Iditarod dog handler Mike Cranford in an article for Alaska’s Bush Blade Newspaper.
Dog beatings and whippings are common. During the 2007 Iditarod, eyewitnesses reported that musher Ramy Brooks kicked, punched and beat his dogs with a ski pole and a chain. Jim Welch says in his book Speed Mushing Manual, “Nagging a dog team is cruel and ineffective…A training device such as a whip is not cruel at all but is effective.” “It is a common training device in use among dog mushers…”
Jon Saraceno wrote in his March 3, 2000 column in USA Today, “He [Colonel Tom Classen] confirmed dog beatings and far worse. Like starving dogs to maintain their most advantageous racing weight. Skinning them to make mittens.. Or dragging them to their death.”
During the race, veterinarians do not give the dogs physical exams at every checkpoint. Mushers speed through many checkpoints, so the dogs get the briefest visual checks, if that. Instead of pulling sick dogs from the race, veterinarians frequently give them massive doses of antibiotics to keep them running. The Iditarod’s chief veterinarian, Stu Nelson, is an employee of the Iditarod Trail Committee. They are the ones who sign his paycheck. So, do you expect that he’s going to say anything negative about the Iditarod?
When they aren’t hauling people around, the dogs are routinely kept on four foot chains or tethers. It’s been reported that dogs who don’t make the main teams are never taken off their chains. Because chaining is cruel to dogs, many jurisdictions have banned or severely restricted the practice. For more information about the cruelties of tethering, go to http://www.helpsleddogs.org/remarks-abuseinkennels.htm#chaining .
The Iditarod, with all the evils associated with it, has become a synonym for exploitation. The race imposes torture no dog should be forced to endure.
Sled Dog Action Coalition, http://www.helpsleddogs.org
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