Alaska by Plane, Train and Automobile – What a Trip

“What cruise ship are you sailing?” That’s the question I’m asked when I say we’re Alaska bound. This is our third year landing on the Yentna River at Riversong Lodge. Accessible only by float plane or boat, the lodge and surrounding cabins have wood burning fireplaces and rustic appeal. No internet access or infinity pools here, but if you enjoy nature, gourmet meals and a remote setting, you will not be disappointed. The rates are expensive, but include transportation from Anchorage, all meals, your own Coast Guard certified guide, jet boat, fishing tackle and the guide cleans and fillets your catch.

 Riversong Lodge outside of Anchorage, Alaska

"Nancy Brown fishing"
Nancy D. Brown fishing from the banks of the Yetna River at Riversong Lodge in Alaska.

Riversong Lodge owners Robin and Randy Dewar remembered our anniversary and left chocolate covered strawberries and champagne in our room after a morning on the river. My husband and I fished for three days and came home with 150 pounds of salmon. We also saw eagles, beavers and moose and spotted a bear from the plane.

Jim and Kimberley Bowers shared some father/daughter bonding and silver salmon fishing at www.beartraillodge.com.

If you’re looking for family adventure, Robyn Palano recommends Circle Alaska Family Adventure. The itinerary appealed to the Lafayette family of five because it included numerous activities and served as an introduction to the Alaskan Interior.

“It was one of our best vacations ever,” says Palano. “The prices for kids 11 & under are amazing.” They added on a few days to the tour because it’s fast paced with multiple modes of transportation. The family took a riverboat cruise in Anchorage and visited a sled dog team. They traveled to Denali via Alaska Railroad and continued to Fairbanks where they picked up a van and drove the scenic Richardson Highway, spending an extra day in Valdez. From there they sailed on a ferry from Prince William Sound to the final destination of Seward where they added a day and visited the Alaska SeaLife Center and an Iditarod kennel.

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Palano said the company was willing to customize the tour and planned an itinerary that made them feel like they were on their own. “You live out of suitcase, but its fine. After our day in Denali our son Sammy said, ‘This has been the best day of my life.”

Often a launch point for cruise ships, Vancouver, British Columbia is a favorite destination for Bob and Farrel Vance. Bob recommends the 45 minute ferry ride to Bowen Island, the impressive collection of totems at the Museum of Anthropology on the University of BC campus and the aquarium in Stanley Park.

Karen Chuck and her family sailed Alaska’s Inside Passage on Celebrity Cruises for a multi-generational vacation. Her advice was to book any land tours ahead of time because they filled up fast. She also recommended the Sitka Rose charter boat for fishing and whale watching. “It was the highlight of our trip,” reflects Chuck.

Lafayette’s Kim and Mark Figone recently returned from their Alaska voyage on Princess Cruises and loved the kid’s program for their five-year-old, while their girls had the freedom of roaming on board. They saw plenty of wildlife and glaciers.

Kayaking in Alaska

"Patti Schreiner Alaska"
Patti Schreiner explores Alaska by kayak with Wilderness Travel

Also from Lafayette, Bill Abbott of Berkeley-based Wilderness Travel, arranged for Patti and Dave Schreiner to board a 97 foot yacht in Glacier Bay. Formerly a WWII Minesweeper, the wooden boat has been converted to accommodate 12 guests. They flew into Gustavus, sailing and hiking around the area. “The captain and crew members are naturalist, so you spend your time learning about Alaska,” reflects Patti. In one instance, their kayaks were 30 feet from a mother brown bear and cubs feeding on the bank.

I’m off to Spain in September. Anyone been there lately?