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Guest: Olympic Peninsula
tourists on a cruise viewing the Prince William Sound Glaciers, Alaska
Prince William Sound Glaciers.
Courtesy CIRI Alaska Tourism Corporation

From Seward to Talkeetna:
The Best Alaska Has to Offer
All Roads Are Not Created Equal

Story by Dee Buchanon

Meet Our Guest Writer

Dee Buchanon

Dee Buchanon was born in Indiana, and moved to Anchorage, Alaska at the age of 5. Growing up in Southcentral Alaska, she acquired a love for fishing, snowmachining, 4-wheeling and hunting. Some of her best memories of childhood are those of fly-out fishing to remote areas of Alaska in the summer, and running traplines with her father in the winter. Her husband and two children also share her love for experiencing and enjoying the Alaskan wilderness.

As is the Director of Marketing for Alaska Native owned and operated CIRI Alaska Tourism, Buchanon provides strategic oversight and marketing support for all CATC entities, including Alaska Heritage Tours, Kenai Fjords Tours, Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge, Prince William Sound Glacier Cruises, Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge and Seward Windsong Lodge. Buchanon holds a B.S. in Marketing, B.S.in Management and Minor in Economics from the University of Oregon, and has over 20 years of Alaskan experience in marketing, public relations and advertising.

2.5-hour drive along one of the most breathtaking routes in Alaska doesn’t even begin to reveal it all. Designated a National Scenic Byway and All-American Road, the Seward Highway stretches 127 miles from Anchorage to Seward, bordered by the picturesque Turnagain Arm. It’s no mystery why scenic viewpoints are plentiful. Travelers can scan the adjacent cliffs for Dall sheep and eagles and see beluga whales in the inlet, spotted by their telltale white heads poking up through the waves.

Upon reaching the end of the road and the southern edge of the Kenai Peninsula, Seward appears, the massive Resurrection Bay at its back. As it all comes into view — the busy boat harbor, the mountains, a patchwork of quaint restaurants, shops and travel companies, cars tugging boats and kayaks — there is little doubt: recreation happens here. TripAdvisor.com viewers wholeheartedly agree, naming Seward the number one US Destination for 2010.

A Wilderness Retreat

swimming puffins at the Kenai Fjords
Puffins grace the waters on a Kenai Fjords Tour.
Courtesy: CIRI Alaska Tourism Corporation

One of the most popular options for Seward travelers is a cruise with Kenai Fjords Tours and optional overnight (or two) at the Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge. The adventure begins on a wildlife-and-glacier cruise across Resurrection Bay and continues into Kenai Fjords National Park. With camera in hand, witness calving glaciers, orca whales, sea lions, otters, puffins and more.

Waterfalls and dramatic cliffs greet the boat at the dock of the Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge, located on exclusive Fox Island. As if the ride over wasn’t indulgence enough, a wild Alaska salmon and prime rib lunch awaits guests at the day lodge. Spend the afternoon exploring the rain forest, combing the beach, kayaking along the shores or simply basking in the views. According to lodge staff (and some lucky guests) orcas can sometimes be spotted coming right up on the beach to rub against the rocky shore.

Even if guests don’t stay overnight, they don’t have to miss out on the Fox Island experience. Some day cruise options make a stop at the newly remodeled Kenai Fjords day lodge. Return to the mainland via a full-day cruise into the glacier-carved Northwestern Fjord. As the boat nears the towering wall of ice known as the Northwestern Glacier, the engine of the boat idles, and the thundering cracks of ice can be heard as it breaks away from the glacier and crashes into the sea.

a couple and a family at the Seward Windsong Lodge
The Seward Windsong Lodge makes the perfect home base for Kenai tours.
Courtesy: CIRI Alaska Tourism Corporation

See More of Seward

Travelers will definitely want to explore more of what Seward has to offer. The Seward Windsong Lodge — winner of the prestigious Studiosus Award in 2009 — is the perfect base camp for exploration. Close to town yet in a secluded setting, the lodge is close to kayaking, fishing, glacier dog sled rides and offers the popular Exit Glacier Hike. Traveling just minutes from the lodge through alders and rock croppings, hikers arrive at the base of the crystal blue Exit Glacier, the crown jewel of the Resurrection River Valley.

