Journey to the Great Land – August 21, 2013

Sandpoint, ID - Sarah Palin's Birthplace - 37 nm straight off the wing.

Sandpoint, ID – Sarah Palin’s Birthplace – 37 nm straight off the wing.

My journey to the Great Land – Alaska – had been “planned” on and off over the past two to three years, but the final decision was made when I met Chuck Heath Sr., and Junior in New York City to have a copy of Our Sarah Made in Alaska signed. I decided that I would go during the time of the Alaska State Fair.

Though my trip was Sarah Palin-motivated – putting me among the 3% of Alaska tourists for whom she wholly motivates their trips – I wanted to physically challenge myself, see the beauty of the Matanuska Valley, and explore Anchorage. The aspects of the trip related to Sarah are covered in my Sarah Palin History Tour series at US for Palin. This series will focus mainly on the non-Sarah aspects of my trip, though there may be some overlap.

Journey to the Great Land – iPhone 5 Photos


I used United frequent flyer miles and flew out of Newark, NJ to Anchorage with a stop in Seattle. The total time on the outbound flight was 13 hours including layover and time zone changes. This first album consists of iPhone shots taken out the window. I got Lake Hayden, about 37 miles south of Sarah Palin’s birthplace, Glacier Peak and the Seattle skyline.

Glaciers just north of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Glaciers just north of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Leaving Seattle, I was amazed that you could see glaciers just north of Vancouver. Once that flight passed the first glacier, we were over a deep undercast and I saw nothing more until we were in our final descent to Anchorage. At this point, the flight was below 10,000 feet, so I had to leave the iPhone off. I arrived around 3:30 PM Alaska Daylight Time.

Ted Stevens International Airport is a cross between a major international airport, a museum and a Cabela’s outlet. On the way to baggage claim and the car rental area mounted musk oxen and a grizzly bear greet you. The corridor is lined with exhibits detailing Alaska’s Native peoples and their cultures. Reindeer sausage are sold in the food court. On the way home, you can buy selected tactical and hunting gear and bring your fish and game to a counter to be freeze-packed and shipped – right in the airport. Ted Stevens International reflects Alaska’s uniqueness from the moment you exit the jetway.

My rented car was a sky blue / grey Dodge Dart. The key confused me at first. The entire keyfob goes into the ignition which is on the dashboard. There is no metal key visible on it. It’s hidden inside and not used to operate the vehicle. The Dart, however, did its job well. Anchorage car rentals are very expensive with up to half the cost being taxes and fees.

My first impression was the air. It had a unique, sweet aroma to it unlike any place I have ever been. It was like being hugged from inside out.

I stayed in the Arctic Rose Suite of Carol’s Lake Lucille Bed and Breakfast for the entire duration of my trip. The B&B fronts the southeast side of Lake Lucille. The suite was clean, large, and pleasant. Carol – who also teaches at Elmendorf Air Force Base – made sure all was well. The living room part of the suite became the US for Palin newsroom and afforded me a splendid view of the Lake and across into downtown Wasilla. I ended up generally having two breakfasts each morning, the first being cereals and yogurts Carol provided – and the second being at the Mocha Moose, where I would get a large Good Morning Alaska mocha latte spiked with orange and an egg burrito with either sausage or bacon. The Moose became a daily haunt of mine.

Just up Knik Goose Bay Road and to the right is the Alaska Railroad station, which is pretty much in the center of the city. It’s a rail fan’s delight as both passenger and freight trains ply the run between Anchorage and Fairbanks every day. I could hear the pleasant wail of the horns throughout my stay. The entire area bounding the the Alaska Railroad’s run from Seward to Fairbanks (Eilson Air Force Base for freight) is called the “Railbelt.”

Lake Lucille

Lake Lucille

These first two shots of Lake Lucille were taken right after I arrived. I would not use the Nikon D50 till the next day – my first full day in Alaska.



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