Trip Report- Alaska June 2005

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mayor al
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Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Fri, 06/10/05 6:13 PM
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Hoping not to sound like a AAA Tour Guidebook, here are the basics of our Alaskan week-plus vacation. This has been a great vacation, due to some great timing and scheduling, and especially as the result of the wonderful hospitality of our Roadfood friends Lisa and Bob (ZeeMan).

May 31 Leave the dogs at the Happy Tails Pet Resort and Day-Care Center and the truck in the long term parking facility at CVG. Depart Cincinnati at 5pm, Connect in Salt Lake City (terminal way over crowded) and arrive in Anchorage (ANC) at midnight. taxi to motel and crash for a few hours to become human again. Actually the flight wasn't bad, but it was a full day for us country folks.
Hotel was the Chelsea Inn, about 2 miles from the airport. Built in the 50's it was clean and up to date, with very large rooms and good rates. We found it on line, and Lisa checked the quality before we booked it.
One not so subtle thing that affected our stay.... the extended daylight hours are amazing. Here is a photo taken at the RR station at 11pm when we arrived back in town after a day in Seward. Yes, I said 11pm.


mayor al
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Fri, 06/10/05 6:43 PM
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Trip Report June 1
After a quick breakfast with Lisa before she went to work, we wandered around the countryside north of Anchorage. Using many side roads and checking the small towns and scenic overlooks we saw a number of 'critters' and interesting scenes.
Back to the city for an early dinner with our friends. We visited the Club Paris, a restaurant recommended by a relative who had eaten there 45 years ago. never underestimate the possibility of a good recommendation ! The place claims to be the Premier Steakhouse in Alaska and seems to live up to it's claim. Opened in this location in 1937 and surviving the 1964 earthquake are feathers in the cap of these folks, but even more so was the excellent service and high-quality beef and seafood.
Our appetizers were Steamer Clams, CajunCrab Stuffed Mushrooms, and some garlicy Escargot.



The beef was worth photographing also. Here is Lisa's N Y Strip and my Filet. Really good Beef that's for sure. This was a good way to start off a week of relaxation!





Next Day was our Seward Rail trip...See Part 3 coming up !




mayor al
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Fri, 06/10/05 7:44 PM
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Thursday June 2- Rail trip to Seward and Ressurection Bay Wildlife tour.
The Alaskan Railroad is a state-owned operation. They do a great job of running the tourist trains. The train was spotless clean, and the staff, including the High School Girls who served as tourguides in each of the railcars were bright and knowledgeable about not only the local history and geography, but they understood the rail operation and the geology of the area as well. The railroad permits passengers to use the vestibules between cars for photography. That gave me the opportunity to get some pretty good shots (samples below) It is a 4 hour ride from Anchorage down to Seward, then a 5 hour boat tour of the bay looking at wildlife and enjoying a Prime Rib and Salmon Buffet. Then the return train ride to Anchorage. This makes for a very busy day, but to coin a single word...it is Spectacular! We saw Dall's Sheep, Eagles galore, Moose(s), Sealions and a Humpback Whale rounding up his/her dinner. The weather was great with Sunny Skies and temp's in the 70's.
Here is the train-



A really beautiful scene from the seaward side of the train on the way south-


Janet shot this Dall's Sheep and his friends on the cliff overlooking the tracks. The crew slowed the train to a crawl so everyone could see and photo the Sheep-



From the Bay Tour Boat we watched as this Humpback Whale herded his food (fish) against the rocks of an island by spanking the water and rounding them up.. Then he/she dived thru the middle of the school and scarfed up a dinner bite...then repeated the action over and over.


Then it was time to head North on the train. A nice snack of cinnamon bun (fresh) and a soda (Black Cherry Cream) made for a good late-evening nibble.


In Part 4 to follow, we will share the two extremes of Roadfood in Alaska, Stay Tuned !





mayor al
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Fri, 06/10/05 8:49 PM
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The roadfood establishments that we visited later in the week are great example of the 2 extremes for 'Style" found in this region. First we had the chance to share a dinner with Lisa and ZeeMan at the KINCAID GRILL. This is where Lisa works her magic in the kitchen. The place is located not far from the city on a hill overlooking a residential area. neat as a pin would be a good descriptor! Here's the exterior view-


Lisa had arranged for some really unique appetizers including this crab-stuffed pastry- Soooo Delicate, but delicious!


