2021 · family · vacations

Alaska 2021- Not On The Farm!

Virgin Creek Trail , Girwood, Alaska

Our recent family vacation was in the making for about 2.5 years, that’s how long we took to save up for a trip of a lifetime for us. It was the farthest the three of us had traveled together and not our typical summer vacation. I wanted to include this part of our life in the blog since I print an annual book for generations to come. I will try to keep it somewhat short and give some highlights of various things. Alaska is a huge place to visit and one should always know you won’t do it all in one trip! We chose what we thought was interesting to us, it might be very different for someone else.

To be away we had to have someone running our irrigation for us, we are still old school in that area. Where the pivot has to be monitored by your own eyes not an app. The flood irrigation has to be changed every so many hours. While we were gone there was a flat on the irrigation pivot but I think other stuff went okay. We are super grateful for Milton’s brother and our neighbor that helps us so Milton can be away from the farm. We are also grateful for Milton’s mom that watered our yard, flowers, garden and fed the farm dog!

Our trip was 13 days long and we chose to rent a motorhome for our adventure! Great Alaskan Holidays was great to work with! Milton’s years of driving large equipment and the semi made that doable for sure! It was a good fit for us and in the long run that is what matters! We flew into Anchorage and the next day headed to Talkeentna for the night. The town is small but a nice stop. The best part of the town was the food truck with spinach bread and seeing Denali from the riverfront! Milton really wanted to see it clear and got a pretty good view we think! This was the only time we were able to see it due to cloud cover the whole trip.

The next day we headed to Denali National Park where we camped in Savage River campground, hiked some trails, enjoyed the quiet and beautiful scenery. Along with that we took the Tundra Wilderness bus tour which we all enjoyed, it helped we had a great bus driver talking about all kinds of things. He was SO knowledgeable! We were able to see caribou, dall sheep, a wolf, a bear , birds and moose. Another day we hiked Mt Vista trail and also hit the Park Rangers dog sled area. Our daughter loves dogs so she was thrilled! They were not doing presentations due to Covid but you could still go in and pet the sled dogs and see them in their outside pens. There are no hook-ups camping at Denali National Park but they do have a dump station and even a little store with limited hours if you are in need of something. Outside of the park there are several places for lodging, shops and restaurants. Due to Covid again there was limited hours and some places had closed, Alaska from what we have heard and could tell are having a hard time hiring people to work. Savage Cabin Trail is a nice trail and well maintained and easy to do. Here are a few photos from our Denali stay!

We headed out after three nights there and we needed to do laundry before getting to Seward, Alaska, our other main location to visit. First we stopped at the Iditarod Trail Race Museum. Dog sled rides were $10 /person so MV and PV jumped on, she held puppies, we watched a video and then we toured the tiny museum. We stopped in Wasilla to grab some groceries and do laundry. To be honest the laundry mat there was less than stellar but we got clean clothes and food and on our way after about 3 hours. It was an extremely warm day for Alaska by the way, I didn’t pack shorts but wished I had!

There was only one night on our trip that we didn’t have reservations at a campground and honestly if I had it to do over again I’d book less. It was totally all me wanting reservations, not Milton! 🙂 You can pull off and camp a lot of places and also get first come first serve spots in more of a nature setting. We like nature more than campgrounds! We camped in the Bird Creek campground overflow parking, it was $20.00 per night to basically camp on a paved parking lot. Although they had nice picnic tables and fire pits at each slot. We were on an end and had an okay night there. The number one best part of this area was the next morning. Milton took us girls down this trail he had already been on. I found my most favorite spot on this trip! See below as it just gave me peace and joy! Early morning view! I have always dreamed of having a cabin in nature near a creek or river and so this was just a lovely setting to imagine that in.


We headed down the road more towards Seward and stopped at Turnagain Arm where the tide comes in and there are to be whales. We didn’t see either. Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, we stopped there and strolled around the place. Honestly we could have skipped it in our minds. I think it would be good for those that have small children and/or have never seen wildlife.

Seward Alaska is where we basically spent the remainder of our trip until we flew out from Anchorage. This small town exists next to Resurrection Bay. The City of Seward has several campgrounds around town. The first night we stayed in Forest Acres campground which sits on the edge of town, not far from the grocery store. It has no hook-ups but sits in some lovely trees. The campground was good and the bathrooms clean. The next three nights we have reservations for waterfront camping with electric and water hookups, it was in Resurrection Bay campground near the shower/bathrooms. The photos below show the waterfront campground and our view!

