World’s Longest Zip-Line at Icy Strait Point, Alaska

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“Just think of it like a really long roller coaster,” I advised.  My parents and I were spending the day at Icy Strait Point near the tiny town of Hoonah, Alaska.  It’s a privately owned place and run by native Tlingits in an old cannery area converted for tourism.  There isn’t much to Icy Strait Point (or Hoonah for that matter) except the world’s longest zip-line which towers from the mountain above town.

Now I suspect anyone who’s read this blog over the years knows what happened next, because I am not a woman who can turn down something like a zip-line that is over a mile long (officially it’s 5,330 feet, with a 1,300 foot vertical drop).  But I suppose after years of reading of his daughter’s exploits in various corners my dad felt the urge to join in too, and my mother decided to establish which side of the family the adrenaline junkie stuff comes from by staying at the bottom.

And hey, on the scale of adrenaline-y things to do, it turns out this zip-line isn’t too hard- not like you need to jump into the abyss yourself.  But that didn’t mean my father wasn’t going to have to endure some cheery speculation on maintenance standards in the Alaskan wilderness and the like on the ride up in a refurbished school bus from his daughter.

But anyway, the ride up takes about 45 minutes, and the ride down takes about 90 seconds.  And if a picture is worth a thousand words than who knows what a video makes, so here’s the entire experience!

Altogether not a bad experience at all!  And then we spent the rest of the day wandering around a bit.  It’s certainly a nice corner of the world when you have sunshine to enjoy and sea stars to spot in the water.

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Dispatch from the Yukon

This has nothing to do with my previous post here, but rather was crafted today and thought some of you might enjoy a “real time” update on my adventures in the North!

August 18, year of our lord 2014
Dawson City, Yukon Territory

Dear Log,
I have survived the Wild, as my friend Jack London refers to her, and staked a claim on Bonanza Creek next to where the first gold was discovered. Alas I am not a good gold planner, and will be abandoning my claim to favor my previous life calling.
Nevertheless I am in good spirits, and would declare this expedition as successful and morale high despite the low American bacon rations. Dawson City is a frontier town with every 19th century convenience a body would expect, from wooden sidewalks to false storefronts to a lascivious gambling hall where the can-can is common. The natives, or “Canadians” as they call themselves, are a friendly people even if the men often proudly display missing front teeth in these parts due to a barbaric ritual game on ice popular to show bravery.*
I will hasten to return to Alaska on the morrow by way of the Yukon River and, by grace of Providence, onwards to Anchorage where I will secure passage to the Netherlands in the coming days. I pray my resolve will see me through!

Yours faithfully,
Miss Yvette Cendes

*Ed. note: seriously, I’ve seem ‘em around!

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Misty Fjords National Monument

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First of all, I feel obliged to mention that Misty Fjords National Monument did not live up to its name at all.  This is because we had spectacular blue sky weather that only happens about 5% of the time in the Ketchikan area, so the fjords were not at all misty but I don’t think anyone was complaining! Continue reading

Ketchikan, Alaska

When you wake up with a view like this you know it’s going to be a good day!

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Vancouver

In honor of the first person who is going to point out Vancouver is not a part of Alaska, allow me to explain that I am catching a ship here north (later today). But a shame to not look around here first…

Vancouver honestly strikes me as a generic modern city whose charm lies in how easy it is to escape to the outdoors, be it the beach or the mountains via bike or boat or whatever you like. In my short time there I spent the majority of my time awake either on a bike or at the beach with an old travel buddy, which is a great way to kick start a holiday!

But all too soon it was time to go. The city near wilderness is a nice layover, but the Last Frontier calls…

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Announcing the Alaska Adventure

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 12.41.51 PMI’ve often told people that one of my hobbies involves planning trips I won’t necessarily take.  (I probably won’t be taking the trans-Siberian imminently, but I know the full details on how to do it and where to stop!) Eventually I will come across someplace so amazing and so spectacular that, well, I have to go.  In a world of incredible places to visit with things to do and see, it’s best to follow the dreams that keep with you.

Anyway, Alaska started like this sometime last year- I was checking out Wikivoyage with the vague idea that it might be nice to visit some new part of the US in my summer that I hadn’t been before (so it feels like going home, while seeing something new), and it should have wilderness because the Netherlands lacks this, and and have an adventure… and, well, if you are an American looking for mountains and wilderness and a grand adventure it turns out we have this place twice the size of Texas apparently devoted to that.  And apparently if the bears don’t eat you it’s quite fantastic!  So the idea for the Alaska trip was born.

And man oh man, it’s hard to believe, but I’m on the plane in a few hours to start the journey!  First going to Vancouver, which is not in Alaska but a rather nice stop along the way (and the only place I have been before on this trip, when I was 11 or so).  I’ll be in Alaska proper by the weekend, heading on the route you see above… where I realize the names of the places themselves are not shown, but includes many a cute town and national park.

With that, not much to say but I’m excited to go, and I intend to track a few numbers for this trip:

Number of days: 26 (alas this is known)
Number of flights:
Number of days with rain:
Number of national parks:
Number of glaciers:
Number of different kinds of beer:
Mammal species seen:
Number that got too close for comfort:
Number of fish types eaten:
Modes of transport:
Miles driven on rental car:
Highest and lowest prices of gas:
Highest and lowest elevations:
Number of geocaches found:
Locations slept:
Number of festivals:
Books read:

Man oh man, this is gonna be great!

Have you been to Alaska, and have a tip to share, or do you have a suggestion for another number to track?  Let me know!

Norway Fjords in a Nutshell

It has occurred to me that before I head off on my big summer adventure to Alaska I really ought to post some pictures of the other corner of the north I explored, the fjords of Norway.  So let’s go on a little adventure, shall we?

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