touring the Prince William Sound Glacier

One of the many highlights of a Kenai Fjords Tours Cruise.
Courtesy: Dee Buchanon

Just the Tip of the Iceberg

It’s hard to depart Seward, but this coastal town is just one of many must-see destinations Alaska offers. Head back towards Anchorage with a detour through the longest vehicle tunnel in North America. On the other side, Whittier is another coastal community with a lot to offer. Day cruises with Prince William Sound Glacier Cruises explore the largest collection of tidewater glaciers in Alaska and travel through wildlife-rich waters to a salmon hatchery.

But don’t stop there. Head 113 miles north of Anchorage to the small town of Talkeetna. Here, on the south side of Denali National Park and Preserve, the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge offers the best view of Mount McKinley and the Alaska Range and is located just minutes from adventure. Guests can fish or hike, take a river float or jet boat trip or choose a flightseeing tour over Denali National Park and Preserve, one of the most dramatic experiences available.

If You Go

Alaska Native owned and operated, CIRI Alaska Tourism Corporation is the parent company for premium-quality tourism products, providing customers with the best that Alaska has to offer in Seward, Whittier, Talkeetna, Denali and beyond.

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FEEDBACK FOR PATTI

I enjoy your newsletters -and particularly Patti Nickell's article about the 'Pudding Club' in the Cotswold's. An old friend of mine is taking a holiday there this year and plans to try their Jam Roly Poly and Spotted Dick - amongst many!

--- John & Maggie - UK

FEEDBACK FOR JULIO

The way I read this article, you stayed at the "Breeze and Waves". Do you have any pictures of the cottages, and would you recommend to some first time visitors to Caramoan?

--- Richard Simons, Stockton, CA

Hi Richard,

Breeze and Waves was still under construction when I stayed there in Feb. 2010. It should be finished by now. You can see pictures of the resort on this page. We got to stay in one of the small cottages in the picture. I'll recommend it to budget travelers but you might want to look at other options. We chose it because of its location right by the beach. You can try other resorts in the Caramoan town proper (you have to get a ride to get to the beach and the jump-off point to go island-hopping but it's a relatively short distance). There are also two higher end resorts located on a cove and very near the islands: Gota Village Resort (unfortunately there is something wrong with their website right now) and its twin resort Hunongan Cove. Caramoan is a relatively new tourism development so resorts are just now being built.

You can go to this site for a good list of choices for accommodations in Caramoan.

I should add that it might be good to go to Caramoan (and almost anywhere in the Philippines) during the dry season from December to May. June to November are the typhoon months and sometimes typhoons will still come during early December.

Julio

* * * * *

Hi, I'm planning to go to Caramoan this coming May. Would you know the number of Breeze and Waves Cottages? Thanks!

--- Ann, Manila, Philippines

Hi Ann,

Breeze and Waves' phone number is 0908-2911072. Look for Freddie. Hope you have a grand time at Caramoan!

Julio

FEEDBACK FOR WENDY

For Nature's Playground: The South Island of New Zealand

Hi Wendy,

In winter, Heritage Heights Apts. now offers free shuttle service to and from Queenstown 24/7 to guests without cars. We own a 7-passenger 4-wd Toyota Highlander used specifically to taxi guests up and down the hill during winter months. We also run advance purchase winter promotions which include a 4-wd rental.

If any of your readers head over this direction, I will enjoy extending Heritage Heights hospitality!!

Cheers

--- Ailey, Owner, Queenstown, NZ

* * * * *

New Zealand text and pix top drawer! Almost as good as making the trip. ( but one still wants to. . . ) Full of useful detail. Only trouble with the website: It's tough figuring out which feedback goes with which article, and the more there are, the tougher it gets!

--- Ken W., Camarillo CA

Thanks Ken..."álmost" is right, you really have to experience the South Island firsthand. Granted this piece is long, but still all I can think about is how much I left out! I agree abut the relevancy factor re the feedback--it can be confusing...sometimes I have a "Wait a minute...what?" moment myself.

