Dog sledding. Whitewater rafting. Canoeing alongside glaciers. Brown bears, caribou, and reindeer. Snowball fights on glaciers. Quality family time without laptops and ipods. Priceless! This is what you get when you take a trip to Alaska.
Three years ago my family and I took a trip to Alaska. We began our tour in Fairbanks, where we met 15 strangers from all over the world. My brothers and I were teens and pre-teens, while the rest of our group consisted mostly of seniors, including one couple from Malaysia. Initially, I thought my parents had made a big mistake in booking this tour. I came to find out that I could not have been more wrong.
This experience has taught me the value of having an open mind. While I mingled with everyone during the tour, I came to realize that seniors have a great deal of knowledge and experience that they are very willing to share with anyone who would be smart enough to listen. For instance, when we were in Denali viewing Mount Mc Kinley, Bob, one of the seniors, had a wealth of knowledge about the mountain. We were one of the lucky 18% of tourists who were able to view the top of the mountain, which is frequently obscured by clouds.
We went whitewater rafting on the Canyon Run River. It is a level 4 course due to the coldness of the water; the temperature is 30 degrees Fahrenheit at its warmest. If you should fall in the water, you only have 30 seconds until hypothermia sets in. Gearing up for this endeavor was quite comical. We had to slide ourselves into airtight suits. The only thing exposed was our faces. I’m not sure if we looked like astronauts voyaging to new planets, or a HazMat team cleaning up a biological mess. While rafting, the guide led us down into an oncoming wave of water. Water splashed every inch of us and chilled us to the bone. Seconds later, he laughed and told us he just gave us the “glacial facial”. From then on, we were on guard.
Taking a helicopter ride to go dog sledding on Mendenhall Glacier was definitely one of the highlights our trip. None of us had ever been in a helicopter ride before. Again, we geared up. We had clunky snow boots with spikes on the bottom. The helicopter ride was really cool. We were given headphones, and the pilot told us the history of the glacier. Having lived in Florida since I was 18 months old, I had never seen snow before. Landing on the glacier, my brothers and I automatically broke out into a snowball fight. It just seemed right! I enjoyed the tour of the Ididerod camp. We were shown their refrigerator. It was basically a box without a bottom. The bottom of the box was the glacier. We all had a good laugh over this! The dog sledding itself was of course some of the most fun I’ve ever had. It lasted about 20 minutes in actual time, but for me it will last a lifetime. My mother forgot to tell my father that there’s a quick thrust when the dogs take off, and my dad almost fell off the sled! We each took turns sitting in the sled, and standing behind the sled. It was a great rush.
This was an unbelieveably great vacation. Touring our wonderful State of Alaska with my family in a close-knit group was fantastic. This was a great opportunity for me to enjoy my family as well as our newfound friends.
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