Ever since my family started going on annual road trips when I was 10 years old, I knew I wanted to eventually set foot in all 50 states. It’s been nearly 15 years since I started the journey, exploring nearly every state in America. Last June, I had the opportunity to explore my 31st state… ALASKA.
It was a 7-day cruise on the Carnival Legend, covering 5 cities in 2 countries, and I jumped at the opportunity without hesitation. I wanted to experience first-hand Alaska’s natural wonders. The Last Frontier state has intrigued me for years, particularly because it isn’t part of the lower 50. If anything, I was curious just how my stereotypes and preconceived notions would be met or shattered.
I was curious how different the scenery would be. Will it be similar to the Pacific Northwest? (Yes, but way better) Will the air smell fresher? (Absofreakinglutely) Will I see whales? (Sorta… only their blowholes) Will I encounter a moose? (No) Eskimos, maybe? (Try again during the winter).
I flew from Los Angeles to Seattle on a beautiful Tuesday summer morning with all my questions in tow, ready for another adventure to begin!
TRACY ARM FJORD
Tracy Arm Fjord was our first glimpse of Alaska, and it absolutely blew me away. The mountains met the ocean. The color of the water was turquoise blue, which almost made the place schizophrenic in my eyes, with the combination of the Caribbean-esque blue waters with chunks of icebergs floating.
I later learned that the color was due to the glacial silt. When the glaciers formed million of years ago, the dense compression of the ice allows the glacier appear a unique blue due to the absence of the air bubbles.
Our itinerary allowed us one entire day in Skagway, a charming port town in Southeastern tip of Alaska, whose economy is fueled primarily by tourists arriving via cruise ships during the summer months, which lasts from May – September.
Perhaps it’s the inner hopeless romantic in me, but I’ve always believed that classic steam-engine trains are the most romantic form of transportation. Maybe it’s Hollywood’s influence, but I can just envision young lovers back in the 1950s riding towards the horizon, towing nothing more than their vintage trunks and untainted optimism of what lies ahead…
Beyond Skagway lies a tapestry of landscapes of rivers, mountains, and gorges, a breathtaking panorama of natureporn which is only accessible via a 3.5-hour ride in a vintage passenger train. When in Skagway, do yourself a favor and experience the White Pass Summit Excursion. Fare is $119 per adult and $59.50 for children. I admit, it’s a little pricey and touristy, but way worth the money. I felt like a broken record constantly pointing and saying “WOWWWWW!”
Prior to embarking on my trip to America’s 49th state, I was sorta kinda dating a gorgeous green-eyed Norwegian man who once lived in Juneau. Before I left, he shared with me everything he learned as a local, so when I finally set foot in Alaska’s capital city, I had a firm grip on what to do, where to go, what souvenirs to buy (ulu knife!), and most importantly, where to eat.
The highlight of our half-day pitstop was devouring an authentic Alaskan king crab at Tracy’s King Crab Shack, a short walk from Juneau’s Manila Square. Our ship docked early morning, and I made it to the restaurant as soon as it opened, eagerly waiting for my first real taste of the world-famous crustacean. The crab was melt-in-your-mouth good. Combined with freshly squeezed lemon juice and butter, the crab meat was so fresh and tender! It’s possible that my enthusiasm also stems from my binge-watching Discovery Channel’s The Deadliest Catch.
Ketchikan was a port city in between Skagway and Juneau in terms of size and population. Known as Alaska’s First City, Ketchikan is the salmon capital of the world. It was in Ketchikan that I learned there is more than one type of salmon: Chum, Sockeye, Pink, Silver, etc.! Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to taste them besides the canned version.
Tracy’s King Crab Shack
406 S. Franklin St.
Juneau, AK 99801