Awe-Inspiring Alaska: Don’t Wait Until Retirement to Head NorthPhotos courtesy of Keri Lumm Travel Features Alaska
Alaska is a destination that is often put on the bucket list for retirement. I would argue that you should move Alaska up on your list—and then go back for a cruise when you are at retirement age.
I was invited to explore Alaska by the Pursuit Collection and I knew in my mind that Alaska was big, but everything there is massive. It’s like standing by the ocean: you can see part of it stretching out in front of you, beyond where you can see, and feel awed by its size. It’s so much bigger than you and anything you’ve ever known, in a completely untamed, overwhelming way.
And like the ocean, Alaska is full of salmon.
Here’s how my visit went with some ideas to help you plan your trip!
Where to Stay
I flew into Anchorage and then we drove to the town of Seward to stay at the Windsong Lodge. This motel has different buildings, so you take a walk to your room, or you can park nearby. The main lodge has breakfast options and there is an onsite restaurant, Resurrection Roadhouse, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
It might seem obvious, but just in case it isn’t, you can’t beat the salmon in Alaska. If you can’t decide what to order, fish is the best dish.
The rooms are equipped with blackout curtains which are an important feature when you visit Alaska, considering the sun is up most of the day. If you’ve never experienced this kind of daylight, it’s hard to describe; your body gets very confused, and it’s great for jet lag because, with the sun up, your body thinks it’s time to be awake. At night, though, good blackout curtains are crucial if you ever want to get to sleep.
Also the rooms have balconies so you can sit outside with your coffee and enjoy the surroundings in peace and quiet, and because the sun is almost always up in the summer, there is almost always something to see.
We were able to hike the Exit Glacier, which gets its name because it is exiting the land and moving to the ocean. It’s incredible to see how quickly the glacier has moved over the past 100 years. Old growth trees surround the area where new growth has begun after the ground is exposed to sun, and it’s all so gorgeous. Hiking to this glacier was a thrill, and not overly strenuous.
You can also hike up to Harding Icefield, although we did not do that on this trip. We could see it, though, and if you have the time to hire a guide and rent the equipment, it seems worth the effort. Definitely something to do before you get to retirement age, though.
From Seward you can see where the Mount Marathon race is held every year, but you can climb it anytime. Legend has it that the race started as a bet between some guys at a bar, and the rest is history. The race is held every year, but you can hike the path without the stress of a race, unless of course, you want to.
Cruising to Glaciers
However, the highlight for me of my trip to Alaska was the Kenai Fjord’s tour of the Kenai Fjords National Park. The boats have plenty of windows if you prefer to sit inside and have a drink or a snack from the bar, but for me, the experience was better from outside. I spent most of my time on the deck where I could hear the wind and water rushing by as we traveled. I’ve never seen sea otters in the wild before and they were so adorable. My favorite interesting fact about them: They have a million hairs per square inch of their body. I even saw a mommy otter floating with her baby on her tummy. Imagine how comfy that baby was on that warm fur blanket!
One thing I did not expect was that the glacier is so blue. I honestly thought they were white or maybe gray. So seeing the blue ice in the water and blue hues of the glacier itself gave me definite Elsa vibes.
Seals treat the glacier like their own individual ice beds. Some would slide off into the water, but most would just stay as our boat floated past them. It was almost like we were watching each other—the seals enjoying the view of us, while we enjoyed the view of them.
Not only do you get to see the glacier, but they scoop up some ice so you can touch it and then they get some clean ice (that has avoided being handled by everyone on board) to make drinks on the boat. Yes, I did have a glacier ice drink and it was delicious.
We also saw some whales. A humpback made an appearance with its tail sticking up as it took a dive, and orcas were also enjoying the water. Almost everything in Alaska is awe-inspiring, but floating alongside whales out in the wild is something I’ll never forget.
Watching shows about Alaska is one thing, but it doesn’t do the landscape justice. Go now and stay on dry land while you can hike the trails, and go again when you are a retiree for the cruise experience.
Keri Lumm is a professional chatterbox who loves watching TV & movies, reading about pop culture, and gawking at any craziness on the internet. You can follow Keri on Twitter.