This summer, my father, my two sisters and I took a trip by sea through the Inside Passage of Southeastern Alaska, and it was one of the most amazing experiences of our lives. I have had the wonderful opportunity to see a great deal of the United States of America and the North American continent, and Alaska unexpectedly became my favorite place I have ever been for its spectacular beauty. A few months before we took our trip, my family was trying to figure out where we should travel to for summer vacation.
The decision boiled down to the Mexican Riviera or the Inside Passage. Because we had already taken the trip down to Mexico, we decided a trip to Alaska would be the best opportunity for us. That choice turned out to be brilliant! Before going, I assumed Alaska was going to be frigid, barren, and most likely, very boring.
I never would have guessed that the state would turn out to be the greenest place I had ever seen, with incredible glaciers topping every tall peak. We saw whales, brown bears, American Bald Eagles and lots of salmon. Near one river outside of Ketchikan we could practically reach into the water and pick up a ten pound salmon! I cannot resist this opportunity to brag a little about my family’s traveling tricks for making the most of our experiences.
Cruise lines like ours offer shore excursions, where you pay an expensive fee to do some tourist activities around your ports of call. My family and I, being from the sunny vacation city called San Diego, have the experience to know that tourist activities often do not let you experience what places are actually like. So instead of paying for shore excursions, we rented a car in Ketchikan and drove inland until we found an old logging road, where trucks used to drive to cut lumber from the thick forest.
We drove up a giant summit to get to a glacier, but we had to turn around because my dad got scared of missing our ship. The views from the side of our mountain were breathtaking. The next stop was Juneau, the state capital.
While we were in Juneau we took a gondola up the steep mountain on the Mount Roberts Tramway. The gondola took us up through a thick cloud and to the peak of the mountain where we saw the first American Bald Eagle of our journey. We hiked on a few trails and discovered that we were actually in the thick of an actual rainforest.
This astounded me because my impression of rainforests was always the type you might find in the tropics, like the Amazon. But Alaska? That is something I would never have guessed. En route to the next port, we cruised around the Sawyer Glacier in the Juneau Ice Fields.
I have seen a lot of glaciers, from experiencing places like Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, and Grand Teton National Park, but I have to admit that this glacier was the most miraculous. Experiencing the panoramic views of the glacier from the ocean littered with tiny teal icebergs was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I should mention another one of my family’s great ideas for taking in the sights; the Jacuzzi.
While the majority of the people looked at these views while freezing beneath three layers and a scarf, my group enjoyed from the comforts of our bathing suits in the hot tub. We found it funny how everybody looked at us as if we were insane, because we were the ones who were comfortable! Our last Alaskan port was a small old town called Skagway. At first we were disappointed, but then we rented another car and drove out to the Yukon, and saw the most beautiful lake and waterfall I had ever seen.
When we came back into the U.S., we went to the Dyea valley and saw a great brown bear fishing for salmon. We got some footage and we have a picture of it on our wall. I am very thankful that I was able to take this trip, because otherwise I don’t think I would have ever gone and fixed my impression of Alaska. I will definitely travel back there I learned never to judge a place that you have never been, because maybe it will take your breath away.
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