Adventuring in the Great Land - Alaska

by Helen & Katherine Betz

© 1997 Helen & Katherine Betz

My daughter and I spent a delightfully instructive two weeks in our 49th state in early June, our first visit there. After becoming acquainted with Anchorage, we flew to Kodiak Island, studying its historical aspects, then took an aerial tour of the Kodiak bear areas.
Returning to Anchorage, we joined five other couples for a 9-day Senior Safari, led by Alaska Wildland Adventures, which advertises in Audubon Magazine. Starting at the Riverside Camp in Cooper Landing in the Kenai Peninsula, we took a half-day float trip on the Kenai River, then explored the surrounding area's wildlife by foot and by van. We saw hundreds of fishermen along the banks this first day of the salmon season– it is called "combat fishing." From Seward we took an all-day yacht trip of the Kenai Fjords National Park and Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, sighting whales and many other sea mammals and birds.
After an overnight in Talkeetna, main jumping-off point for modern-day climbers attempting the ascent of Denali Mountain, we entered the Denali National Park and Preserve system area. Our reservations were for Kantishna– at the end of the road, deep in the interior of the park. Along the way we saw Dall sheep, grizzly bear, moose, caribou, hoary and yellow marmots, the ever-present Arctic ground squirrel, and many, many varieties of birds.
Watching the landscape go from taiga to tundra was a treat in itself. Once at our comfortable lodgings, we enjoyed three days of freedom to take walks, attend presentations, or spend free time as we saw fit. Our last day there, the usually cloud-shrouded mountain was "out" in sun-soaked glory. After group photos and a fond farewell to the park, we boarded the Alaska Railroad for the return ride to Anchorage, returning home with memories that will last a lifetime.

copyright 1997 Helen & Katherine Betz, all rights reserved

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