With our last day in Hawaii done and dusted it was time to hit State number 2. After getting a cab to the airport, we had some of the largest Starbucks drinks I have ever seen. I had some toffee thing I think. I could feel my teeth rotting with every mouthful! Stef’s family were flying back to England so they met us at the airport. We said our goodbyes and got on the plane.
The plane was basic but they did provide free drinks. Soft drinks. No booze. Which was a good job as we were picking up another rental car as soon as we landed in ALASKA! We’d only just got used to the 30 degrees plus weather! We landed at Anchorage airport about 4am. It was light outside and walking through the airport, you could see snow capped mountains through the large windows. I was not looking forward to the cold. We arrived at the on site rental car company, Enterprise, in good time. It was so good; it was 3.5 hours before it opened! I knew this was going to happen but it was the only flight I could book. We found some seats near a plug socket and watched a few things on the laptop. There were a couple already there that had been waiting since midnight – they had just missed the closing time at 11:30pm. I thought we were better off – That was until the counter actually opened and I walked up all happy. I had taken us to the wrong Enterprise branch! The man at the counter gave me a map and I walked back to Stef with my head held low. Thankfully, she was too tired to have a go at me. We jumped in a cab and it was a 10-minute drive. It was lucky that I had sent us to the wrong branch, as at the airport we had toilets, shops, heat and electric. When we rolled up to the actual Enterprise branch we should’ve gone to, it was closed. It would have been a long wait standing outside for it to open. So my cock up actually helped the situation!
But that was only my first cock up for the day. At the counter again, the representative told me that my booking was for noon. Surely I would have been more organised than this? But he was right. Our car wasn’t ready. We had two options. We could either go into town and find something to do for 4.5 hours or rent another car. I looked at Stef’s tired face with my tired eyes and we both decided to get another car. Unfortunately, the only cars they had were more expensive ones. Funny that. Now I had previously booked a Toyota Yaris. For those that don’t know what one is, it’s a very small car. Not that there’s any thing wrong with it. Stef will completely deny this, but we had previously discussed her driving the Alaska leg (we didn’t! –Stef). She wouldn’t drive a big American muscle car, so I booked something she would drive. I did not want to drive a Yaris.
They handed me the keys to a Chevrolet Equinox. It was a small SUV but a lot bigger than a Yaris. We jumped in and off we went. I drove…as usual. (He loves it and won’t let me drive even when I do offer! –Stef) I was quite happy with the upgrade – it was worth every cent. Stef ended up falling in love with the car!
The weather in Alaska was a bit different than we had imagined. It wasn’t that cold and it was sunny. You could easily get away with wearing a t-shirt. We’d packed for the worst. Fleeces, hoodies and Stef’s family had even bought us some thermal clothing!
We were staying in a small town called Cooper’s Landing. It was a few hours drive and took us through some amazing sights. The sights in New Zealand had previously blown us away and we didn’t think it could get any better. We were wrong. Within a few hours of landing in Alaska, it had blown the images of New Zealand out of the water. It was fun driving but I was getting tired and really needed a sleep. After an hour napping in the car, we made it to our next destination.
As we pulled into Gwins Lodge we were presented with lots of little cabins. One of those was going to be our home for the night. We were a bit peckish and luckily, they had a bar/restaurant. Stef ordered a small portion of nachos and I ordered the house special burger. They both came out and were massive. I struggled and Stef had to get hers to take away. We got 10% off as well. Bonus.
We were pretty tired and had not planned to do anything there – it was just a stop off. It started getting late but it was not getting dark. It was very weird. We decided to get to bed at about midnight and it was still bright outside. We soon discovered that they only have 4 hours of darkness. How bizarre.
The next day we headed to Seward. This was to be our base camp for the next few days. Along the way, we were blessed with some more amazing sights. If this was the taste of things to come, we were going to love Alaska. Along the road, there were lakes, mountains and waterfalls. You could spend an hour travelling the smallest of roads if you stopped at each one to take photos.
We kept passing walking trails and decided to stop at one to give it a go. It turned out to be a 4-hour walk and that didn’t include the return! We hopped back in the car and went to the next one, Troop Lake Trail. It didn’t have any indication as to how long it would take or what we would encounter. Seeing as we were in Bear County, it could have been interesting. For the first time in 6 months, we remembered to take some water with us. It was a good job, as we got really hot! It got to a point where I was worried about getting sunburnt as the sun was glaring down on us! We were walking for a about an hour when we reached the goal, Troop Lake. It wasn’t that impressive to be honest but it was a nice view.
After driving for about another hour, we made it to the Van Gilder Hotel in Seward. It was one of the oldest buildings in Seward and you could tell. It looked old but it had been maintained well. As it was still light out, we went for a walk along the sea front. The street leading up to the sea was full of old style shops. We stopped off at a chocolate and ice-cream store. Stef got a box of homemade chocs and I went for an ice cream. An ice cream in Alaska! Pure madness. We also bought some salt-water taffy. It was a weird chewy sweet but very nice. As we were walking along the sea front, Stef pointed out something in the sea. At first we thought it was a dog, but getting closer, we soon discovered it was an otter. It was just floating in the waves on his own. Very relaxed!
There was a SeaLife centre at the end of the road. As we love that sort of thing, we thought we might as well pop in. There were loads of different types of sea birds and fish there. We were just in time for the feeding of the birds. They were going crazy for the dead fish the workers were throwing into the water. They would dive in a good few feet under the water just to get a bit. They also had some Puffins in the same enclosure. They amazed Stef.
I think we may have to get one when we get back to the UK.