Next came a sampler of Scallops wrapped in proscuito (sp?). As a Scallop lover these were a big hit with me !


Then it was some seared Aki Tuna, as tasty as it looks!


Janet enjoyed these Shrimp. Talk about Food being Art !



The rest of us went for the Special of the Day...BBQ Salmon-



After all of that, we were given the guided tour of the kitchen facility. Here's where Lisa creates those beautiful treats!



We really were thrilled to be able to share those wonderful samples of beautiful food with our friends.





mayor al
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Fri, 06/10/05 9:12 PM
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Part 4 Continued-

The second Roadfood place in this chapter of the Saga is located in downtown Hope, Alaska. Hope is located on the south side of the Turnagain Arm...right on the waterfront. It is about an long hour's ride from Anchorage. I would estimate the population of Hope at about 100, counting dogs and seasonal residents.
We found the Seaview Cafe located directly across the street from the Hope Coffee House and Gold-Panning Operation and near the waterfront...but then everything in Hope is near the waterfront.
Here is the exterior of the Seaview Cafe followed by the Hope Coffee House.


Look for FRASIER at the Coffe House-


Neat and clean and as laid-back as they come, we were made welcome at the Seaview Cafe for Lunch.


As remote as this community appears, The place was comfortable and this Halibut and chips was Outstanding...fresh, hot, and delicious.



BTW the Coffee House had not opened for the season yet!

Biscuit
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Fri, 06/10/05 9:26 PM
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Great report! The food looks as great as the scenery. I'd love to try that Halibut.

mayor al
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Fri, 06/10/05 9:42 PM
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OK For the last chapter in this report i want to show you lleechef, the Artist and her audience as she works. Here we are on the boat. Lisa has one skillet and a small single-burner Coleman-Style stove. With that simple combination she prepared a shrimp and scallop lunch served over fresh salad greens that was fit for a King (or a Mayor).
Here she is at work "Creating"!


Overhead one of her Fans keeps and eagle eye on her to be sure she does things the "Alaska Way".


The smells coming out of that kitchen/galley attracted the attention of another Roadfood Fan.


After enjoying our lunch all four of us and the critters surrounding the boat wanted to join these SeaLions in an afternoon snooze !!


We didn't do much photo stuff on the way home. We took a Red-eye out of Anchorage at 2am and arrived safely in Cincinnati 13 hours later. We have food, photos and other stuff including a new Mayor's cap (Davy Crockett style but using a skunk Skin) to wear at the next Crabfest !

Thanks for joining us in this report, I hope you found some of it interesting. We hope to have the restaurant reviews of the Club Paris, The Seaview Cafe, and Kincaid Grill posted soon.




mr chips
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Fri, 06/10/05 11:02 PM
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Great report, Mr. Mayor. My three alaska trips have been en joyable. It looks like you had fun and ate a lot of great food.

Rex Allen
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Sat, 06/11/05 1:36 AM
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Great Report, thank you for sharing.
Rex in expensive San Diego

Pwingsx
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Sat, 06/11/05 1:59 AM
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Oh, that was just LOVELY!

It was great to see Lisa at her craft.

And that picture at 11pm just totally blew my mind. I've heard about it, but seeing the real thing is something to really wrap your mind around.

ocdreamr
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Sat, 06/11/05 2:04 AM
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Mr Mayor,

I am green with envy! It looks like you had a great time on a fabulous trip.

Sundancer7
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Sat, 06/11/05 5:16 AM
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Mr. Mayor, I was sad to come to the end of your report. Obviously you had a super time with Lleechef. I am very envious and welcome back.

Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN

MikeS.
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Sat, 06/11/05 5:33 AM
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We used to eat a lot of Atlantic halibut when I lived with my parents. Mom worked at a food wholesalers that had a fish dept. I never ate it as fish and chips but that picture sure looks good. Mom always brought home cod for fish and chips and that is still my prefered fish for chips.

MikeS.
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Sat, 06/11/05 5:34 AM
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Al, it looks like you and the Mrs had a great trip! Also looks like Lisa needs to open a travel service business to go with the catering.

