The 2013 Belize Escapade, September 22-29, 2013

Contributed by: filbert Wednesday, January 06 2016 @ 04:00 AM CST

This isn’t a full Journeys journal, just a few photos of our week-long escapade to the Hatchet Caye Resort[*1] in Belize. This was a bit of a lark for Snookums and me, plus we had a camera failure . . . the underwater camera I use to take snorkeling pictures crapped out, so the few snorkeling pictures I did take don’t really do the snorkeling quality justice.

Plus, it was HOT down there. So I didn’t do a lot of wandering around with a camera, taking pictures of the resort, which turned out to be a small island about five miles out in the Caribbean off the coast of Belize. Sorry about that, but here’s what we have.

The little airplane that ferried us from the Belize City international airport to the Placencia, Belize airport, the closest one to the Hatchet Caye Resort.
Water taxi in Placencia, Belize.

There was a mixup or miscommunication somewhere, and the resort wasn’t expecting us until the day after we were actually scheduled to arrive. Don’t ask me how that could possibly have happened.

We did some fishing on the way to the island—that’s what we were going to eat there!
Our names aren’t on the welcome board. Oh-oh!
The sea turtles were hatching on the island.
Another newly hatched turtle.
A view of the island from the sea. Not much there–a few cabanas and a main building where the restaurant was, mostly.
A posing pelican.
A diving pelican.
Pelican splashdown.
Belize fish.
A beautiful spotted ray, that pretty much lived underneath the deck that they’d built out over the ocean.

The 2013 Alaska HAL CruiseTour

Text and pictures by Snookums, webification by Filbert

The Itinerary

This is the table of contents for the online version of our trip journal. Here are the chapters and their publishing dates:

December 27, 2015: Part One – To Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

December 28, 2015: Part Two – Vancouver to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada.

December 30, 2015: Part Three – To Dawson City, Yukon Territory, Canada.

December 31, 2015: Part Four – To Denali National Park, Alaska.

January 1, 2016: Part Five – At Denali National Park, Alaska.

January 2, 2016: Part Six – Denali National Park, Alaska and the train to Anchorage, Alaska.

January 3, 2016: Part Seven – The train to Seward, Alaska, and on the cruise.

January 4, 2016: Part Eight – Cruising to Seattle.

The 2013 Alaska HAL CruiseTour, Part 8

The 19-Day Holland America Line Alaska CruiseTour, Holland America ms Statendam

Text and pictures by Snookums, webification by Filbert

Part Eight

August 9 (Friday, Day 21, Ketchikan, Alaska) –


We woke up to a beautiful sunny day and saw the very nice Ketchikan Airport that has a daily Air Alaska flight. Snookums talked to her sister, Judy, about booking a 14-day 2014 Alaskan cruise for her parents and after several phone calls (cell phones are good!), was able to immediately see the Future Cruise Consultant in order to book three cabins.

After lunch Snookums and Filbert met the Sea Cycles Tour co-owner, Vicki, and we were driven in her personal car to Totem Bight Historical State park to start the tour. Totem Bight has a lot of totems in a beautiful park. There is also a clan house. Then Vicki drove us to the float house for our sea cycle tour.

A sea cycle costs $2,800 plus shipping and is two molded plastic seats attached to a frame that rests above two large pontoons. Each seat has a set of bicycle pedals in front of it and there is a rudder between the two seats. You turn the sea cycle by using the rudder or by pedaling backwards. It was easy to do and we started by pedaling to a wildlife estuary. We saw seals, ducks and an eagle.


