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Tyskie

Alaska - DIY Land & Coral Princess SB June 13, 2018

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A few facts about us: Late 60s & DH early 70s, rather adventurous but not hikers. Bucket list trip, planning in the works for well over a year. I picked up some amazing tips from BudgetQueen, Mapleleaves, an AK friend (from another cruise) and the many reviews, so hoping some of our stays & excursions will help others. I’ll try to post pictures as I go along – my picture posting skills aren’t that great.

Do decide what youwant to do and what will work for you– don’t be swayed by what you “have to see” because that might not be your“have to see” thing!

Edited by Tyskie

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DIY Land(Talkeetna-Denali-Wasilla-Palmer-Anchorage)

Princess land tour held no appeal for us. We realized from the get-go we wouldn’t beable to see everything on our list – time change from NY to AK is/was a killerfor me.

6/7 – Thursday - We arrived in Anchorage 2pm – Enterprise car reserved. Keep checking prices, got upgrade and lower price close to arrival date. We loadedup, got a bit confused getting thru Anchorage but got on our way toTalkeetna. (Just before town there is a viewing area on the left)

We reserved Denali Fireside Cabins http://www.denalifireside.comfor 1 night. Highly recommend. We walked to town and ate at the Wildflower Café. Wanted to hang out a bit but we were starting to run out ofsteam.

Edited by Tyskie

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6/8– Friday - We breakfasted at the Road House – best reindeer sausage of the whole trip! Town very cute but as others have said – getting very commercialized. There is a National Park Service – Ranger Station. Excellent video re climbing Denali. You can also stamp your passport.f496a5e49dacf2707d8d761200fe405e.jpg

Edited by Tyskie

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We continued on to Denali. There was some construction on the Hwy but not enough to slow us down much. Ourstay for the next 2 nights was the CreeksideCabins (& Café)http://www.mckinleycabins.com/ We were able to check in early.

*Of note: Gas station in Cantwell is last one until “Glitter Gulch” – 14 miles each way from our cabin. Gas is less expensive in Cantwell.

We spent the afternoon at the Denali NationalPark Visitors Center and able to catch the 4pm Sled Dog exhibit and demonstration. (hrs. 10, 2 & 4) We ate at the Café where we were staying – good food, Alaskan Beer and wine choices besides coffee. They open early for coffee, breakfast sandwiches to go and breakfast sweets.

Edited by Tyskie

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6/9 - Saturday - A recommendation from a friend in Wasilla; we chose the Denali BackCountry Adventure – full 93 miles to Kantishna. (Pick-up at Denali Cabins @6am, The Bluffs& one of the Princess Lodges.) We chose the first pickup so we could have our seat choice. We stopped at Toklat, Eielson Center, WonderLake and lunched at the Denali BackCountry Lodge.

Lunch was included: 2soups, 4 different roll sandwiches, potato salad, fresh veggies, lemonade,water. Wine for purchase. We walked up to the main lodge and sat outside enjoying our view, of the creek, savoring a glass of wine. Both coming and going – hot drinks (coffee,tea, chocolate, cider), water, soda were served at our stops, along with fresh baked cookies and granola bars. Our driver Missy was amazing – I had to give her extra credit for navigating those hairpin turns along the road. She was quite knowlegable about the area and hikes within Denali regularly. She was telling us about the 100yds camping rule – tent, food storage, eating – all 100yds apart like a triangle. It was along day but worth every bit of time. We saw dall sheep (more like white dots, lol) mamma grizzly and her (2) 2 year old cubs, moose, herd of caribou, golden eagle, red fox (with fresh kill in mouth), snow-shoe rabbits, arctic squirrels and ptarmigans. What a day!!!

 

We ate dinner at the DenaliCabins - Prey Bar & Eatery. Wehad a much needed adult beverage and shared a house salad and ReindeerBolognese. Portion was large enough toshare – delicious.

