Exploring Alaska: Quirky Whittier, a hike to Portage Glacier, and our first whale sighting

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An older couple stood at the guardrail, their car parked on a shoulder not wide enough to accommodate it.  It was an act so reckless that a semi blared the horn at them as it passed.

I could see what they were risking their lives for–beluga whales, two of them, swimming in a protected cove near the road.

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Homer, Alaska: Mountains and coast, oodles of otters, and some really big fish

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The city of Homer perfectly matched my vision of an Alaskan waterfront town—part grizzled sea captain, part aquamarine enchantress.

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Will you see wildlife on the Alaska Highway?

Traveling the Alaska Highway (Alcan), part two

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This is one of three posts about our drive on the Alaska Highway.


The weather forecast for our time on the Alcan showed nothing but rain.  For days, it was supposed to rain.  We were going to miss some of the stunning scenic views that make the Alcan legendary, all because of rain.

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Jasper National Park, Canada

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Vista from Old Fort Loop Trail, Jasper

This is one of three posts about Canada’s spectacular national parks.

After Banff, our next stop on the road trip was neighboring Jasper National Park, another Canadian beauty.  Jasper is the largest of the Rocky Mountain National Parks, covering more than 4200 square miles.  We only spent two nights in Jasper, but we made the most of it.

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Banff National Park, Canada: There are (almost) no words

Fourth stop on the Alaska road trip

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This is one of three posts about some of Canada’s spectacular national parks.


There are no words to adequately describe Banff National Park, and as a writer, it’s really, really frustrating when my vocabulary comes up so short.

I guess if I had to choose an appropriate adjective, it would be ridiculous; what with its UNESCO World Heritage Designation and pristine ecosystem and dense evergreen forests and towering mountains, and oh yeah, its immense glaciers, Banff is just plain ridiculous.

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Waterton Lake National Park and our first bear encounter!

Alaska road trip, stop three

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The International Boundary line–Canada, here we come!

This is one of three posts about some of Canada’s spectacular national parks.


After leaving Glacier, we crossed the border into Canada and headed for Waterton Lakes National Park, in Alberta.  The two parks are actually a single entity, called Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, established in 1932 by members of the Rotary International organizations in Alberta and Montana.  Both parks have been designated as Biosphere Reserves, and the Peace Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  (Note: each park has its own administration and entrance fees and you have to go through customs when crossing the border).

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Glacier National Park

Second stop on our Alaska road trip

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Glacier National Park, in northeastern Montana, isn’t just a jewel, it’s an entire crown.

It’s part of the “Crown of the Continent,” 28,000 square miles of wild, rugged Rocky Mountain terrain encompassing the corners of Alberta, British Columbia, and Montana.  Its sister park, Waterton Lakes National Park, sits just across the border in Canada.  In addition to these two national parks, the Crown of the Continent has several national forests and Indian Reservations and numerous Montana state and Canadian provincial parks.

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Alaska road trip: Random thoughts about bears

We started the second leg of our road trip on August 20.

Destination: Denali National Park in Alaska, where we plan to camp for ten days.  Along the way, we’ll make stops in Montana’s Glacier National Park as well as three Canadian national parks, Waterton Lakes, Banff, and Jasper.  Then we’ll hop on the Alaska-Canada Highway (also known as the Alcan), which is about 1400 miles and runs from Dawson Creek, Canada, to Delta Junction, Alaska.  We have about two weeks to cover this ground and reach Denali to claim our campsite.

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First stop on the road trip: the Davis Mountains

First stop: Davis Mountains (JULY 7-10)

View of the Indian Lodge and Davis Mountains State Park
View of the Indian Lodge and Davis Mountains State Park, taken from a vantage point during one of our hikes

The Davis Mountains hold a special place in our hearts.  Roughly equidistant between Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks, the Davis Mountains are situated in the huge, sparsely-populated area of deep west Texas.  We came out here many times in our 20’s and early 30’s.  The first time we visited, several years before we we were even married, it was with Dale’s parents, and we returned numerous times after that, mostly to camp.

Our return this year was our first visit in probably fifteen years, and I have no idea why we ever stopped coming.

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