Then we pedaled through Ward Cove and saw the working cove, including a barge that was moving and could have run us over if we would have timed it just right (or wrong)! We also got to pedal under a ship that was originally built by the Navy at 1/3rd scale as an ice breaker and now is owned by the State of Alaska as a ferry except none of the docks match it so it is just sitting in Ward Cove and running up docking fees! (The State is trying to sell it but hasn’t gotten any legitimate offers for it yet.) We checked a crab pot which had two crabs and three starfish in it. Vicki pulled the starfish out and through them back in the water. Filbert’s butt (he said were his hamstrings attach, but Snookums said butt) was really starting to hurt and we pedaled back to the float house where we enjoyed salmon dip, cheese, crackers, grapes and cookies while learning more about the owners (Amber is the other co-owner) and their lives in Ketchikan.

Crab pot

We chose to be dropped off in downtown Ketchikan and Filbert navigated Snookums to the various free charm stores and patiently waited while Snookums ran in and got the jewelry. We walked to the salmon ladder and saw hundreds of salmon trying to swim upstream and saw many dead ones, too, that couldn’t make it. Then we hustled back to the ship. It was a good day and the weather was great.

Prior to dinner, Snookums had time to go to the Front Desk to check the invoice. There was a credit balance of around $160 on it and Rommel told her it could be applied toward a future cruise. Her next stop was the Future Cruise Consultant to book another 14-day Alaska cabin and a 2014 re-positioning cruise. The Future Cruise Consultant didn’t know anything about what Rommel had said and called him and told him that he shouldn’t tell passengers something can be done if he doesn’t know how to do it. Snookums had to speak to Rommel’s supervisor which didn’t help, either, but went ahead and booked the two cruises since she was confident there would be some resolution. Tonight was formal night so the four of us ate in Lido. Laura and Snookums left Lido in order to have dessert(s) in the main dining room while Filbert and John were still discussing the end of the world. Laura enjoyed her nightly after dinner cordial and baked Alaska and Snookums enjoyed her baked Alaska, rhubarb crisp (and it was crispy!) and a honey butter tart. When Snookums returned to the room at 10:15, Filbert was asleep.

August 9th post-sunset

August 10 (Saturday, Day 22, Cruise the Inside Passage) –

No wake-up alarms were set and after turning our clocks forward last night, we woke up around 9 AM. Filbert ate his high protein oatmeal in the room and Snookums waited for lunch. Liesbeth, the Guest Relations Manager, called to tell Snookums that the remaining shipboard credit would be transferred to the next booked cruise since Rommel had misinformed Snookums about being able to apply it to a future cruise.

While Snookums was showering there was an announcement from Captain Jochem Bakker that the water would be turned off for about 30 minutes due to a leak but she was able to finish her shower without incident. Then she went to the Front Desk to get a copy of the invoice and was happy to see that it was correct. She and Laura played “Blackout Bingo” with the winner getting a free cruise for two, but didn’t win. The woman behind us won and we saw that the certificate was good for a 7-day Caribbean or Mexican Riviera cruise in a “minimal interior cabin”. Talk about being stingy!!

After lunch, Filbert went to the Crow’s Nest to look for sea life. He saw dolphins, humpback whales and seals before returning to the cabin to continue his watch from the balcony around 3 PM. He put on sunscreen since the fog and low clouds were starting to burn off. Snookums enjoyed lounging in bed while getting caught up on writing the journal. She also watched a creepy thriller of a movie called “Gone” which she enjoyed.

Yep. Whale.

The four of us ate at Pinnacle Grill for our going away dinner. Our reservation was for 6:30 and we were on time. Unfortunately, we didn’t get out of there until almost 10 PM! Pinnacle Grill is always a very leisurely (i.e. slow) dining experience, but this was ridiculous. John ordered his dessert and finally had to leave for his poker game at the casino. When it finally came, Filbert took it to him! This experience will definitely be noted on the survey. We had all been there before and knew what to order so it’s not like we took forever looking at the menu. It just took forever and there were two different times when we had no food in front of us for at least 30 minutes each time.

After dinner we packed which was very easy to do since we didn’t bring that much stuff on this cruisetour. And, our cabin was not a suite so there weren’t a lot of drawers and other cubbyholes to store things so after emptying out the closets, we were done.

