Thursday, December 9, 2010

Throwback Thursday: Northern Exposure

You may remember from last Friday's post I will be featuring some of my favorite trips I took before starting my blog. I have been inundated with snow the past two weeks here in Scotland, so I couldn't wait until Friday for this post. So here goes the Throwback Thursday post of my Northern Exposure experience. I decided to take inspiration from my current surroundings and write about my Alaskan Adventure that I took with some friends back in June 2009. Alaska was a state that I had always dreamed of visiting, and the opportunity to travel there came up due to some interesting circumstances. Now for those of you who don't remember May of 2009, we had a little thing called the Swine Flu Pandemic. I had previously booked a trip to Mexico with a group of friends, one of those being Christina Brown who I worked with.  We were not too happy when we were told we were not allowed to leave the country from our employer, and we had to cancel our trip to Mexico. Because we had a credit with the travel company, we decided to take advantage of the situation, and travel within the US to Alaska via Norwegian Cruise Line.  The amazing thing about the trip is that my college roommate Katherine Penney and her hubby Mike were also on the same cruise- we found this out by chance after we booked our tickets. So we ended up flying to Seattle and then boarded a cruise ship to see the Alaskan wilderness. I must admit, Alaska is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been and there is a new adventure lying around every corner.

We first arrived in Seattle two days before our ship left port.  I had never been to Washington before and have always hear amazing things about the state. Seattle to say the least is such a cool city! My favorite part of the city was the Pike Place Market. Some of the most beautiful flowers and foods were spread throughout the market. Cheeses, breads, fruits, seafood, soaps...the list goes on of the things the market offers. My favorite thing from the market was the best Mac and Cheese I have ever eaten. If you are ever in Seattle you must try it!



Lobster

One of my favorite highlights from the trip was flying in a helicopter to a glacier.  We geared up in crampons and loaded into the helicopter and took off right over our cruise ship. The chopper dropped our group off and then left us to hike around the Meade Glacier. It was absolutely breathtaking. As you can see form the video below, I was like a little kid and super excited. It was one of the most adventurous things I have ever done!
video



Another highlight from trip was when we were at port in Skagway. Christina and I got to ride on the White Pass Yukon Railroad. I really love trains, and this is one of the only trains left in the US where you can actually flag down the conductor to stop the train and get on and off throughout the Yukon.

At one point the train started slowing and I knew we were about to pick up passengers. I ran outside to get a better glimpse of the newcomers to the train.
 To my surprise they were sporting Hokie attire. Who would have ever thought I would travel into the Alaskan wilderness to start a Let's Go Hokies chant on the White Pass Rail! Even in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness you can find Hokie Love!
Now many of you know that I was a Horticulture major at Virginia Tech, so even in Alaska I had to stop and see one of the famous gardens in Juneau. The plants were surprisingly large-even with a small growing season. For those of you who love gardens, I would definitely recommend checking out Glacier Gardens!
An upside-down Acer Palmatum! (Japanese Maple for those who aren't hort majors)
Dogwood Ground Cover- Amazing!

Another great place to see in Juneau isThe Red Dog Saloon. I snapped a quick video inside as to see what the ambiance of the place is like. A fun place to grab a drink and meet a lumberjack!
video

Our last port of call was in Victoria British Columbia. We only got to spend 1/2 a day there so I did a lot of souvenir shopping and of course, more eating! I found a great little seafood hut that had some of the best seafood I have ever tasted. If you are ever in Victoria- it's a must try- Barb's Fish and Chips, get the clam strips you won't regret it!

The cruise itself was a great way to see Alaska. I had been on a few Caribbean cruises before going to Alaska, but the great thing about cruising there is when you are at sea the views from the ship are filled with breathtaking mountain landscapes and glaciers instead of just water. People with binoculars even saw moose and other wild animals at a distance. Every port of call was so unique and that was what made the trip interesting! I loved the totem poles in Ketchikan, where I kept searching for more lumberjacks!





Now let's get to my favorite part about traveling- the food! While in Alaska I had an elk burger, fresh salmon and salmon spreads, crab, and reindeer sausage- and that was just at port. It was delish! The cruise ship food was also fantastic! I am a big fan of cruising with Norewgian because they have freestyle cruising and you can do/eat what you want when you want. I have been to so many different places around the world, but Alaska is a place I would definitely like to go back to someday. If you go, you will come back with an awe for natural beauty and a full belly from the abundance of fresh food choices.


OK I had to throw in a cheesy picture from the life vest drill, and just so you know- even though they say it's a practice drill don't practice blowing your whistle on the vest- they didn't like me too much for that one! Until next time, I will see you on the internet.  

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