Over the last two weekends, I traveled north and south across Alaska. The combined trip focused on four of Alaska’s 12 numbered highways (yes, only 12 criss-cross this large state!) The Parks, The Richardson, The Seward, and the Sterling Highways contributed the miles, and more: the experience of autumn in Alaska!.
Anchorage to Fairbanks – the morning and early afternoon hours offered sunlight dancing between the leaves, punctuated by short periods of rainfall. Rain made the vegetation sparkle and the colors became more vibrant as we headed north. With a clear horizon, we could see Denali (Mt. McKinley) for most of the miles, and the clear blue of the sky accentuated the white of snow on its tip.
But first, an evening in Fairbanks: as a fundraiser for Hospice, a local medical practice sponsored an evening at the UAF Museum with music by the fiddlers who would be performing the next night at the Far North Fiddle Fest. Ethereal – the sound of Celtic music in the high-ceiling entry-way where surrounding windows encouraged enjoyment of Alaska mountain vistas!
Fairbanks south to Anchorage – this is one trip that does not have to take place via the same highway. In fact, traveling back, down the Richardson Highway, provided a much different view of Alaska’s scenery. This trip through The Interior ended for the night in Glenallen for a stay at the Caribou Hotel during a night-long rain storm, followed by early-morning miles back to the MatSu Valley. Stopping for lunch at The Vagabond Blues, we held large cups of fresh-made soup to warm our hands before our bellies. Alaska’s dining experiences are outstanding!
Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward – MM Rydesky
Then the trip south to Seward and on to Homer. The first surprise was the view of swans on Potter Marsh, right outside Anchorage. Four pairs of swans in the rushes! Then down along the Turnagain Arm, we could see cars pulled to the side while people viewed beluga whales. A few minutes of rain gave way to sun for the remainder of the way into Seward where the Sealife Center became our key stop. Displays and interactive learning – along with stretching the legs – satisfied our need for a counter-beat to the tempo of scenery.
Later, the drive to Homer offered another Autumn adventure. The road repair crews were out in number: the delays provided an excuse to stop and look closely at the fall foliage! Along the way, views of the mountains confirmed that Winter is on its way: ‘termination dust’ signals the completing of summer and fall with white snowfall on the peaks all around. At this time of year, seeing snow atop any mountain is a warning: Winter is coming…
Full moon at the Vernal Equinoz in Homer as seen from Timber Bay B&B – MM Rydesky
Staying at Timber Bay B&B added a dimension to the trip that must become a travel habit: the hospitality erased the exhaustion of busy days and conversation with hosts Sharon and Don (and the dogs) helped us feel like family.
The expanse of lawn and view of both mountains and water drew us outdoors. The lyrics of Van Morrison’s MOONDANCE played through my thoughts as we took in the beauty. To see the moon rise over Kachemak Bay on the two nights prior to the Vernal Equinox can be described only as magical!
Taste of Homer 2013
On the final evening of this trip, the Taste of Homer event brought visitors and residents together to sample menu items presented by Homer’s restaurants. Culinary delights consumed, we headed north to Anchorage to finish the North/South tour. Now we know first hand what our B&B visitors reported all season long! And like our guests, we look forward to the calm evenings by the B&B’s fireplace followed by tasty Alaska breakfast treats.