August 11 (Sunday, Day 23, Vancouver, Canada) –

We used the free transfer that was included in our cruisetour to get to the airport which meant one more bus ride. Well, it was free and since we weren’t in a hurry it worked okay. But no one should ever buy a ship’s transfer to or from an airport. A taxi is always cheaper than what the ship charges for a transfer (unless the transfer is free like ours was) and you always have to stand in line to get on the big bus and then it seems like your airline is always the final stop!

While walking to the gate we decided to check out the duty free shop and saw that local beer was being sold. We bought two 6-packs for an upcoming pool party so that was neat. When we got to the gate, we saw John and Laura. They also had the free transfer but after standing in line for a few minutes decided to just take a cab. (After the land part of this trip, John was completely through with taking busses!) They beat us to the airport by 30 or 45 minutes, but still had to wait since their flight wasn’t that early. Their flight ended up being delayed by 15 minutes so we actually took off before them.

Our flight to Dallas was easy and since we cleared US Immigration and US Customs in Vancouver (which was a nice touch), we were able to spend our entire layover (about 3 hours) in the American Airlines lounge. We landed in Kansas City around midnight and were sound asleep by 1:30 AM. It was far from our best vacation, but we really enjoyed traveling with John and Laura and hope to do it again. Don’t ever take a HAL cruisetour that stops in multiple places or you’ll have to put your luggage out at 6 AM too often. Just go to Denali on your own and then take an Alaskan cruise!

The 2013 Alaska HAL CruiseTour, Part 7

The 19-Day Holland America Line Alaska CruiseTour, Holland America ms Statendam

Text and pictures by Snookums, webification by Filbert

Part Seven

August 4 (Sunday, Day 16, Train to Seward and the ms Statendam) –

All Aboard Again

Our luggage had to be out at 8 AM which allowed us to sleep in later than usual. We are all looking forward to getting on the ship and being able to sleep in tomorrow! We enjoyed breakfast at Snow City Café which was voted Anchorage’s best breakfast for the last umpteen years. Snookums, Laura and John really enjoyed their breakfasts but Filbert’s salmon cakes weren’t spiced at all and his over medium eggs were sunny side up. And, the first pitcher of cream he was given for his coffee curdled it since it was soured! The rest of us, though, enjoyed it and everyone except John ordered a “to go” lunch to eat on the train.

We walked back to the Hilton and dropped off our lunches and got ready for the next excursion to the Anchorage Market & Festival which occurs every Saturday and Sunday in the summer. It’s a combination crafts fair, farmer’s market and festival food row. We found art for our travel wall which is made from torn pieces of washi paper fashioned to look like a mountain scene with a foil bronze colored bear glued at the base of the mountains. It’s a $5 greeting card and will look great in a frame on the wall as a souvenir of our Alaska cruisetour.

The market officially opened at 10 AM and it started with the singing of the national anthem. It didn’t take too long to walk through the four rows of vendors (the website said 300 vendors, but there were several empty spots and some hadn’t opened yet) and after that we went in search of Coke Zero for Filbert. A few blocks away we found some that was cheaper than what was being sold at the market so we stocked up for the cruise.

We boarded the bus at 11:45 and then got on the train just a few blocks away. We arrived in Seward 5 hours later which meant the cruise now started!! The train ride was great since our train car was only half full. The car bartender was expecting a full car, like always, but an excursion was running late and had to take the bus to Seward rather than the train. This train required four people sitting at a small table, two people facing each other, with no legroom so with it only being half-full we were able to spread out. Snookums and Filbert each sat at separate tables and Laura and John shared a table.

The views were great and included an Anchorage subdivision that had a landing strip in the backyard of 20 or so very average looking houses (the landing strip was grandfathered in since there is now a law that prohibits landing on grass in Anchorage), glaciers, waterfalls, fireweed, spawning salmon (and many dead ones). And, with around 30 minutes to go, we saw two moose in a field! The scenery made it by far the best train ride of the three we had, and having so much room made it even better. At one point Filbert spilled some of his Coke Zero but even that couldn’t dampen everyone’s enthusiasm!

