If you’ve been following along on our worldwide wanderings, you’ll have heard the story of trading palm trees for glaciers, explored seaside towns and epic glaciers on the Alaskan cruise, saw the Parliament Building in Victoria, and checked out Granville Island Public Market during our time in Vancouver. (And if not, you can visit any of those links above.)
Our cruise’s final port was in Seward, Alaska. It was a rainy, dreary day (like 80% of our trip), but everything was still so beautiful. That’s one of the great things about Alaska. The fog and rain clouding the tops of grand mountains has a mysterious beauty all of its own.
It was a stunning 2.5 hour bus ride from Seward to Anchorage, and our bus left shortly after we disembarked. So onto Anchorage it was!
You know the first thing we did was scout out the best coffee shop we could find. Black Cup was conveniently close by, so off we went. We loved the vibe! The coffee was just a little bitter, but it still squeaked onto our coffee favorites list because it had perfect marks on all our other criteria. They specialize in black coffee, so next time we’ll be sure to try one of those, too.
After a mom-and-pop pizza place for lunch (I promise we eat more than pizza on our trips!), we headed out for a scenic drive to Flattop Mountain. We found out later that it is Alaska’s most visited mountain peak, and we were definitely sharing the trail with many others.
It’s 1.5 miles up, rocky and steep. It’s not for the faint of heart – but if I can do it, you can do it. :) The views all the way up as you continue to climb were stunning.
Then we got to this and I realized what would be required to make it to the top. Eek.
But this was the view at the top! It was sooo crazy windy up there that day. As in, don’t stand too close the edge kind of windy.
Looking back down toward the trail.
Ahh. Alaska in summer time.
Once a photographer, always a photographer.
Heading back down. I got a kick out of these guys posing for the camera.
And back to Anchorage with their pretty sea life wall mural.
For the rest of the afternoon, we just wandered around the city and explored some of the nooks and crannies of downtown. It has a classic Alaskan town feel to it, with just a little bit of city thrown in.
They had a really fascinating solar system set up. We didn’t want to walk 5 1/2 hours out to Pluto, but we did see the sun.
This is the starting point of the Iditarod sled dog race! We learned a bit about mushing and the Iditarod during our time in Alaska, and it was super cool to see Mile 0.
It was June in Alaska, and people had flowers everywhere! The city parks and streets were full of flower beds and hanging baskets. The summer season is so short. I love how they embrace it. And how they use cabbage in their flower beds for decoration!
The visitor’s center has a collection of money from all over the world. People travel and bring it back to display around the walls.
Who can resist a trip out to Palmer when that just so happens to be our last name? One of the advantages of Alaska in June is that you have all the daylight you want for exploring. It got a hazy kind of dark around 1am, and the sun came back up at 3am. Blackout curtains are a must, and you really do have to take some extra measures to wind yourself down at night. Our best trick was to close all the curtains and turn on the lamps in our room. It made it feel so much more like nighttime.
Back to Palmer. This was an adorable little town! We loved it. And that view!
Alaska can grow some huge vegetables because of all the sunlight they get. It looks like Palmer grows some record-setting vegetables. A 19 pound carrot is pretty epic, for sure.
They had a peaceful little garden right downtown, with all the plants labeled. We spent quite awhile here because it was so relaxing!
Our train to Fairbanks left the next morning. We stopped by Steam Dot Coffee and Espresso Lab for some a really great coffee on the way. I think this was the best coffee we’ve found in Alaska so far!
Coffee in hand, we made it to the train depot in plenty of time, despite walking with our luggage through the rain.
The scenery along the way was so beautiful! It’s a 12 hour ride from Anchorage to Fairbanks. It would have been a lot faster to get there by car, but the train ride was an experience in itself! We found seats in the glass dome-topped car.
It wasn’t clear enough to see Denali, but we got to see it on on a trip out here last year.
That tiny white dot back there is a trumpter swan’s nest. The next picture has one that’s a little closer up.
Our glass-domed seats.
There was a mama moose and two moose calves at our stop near Denali!
Welcome to Fairbanks! We arrived about 8pm, and Joel started work the next morning. I spent my days at a coffee shop or working from the hotel room. We went back to a couple of our favorite spots in the evenings and took some time to relax. Joel is up here a lot for work, and it’s always fun when I get to tag along! We definitely took the long way to get up there this time. :)
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