Alaska: Into the Wild

Historical fact: The U.S. purchased Alaska from Russia for 7.2m dollars (2 cents per acre) in 1867.

After our trip, I’m thinking it was a pretty good deal! Alaska is full of wildlife, nature, and serenity. Plus gold and oil! πŸ˜‰

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We were only able to cover a tiny portion of this huge state (fun fact: If Alaska were a country, it would be the 19th largest in the world!), yet we still experienced some of the true wilderness it had to offer.
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After landing in Anchorage after a looong flight, we rested at this lodge on our way to Seward.
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There’s almost no bad scenery in Alaska. This is Summit Lake, right next to the lodge.
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Seward is the port city from which boat tours leave for glacier and sea wildlife viewing.
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We must’ve disturbed this cute sea otter, who was comfortably chilling (water is ice-cold!) in the bay.
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Sea lions hanging out on the rock.
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Common murre (looks like a penguin) and puffin (the one with orange beak and feet).
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Seals resting on the rocks. Bonus points if you can count how many there are.
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Iceberg! Unlike Titanic, our boat was able to maneuver around this one. πŸ˜›
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A close-up view of Aialik Glacier. Listening to icebergs calving (small portions breaking off from the glacier) is out of this world.
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Alaska is famous for its salmon, and this is the time when they swim (and sometimes jump!) upstream to reach a safe place for spawning.
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View of Tern Lake.
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A huge brown bear in Alaska Wildlife Refuge. They can weigh up to 750kg (as large as polar bears).
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This is the view from Seven Glaciers Restaurant, accessed by the tram from Alyeska Resort. The glaciers in the background are two of the seven glaciers in this valley.
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After reaching Talkeetna, we took a ride up the mountain. Landing on a glacier was a cool experience.
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We were lucky enough to get a clear view of the peak of Mt. McKinley. This mountain has the largest vertical rise in the world: about 6km (although Mt. Everest has a higher peak).
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The Alaskan Range looks surreal above the clouds.
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This is a glacial river.
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These little bright blue lakes are everywhere.
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Another pretty shot from the plane.
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This cabin was very interesting. It was in the middle of nowhere, and literally off-the-grid, with all of its power generated by solar panels on-site. Our only neighbors were the owners.
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Pretty much everywhere is picturesque in Alaska. This is the morning view of Otto Lake from the lodge we stayed at close to Denali National Park.
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This shuttle bus is the only way to see Denali National Park. It’s great that they’re trying to preserve wildlife in the park.
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On our way in the park.
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Arctic Ground Squirrel: as you can see, it’s very difficult to capture a clear shot of this animal.
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We saw a squirrel devour one of these mushrooms in a matter of seconds. We were told that these animals have a weird way of hibernating in the winter, so they need to eat as much as possible to survive.
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Willow ptarmigan: state bird of Alaska (whatever that means :P). Apparently, its color turns fully white in the winter.
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Moose: the largest animal in the deer family.
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Dall sheep: to find these, you need to look for white spots at the top or edge of the mountain.
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Brown bear: the ones in Denali are mostly vegetarian, since there is no salmon around. Due to this, they are much smaller than the brown bears in the southern part of Alaska.
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Mother and cub having some quality time.
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Mother bear teaching her cub to use trees for itch relief. πŸ™‚
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Caribou (North American name for reindeer): these beautiful animals are hired by Santa Claus for logistics. πŸ˜›
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This gives perspective on how large the caribou antlers are. It’s really heavy — I could barely lift them all the way up.
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Predator and prey in the same frame, although the bears here will rarely hunt adult caribous.
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View of Polychrome Mountain — its name comes from the many colors.
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Panoramic view of Mt. McKinley.
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Aurora Ice Museum: they first built the exterior from ice as well, but that didn’t last a single summer. πŸ™‚
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The famous ice bar inside the museum, serving drinks from ice cups.
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All ice sculptures were made by a couple, who have won many awards over the years.
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There’s excellent sound acoustics inside this igloo.
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Chena Hot Springs: We were still cold from the freezing Ice Museum when we stepped into these hot waters.
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Fairbanks was the last and northernmost place we visited. It is on longitude 65, almost within the Arctic Circle. Winter temperatures reach -70C! This is the “Museum at the North”, located inside the campus of Univ. of Alaska at Fairbanks.

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