Classic U-shaped glacier valley
Glacier behind the trees

With our lofty HAL Mariner Society status, we were able to cut in line and got on the ship immediately (5:45 PM) and were able to unpack prior to the 7:30 PM safety drill. It was very nice to have our entire suitcases unpacked and put away since we had been living out of them for the last two weeks or so. As soon as the drill was done, the four of us went to dinner. We shared the first night’s dinner with another couple and that was okay, but we wanted to sit with just us four. It felt great to go to bed without having to set any alarm.

August 5 (Monday, Day 17, At sea) –

We woke up and had breakfast in Lido and didn’t do much after that and then had lunch. We took naps in the afternoon and explored the ship. Exploring the ship is usually an embarkation day activity, but we didn’t have any time on Sunday and postponed it until Monday. It is very similar to the ms Amsterdam which we had spent 75 days on in late 2012 so it didn’t take too long to figure it all out. We went to Lido for dinner since it was formal night and none of us brought anything formal. Laura wanted to see what the after-dinner cordial was and Snookums wanted to see what dessert was served in the dining room so off they went to get those two items “to go”. The maître ‘d insisted that they sit in the dining room and enjoy them and although they weren’t wearing anything remotely formal, he told them that for women it didn’t really matter and only the men had to follow a dress code that required a jacket! We sat in a corner table and enjoyed our post-dinner treats a lot!

Filbert decided to set his alarm for 6 AM since he didn’t have to wake up. (This made no sense to Snookums, but lots of things that Filbert does don’t make sense to her!) Snookums did not set her alarm.

August 6 (Tuesday, Day 18, Cruising Glacier Bay) –

Morning on the water

Filbert was up around 5:45 AM and Snookums managed to wake up off and on during his first three hours of being awake and getting his breakfast delivered. She finally got up and showered and had fruit and raisin buns in Lido before joining Filbert outside on the bow of the ship around 9:30 AM. It was sunny and not too windy.

A perfect day for glacier viewing

At 10 AM wine (for sale) and cheese was brought out and at 10:30 AM the famous HAL Dutch split pea soup was served on the outside decks. Laura found us prior to the split pea soup showing up and she was very excited when it was served. We were looking for whales and did see a few spouts and some backs. We also saw some seals, but not many. The highlight of the day was seeing Margerie Glacier but Snookums and Filbert decided that Hubbard Glacier is a lot more impressive. After a quick lunch it was definitely time for a nap due to the early morning.

A Visitor
The Glacier

Dinner was just the four of us and we had a good waiter, Donny. (The waiter we had the first night did not impress any of us.) After dinner the wait staff brought a cake out and sang the Indonesian celebration song to Filbert and that was fun. He took the cake back to the cabin at 8:45 PM and we saw some more whales and went to bed.

August 7 (Wednesday, Day 19, Haines, Alaska) –

At Haines

Haines, Alaska was a great port. Its population is 2,400 people and it rarely gets cruise ships so its summer population is the same. Between September and December around 3,500 bald eagles migrate through Haines.

We met our Rainbow Glacier Adventures tour guide for our $95 per person Chilkoot Lake Nature and Bear Viewing tour. The salmon hadn’t really started to spawn yet so our guide wasn’t sure we would see any bears. But we were hopeful. We piled into the van and she drove to Chilkoot State Park. We saw a nest that had a baby eagle in it and a bigger eagle. We also saw the salmon weir and the sign said that 26 were counted that day. That’s not much during the height of spawning which obviously hadn’t started yet. We DID see a bear across the river so that was neat. It was closer than any bear we saw at Denali.