MikeS.

varelas
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Sat, 06/11/05 8:09 AM
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This is the same type of trip I hope to make some day. What wounderful memoirs you and your wife have made.

kland01s
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Sat, 06/11/05 8:38 AM
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Reminds me of my trip to Alaska, I even spent some time taking photos on the vestibue between cars on the Alaska Railroad too! We took the train from Anchorage to Fairbanks with a 3 day lay over in Denali, only problem being a landslide taking out track outside of Fairbanks so we had to be taken to Fairbanks by Denali park buses! Our friends in Fairbanks took us to the Chena Pumphouse and to a crab feed, there is a lot of good eating there. Thanks for the photos!

zussers
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Sat, 06/11/05 9:06 AM
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Thanks Mr. Mayor! That was an amazing armchair trip to Alaska! Your photos and captions are great!

Stephen Rushmore Jr.
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Sat, 06/11/05 9:23 AM
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Outstanding - very well done!

Michael Hoffman
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Sat, 06/11/05 10:38 AM
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Very, very nice.

zataar
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Sat, 06/11/05 11:00 AM
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What a wonderful chronicle of your trip. The food and scenery look fabulous. My cousin lives in Anchorage, I think it's time for a visit!

Adjudicator
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Sat, 06/11/05 11:01 AM
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Wow.....

lleechef
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Sat, 06/11/05 11:19 AM
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Z and I sure had a good time with Al and Janet!! We couldn't hook them up with a halibut (the commercial fishermen said it was a little early for Prince William Sound) but we had fun trying. Al promised NOT to make the trip sound as fabulous as it really was for fear of having a long line of Roadfooders on our doorstep (or boatstep) but the pictures pretty much said it all!

Adjudicator
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Sat, 06/11/05 11:24 AM
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http://www.kincaidgrill.com/




Seaview
Cafe & Bar
PO BOX 110 - HOPE, ALASKA 99605
PHONE: 907-782-3300 FAX:907-782-3344

tiki
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Sat, 06/11/05 11:50 AM
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Like Zataar. i also have a cousin in Anchorage--and these pic and the story with it have really bconvinced me that it really is time to seriously consider a visit to the Great White North! My cousin Hap has a standing invite for family to come on up to hunt and fish and its really bkind of silly not to take advantage of this!---Lisa---wont show up at your door step --but will give you and the Zman a call when we get there> Thanks Al and Janet---for the pics and the reports!!---Great job!

mayor al
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Sat, 06/11/05 12:27 PM
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Thanks for the Kind Words.
A couple of thoughts for the vacation planners.
1. The term dress in layers is VERY appropriate. It was in the mid-40's early in the morning and most days on land reached the 70's and on the water into the 60's. Sweatshirts and tee-shirts were the uniform of the day.
2. Each of us has our own priorities as far as budgeting a trip like this goes. Some go 'top of the line' and others would bicycle the whole route if they could. Same goes for accomodations. I reveal our basic budget not as a brag or excuse...but to aid anyone thinking of an excursion to the North.
Our total costs for 8 days-7 nights was just under $3000. This includes airfare, rental car, rail/boat tour,hotel,all misc food and other expenses. That also includes $180 for Doggie Resort time for Duff and Demi (10 days) and $50 for the long-term parking at Cincinnati for our truck.
We logged 1200 miles on the rental car, not bad considering that 3 of the seven days we were on Lisa's boat or on the train tour.
A few of you will understand this quirk about our airfare... As you know I am a bit larger than the airline's typical coach passenger. We considered selecting a First Class seating to allow extra room for the long flight. The best cost we could get was $1300 per person or $2600 R/T. Instead we chose to buy an extra seat in coach at $320 each for a total of $960. Not quite First Class, but having the middle seat empty on several full airplanes made for a much better comfort zone for me, without tossing the checkbook out the window !
We found prices in Anchorage and vicinity to be at the same level as here in Louisville. Gas was the same in both places, and all the usual stuff equated. For you smokers, Kentucky just tripled it's tax on packs of cigarettes to $.30 a pack making a typical pack sell for about $3.00 and a carton for $30.00... The natives were complaining badly when we left on May 31, and buying lots to stock-up before the tax increase. In Alaska we saw (and photographed) signs that advertised the price of a Pack of Marlboro at $6.14...Janet will share that photo with some of her complaining friends at work today !

