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(Sorry for the legalese. We put a lot of work into this, and we just want to make sure that our rights are protected. Thanks for your patience, and ENJOY...)
Nate and Melissa went on vacation the last week of August and the first week of September 1998. Since Doug and Michelle Hoy (Nate's brother and sister-in-law) live in Anchorage, and they had a new addition to the family (Donovan), Alaska seemed a perfect destination for 2 weeks of family reunion and vacationing. Don and Julie, Nate and Doug's father and his wife (our much appreciated second Mom), decided to join our party for the first week.
Since Nate and Melissa arrived a day before Don and Julie, a short trip was in order. The Alaska Hoys decided that the Arctic Valley Ski Area would be a good place to start (despite the fact that there was no snow), because blueberries and beautiful views were both plentiful at the top of the mountain, which turned out to be quite a climb. Melissa, Michelle, and Donovan opted out of the climb, so Nate and Doug became hunter-gatherers and retrieved some berries.
<< Click here for details and pictures of the First Day. >>
After a quick trip to the airport to retrieve Don and Julie, our adventurers got a good night's sleep and proceeded to Seward, which is located on the Kenai Peninsula. There, our travelers enjoyed an all-day cruise from Seward to view glaciers and various specimens of wildlife. Unfortunately, no whales were spotted, but seals and birds were plentiful. The glacier was very accommodating, providing some very nice calving while the boat was nearby. On the way back, our adventurers stopped at the Portage Glacier Visitors Center. In addition, lots of photos were taken during the drive. The weather was not very accommodating for the drive (either way), but cleared up beautifully for the cruise.
<< Click here for details and pictures of the Seward Trip. >>
When our wanderers returned from Seward, it was time to take a plane ride. Nate, Melissa, and Don had reserved seats on a DC-3 operated by an Anchorage-based tour group. Unfortunately, the weather turned out bad at all of their usual destinations, so the pilot decided on a flight over Seward and the glaciers. It was interesting, however, to repeat the previous boat cruise from the air, as it afforded a good view of the glaciers. The plane trip itself was a lot of fun. The skies were fairly clear, but the unpredictable winds made for a bumpy flight.
<< Click here for details and pictures of the Flight. >>
The following morning, the Alaska 7 loaded up the cars and headed for Denali National Park. Denali offers an 8-hour bus tour of the Park (which is the only way to see most of the park). The bus tour was almost cancelled due to snow, but the roads were cleared just in time. Once again, the weather was most accommodating, even allowing fairly clear views of Denali itself (Denali is the Native Alaskan name for Mt. McKinley. It translates roughly to "The Great One", and is a much more appropriate name for such a beautiful mountain).
The following day, our Denali Adventurers headed back to the Park and took a bus out to see a dogsled demonstration. The park allows people to go up and meet the dogs for a while (giving the dogs lots and lots of attention), then they pick out a few dogs and have them drag a sled around a crushed-rock pathway. This helps keep the dogs in shape during the long summer months (and the dogs really love it!). When the selection time came, all of the dogs started barking and straining against their leashes to get to the sled!
<< Click here for details and pictures of the Denali Adventure (Updated 10/18/98). >>
The following morning (Friday), it was time to head back to Anchorage. The Florida Adventurers had to get back to Florida on a Saturday flight, and there was still the Saturday Marketplace to be seen (and souvenirs to be purchased).
Just before the departure of the Florida 2, the infamous "Hoy Boys" photo was taken (3 generations worth). Click Here to see the photo.
The Florida 2 had a little trouble getting on the plane out due to the Northwest Airlines strike, but they were able to get seats on their flight out after a little suspense. The New Hampshire crowd stayed in Alaska for their second week of adventure.
After the departure of the Southerners, the rest of our bold adventurers embarked on the second week of adventure. The second week wasn't nearly as action-packed as the first, as Doug had to work Monday and everyone except Melissa was down with a bad cold Sunday.
Nate and Melissa went souvenir-shopping Monday. Not many trinkets were purchased, but there was a very nice production on the Northern Lights and a wonderful museum of art and Alaskan history.
Tuesday, Doug was free again, and our travellers all hit the road again and enjoyed a day at the Alaska State Fair.
<< Click here for details and pictures of The Alaska State Fair (Updated 9/27/98) >>
Wednesday, it was on the road again to Hatcher's Pass and the Independence Mine. The mine was fantastic, but the road was only considered a 'road' by strict dictionary definition. Fortunately, Doug and Michelle had the foresight to drive the Jeep Cherokee, or our travellers might have been in trouble. Although our travellers (who are credible witnesses) saw Ford Escorts, Volvo wagons, and obvious rental cars driving the pass, all of them were really beat up old cars or rentals. The Cherokee had no problems with the drive, but Donovan did not like all the bouncing and jouncing, and made his heartfelt complaints known to all.
<< Click here for details and pictures of Independence Mine and Hatcher's Pass (11/2/98) >>
Thursday (the final day), our now-seasoned road warriors set out again, this time to the Portage Glacier Visitor's Center where, rumor had it, one could walk right up to a glacier (Byron Glacier).
On the drive down, no Dal Sheep were ween, but a pod of Beluga Whales were very accommodating by swimming right by one of the turnoffs just when our adventurers arrived. After stopping for a while and getting some good video (and a few pictures that didn't come out too well, since Belugas look like small white dots in the water), the drive continued.
After a good-sized stroll out, our adventurers were a little dissappointed to discover that the glacier had receeded somewhat since the 'native guides' (Doug and Michelle) had last been there. However, there were some really great photo opportunities and a very close look at a land-bound glacier.
On the way back, our travelling fivesome stopped at a 'zoo' of sorts called "Big Game Alaska". It was billed as a 'safari adventure', but was in fact about ten species of animal in very large fenced-in areas. Not worth the money for the carload ($20!), but afforded some great wildlife viewing (and photo-taking) opportunities.
<< Click here for details and pictures Byron Glacier and the "Zoo" (Updated 9/28/98) >>
Then it was time for an uneventful trip home (fortunately) and back to regular life...