Travalon and I are back home now. I forgot to mention, for all my religious readers, that the Mass in Anchorage was at a Dominican parish, and since it was the Feast of St. Dominic, they really did things up and had the Mass parts in Latin. Also, the warmest, sunniest place we visited was Fairbanks, even though it was the furthest north. And - true confession - I have had so much trouble trying to schedule the hot air balloon ride for my 40th birthday that I used the money for it on this trip. At least I did go on that helicopter ride over Kauai, which cost the same amount as the balloon rides used to cost. Now that same guy doesn't even do them anymore. We'll see if that dream of mine ever comes true...
Yesterday Travalon and I woke up refreshed after our night in the loft in our small cabin in Seward, then we went to a restaurant called Barn Apetit where a real Frenchman handmade crepes. We shared a table with a family from Germany, including a school-aged daughter, and they told us it really isn't hard to drive up to the Arctic Circle from Fairbanks. They had photos of the sign, and their dusty car after the ride. Then Travalon and I had to drive the scary road almost two miles back to the fishing place to get our fish from the night before. This road isn't quite as scary as the one in Denali, but it is narrow and unpaved with a drop-off to the water. We took our fish to a place to have them frozen and shipped to us, and then we went on a boat trip out in the fjords. This was a much larger boat with lots of people on it, and they fed us lunch. We saw a glacier as well as puffins (they look like a cross between a penguin and a toucan), sea lions, sea otters, and a humpback whale that came up right by our boat. The park ranger who told us all about the sea life was one we had met at Exit Glacier the day before, and she remembered us. After the cruise, we drove back to Anchorage, stopping at a stream to watch salmon swimming to their spawning areas. We flew out a little after midnight and landed in Chicago just after nine am our time. Then we took the bus back to Madison.
beautiful Seward Harbor
sea lions on the rocks
mountains on the Kenai Peninsula
weird plant on the path to the salmon stream
the view from the restaurant where we had dinner
waterfall in McHugh Creek
Finally, here are two videos of the salmon swimming upriver to spawn. The first one shows a salmon swimming against the current, and the second one shows some salmon closer up.