Next we stopped at Garbage Point which used to be a dump but is now a nice place to view the dock and the cruise ship. After a quick stop at the Visitors Center for a bathroom break, we headed to Chilkat State Park for our box lunch. It was absolutely beautiful and we saw two glaciers and a waterfall while we were enjoying our lunch. On the way back to the ship we stopped to see the cannery. It’s no longer in use but is still picturesque.

After our four-hour tour, we walked around Haines. We saw Fort William H. Seward and then walked to Dalton City. Dalton City is the movie set that was used to film “White Fang” in 1991. It has now been turned into a old-time “strip mall” and contains the SE State Fair (not in session during our visit), some boutiques and Haines Brewing Company. Filbert enjoyed for beer tastings of Spruce Tip and Lookout Stout and settled for a pint of Lookout Stout while Snookums had some homemade root beer. We drank it in front of the brewery while sitting on a bench on the wood sidewalk. It was a gorgeous day.

While we had a wonderful day, Laura and John had a worthless excursion to Skagway and its railway tour but they did stop in Effy to get Snookums two free necklaces! (Haines had no tourist stores which is another reason Snookums enjoyed it so much. It was just a beautiful town with magnificent scenery.)

August 8 (Thursday, Day 20, Juneau, Alaska) –

We were supposed to have a Bear Island Wilderness Tour so we went to the base of Mt. Roberts Tramway at 9 AM to meet our pilot. Well, he never showed up. A local person knew of him and actually tried to find him (and call him) but came up empty. Snookums called his cell but it was out of service. He finally called around 10:45 AM and said that due to the weather, he wouldn’t be able to fly us to Bear Island. (It was raining and yucky.) We weren’t too disappointed since the weather was so bad, but it was a bummer to wait for around two hours, in the rain and cold, while trying to find him just to find out that it was cancelled.

Filbert went back to the ship and Snookums went to the Juneau library which was next to the ship to use the WiFi on her phone. Then she went back to the ship and got Filbert and the laptops to really enjoy the free WiFi. After we had our fill of WiFi, Filbert returned to the ship and Snookums went to a few of the stores that were giving away the free charms and necklaces. This was our third time in Juneau so we were okay with a day on the ship, especially since the weather was crappy.

Earlier in the day we were invited to cocktails for tonight. We also found out that John and Laura were, too. None of us could figure out why we were invited but assumed it was because of our Mariner status. We were also surprised when each of our cabins was called to find out if we were attending since the invitation didn’t say RSVP. We showed up for cocktails with Capt. Jochem Bakker and Hotel Director Bert Van Mackelenbergh and buzzed through the receiving line in order to get our free drinks. There were probably 30 or 40 passengers there. Snookums managed to order two different non-alcoholic specialty drinks and a can of Coke Zero while Filbert and Laura enjoyed their glasses of wine and John ordered his Coke Zero. The Captain spoke a few words and then the Cruise Director started to talk about people with the most nights on this cruise. All of a sudden he said something about “Filbert and Snookums” (well, he used our real names, actually) and that got our attention. Then he said that “John and Laura” had a lot of nights, too. Sure enough, the four of us had the second and third most nights on this 7-day cruise and since we were going to be singled out, our cabins were called to see if we would actually attend. We’ll always show up for free drinks!

The 2013 Alaska HAL CruiseTour, Part 6

The 19-Day Holland America Line Alaska CruiseTour, Holland America ms Statendam

Text and pictures by Snookums, webification by Filbert

Part Six

(Remember to click “read more” if you’re looking at this from the main page to get the whole article!)

August 2 (Friday, Day 14, Denali National Park, Alaska) –


Once again we had to wake up early and today we woke up at 5:45 AM in order to be in the lobby (after taking the shuttle) by 7 PM. Era Flightseeing was there to pick us up for our heli-hiking trip. We weighed in at the helicopter office and received our safety briefing. One other couple was on the tour with us along with Jeff, the naturalist/hiking guide. We piled in the helicopter and Snookums was the co-pilot once again. This time she had plenty of room but it was only a short 15-minute flight to the tundra.

