Alaska Cruise: day 10 (to Denali)

Day 10: Disembarking was easy. Packing was hard. I will go over this later.

Princess does a great job of making the disembarkation process painless and simple. We arrived in Whittier, AK which is a town that was a military city until only recently. A population of around 800 or so, but every resident lives in one tall communist-style condo. There is a one-room school house (with indoor playground) across a yard from the condo, but because the city did not want snow days as an excuse from school, they built a tunnel underground so the kids always have to go to class. The city cannot expand because its only available land is owned by a company in Hollywood who wants too much money for it.

The only way out of Whittier by car is through a tunnel under a mountain. The tunnel is so long it needs its own ventilation system and a series of safe houses with food and water in case there is a cave-in! It is only one lane wide so traffic enters Whittier on the hour and exits on the half hour. Our bus driver had to wait for the half hour mark so he took us on a tour of the entire city. We saw every building in that city in a five-minute tour! The local kids were friendly and waved to us!

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After we made it through the tunnel, which was completely black, we came out the other side to see an amazing glacier lake! We stopped off at the visitor’s center and got a few great pics of us with blocks of ice near the floating icebergs! We are from San Diego, and were quite happily wrapped in double jackets. Our guide, however, was wearing a Hawaiian t-shirt. Show-off! Anyway, we learned a lot about glaciers and the tundra, and how global warming is affecting and changing the area. Ice is always changing so it is easy to study!

On our bus to Anchorage, we drove past a moose and a mountain goat! We saw a bald eagle couple fishing in a stream! The only thing we didn’t get to see was the illusive Beluga. We made it to Anchorage in one piece. We headed to the nearby mall to grab some cheap food. We saw an AT&T store, so we decided to swing in there after lunch. Beau managed to get a new iPhone, but while he was in the process of signing everything over, I realized that my backpack was not with us! I had forgotten it in the food court! It had everything in it, including my MacBook, our passports, our reservations and confirmations, and even the key to my luggage lock with all my clothes!!

I immediately left him to run to the elevator (which of course decided to stop at every floor on the way) praying that it would still be by the table. To my horror, when I arrived, the bag was missing! I asked a couple sitting nearby if they had seen it. The man said, “I did see it a minute ago! It was right here! I thought it must have belonged to another table” so he started running around with me looking for it. I finally asked a lady at Hot Dog on a Stick where the lost-and-found was, and she directed me to the mall office.

I ran full speed downstairs and around the halls until I saw an obscure sign pointing to the office. Of course, the office is down a windy path that zigzagged several times before I ran into the office, out of breath, yelling, “please help me! I need the lost-and-found! I forgot my backpack in the food court and I went to the phone store and then it was gone!” The lady was so sweet and calmed me down before radioing the mall cops describing my bag. They said they did have it and had already given it to Beau at the AT&T store! Thank God!!!

I walked quickly back to the store where he was waving for me to come in. Apparently, his phone had JUST been activated, and the lady handed him the phone, but as she did he got a call. “Hello, is this Beau? We have some of your information here. Did you loose a backpack in the food court?” Why, yes, sir, I did! I saw the mall cops walking by. They looked like Canadian Mounties in white! Alaska is such a friendly state! We really lucked out!

Once we got our things together, we headed back to the bus for a six-hour ride to Denali. We were wiped out. We booked our stay in Denali a week before we left on our cruise, so the only place left that wasn’t $600 was in a little dry cabin behind a restaurant, the Salmon Bake. There is only one restroom for the site, so it is basically camping with insulated cabins. We got a great price considering, and it is right above a restaurant. For dinner, we had smoked king salmon on a cedar board and buffalo chili made with bison meat! It is a really cute little place!

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