Alaska

"The winner for the top bowler of today's competition goes to... Germ." At least that's how I think it went. Last year, my job held an Employee Appreciation Bowling Competition. Little did I know that there were actual prizes to win. Even though I don't bowl, I scored 167 points. In bowling standards, that's decent. Anyhow, after beating every bowler from my job, I got two free tickets to travel anywhere in the US and Canada (except for Hawaii). I chose Alaska because of how rare of a state it is, but mostly because it was my sister's dream to go there. 

Fast forward to June, we made a ten hour flight and arrived to Anchorage, Alaska. After getting our awesome rental car, we made a 5 hour drive to Denali National Park. Besides the beautiful drive, my favorite thing about Alaska in the summer was the 20 hours of day light (and 4 hours of dusk). There was something about the sun being out all day that put me in a good mood.

My sister and I arrived to our lodge (Aurora Denali Lodge) at about 2:00am. We had to be up by 5:00am for our Wonder Lake Bus Tour. The Wonder Lake Bus Tour is an 11 hour bus ride (round trip) that takes you from the beginning of Denali National Park all the way to Wonder Lake. On some occasions, my sister and I fell in and out of sleep throughout the ride (we were exhausted).

 

 Denali National Park

Denali National Park

If you plan on going to Alaska, bring a zoom lens. There were many animals (moose, wolf, bears, etc.), but I could not take any photos of them because I brought a wide angle lens.

 The bus drove all that road...

The bus drove all that road...

 Wonder Lake

Wonder Lake

There are a ton of things to do in Denali National Park. It can sometimes get costly, but undoubtedly worth it. For the first time ever, my sister and I drove ATVs throughout the back lands of Denali. At some parts, we were reaching speeds up to 50 miles per hour and driving though a river.

Our second stop was Seward. I loved Seward for how small it was (plus our AirBnB was great). This is where all the whales are. Unfortunately, because of my lens, I have no photos of whales to show. This was also the day that I discovered I get sea sickness - not cool.

 Kenai Boat Tour

Kenai Boat Tour

 Kenai Boat Tour

Kenai Boat Tour

 I also heard chunks of glaciers fall. It still baffles me how some people don't believe in climate change.

I also heard chunks of glaciers fall. It still baffles me how some people don't believe in climate change.

 Kenai Boat Tour

Kenai Boat Tour

My AirBnB host recommended I go on a couple of hikes. Portage Glacier is a beautiful hike mixed with lush green trails and ice. As you go through the hike, you get to see markers that show how much the ice has receded throughout the years. 

Tonsina trail was my favorite hike of the entire trip. My sister and I hiked the first chunk of the trail. After that, we sat by a river and skipped rocks (while listening to John Mayer). 

 Tonsina

Tonsina

 Tonsina

Tonsina

 Tonsina

Tonsina

 Tonsina

Tonsina

 Tonsina

Tonsina

 Tonsina

Tonsina

If you ever go to Alaska, you need to make the drive to Byron Glacier. Depending on where you are, it's a really easy drive. It's also one of the few places where you can sit next to an actual glacier.

 Byron Glacier

Byron Glacier

 Byron Glacier

Byron Glacier

 Byron Glacier

Byron Glacier

 Byron Glacier

Byron Glacier

 Byron Glacier

Byron Glacier

 Byron Glacier

Byron Glacier

 Byron Glacier

Byron Glacier

 Byron Glacier

Byron Glacier

 Byron Glacier

Byron Glacier

 Byron Glacier

Byron Glacier

 Byron Glacier

Byron Glacier

 Byron Glacier

Byron Glacier

 Byron Glacier

Byron Glacier

My trip ends with Anchorage, Alaska. There isn't a lot to do in Anchorage, so I made a few drives out to go hike. Alaskans will say that Flat Top Mountain is an easy hike... it's not. It's all uphill, but finishing the hike and seeing the American flag on top of the mountain is one of the best feelings in the world.

 Flat Top Mountain

Flat Top Mountain

 Flat Top Mountain

Flat Top Mountain

Seward highway is the best highway. If there's one thing I wish Miami had, its the beautiful view that this highway has. You are surrounded by mountains, water, and a few trails to hike.

 Views of Seward Highway

Views of Seward Highway

 Views of Seward Highway

Views of Seward Highway

My last stop was at Lake Ekultna. Lake Ekultna is a short drive from Anchorage. You can park your car at the lot and you can either hike a trail or walk to the lake.

 Lake Ekultna

Lake Ekultna

 Lake Ekultna

Lake Ekultna

 Lake Ekultna

Lake Ekultna

 Lake Ekultna

Lake Ekultna

 Lake Ekultna

Lake Ekultna

My stay in Alaska lasted about two weeks. My total cost for the trip was around $1,800 (food can get expensive, but we did groceries and AirBnB to help save some money). This is not counting the extra $800 free flight tickets I won. The trip is pricey, but worth it if you really want to visit the last frontier and immerse yourself in nature.