Nazy grabs Crow’s Nest Sunset on Jupiter Coastal trail

After several days of gray clouds, the Fairbanks sky had turned blue, We were at the airport far larger than needed to support Fairbanks (pop 32,000). We were dealing with a surprisingly unpleasant Alaska Airlines clerk..

“No!” She shouted. “You must put your suitcase on the belt with the wheels facing you.”

“So sorry,” Nazy politely responded while I turned the suitcase around. “
I know where I’d like to put the wheels on the suitcase,” I thought while this was happening.

The clerk also failed to note our “TSA Pre” status, so we had to remove shoes, belts, laptops, iPad, hats, coats, change and iPhones at security. We did however have first class seats on …

“… the right side of the airplane,” I explained to Nazy. “We will be able to see Mount Denali.”

“Great.” Nazy replied enthused.
I’ve heard that before,” Nazy thought, wary.

This mountain is huge — the highest in North America. It took 30 minutes to fly past it.

Mt Denali and the moon

Denali is the tallest mountain in the world measured from base to summit. Denali rises 18,000 feet from its base (which is at 2000 feet); Everest rises 12,000 feet from its base which is at 17,000 feet.

The good weather continued to hold for the remainder of our trip. We checked into the Hotel Captain Cook and began planning. I had booked dinner at ..

“… highly recommended Simon and Seafort’s,” I explained.

“You also booked the Pumphouse in Fairbanks and The Rustic Goat here in Anchorage.” Nazy replied.

coastal trail 3

“Those were….”

“ … adequate.” Nazy interrupted. “I’d like something..”

“Spectacular?” I concluded as Nazy nodded.

“I called the Crow’s Nest,” Nazy continued. “We’re on the waiting list for tonight.”

I called them too,” I thought. “They said ‘No chance! I even tried to book on-line a month before we left. I bet we’ll be eating at McDonalds tonight.”

Before dinner, and as recommended by the concierge, Nazy and I went on a long walk following the Coastal Trail which follows the shoreline of the Cook Inlet. We looked at snow capped mountains over the tidal flats, saw the fireweed plants going to cottony seed and spotted Jupiter on the ‘speed of light’ walk.
nazy and Dan speed of light walk Jupiter

[Note: The speed of light walk starts with the downtown sun and includes markers for each planet arranged so that the walking time between each ‘planet-stone’ matches the time it would take light to make the trip. So it’s a 8 minute walk to ‘Earth’ and a 43 minute walk to Jupiter. We didn’t go past Saturn (79 minutes — and we had to come back). It takes about 5.5 hours to get to Pluto - a frozen wasteland probably located in Fairbanks.

Back at the hotel, we changed and headed to our (purported) dinner at The Crow’s Nest - sans reservation. Nazy marched directly to the hostess and ,.

“… your nails look beautiful, Maria!” Nazy exclaimed after rapidly reading the name tag.

“Why thank you.” Maria replied.

“I wish I had nails like that,” Nazy continued.

“How can I help you?” Maria asked.

“We’re on the wait list,” Nazy explained. “This is such a nice place and we’d really like to eat here. We will happily wait until there’s..”
sunset from the hotel August 28 2021

“There’s no need. I seat you right now,” Maria interrupted. Then she led us to the best seat in the restaurant, We had a view of the mountains behind the Cook Inlet and, as we saw later, a spectacular view of the slow and beautiful Alaskan sunset. To top it off, the food — Alaskan Halibut and Coho Salmon was exceptional. And, braving disapproval from Nazy, I even had dessert.

For the next evening, I booked Simon and Seafort’s, the highly recommended upscale restaurant with a ‘great view’. Nazy and I dressed for the occasion and since Nazy was wearing heels, we grabbed a taxi at the hotel. The taxi driver frowned when we told him the destination which was 2 blocks from the hotel. We had Halibut and Salmon and the same view as at the Crow’s Nest. We walked, sans dessert, back to the hotel. We had an early train to Seward and a cruise into the Fjords.

The train, which has usual feature magnificent views (together with sub-adequate breakfast), left relatively early. Somewhat unfortunately, we were surrounded by a bunch of unmasked babbling international visitors. However, the weather remained beautiful.

another reflection

Upon arrival in Seward, we boarded a boat..

“… a ship…” Nazy interrupts. “It had 150 passengers.”

… a ship to cruise through the Kenai Fiords National Park. The promised highlights of the cruise were glaciers and wildlife. Nazy and I spotted a Beluga Whale on the left side of the
boat, eh, ship while the cruise guide was waxing eloquent about a couple of sea otters that were (supposedly) cavorting about a mile off the right side. As we headed toward the glaciers, we saw a several Orca fins (off in the distance), a bald eagle (or two) at the top of tree (on the far shore), a seal family resting on black rocks in the hidden shelter of a faraway outcropping, a surfacing humpback whale that somehow managed to look small since it was hidden in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean.

“Dan!” Nazy interrupts, “You’re being negative. We saw a sea lion.”

Sea lion on Seward cruise

“That’s right, my dear. It was, except for the ground squirrel in Denali, the only wild animal that could be identified as more than a dark spot on the landscape.”

The views from the ship were wonderful and, the weather was spectacular and…

probably not typical,” I thought.

We started in Ressurection Bay and passed several receded glaciers before arriving at the Aialik Bay where we spotted a dramatic and massive glacier (the appropriately named Aialik Glacier) which didn’t appear to have receded. It was flowing directly into the bay.

Often, but unpredictably and insufficiently often to permit a photo, Ice dropped off with a loud crash, It was an impressive sight.
dan and nazy aialik glacier close

We had a smooth trip back to Anchorage where we had time for some shopping and a trip to the Anchorage Museum before we would head home. I’ll wrap up our trip report on the next issue of The Weekly Letter. Until then…

For last week's letter, please click here

Analik Glacier

Aialik glacier with boat

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