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6/10 Sunday – Breakfast at our Café – then “On the road again”…………………….

We headed south to Wasilla/Palmer area. Along the way we stopped at the Iditarod Headquarters – they have a ½ hr video but DH wasn’t too interested in staying for it. A big bus arrived with HALpassengers returning to ANC. We waited until they left and played with the puppies. They do give wheeled dog sled rides for $10.

 

We found our B&B for the next two nights: Alaska Harvest B&B overlooking PioneerMt. I can’t say enough about the accommodations. http://www.alaskasharvest.com Check-in time is 4pm. Now that we found it – we decided to explore and find the Knik River Lodge where our helicopter Glacier Dog Sled tour was for the next day. Beautiful day, people camped along the banks of the Knik River. Was able to speak with the owner of the Helicopter tour (yup, I was a little nervous) he put my mind at ease and I was excited for the next morning. We had dinner at the Noisy Goose in Palmer, local comfort food.

 

6/11 Monday – WOW! Glacier Dog Sledding on Troublesome Glacier. We saw the Knik River, KnikRiver Glacier, Lake George, the Colony Glacier. They had fresh snow during the night, as soon we landed 3 dogs ran to greet us. We got a brief overview and saw their camp. Dogs were hooked up and away we went – what an experience! Loved, loved, loved ! I bookedthru Knik River Lodge https://knikriverlodge.com/alaska-lodging-tours/classic-alaska-dogsled-tour but the company was:

https://anchoragehelicoptertours.com/tours (same price btw)

After we returned we had lunch at the Lodge, toured the ReindeerFarm and off to explore Hatcher Pass and the Independence Mine. Unfortunately the weather turned, temps dropped and it started to rain, heavy at times. We got to the Mine and the last road to the mine was still closed from winter(even though it said online it was open –call). It was 38 degrees, misting and very windy – nope too cold and nasty to hike in - not happening for this girl!

 

After a pretty full day – we picked up chicken and some sides at Fred Meyers Grocery – went back to the B&B, did some laundry and enjoyed our view.

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Some pictures:

Iditarod pup

6ffc5d3e18f9ac54c0ac67ec620d16ee.jpg

 

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Our B&B view

 

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Dog sled camp

 

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Looking forward to the remaining posts. I will be doing a trip like this next June, 2019. One week in Alaska first, then one week on Coral Princess southbound.

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e30181675ca28f9069e599d1f7689b0d.jpg

 

Thought this was cute-we had mosquitoes in Talkeetna the first night-none the rest of the trip

 

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lunch at Knik River Lodge - Halibut sliders

 

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At Park headquarters & dog sled demo

 

 

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6/12 – Anchorage – back into town, along the way stoppedat Ekultna Spirit Houses – quite interesting but quite buggy, eek. ULU Knife Factory – shipping is quite reasonable. Street bridge to see salmon but the tide wasn’t cooperating. We lunched at the 49th State Brewery. Tasted 2 different beers. Suggest sharing as the sandwich portions were very large.

 

We stayed at the Lakefront Hotel – checked in and dropped luggage – returned rental car to airport (hotel has free shuttle). Hotel is older, only AC in windows but pretty view from terrace and restaurants of the float planes coming and going. We met up with friends for the cruise portion. Dinner was at Kincaid Grill http://www.kincaidgrill.com –reservation made thru Open Table. Uber

to restaurant. Restaurant excellent!! (It's in a strip mall and didn't look like much but one of our favorite meals of the trip) We had Rockfish (2), Black Cod, Pork Chop& Oysters as appetizer.

 

6/13 – Salmon Berry Tour & Cruise day

We had arranged for the Salmon Berry Tour and Transfer. They picked us up from the hotel. Scenic drive to Turnagain Arm, Girdwood, Alyeska Tram, Lunch in Alyeska, Wildlife Center and scenic stops inthe Portage Valley. Driver very nice& knowledgeable but felt the tour was overpriced. (btw- gurus on the AK board did not recommendthis tour but I felt it fit our needs & it did) It was beautiful scenery and some interesting sites.

