Well, we did it! We are in the Last Frontier.
After my short diversion this week to states number 47 and 48, Ariel and I touched down yesterday afternoon in Alaska!
Just setting foot in this state was a pretty massive moment for me because I’m now officially a member of “Club 49” – and it just so happened IN the 49th state.
That’s a pretty awesome coincidence and even better because the 50th state to enter the Union, will also be the 50th state I enter – whenever that happens.
So we’ve now been in Alaska for just about 24 hours and it really is everything it’s cracked up to be. It’s huge. It’s beautiful. It’s cold. Perhaps that last one is not so surprising, but still, even being in Alaska, it’s strange to think about wearing layers and sweatshirts in August. It’s also the tail end of the season here and you can really feel the state winding down.
The colors are shifting in the bushes. The hotel employees are getting ready to head back to their home states for the winter. And the average age of the other people visiting is somewhere north of 67.
After landing in Anchorage, we crashed into bed early last night. It was a pretty long travel day – starting at 6:45 am New Jersey time and ending at about 6 pm Alaska time (which is 10 pm NJ time).
This morning we were up and at ’em at about 5 am for an eight hour train ride to Denali National Park. Unfortunately for us, we shared a train car with a pack of rabid hyenas. Wait no, they weren’t hyenas, they were just a pack of drunk retirees who felt the need to bellow and bray and hoot and holler for the entire ride.
Look, I’m all for having a good time. But we were in this unbelievably beautiful place, with panoramic windows and views of endless mountains, valleys and forests, and these loudmouths wouldn’t shut up for eight straight hours. I mean imagine sitting in one of the loudest bars you’ve been in…but on a train in a national park. At 10 am!
Even worse, the guy whose job it was to point out landmarks and give us interesting facts about the areas we were passing through just gave up trying to talk louder than them. It was so bad that I wanted to apologize to the one foreign couple in our train car. Eventually we just moved to a different (much quieter!) car. And it was such a shame because our guide from the original car was actually from New Jersey too! Dunellen to be exact. What a crazy coincidence! He was telling us about how he had lived in Barrow, Alaska which is a place I’ve been interested in going to ever since I was in Ushuaia, Argentina. It’s so remote over there that they only get one shipment of gasoline A YEAR.
Anyway, we finally made it to Denali National Park, which is truly beautiful.
It really is awesome.
Tomorrow we enter the park in search of Mount Denali itself, the tallest mountain in the world. Yeah that’s right, it’s taller than Mount Everest. Google it if you don’t believe me.