Thanks for the address of the Seaview. I have submitted full reviews of the Kincaid Grill and the Club Paris and will try to complete the Seaview Review today.

UncleVic
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Sat, 06/11/05 12:43 PM
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Nice report AL! Appreciate you sharing the pics with the rest of us... Scenery and Food both look awesome!

mayor al
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Sat, 06/11/05 4:31 PM
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Oh Yeah,
We shopped one morning at the Alaskan Fur Exchange. What a neat place to visit! The crafts and furs of the area are wonders to behold (even the ones made in Korea). We passed on the fur hats (at $100 plus each) but couldn't resist a $10 Davy Crockett cap made from Skunk Skin. I will wear it to our next Crabfest get-together.

tiki
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Sat, 06/11/05 5:04 PM
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quote:
Originally posted by Al-The Mayor-Bowen

Oh Yeah,
We shopped one morning at the Alaskan Fur Exchange. What a neat place to visit! The crafts and furs of the area are wonders to behold (even the ones made in Korea). We passed on the fur hats (at $100 plus each) but couldn't resist a $10 Davy Crockett cap made from Skunk Skin. I will wear it to our next Crabfest get-together.


I have wanted one of them ever since i was young and saw Curly of the Stooges wearing one!!!!hmmmm--maybe if i send my cousin $20 he will go by and pick one up for me!!

carlton pierre
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Sat, 06/11/05 5:33 PM
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What a fantastic report and even better pictures !!

Rick F.
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Sat, 06/11/05 7:46 PM
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Al & Janet,

All I can do is echo everyone else's appreciation and envy. Jan and I want to go back, too; and your itinerary sounds much better than ours last summer!

lleechef
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Sat, 06/11/05 9:24 PM
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Rick, as Al and Janet were watching the Princess busses and the Princess cruise ships going in and out of Whittier I told them how you had been "Princessed Out" and they agreed that the way to go was on your own itinerary (with a little help from Lisa and Z), in your own car, at your leisure. Last summer we arranged for some friends from Iowa to rent an RV that would sleep the four of them comfortably and suggested a working itinerary. They changed only one thing........they found Homer so spectacular that they stayed 3 days instead of one!

Bobs
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Sat, 06/11/05 10:08 PM
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I really ernjoyed hearing about your trip!

kland01s
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Sun, 06/12/05 3:28 PM
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I agree with not going the "Princess" route. When I went, I had friends living in Fairbanks so we just flew to Anchorage, took the Alaska Railroad to Denali and then on to Fairbanks where our friends guided us to great local places. I have talked to many people who have done the tour thing and complained of not seeing anything because of the way the tour operators herd them around and "stage" experiences for them.

mayor al
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Sun, 06/12/05 5:37 PM
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I don't do tour-buses very well. That comes from too many trips with School Classes over the years !
We did select one day-long tour for this vacation. It was hosted by the Alaskan Railroad and included the R/T on the Coastal Train from Anchorage to Seward and an afternoon boat tour and luncheon on Resurrection Bay. The train left Anchorage at about 7am and arrived in Seward at 11:30am. As you saw in my earlier posts, the scenery and wildlife was spectacular. They then shuttled us in a bus the short distance from the Seward Rail Depot to the harbor where we boarded the tourboat. At first the boat ride seemed a bit 'tame' but as we progressed down the bay we had the chance to see some pretty neat marine and bird life. The Prime-Rib and Salmon Buffet (AYCE) was 1st rate. They invited us to come back for seconds and more as the afternoon progressed. Totally out of character for me, I held off after one-round, being a very comfortably full and not wanting to initiate a hibernation cycle! I did see one young fellow select 2 slabs of Prime-Rib and have them placed between two slices of excellent Sourdough Bread...coated with the creamy Horseradish sauce. I pointed out to Janet that I had never seen a better looking sandwich anywhere!
We returned to the harbor after the whale-watch and had a whole second round of evening scenery on the return train ride from Seward to Anchorage. As the first photo in the report shows we arrived back in Anchorage about 11pm but in full daylight! No Sunset photos available, I didn't have the endurance to wait up for them!
The other days we used the rental car and the MILEPOST publication to wander out of the Anchorage area. I recommend purchasing one of these guides if you are planning to visit Alaska. We got a 2002 edition last year on Ebay for $5 and even being three years old, It was an outstanding asset.

kland01s
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Mon, 06/13/05 9:25 AM
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Milpost is an essential guide for enjoying Alaska, I wish more states would have a guide such as this. I studied it for several months before our trip even though we had friends living in Alaska, the guide came up with a few things they didn't know about.

sugarlander
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Mon, 06/13/05 9:58 AM
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Wonderful report, (almost) felt like I was there.