We were not in Denali National Park, but it looked just like it with all sorts of various types of vegetation and hills and mountains and kettle ponds (pools formed by glaciers). While the rotors were still moving, we all carefully exited the helicopter and stayed down with one knee touching the ground until the helicopter flew off. We immediately spotted Dall sheep on a far off mountain ridge that looked like white dots with the naked eye, but Jeff had a spotting scope on a tripod that he set up.

The tundra is very spongy, yet the soles of our shoes did not get wet. The definition of tundra is “A treeless area between the icecap and the tree line of Arctic regions, having a permanently frozen subsoil and supporting low-growing vegetation such as lichens, mosses, and stunted shrubs.” Besides seeing lots of different kinds of lichens, mosses and flowers, we saw arctic ground squirrel, caribou (but only with Jeff’s scope), a woolly caterpillar, horned lark (Filbert spotted this bird), pika (a rodent that Filbert spotted) and two golden eagles flying above.

The hike was not very strenuous, but it was a different kind of walk since there were many rocks and various levels of moss and animal holes (squirrels and marmots) and since your feet would sometimes sink in a couple of inches and other times they wouldn’t. We hiked down and came upon another flat area and that is when Jeff used the satellite phone to call for the helicopter to pick us up. In the meantime he spotted a big bull moose in the distance and put it in his spotting scope. Neither of us could ever find it, though.

Arctic landscape
Wooly caterpillar
Bear poop
Little red flowers
Arctic ground squirrel
Pika. He (she?) was not happy with our presence.
Look ma! No mosquitoes!

The helicopter came and with its rotors turning, we loaded in one by one. We were told to stay with one knee on the ground until it was our turn and to also hold onto the backpacks that were on the ground. It was VERY windy and moss and dry grasses were blowing around. We all got in and then Jeff gathered all of our backpacks and put them in the helicopter and then we took off. Jeff told the pilot were to fly so that we could see the bull moose and Snookums did see it from above, but in her opinion, that still didn’t count as a moose sighting!

By the time we got back to McKinley Chalet Resort, it was past lunchtime so we took the shuttle back to our room and changed shoes before taking the shuttle back to then walk across the street to Prospector’s Pizza and decided to split a pizza that had reindeer sausage on it. Snookums also ordered a side salad and at the very end of eating it she found two clumps of clay/dirt, each the size of a pea. She also saw “gunk” stuck to the inside of the water carafe and pointed out both things to the server. The server explained that the lettuce was grown a few miles away on an organic farm and Snookums countered that it should have been washed better. When it was time for the bill, the salad had been removed.

Before returning to our room, we decided to take the shuttle to the Denali National Park Visitor’s Center and bookstore. Both were underwhelming and we took the next shuttle back. When we got back to our room, we had a note under the door from Laura explaining that they saw a grizzly bear chase a moose and her calf and also saw a big bull moose with a full rack of antlers (i.e. Bullwinkle). Laura and Snookums have been wanting to see Bullwinkle and now Laura has.

When it was time for dinner we took the shuttle and then walked across the street to the Thai & Chinese Food trailer for dinner and Snookums enjoyed spicy green curry with chicken and Filbert ordered the extra spicy chicken with ginger which he declared as being too hot to really enjoy, but he ate it. The ambiance isn’t anything special (picnic tables on the dusty gravel lot), but the food was delicious and for $10 each, a real bargain, too! Filbert was feeling the burn and decided that ice cream was needed. He ordered a scoop ($3.95) for us to share and asked for two spoons and the server thought he wanted two scoops ($5.95). We managed to eat it all.

