In 2022, I took the train from Anchorage to Denali, and then Denali to Fairbanks. I was hooked. The views were spectacular. Mt. McKinley was in all its glory. The train service was perfection. This summer (2023) I'll be taking it straight through from Fairbanks to Anchorage. The Alaska Railroad also goes between Anchorage/Seward/Whittier. And there are Event Trains for Easter, Family fun, Octoberfest, Christmas. I haven't tried one of these—but it's on my list.
Alaska Wildlife Conservation
This large acreage near Girdwood is fun and educational for the entire family - and more so with a guide to tell stories about how the animals found home at the Center. Animals come to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center because they are abandoned at a young age or injured in the wild. With consent from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, animals are cared for and given a permanent home at AWCC. Check their website for feeding schedules and guided tours.
Finish Line of the Iditarod
In March 2022, I saw a dream come true: an Iditarod winner complete nearly 1,000 miles and pull in under the burled arch of the Finish Line in Nome. Brent Sass completed the race in 8 days, 14 hours, 38 minutes with 11 of his 14 dogs still in harness. If you can't make it to Nome, check out the Ceremonial Start in Anchorage or the Official re-Start on Willow Lake.
Holy Resurrection Orthodox
When I got weathered into Kodiak after the Alaska Historical Society and Alaska Museums in 2019, I wasn’t disappointed. A fellow attendee and I walked in the rain and fog to a service at the Russian Orthodox church, which was established in 1794 by a mission of Russian Orthodox monks. Holy Resurrection Orthodox Cathedral is the oldest Orthodox parish in North America. It is also the home of North America's first canonized Saint, Saint Herman of Alaska, the Wonderworker. The service left a lasting impression on me; that of true humility and worship of God, as experienced through the reading of scripture, chanting, and four-part harmony choir responses. The small congregation accepted us warmly, even though we didn’t know the protocol.
Oceans Visitor Center
If you’re in the Homer area with your family, be sure and stop at this Center. You might want to check ahead for the short education maritime videos or nature walks. There are interactive exhibits and a gift shop with a large assortment of nature and history books.
Kasilof Museum and Historic
Tucked inside our raincoats, a friend and I explored the Kasilof Museum and historical buildings, which had interpretive displays and artifacts. Each building had been brought to the part and reassembled to provide an authentic viewing. It was well worth the chill and dampness to spend time exploring the indoors and outdoors "museum."
Lake Hood and Alaska Aviation Museum
This museum is located on the largest float plane base in the world, Lake Hood, in Anchorage, where my father learned to fly in 1956. For me, there's nothing more mesmerizing than watching float planes, in an array of colors, take off and land. Plan to spend time in the museum with the many displays of Alaska aviation history, films, and memorabilia from Alaska's pioneer aviators. With Alaska's limited road system and railroad access, transportation via aviation continues to play a vital part for Alaskans.
I always find something new to explore in Fairbanks. Last year (2022), I was thrilled to learn the sternwheeler that took us on the Chena River had once been a boat on the Yukon River, and had docked at Tanana, the Athabascan village where our family had lived. For me, the highlight of this excursion was the stop at a replica of an Athabascan village, and, of all things, the guide for my group was from Tanana!
Seavey Dog Kennels
Every time I play tour guide to my family or friends, I take them to the Seavey Dog Kennels in Seward. I never tire of holding puppies, watching the antics of dogs leaping around as they are pulled into harnesses, and hearing wild barking and enthusiasm of sled dogs raring to run!
Simon Paneak Memorial Museum
The several times I have visited Anaktuvuk Pass, I have felt as though I'm walking on sacred ground and into a history book. In 1959, my father, Dr. Elmer Gaede, flew into the Pass, located in the Brooks Range, to do a medical assessment of the nomadic group of Nunimuit Eskimos. Our family friend and schoolteacher, Anna Bortel, accompanied him to conduct an educational assessment. It has been my privilege and honor to capture and document some of the indigenous people's voices and experiences in "'A' is for Anaktuvuk: Teacher to the Nunamiut Eskimos, which is carried in the museum's book section.
Soldotna Homestead Museum
This compact historic log village includes the last territorial school built in 1958, small cabins with homestead artifacts, and a large building with wildlife mounts against a natural habitat background mural. Growing around the Museum's grounds are a variety of local flowers and berries. The dynamic Soldotna Historical Society curator will hold your attention with the details and stories of early homesteading. This is a must-experience for children as well as adults.
Stoney Creek Canopy Ziplining
I love ziplining—even when I'm scared half-to-death. Stoney Creek ziplining, in Seward, is a favorite activity. Not only does it include ziplining, but rappelling and three suspension bridges.
Small, crowded plane to get to Unalaska. Wind. Remote. A single large Safeway warehouse is the one general store. Canneries. Limited places to eat. Try a B&B rather than the one expensive hotel. Most amazing to me? Tide pools rich in starfish. Hiking on treeless terrain and without the fear of predators. History. Remnants of WWII.
This charming, tumbled-down, old trapper cabin (with add-ons), sits on the bluff at Old Town Kenai, overlooking Cook Inlet. Coffee? Three-berry coffeecake? Soup of the day? A local music group? Wildflowers growing exuberantly around the edges of the building and in weathered flower boxes? A view of the Kenai Russian Orthodox Church? What more could you want?! (No website, check their Facebook.)