So, here it is! The first blog of many. For years fellow travellers have asked for me to start blogging and here I am, leading up to another five month trip.
I feel it is only right to dip into the past and relive some of my previous adventures over all seven continents. Not only will I focus on my travels past, present and future I will delve into a few of my other passions including photography, wildlife and the environment.
Here we are the day after US Independence Day. It seems fitting as this happens to be the country that kicked off this travel obsession. During the summer of 2011 I spent four months backpacking North America and boy did I love it.
For me the ‘Land of the free’ slogan entwined within US culture is not for citizens but for those who take the opportunity to take in the beauties of this land. In no other country can you get such diversity, from snowy peaks in Alaska, deserts of Nevada, Florida beaches, the bustle of New York City and the mountains of the North West, there is so much to offer.
UNITED STATES – MY FAVOURITE PLACE
I’ve decided on this first post to revisit perhaps my favourite location in USA… Alaska. There a two ways to travel around Alaska; by cruise or by car. I chose the latter. After a gruelling flight from New York City to Houston to Seattle and finally to Anchorage I set out planning what to actually do in this vast wilderness.
Anchorage. The city for me doesn’t offer much. Yes you can get your shopping and go out for a drink or two but it lacks character. That being said there are pockets of nature close by one can escape to my choice being Kincaid Park. If like me you are an outdoorsy type there is no better feeling than grabbing a mountain bike and hitting the trails. In Kincaid make sure to stock up on energy bars because it is hilly. What I love about this park is you can travel for miles without seeing anyone else. On top of that you are likely to see fantastic wildlife. I had a heart stopping moment rounding a corner only to be unexpectedly greeted by a huge moose not two metres away. If you are lucky you may even see a grizzly (hopefully from afar).
Once out of the city is when things starting to get interesting. The choices are abundant, me, I chose hiking and whale watching. Within a few days of being in Anchorage I thought it best to rent a car for the freedom.
A trip to the famous Denali National Park. This was this a good decision. Autumn was a great time of year to visit. Hiking in this isolated wilderness just you, the mountains, the trees and the elements you witness fantastic scenery. Once atop a mountain looking out for miles and miles all that can be seen is the deep warm orange of the autumn leaves broken by an occasional sharp jagged grey peak. Not a building in sight this is a true wilderness experience, you feel ever so small. Making your way back down to ‘reality’ in the form of a camp site you start to realise something quite fascinating. Due to the altitude different trees grow in different areas. When up high you’ll notice the vibrant yellows and oranges, further down you come into the dark greens of the evergreen forest, a true natural phenomenon. The days offer breath-taking landscapes the nights offer magical illuminations. I’ll start by saying sleeping in a car with three people is not a good decision, it’s hot and uncomfortable but I’d never change it for the world. Due to this inability of sleep is when I witnessed one of the most amazing spectacles, the aurora borealis. Around 2am all of a sudden streaks of green and yellow lit up the sky like someone waving a wand from side to side. Like the bioluminescence seen in warm waters it is something that just does not seem real, it feels like you’re in some inexplicable dream.
It seems this adventure was a time for firsts. I did not anticipate anything coming close to this moment especially not within the next few days, oh was I wrong. Upon leaving there was a long arduous journey over one evening down to Seward. Arriving in the morning sleepy but ready I found myself boarding a day cruise around the Kenai Fjords. Making your way to an ocean side glacier dropping earth shaking ice chunks with a thunderous thud you have chances to spot wildlife such as sea otters, eagles and seals. It wasn’t until the journey back that that moment happened. My first whale sighting. I guess this was something for some reason I never thought would happened, at least not like this. From afar you see water disturbance, then more and more, seconds later and that’s it. Not metres away I’m surrounded by a pod of orca twenty strong. Never have I wanted to jump into icy cold water so much in my life. Spray after spray these inquisitive mammals surrounded the boat, it is a moment that will stick with me for the rest of my life.
If you are looking to visit the United States (or live there for that matter) I cannot recommend enough looking into a trip to remember up in the pristine wilderness of Alaska.