Into the Wild : Part 2

The core of mans’ spirit comes from new experiences.

The next day I wake up early in the morning, get up and take in the view around me and I continue my drive to Seward along the beautiful ‘Turnagain Arm‘.

I look at the clock and decide to make one of those spontaneous detours. I decide to take the next exit on Highway 1 and that destination turns out to be ‘Hope‘. Hope is a 20 kilometer lonesome road away from the highway. When I arrive in Hope the little town seems to be in a deep sleep. Not a soul in sight. I drive through Main Street and park the car to take some photos.

In the early afternoon I reach Seward. This coast town is located at Resurrection Bay and from the beach you have a magnificent view over the mountains around you. I check in at the Moby Dick Hostel. It’s a basic but decent hostel and decide to spend the remaining two nights of my Alaskan Adventure here.

After I dropped my backpack on my bunk bed I drive to Exit Glacier. As the name says, this is a spot where you see a glacier from real close. You can even hike the entire glacier which takes about six hours.

The next morning is different. I feel it in the air, I can smell it and when I open my eyes I see raindrops splashing against the window in the room.

I join the breakfast table and come to know that the weather won’t get much better for the rest of the day. No worries, I am sure Alaska is still as gorgeous when it pours outside. My e-mails to the home front are overdue anyways so I dedicate my morning to send some messages and Skype with some friends.

When my Polish roommate walks into the room we decide to go visit the Sea Life Center down the road.

On my last day my roommate asks if I could drop him off in Hope. An hour later we arrive in Hope and this time the Sea View CafÊ is open (opens at noon). Inside we find some tables with a the interior that reminds you of your visits to your grandparents. The stove is burning, the smell of soup is spreading through the room and the food tastes delicious.

After a delightful meal I wave my Polish friend farewell and return to Anchorage where I return my car and fly out to Los Angeles.

These five days in the Last Frontier were mind blowing ! Definitely too short and I really hope to come back here one day.

Into The Wild : Part 1

When I was on my flight direction Anchorage I had no clue what I was going to do. I had no plan, no accommodation. Only a plane ticket and a rental car. The greatness of this massive piece of land made me curious and anxious at the same time.

Once I got on board of my flight I tried to close my eyes immediately and catch some sleep. Not much later a mother with a little kid on her lap comes sits next to me. The kid is screaming for dear life and kicks me the first hour of the flight but finds peace eventually. In the meantime the guy in the seat in front of me tilted his chair all the way. I need some sleep !

A few hours later we start our descend into Anchorage.

By now it’s past midnight and most shops are closed already and the car rental office only opens in four hours so I got some time to kill before I can start my journey. These are the cons of a cheap ticket but all worth it. Luckily Anchorage airport has free WIFI and pretty comfy seats to get some sleep.

I close my eyes for a bit and to my pleasant surprise I wake up a couple hours later. I am heading downstairs and pick up the rental and start my drive to Denali National Park.

Once I arrive there I buy myself a ticket for the Shuttle Bus to Wonder Lake the next day. This 11 hour drive gives you a good chance to spot some wildlife and is your only way to get this deep into the park (with a motorized vehicle).

Now I still need a place to sleep for the night.

My travel guide recommends the Denali Morning Hostel nearby the park.

Once I arrive there I ring the bell but there is no one around. I notice a sign that says ‘Come look for us in the back’.

I follow the instructions but all I can find are a death silence and a tree filled with shoes.

When I return to the front office I see another guy looking for a way to check in. Not much later the receptionist is arriving with a van filled with guests who came back from the park.

I check in. Shower. Eat a cup of noodles and drag myself to bed at 7.49 PM …

Tomorrow will be a long day and I have to get up around 4 AM for the tour. Once I’m in bed I start noticing how quickly the temperature drops here once the sun is gone.

My alarm goes off and I started smiling as I was really excited for this tour. I felt well rested thanks to going to bed so early last night. I try to put my clothes on in silence and not wake up my roommates. It is freezing cold outside.

I get to my car and drive to the parking lot where the shuttle bus departs from. I booked a seat on the earliest bus of the day so I am back at a descent hour. As soon as we leave the sun starts to rise and we spot our first animals. A herd of moose cross the road like a New Yorker in Manhattan. This makes you realize that the animals rule the park and we are simply visitors.

Further down the road we also spot bighorn sheep, bears, caribous and a coyote. The bus drive takes you through some jaw dropping parts of Alaska and gives you an idea of how huge this Last Frontier is.

The weather is not bad at all but unfortunately not good enough to see Mount McKinley. The highest mountains of the USA is wrapped up in a bunch of clouds today.

A little after 5 PM the bus arrives back at the parking lot and I have still time to drive to Seward, a little town in the south of Alaska.

On my way I make a stop at the Alaska Veterans Memorial and a ranger walks up to me and asks me if I am planning to spend the night here. Knowing it is illegal to do so I told him I was on my way to Seward but he shakes his head is disbelief. I get confused and I probably look dead tired from the last couple days of intensive traveling. The confusion is complete when he asks me if I am under the influence but I hadn’t had a drop of alcohol in days. I have no clue what he is after but this is just plain awkward.

I get back into my car and noticed the ranger followed me. I started to get nervous and agitated at the same time. What is his problem ? Half an hour later he gives up and turns around.

That evening I keep driving until midnight and decide it would be better to get some sleep for a few hours. The next morning I would drive along one of the most scenic routes of Alaska, the Turnagain Arm.