As part of the trip package, ABSF members traveled back to Anchorage on Saturday to view the ceremonial start of the 2007 Iditarod. Workers piled snow in the middle of the street so that the dogsleds could be seen in action. Before the ceremonial start, the sled dogs were lounging around in the street. Some of the dogs were quite excited about meeting old friends and racing. The first sled started at about 10am and continued into the early afternoon. The Alaskan community supports the Iditarod and a party atmosphere is promulgated. Reindeer sausage and other local delicacies were sampled and souvenir race items were purchased by club members.
After braving the chilly morning, members filtered into local watering holes and restaurants to warm up and further our indulgences. Anchorage did not appear to suffer from a shortage of interesting places to explore. After a brief or, in some cases, extended respites, we returned to the streets to find a sunny day which was warming up nicely. Shopping filled the afternoon’s agenda and the bus returned to the hotel in the late afternoon.
The next two days were mostly comprised of skiing. Guides and skiers braved the early morning cold until the sun peeked over the mountains. Everyone met for lunch at the Sitzmark bar and grill. Afternoons were filled with skiing, shopping and hot tubbing. Some of the ladies found an Alaskan jade shop in town and they were hardly able to contain their delight. Two club members took helicopter rides. One of the helicopter rides went to Prince William Sound. The Chopper actually landed on a glacier and the views were breath taking. The local restaurants offered tasty dishes including wild Alaskan salmon and halibut.
Tuesday was our final day in Alaska. Since our flight home did not depart until the late evening, members took advantage of various winter activities which the resort offered. One group went snowmobiling into the Alaskan wilderness and actually rode up to a glacier. The signature blue ice of the glaciers was astounding. Another couple went snow shoeing at the coast but, the winds were so gusty that shoeing for any distance was torturous. They ended up cross country skiing on trails near the resort. Their travels took them by a home-made igloo which was constructed by their guide. Large moose (is there any other kind) and mountain goats were observed. The Alaskan Wildlife Conservatory is located approximately 10 miles from Girdwood. This organization rescues orphaned and injured animals, as well as cultivating breeding programs for endangered native species.
Our bus left in the early evening, beginning our trip back home. We flew all night and arrived back in Chicago in the morning. Alaska is truly one of the few remaining wildernesses that contain amazing scenery and other surprises. Can’t wait for next year’s trip!