Thanks for writing,

Wendy

* * * * *

Okay Wendy, from now on whenever you book your travel, please reserve space for me. I will carry your luggage, bring you cold drinks, massage your shoulders, and change the film in your camera (oops, I guess you don't have to do that anymore). Wonderful ideas and recommendations. Can you get to New Zealand from Boston in less than a week?

--- Carl A., South Easton, MA

Ha ha ha Carl, you're quite the comedian! But you'd be surprised how short that flight feels. I suspect Qantas isn't the only airline who's figured out that 3 movies, 2 full meals, lots of snacks and a complimentary travel pack (eye mask, warm socks and neck pillow) equals a quiet, well-behaved cabin. It really isn't bad. Just fly direct--pick the shortest flight w/ no lengthy layovers and you'll be fine. Re: signing on as my Super Sherpa...why not? I think you know I seldom travel in anything less than Party mode. There's just that pesky background check...

Thanks for writing,

Wendy

For Excellence Riviera Cancun:

Wendy, I truly enjoyed your info especially since we leave in a week to celebrate my 50th Birthday. Was it necessary to make reservations at the restaurants? Was there a dress code for the restaurants? What would you recommend not missing while there? Was the spa experience worth it? Did you travel away from the resort while there? Thanks,

--- Kim P. Fuquay, Varina, NC

Hi Kim.

Sorry for the delay in responding...you had heavy competition with the holidays. Reservations at Excellence restaurants are not necessary and you will not find a wait. The dress code is basically no bathing suits and flip-flops...with a decided a mix of atmospheres. Mostly the open-air beachside spots are super casual, the rest slightly more formal. Truly, as long as you are clothed, I don't think you'd be turned away anywhere, though most people seemed to enjoy dressing up at night...I suspect more for their own pleasure than any sense of decorum.

The spa experience was worth it, though my favorite part wasn't the actual massage. The precursor was a 45 min. or so rotation from sauna to a series of (kind of wild) water jets which was very different and very cool, not just for women. In its' entirety, and with the serenity of the beach/champagne/strawberries, it was memorable.

We did not travel away from the hotel this trip, but the hotel is very helpful in arranging day excursions to fit your desires and you do not have to book these until you arrive.

Have a great time!

--- Wendy

FEEDBACK FOR NINO

I enjoyed Nino's contribution, since we all read about the frightening terrorist attack. Having travelled somewhat through India years ago, I am continually impressed with this country and the gentle spiritual aspects of this nation. Some day I look forward to going back. Nino has encouraged me. Thank you!

--- Yoka Y., Westlake Village, CA

FEEDBACK FOR RUSH & CHUCK

Dear Mr.s/counselors Brown and Koro,

Thank you for a very informed and succinct article on motorcycle accidents and the law. It inspired me to think about getting a motorcycle, but not have an accident. But, if I do I am now well informed with the basics of what to do providing I do not perish in the accident. Any tips about that too?

--- Unnamed

Dear Rush and Chuck,

I wish I had read your article before our camping trip the Friday prior to President's Day.

My wife and I were in a car accident on our way to a camp ground. We were "rear-ended" and the impact caused our car to crash into the car in front of us. The contents of the truck that we were riding scattered onto several lanes. It's a miracle our two dogs decided to stay inside the car. My wife and I were shaken up badly but despite the mess, I was still able to walk out of the car. I got the license plate of the driver in front of me but, to my surprise, after reviewing the little damage on his car, he then sped off. I didn't know you could do that! The driver who hit me from behind gave me his information and then he too left the scene without saying good 'bye. When the police arrived all I had to go by was the little information I had jotted down which I hope was truthful. What if it was bogus? What if I had written the plate number incorrectly? How would that affect my insurance? What if we were unconscious, who would have written down all that information?

I do have one suggestion if you are injured in an accident. The police asked if my wife wanted an ambulance to bring her to the hospital but we declined the offer. I remembered when I rode an ambulance years ago that it was not a comfortable ride. I was strapped to the stretcher and there were all sorts of medical equipment dangling noisily above me. As long as you are able, it is a more relaxful ride inside a car. Besides, isn't there a fee for ambulance service?

--- Dave S. of Pasadena, CA



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