CheeseWit
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Mon, 06/13/05 10:00 AM
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Thanks, Al for that fine report. I hope to travel to Alaska one day soon.

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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Mon, 06/13/05 10:20 AM
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Your report and the pictures are great. I am so glad that you had such a wonderful trip and it looks like no one has to look any further than Lisa and Z if they want top Alaska travel agents.

Salustra
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Mon, 06/13/05 11:56 AM
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Mr. & Mrs. Mayor - Thanks for sharing! Now I know why my Uncle hasn't been back down here since he moved to Anchorage...

Stepping away from the food angle for a moment - may I ask what type of camera captured such breath-taking scenery?

wanderingjew
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Mon, 06/13/05 10:45 PM
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I am so Jealous. I always wanted to visit Alaska when I was living in Seattle. I was so close, yet so far away. So, Al, did you have a chance to try some Whale Blubber when you were out there???

lleechef
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Mon, 06/13/05 11:06 PM
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I don't think Al and Janet ate any Whale Blubber or Eskimo Ice Cream (even MORE VILE!)
So now that the secret is out about Alaska..........well, what can I say? Just book those tickets and come up....we sure do love our beautiful state and showing it off to friends!

mayor al
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Mon, 06/13/05 11:11 PM
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Salustra, My folks lived on Valley Parkway in your town for 10 years back in the 80's. Seeing your address makes me recall visiting them often over the years.
I gave up my Canon G3 at Christmas time this past year to get one of the new Canon 20D SLR Digitals. It handles so much like my 35mm Canons (A-1 and Ae-1) that I had for many years, that It didn't take long for me to get it pretty much under control. In addition to the 'kit' lens that came with it (18-55mm) I purchased a 28-300mm zoom. The long lens was on the camera for the wildlife shots, the 18-55mm was the lens of choice for the food shots. I wish I had put out the extra bucks for the more expensive 'Image-Stabilized' lens, but I didn't and some of the longer distance shots weren't as sharp as I would like to have had them.
The 20D is an 8.7 megapixel camera that can make some really nice clear shots. I was using the medium size file (2meg average size) in jpg format. That gave me 435 photos on the 1 gig C F Card I was using. I shot 390 of that on the trip.
One thing to remember if you are considering lens's for the SLR's. Digital focal length is different from normal 35mm . The 18-55mm lens on my camera is roughly the equal to a 28-90mm on a 35mm camera. The 28-300 is equal to a 45mm to 400mm or so in 35 mm terms. Most folks wouldn't pay any attention to that, but if you want the coverage of the two lens to overlap a bit, you need to pay attention to the focal length.

W J- The last Whale (actually the only whale I have ever ordered) was at Yoken's restuarant on Rt 1 in Peabody, Mass (at the rt 114 interchange). That was in '68 if I remember correctly. Haven't even looked for it since...and that ought to tell you how good it wasn't!!

Benzee
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RE: Trip Report- Alaska June 2005 - Mon, 07/4/05 11:39 PM
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Mr. Mayor ,

Great report on Alaska . Outstanding pictures and details .

Anyone interested , we happen to be organizing an Alaska Cruise out of the Monroe NY Knights of Columbus for June 24th to July 1 st , 2006.

Details
Celebrity Summitt
8 days 7 nights Southbound to Vancouver
Seward , Juneau , Icy Straight Point , Ketchican
Inside Passage

R/T Airfare from Newark
Cruise
Transfers , Port Charges , all taxes
Group extras onboard
$1849 per person Cat. #11 inside

Feel free to email me at benzee95@hotmail.com
Arrangements are being handled by Cruise Holidays

Group of 100 to 200 will be sailing .

Benzee