What an exciting moment for our whole family as we got to experience the wonder and majesty of Alaska!
It was even more special for me (Greg), as Alaska was my last state to visit. I had been stuck on 49 states visited since 2007! So, it was really great to step foot outside the airport (doesn't count if you don't leave the airport!) and check off #50!
In typical Darley Adventurous fashion, we crammed about as much as we could in the 6 days we were there!
Flights for 5 for $56!
Couldn't pass up this deal!
If you don't get travel alerts from airlines with specials, you're missing out! Earlier in the spring, I received the weekly email from Delta with random Skymiles Saver Flights. The dates weren't great for us, but when I was able to book our party of 5 for only 60,000 Skymiles and $56 total, we found a way to make the flights work! BOOM!
Normally it would have been minimum of 30,000 miles for each of us! Remember, it's about the value you get for your miles and point redemptions. With a low-balled estimate of $500 per flight per person, we would have gotten over $.06 per mile in value. Typically untying over $.015 I'm excited about!
As soon as I booked the flights, we ran into a big problem. There were no rental cars. Anywhere. Especially in Anchorage. When I say there were zero cars, I literally mean zero. I called every rental agency, even the smaller local shops and no one had anything.
Betsey to the rescue!
Through our incredible travel network, we found a an awesome family that was going to be out of town the exact dates we were there and let us borrow their car!
Our next decision was where to stay. Though we've accumulated a lot of points and miles, we prefer to stay in a house when it's our whole family. More space and a yard are big winners when you've had a long day of travel or excursions.
For the first 2 nights, we stayed at this little gem for what felt like a pretty authentic Alaska adventure. Tiny House. No bathroom. No Shower. No kitchen. Small sink. No Problem!
We were able to do a home swap for a much nicer and larger place for the rest of our trip!!
Because of travel hacking, we were able to have an incredible adventure with the entire family for a week in Alaska for less than what 1 flight would have normally cost us!
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Day 1:Anchorage Alaska.
We survived the night in our teeny tiny airbnb house, panned for gold at Crow Creek Gold Mine, took the tram at Alyeska resort to the top of the mountain and enjoyed lunch and views of the mountain, fished for salmon at Bird Creek then salmon and marshmallows for dinner over the camp fire. Congrats to Brennen for catching his first salmon! A great first day Alaskan adventure.
Woke up and went summer dog sled racing with Glacier City Tours. Met Iditarod musher, Ryan Redington, who took us on a run with his dogs, taught us about the process and let us meet his race dogs and even a few 13 day old racing dog puppies. Afterwards, grabbed some pizza for lunch then headed up to Power Line Pass to hike and pick salmon berries! (Hadn’t even heard of salmon berries until today) We spotted our first bear trying to get the berries too on our hike back down. Made lots of noises with our new scare the bear song then headed to Virgin Creek Falls to hike to the beautiful waterfall. Afterwards, drove to Lake Hood to watch the seaplanes land and then headed to a Fly Us To The World friend’s home for the rest of our stay. After not having a shower for two days, we were all very excited to get there, get clean and rest. They even shared moose meat with us, which we are super excited to try.
Day 3: Palmer, Alaska
We are loving Alaska! We visited the reindeer farm, got to see and feed our first moose and reindeers and eat a reindeer dog for the first time ever. See how Brennen enjoyed the reindeer dog in the pics. We even tried a fireweed milkshake. We learned a ton about all the amazing animals on the farm. Drove to Lake Eklunta and did one of my bucket list items! Inflated blow up Amazon rafts I had shipped here and paddled around on this amazingly blue, glacier fed lake. It was overcast so pictures don’t show show how blue it really was! Did get weird looks from the local kayakers. Then back to the house and had moose burgers for dinner and Greg teed off for golf at 8:00pm since it doesn’t get dark here in summer, and we watched an episode of Alone to see how people survive in the Alaskan wilderness, before bedtime.
That is a bear on the first hole!! He came running across the fairway and stopped to eat something right on the cart path. I took a wide turn for the green!
Day 4: Girdwood/Anchorage
Such a beautiful drive to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center today. The weather here has been amazing. We enjoyed feeding the moose and exploring until we left and got a flat tire leaving the parking lot. Thsnk goodness for AAA who changed the tire while we had a picnic in the car on the side of the road. Had to drive 50 on the interstate with our flashers on and got to teach the kids why people driving around us were giving us “the bird”
Made it to a tire place in Anchorage to get another tire put on and then waited an hour to enjoy the highly recommended Moose jaw pizza.
Today we hiked Thunderbird Falls, which was easily accessible. Easy parking. Some steep parts to the trial. But really nice and a great view at the end! We tried fishing again, but no salmon on the menu tonight. We continued to learn about new plants and since there's no snakes in Alaska, we didn't worry about what was crawling around! We discovered and ate bunch berries and then made dinner at the house. After a long and stressful day before, it was great to have a bit of a slower day!
Alaska Wrap Up
We loved Alaska! Enjoyed lunch downtown, a backyard hike and a few episodes of Alone before our red eye flight home. The weather was perfect. What a beautiful state.