We would watch the boats go out and come in each day. The fishing boats were always around the same time which was neat. Milton walked down to the harbor one day and watched the fishermen come in and do their thing. The weather in this area of Alaska was cool in the mornings and evenings and rained here and there. Especially the day we took the 8.5 hour boat cruise with Major Marine. It wasn’t a very good weather day for wildlife watching but we saw few0. We would recommend the Alaska Sealife Center, it as very cool and enjoyable. We only ate out four times on our whole trip and two of it was in Seward. We enjoyed both places, Thorns and Chattermark. There is a nice paved path from the Sealife Center down to the harbor through the campgrounds by the water you can take. The downtown has some shops and restaurants. We picked up a few souvenirs and gelato.

8.5 hour boat tour

Our biggest excursion we planned didn’t quite work out the way we thought it would but we are still thrilled with what did occur! We booked two excursions with Seward Helicopter Tours but only got to do the 45 minute Scenic Flight due to weather. We couldn’t go on Monday at all so we tried again on Tuesday, always try to book these types of things early in your stay so if this occurs. The helicopter flight was all three of our favorite thing. None of us had been in one and I was nervous but now I want to do more of them! Our pilot was great and it was beautiful! We were able to see a bear, glacier, ice just floating and beautiful scenery! Our other excursion with them was to land on a glacier and dog sled.

Paige didn’t want the front seat at first but due to weight being distributed correctly she had to. She ended up LOVING IT!
It was cloudy so the blue stands out more the pilot said.

Since we didn’t get to do the dog sledding the company, Turning Heads Kennel offers tours at their location not far outside Seward. So we opted to do that for a couple of hours. It was fun and our daughter absolutely was in heaven because she LOVES dogs! They actually race in Iditarod, it’s very interesting to hear all about that. They took us around their wooded area with 14 dogs pulling us! It was FAST! I almost slid off the edge of the seat one time! It’s a family that runs it and you can tell they truly love the dogs and what they do. The dogs love it too!

When we couldn’t do our flights on Monday we headed to Exit Glacier to hike. It wasn’t super hard but it was hard for me. It was warmer than usual as well. But we made it and it’s pretty cool. There were a couple other places we wanted to go but didn’t make it while in this part of Alaska.

The drive back to Anchorage was lovely as usual and we did go to Hope, Ak but there isn’t much there. Fishing is basically it, but we stopped and had lunch in our RV like we had so many other times. We spent the last of our time in Anchorage.

While staying in Anchorage in an RV park we have a funny story. Milton was checking our laundry and us girls were sitting a the picnic table by the RV. While driving by our site another camper guy said “hey, there’s a bear right there!” I couldn’t see because we were on the other side of our camper. So we hightailed it into the camper and watched as the bear got into a tent about 100 yards from us. Milton came out shortly after and watched from outside the camper. When this all happened I was videoing chatting with my older girls so it was kinda comical. They did warn that some times bears come into the park. Usually they only get into stuff when people camping with tents leave food in their tents.

The next day we just hung out in Anchorage and then we were able to take back our RV and stay in it before our flight home. Our flight left at 1:35 a.m. Alaska time. Needless to say we were exhausted by the time we got home. We only had one layover but sleeping on plane didn’t really happen or in an airport. I think we are finally getting back in the routine of things now. 🙂 We took about 1600 photos between the three of us, so this is a very small sample. It was a good trip and memories were made!

If you have any questions about Alaska let us know in the comments! We love to share knowledge although Alaska is big and we only were between Denali and Seward!

Thanks for stopping by!

Julie

Tidbits from our trip:

  • We planned our trip ourselves by using Alaska.org and joining a couple Alaska Facebook groups. When we started I thought I’d hire someone to do it for me but after starting I found it kinda fun. We just determined the number of days we had, what area we wanted to see and what we would be intersted in that area. We went from Denali down to Seward.
  • Buy The Milepost book. Learn how to read it and use it to plan your trip!
  • I reseached and emailed and looked online. All the companies we worked with were great and answered all my questions before, during and after!
  • PACK A RAINCOAT (a good one) and layer up! Best advice ever given to us!
  • Take all the pictures.
  • Cell phone reception, we are with USCELLULAR and we thought going in we wouldn’t have any reception. We had it the majority of the time, especially when needed.

If we had it to do again:

  • Try the train!
  • If RV-ing, don’t book too many campgrounds ahead of time.
  • Don’t stay more than 2 nights in a spot probably, unless it has alot to offer.
  • Homer Spit – go see it!
  • Flying home – Fly to Seattle, stay the night and then take a flight the next morning because over night flights are brutal for this old lady! 🙂

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