Solitude, scenery, and seafood: The benefits and downsides of Camino del Norte

Isolated stretch of Camino del Norte trail with a view of the North Atlantic

 

There are numerous Camino routes throughout Europe, including Camino Francés, the most popular walk and the one featured in a favorite movie of ours, The Way.  So why, then, did we choose to walk one of the lesser known routes, Camino del Norte?

We had a particular vision for what we wanted in our Camino experience, and Dale did some serious homework to find the trail that most matched that vision:

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Camino del Norte guides, maps, and other resources

 

I experienced a great deal of anxiety while walking the Camino, and much of it was centered around getting lost.  A part of me feared that we would disappear into the wilderness of northern Spain, licking the peanut dust off our empty snack bags to survive.

Never mind that Camino del Norte is not that wild; I was neurotic about having the right resources during our journey.

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Seward, Alaska: Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise (part one)

Glacial ice floating in the Holgate Arm

People from all over the world come to Seward to explore Alaska’s waters on a tour boat.  Last week, we joined the crowd.

Yes, it’s touristy, but such attractions are often popular for a reason (because they’re awesome), and a boat excursion out of Seward is no exception.

It’s got glaciers.

It’s got pristine waters.

It’s got virgin forest and rocky islands and wildlife galore.

So even though we consider ourselves Alaskans now, we’re still wide-eyed newcomers on the inside, and we felt no shame in going for a boat ride with a bunch of tourists.

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The Iditarod: Alaska’s “Last Great Race”

The Iditarod wrapped up yesterday, with the last few mushers trickling into Nome.  Iditarod 2017 may go down as one of the greatest races of all time.  It was fast, with the top four mushers coming in under what was the standing speed record.  And the champion, Mitch Seavey, shattered that record (set by his son Dallas only a year ago) while also becoming the oldest person ever to win the Iditarod.

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Denali National Park: Hiking the colorful Alaskan tundra

Tips for hiking in Denali National Park

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The view at the end of the Alpine Trail

This is one in a series of articles about our trip to Denali National Park.


We expected Denali’s alpine landscape to be bleak and monochromatic.  After all, tundra is supposed to be a vast, perpetual wasteland, right?

Wrong.

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Denali, the “Great One”: Getting a glimpse of our most majestic mountain

Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska

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This is one in a series of articles about our trip to Denali National Park.



You’d think it would be easy to spot Denali, North America’s tallest peak.  It is, after all, over 20,000 feet tall.  In reality, the mountain formerly known as Mount McKinley is notoriously elusive.  It makes its own, constantly changing weather and is usually cloud-covered, so the odds of seeing it are fairly low.  In a single day, there’s about a 33% chance of seeing the mountain in its entirety, and odds aren’t that much better that you’ll even get a glimpse of it.

That’s why Dale and I spent ten nights camping in Denali National Park and Preserve, a long time to spend in a single campground.

Did our time investment pay off?  Yes, it did.

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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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How wild is the Alcan?

Traveling the Alaska Highway, part three

 

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Float plane on Pickhandle Lake, Yukon Territory

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


It used to be that the Alcan took some serious mettle to traverse.  You had to carry spare tires and car parts and know how to use them, and you might spend your nights camped in the middle of nowhere due to lack of services.

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The Alaska Highway (a.k.a., Alcan), part one: Facts and tips

How easy is it to do the Alcan? How long does it take to complete the drive? What are the accommodations like along the way? Your basic Alcan questions, answered.


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


From August 30 through September 3, 2016, we drove the Alaska Highway, colloquially known as the Alcan.  It’s been on our bucket list for a very long time, and we finally made it happen this year.  This is the first of several posts about various aspects of this fantastic trip.

But first, what is the Alcan?

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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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