You may remember that a week and a half ago I posted about my pending trip to Alaska to meet Jane, a
fellow Roadtreker. Leaving my RT behind and Elsie the cat in the good hands of a new house sitter, I got on a plane and started the trek north.
I had a great time!!! Jane took over the itinerary and we did a week long, whirlwind tour of a very small part of this very large state. It was so much fun. I sat in hot springs, heard the howl of the dogs that pull the dog sleds, saw a moose, got a faint view of the aurora and best of all explored the ice cave underneath Mendenhall Glacier. This was all in the company of Jane and it was FUN!!!!
If you ever want to see Alaska with or without your Roadtrek, find a local. Jane knew where the best of everything was including great little off the beaten track cafes. She had organized this trip so I did not miss a thing. So here are the highlights and at the end of this post is a link to my photos.
Chena Hot Springs is not to be missed. All hot springs are worth exploring. It was so nice to sit out in the hot springs and soak up the water, the mountains and the sky. It was great to sit back and relax. When we were not busy relaxing we went for walks and explored the grounds. I got to see the sled dogs pulling sleds and howling. Chena uses geothermal power. It was interesting to walk into the building that housed this equipment and learn about it.
Arriving back in Fairbanks we explored the International Ice Art Championships. Ice carvers from all over the world come here to compete. The BP World Ice Art Championship is an important celebration of spring in interior Alaska. Such gatherings date back to the 1930′s. Alaska is in its 25th year hosting one of the largest annual ice art competitions and exhibitions worldwide. The Fairbanks event, the BP World Ice Art Championships is a month-long event involving over 70 teams from all over the world. We just so happened to visit it on the warmest day of the trip, 44 degrees (F). It was a bit too warm for some of the sculptures and pieces were breaking off. The organizers were praying for colder weather.
The following day we boarded the Alaska RR for the 12 hour trip to Anchorage. This rail just so happens to go along the edges of Denali National Park. Although it was a beautiful day Denali decided not to show herself. The train ride was spectacular with beautiful scenery all the way into Anchorage. I spent a great deal of the time standing between the cars taking photos. It was cold but worth it. One of the best parts of this ride was seeing the wildlife. The train stopped when we saw Dall Sheep and a Caribou herd so everyone had a chance to snap a photo and observation. Sometimes it felt like I was in the middle of a National Geographic special.
What triggered this trip to visit a woman I had never met before? Jane and I have been in touch since I started posting for this blog last summer. She and I have some history in common. About three weeks ago she posted a photo on facebook, (yes I am one of “”those” people)of the ice cave under Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, AK, which is her home. I decided I really needed to see that and I was also looking for an excuse to finally meet Jane in person and see her Alaska.
On the last day of my visit there I got to hike out to the ice cave underneath the glacier and it was amazing. Although Jane did not go with me on this hike one of her renters, Marshall, became my guide. We hiked one and a half miles, in a snow storm, across the lake to the glacier, climbed over the glacier and into the cave. This was definitely a special moment in my life. This cave was beautiful, unique and unlike anything I had seen before. If you ever get the chance go see an ice cave, where ever it is. It is a one of a kind experience and worth the journey.
Right after I bought my RT SS Agile I became a member of Roadtrek International. I also signed onto the Roadtrek facebook page. I did this because I knew I would need all the advice and help I could get driving an RV for the first time alone, out there, on-the-road. This was the smartest move I could have made. There have been so many times that I have accessed and tapped into these valuable resources. What I did not expect was the sense of community among all who are RV’ing. I have now met two women through this blog. Each has been a very kind and nice person and fun to be with. They have been more than willing to show off their home towns and get to know me and welcome me.
Jane was a delight. She arrange my whole week. All I had to do was show up and be willing to participate. She did a darn fine job. I came home with a new friend and when she comes to the lower 48 I am looking forward to meeting up and doing some camping too.