As I’ve mentioned many times, one of the truly enjoyable things in my life is travel. And since I retired in 2007, I have been able to experience many, many miles “out there” on the road!
Of course, a good number of the travel adventures haven’t come about until we gave up our summer cottage rental a few years ago. We always knew that we wouldn’t be able to afford to do both: a summer cottage and the expense of nice trips. So, after several summers spent on Magician Lake in Sister Lakes, Michigan, we opted to give it up beginning in 2017 and take those trips to places we’d longed to see and visit.
And 2017 was certainly a memorable one for our travels. In mid-August, with a group of friends and other acquaintances, we embarked on a Holland America cruise to Alaska’s Inside Passage by way of Vancouver. I had been on one other cruise previously, and it couldn’t hold a candle to this cruise in terms of elegance, comfort, and amenities. It certainly whetted my appetite to “go cruising” in the future! There was never a time on the trip that I was bored or disappointed in the itinerary or the cruising life in general. My one regret for the whole trip, though, was my health (heart valve issue and A-fib) which hampered my ability—or desire—to walk and enjoy the ports of call: Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Denali, and Anchorage.
The smoked salmon we had in Ketchikan, the trip to Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, the train ride through history on the White Pass & Yukon Route out of Skagway and sampling Spruce Tip Ale afterwards, the stark beauty of Glacier Bay are all “moments” forever etched in my bank of memories.
Leaving the ship for the final time in Seward, we made the long bus ride up to Denali National Park where we spent an overnight, leaving little time for any real exploration of the area. The next morning we boarded the McKinley Explorer train, with domed cars for glorious views en route to Anchorage. As luck would have it, it was a crystal clear day, with visibility unimpeded, making Mt. McKinley/Denali as clear and close-up as anyone could have hoped for.
Through all of the miles, the only wildlife we saw other than birds and small game, was a black bear cub scooting back into the forest as we zoomed past. The ubiquitous moose failed to show, leaving me just a bit disappointed.
After spending the night in Anchorage, we had all of the next day free to sight-see and enjoy the beautiful sunshine of an Alaskan summer. The colors were out everywhere the eye could see, provided by flowers larger than we were used to back in the Midwest!
As night approached, and our bus hauled us to the Anchorage Airport, most of us were ready to get back home. Of course, our flight didn’t leave until midnight, so it would be a “red eye” special, of a full airliner, that took us back to O’Hare International.
Weary and travel worn, we made it back safe and sound and recalled all of those terrific moments of our group’s fun days just past.
But that wasn’t the end of that summer’s travel. In September, Carolyn and I would set out on the next adventure—driving Route 66!
Until next time…