We walked back to the lobby and waited for the shuttle to take us down the hill since Snookums was so tired. We were asleep by 10. Filbert woke up at 11:15 when the power went out and his sleep apnea machine stopped. Snookums called the front desk using her cell phone and was told the entire canyon was out which was a 20-mile wide swath. They anticipated it to be out for 3 or 4 hours but didn’t know why. They offered to move us to the main lodge and feed a power cord through the window from a generator outside the window, but Filbert decided to stay put since it was going to be hard to pack up and move in the dark, even with the remnants of sunlight left. Snookums went back to sleep and Filbert dozed. The power came back on at 3:14 AM and somehow Snookums woke up but since Filbert was asleep, Snookums just rolled over and went back to sleep.

August 3 (Saturday, Day 15, Train to Anchorage, Alaska) –


Our bags had to be out by 9 AM which wasn’t too bad, but we had to vacate the room by 10 AM although we weren’t leaving the lodge until 11:45 AM! After the power outage last night, no one was in a very good mood. John and Laura had returned from their evening hike right before the power outage and were going to shower, but couldn’t since there was no water due to the power outage. Anyway, we put the night behind us and carried on in true hardy Alaska fashion!

It was VERY windy today and that made us extremely thankful for the great weather we had while in Denali. The four of us walked to Salmon Bake for a filling breakfast and then bought food for the 8-hour train ride to Anchorage. (Snookums bought a Subway sandwich and Filbert bought some beef jerky and almonds at one of the three tiny grocery stores in Healy.)

The train ride was just a lot of trees and no moose and was very long. When we made it to Anchorage we were the first ones off the train and while Filbert went to the room, Snookums went to the front desk to get HHonors Gold perks (free internet, free water, free breakfast). When she got to the hotel room, she realized Filbert was just standing there and he was showing her the dirty standing water in the bathtub! A phone call to the front desk was required to get a new room and after getting situated in the new room, we roamed downtown Anchorage in order to turn in three coupons for free stuff. Three magnets later, we went to a liquor store and Filbert bought two bottles of local beer and then we bought elk gyros ($6.50 each) from a sidewalk vendor. The homemade tzasiki sauce was outstanding and it was a great dinner.

The 2013 Alaska HAL CruiseTour, Part 5

The 19-Day Holland America Line Alaska CruiseTour, Holland America ms Statendam

Text and pictures by Snookums, webification by Filbert

Part Five

(Remember to click “read more” if you’re looking at this from the main page to get the whole article!)

August 1 (Thursday, Day 13, Denali National Park, Alaska)

Today was a big day since we got to take the official Denali National Park Tundra Wilderness Tour. Unfortunately, Snookums didn’t write the day’s journal entry until a year after the fact! She doesn’t know how she missed writing about today, but she did.

(So, for the record, it’s 3/7 Snookums’ fault that this travelogue is posted 28 months after the fact. – Filbert)

Denali in the distance

We met our school bus at 6:40 AM and piled on. Only official vehicles are allowed into the park so it’s a guided tour on a school bus or else you can catch a school bus shuttle for hiking purposes and things like that. The official tour was included in the price of our HAL tour.

During our almost 8-hour tour, we saw Mt. McKinley, ptarmigan and chicks, moose and two calves, Dall sheep, collared pika, grizzly bear and two cubs, caribou, arctic ground squirrel and a mew gull. Unfortunately most of the animals were not very close to us. However, the bus before us (or after?) had a bear walk right in front of it. So, the animals are all over the place, but you might not see them up close and personal.

Ptarmigan, close
Dall sheep in the (far) distance
Grizzly in the distance
Caribou in the distance
J & P at Denali
J & L at Denali

After we got back, we decided to wander along the highway and visit the various souvenir stores. We were exhausted but we didn’t want to go to sleep. We had a 5 PM dinner reservation for Salmon Bake restaurant since making an online reservation gets 10% off! It was not busy so early in the day, but 10% is 10%. Snookums had the Cajun rockfish and really enjoyed it. After dinner we walked back to the McKinley Chalet Resort and our room.

Denali, one more