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Thank you for sharing! Looking forward to the rest of your trip! We are going next year!

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Coral Princess (Whittier-Hubbard Glacier/YakutatBay-Glacier Bay-Skagway-Juneau-Ketchikan-Sea-Vancouver)

 

Just a fewPrincess facts: We’ve been cruising with Princess since 2002 & on the Coral Princess for the 100th Anniversary of the Panama Canal. We think she is one of the best ships in the fleet – love the size.

New beds - amazing, no longer need the eggcrates (yay!)

No BOGO cocktail hour as mentioned in other threads.

Platinum, Elite & Suite Cocktail Hour in ExplorersLounge 4:30-6:30 daily.

We had the Captain’s Circle Cocktail Party

(mostly bluecards, 270px Gold, 61px Ruby, 73px Platinum, 29px Elite – ship was full)

Most traveled couple 1020 days, 2nd& 3rd was in the 700s.

Pop Choir – 7 members total (5W-2M) - Nice to see, 4 young people (maybe high school) participating.

Pub lunch – last sea day.

Alfredo’s pizza in Sabatini’s for lunch.

Did not have Princess Pizza

EZ Air –Delta JFK-SEA-Anc and return YVR-JFK. Able to pick seats ahead of time & flights on time. Best pricing too!

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We spent two nights at the Denali BackCountry Lodge shortly after you were there (6/14-6/15). Highly recommend it (along with a flight around the mountain from Kantishna Air Taxi that leaves from right near the Lodge) but if the price/timing doesn't work, at least do the Adventure as the OP did. Those last 30 miles are so worth it and the Lodge is wonderful!

 

That mama grizzly and her two cubs have apparently been hanging around for quite a while. I can't be 100% certain of course but we saw an identical grouping and my wife has seen pics posted as recently as 3 days ago of what sure looks like the same bears.

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We spent two nights at the Denali BackCountry Lodge shortly after you were there (6/14-6/15). Highly recommend it (along with a flight around the mountain from Kantishna Air Taxi that leaves from right near the Lodge) but if the price/timing doesn't work, at least do the Adventure as the OP did. Those last 30 miles are so worth it and the Lodge is wonderful!

 

That mama grizzly and her two cubs have apparently been hanging around for quite a while. I can't be 100% certain of course but we saw an identical grouping and my wife has seen pics posted as recently as 3 days ago of what sure looks like the same bears.

 

 

 

I would say I have to agree with you about the bears-they seemed oblivious to the buses.

 

It must have been nice staying at the lodge - very pretty setting. Did you see Denali ? We did not!

 

 

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Edited by Tyskie

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If you don't mind me asking, what was ballpark cost of diy land portion? I'm planning a very similar trip next year.

 

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These are approx numbers that do not include food:

Lodging was $850 (Talkeetna $200, Denali -2 nights $350, B&B - 2 nights $300). Car rental $300, gas $50, Backcountry Adventure (2) $ 400, Dog sled & helicopter (2) $1000.

 

In Anchorage we prepaid @$200 for the one night before cruise & cruise tour transfer $400 which included lunch, Alyeska tram & wildlife sanctuary.

 

It adds up, no doubt about it! If it’s a once in lifetime don’t hesitate to do what you want.

 

 

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6/13 Boarded at 4pm, luggage arrived promptly and all put away before muster. We switched to AT dining which worked well for us this trip. We ate at 7:30 each night.

 

6/14 Yakutat Bay & Hubbards Glacier (Sea day - cold & windybut nice) – The Naturalist started his narration around 3:45. Of note, he mentioned that Hubbards was one of the active glaciers & growing. Currently approx. 6 ½ mi wide and 76mi long.

Dinner at Sabatini’s – good – still feel that CB has the best Sabatini’s - IMO

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