Back in 2013, Sydney and her then-beau (now-husband) Blake worked a summer in Denali, Alaska. ALASKA. Obviously, Mom & I had to go visit them. You don’t pass up an opportunity to visit Alaska, for goodness sake.
It was late August. Florida was a veritable steam room. Cool, crisp Alaska was beckoning us with her icy tendrils. It didn’t take much to convince Mom and me to hop on three planes and travel 12 hours across the country for just a short weekend visit.
We landed in Fairbanks close to sunset and immediately headed to Chena Hot Springs for the night.
A little hiccup kept us out of the hot springs the first night (who knew “no alcohol” meant no alcohol?!), but we jumped right in the next morning. And on our way we encountered a few friends.
Perfect jacket & flip flop weather, so it seems.
After our dunk in the healing hot waters of the spring, we continued our adventure in Denali, immediately stopping at Denali Park Salmon Bake for sustenance. “The Bake,” as the locals call it, serves up good food and fun times for everyone, particularly those within shuttle distance to their hotel.
Then it was on to one of my favorite excursions ever: a Denali Jeep Backcountry Safari. These friendly folks actually handed the keys to a Jeep to Blake, Sydney, Mom and me and sent us on our way. We followed our guide’s Jeep down a fairly muddy Stampede Road, stopped for some blueberry picking, then a light meal at a strange-but-friendly man’s campsite. Unusual, but incredibly fun and exhilarating.
One night in Alaska and Mom’s gone full Eskimo.
After the Jeep safari, we headed back to The Bake to warm ourselves both inside and out.
On day three, we traveled a bit south of Denali to an adorable little town called Talkeetna, Alaska.
We ate lunch at West Rib Pub & Grill, which has been featured on the Travel Channel show Man v. Food. I do remember the food being very good, but apparently not very photogenic, since I took more pictures of us sitting at the table rather than the food itself.
On the way back to Denali, it was all rainbows and crab legs.
Here we find the Alaskan King Crab teepee dweller in her natural habitat, at Prospectors Historic Pizzeria & Alehouse.
We clearly have no fun when we’re together.
Then we crashed Sydney’s place of work, the Wilderness Access Center, where she commanded all the tour buses with her princess-like demeanor.
No trip to Alaska is complete without a stop at 49th State Brewing Company, where they serve up warm meals by the fire and have a replica of the bus that Christopher McCandless lived and died in on Stampede Road.
That evening, we made a little detour for drinks up at The Grande Denali Lodge, located at the top of a mountain overlooking the town.
Our final Alaskan Adventure was dinner and a show at McKinley Chalet Resort in the Golden Nugget Saloon.
All too quickly, it was time for Mom and me to head back to hot, sunny Florida.
My least favorite part of the trip: the Northern Lights decided to make an appearance the night we flew home! Syd sent us this picture as we were cruising over Canada.