Guest Blogger – Josh Allen (NoahDadandClara1) has been kind enough to share his geocaching adventures in Alaska. Stories like these remind us how much fun geocaching can be and all of the wonderful places it can bring you. Geocaching truly is a global activity and we are proud to share Josh’s story with you.
I should probably start this off by a quick introduction, we are team “NoahdadandClara1”, geocachers from Plymouth, MA and also Maine. We’ve been “caching” for 2 years now and have around 700 caches found at this point, so to say we are super serious cachers isn’t that accurate. We do however have a blast doing this great activity and love the fact that my son gets a kick out of it rather than sitting in front of the T.V.!
Moving on…We’ve been fortunate enough to travel to a handful of states in which we had the opportunity to geocache, but the one that stuck out the most was our recent trip to Alaska. Now I must admit we didn’t go to AK just to geocache, it was just a bonus…in fact we went there to get married and bring my son on a, as we call it in Maine and Mass. “wicked cool” vacation.
Alaska is one of the growing number of states with a really large geocache following, reminded me of Kansas where there appears to be geocaches all over(that’s where the similarities end) …the only thing about AK that amazed us was that there aren’t many people living there…500k or so, so the geocache to person ratio is high! Which is a good thing! A neat thing about AK is that there are tons and tons of pullovers, sight seeing stops, and rest areas. Of course each and every one has a geocache and usually a cool view..or a bathroom!
We took a few “excursions” while in Alaska. The first was to Talkeetna. A small town in the winter but goes crazy in the summer months with tourists looking for that true “Alaska” feel, without having to get dirty so to speak. The drive up to Talkeetna is quite pretty and there is a geocache right on the corner of the Talkeetna Spur. Drive about 11 miles down that road and if the clouds are at bay (not always common) the Talkeetna Mountain Range comes into a spectacular view of Mt. Hunter, Foraker, and the mighty Denali (or what the lower 48’ers call, Mt. McKinley) Which rises to 20,320ft. Being from MA and ME these mountains are really impressive. Anyway, I digress….Continuing into Talkeetna there are a number of cool geocaches around, some with nice views, some with views of trees (a common theme in caching!)
Once you get into this lively one road town you will fall in love, that is unless you want luxury hotels, (which there is one away from town) beaches, palm trees…if you are looking for this, then you are way off course..may want to put the coordinates in again in the GPS.
Speaking of being off track I should probably give a little more history about this place. Talkeetna popped up about a hundred years ago (historians feel free to correct this) Once popular with gold miners, fishermen and hunters/trappers it quickly became a haven for mountain climbers, Denali of course being the crown jewel. In order for the climbers to make it to the mountain range they started using airplanes, and lots of them. Lots of people operated single plane businesses to the mountains carrying climbers and their gear. None really captured this better than Don Sheldon, a legend in his time he was regarded as one of the best “bush pilots” in the state and mastered the technique of landing his bush plane thousands of feet up on the mountains on skis. I could go on forever about him but its safe to say he was one of Talkeetna’s famous folks. In fact right down town there are 2 airports within .5 (on the GPS) of each other, Don Sheldon helped build the little grass strip. Then there is the larger airport which serves as the base for all of the sight seeing companies. If you get the chance to come here I recommend going on any of the carriers…you have at least 4 to choose from and its worth every penny to see the mountains and glaciers from an airplane…for about $75.00 (extra) you can land on the glacier. Just amazing! I’ve done it twice myself not because I’m a pilot but because its just awesome on so many levels!
There are some places to stay in Talkeetna, but if I were you…I would try some of the log cabin places, they are usually cheaper than the larger places and way more fun! Especially with Kiddos!
Ok, I could go on about Talkeetna for a while but I’ll move on. We ended up coming back to Anchorage after this diversion and ended up geocaching around town. There are tons and tons of caches around. We happen to like moving Trackables around so we stopped at the Anchorage Travel Bug Hotel which lies right behind the “Welcome to Anchorage” sign near the airport (sorry if I ruined that one for you) Traded a bunch of stuff and brought a bunch back home!
We decided that since we live in a big town that spending all day in another city wasn’t that great so we ended up renting bikes and rode along the Tony Knowles Trail. This trail goes right along Anchorage (which is a mini peninsula) with awesome views of the ocean and surrounding mountains in the distance. If the timing is right they also have sand hill cranes kicking around which look like crazy little ostriches. The trail brings you through Earthquake park (1965?) a big quake rocked Anchorage etc… the park is pretty neat with a few cool geocaches in it including (I think it was here) a book cache, where you trade books…great idea which we incorporated into a cache here in MA.
After having our fill of Anchorage we were set to take another road trip to Seward which brought us around Turnigan Arm and through the Chugach Mountain Range. The winds in Turnigan Arm whip pretty well because of the mountains on either side, so hold onto the steering wheel!! There are tons of pullovers along this Seward Highway with awesome views, each one having a geocache…can’t say they stood out too much but they were fun to find either way. Coming back the other direction they had other caches. Stupidly I didn’t look at the difficulty level and found out you needed rock climbing gear, no joke…
Heading through the Chugach Mountains the view is like nothing we’ve seen before. Huge lush green mountains (rainforest according to ecologists) Lots of wildlife so be on the look out, but please for the sake of not tainting the geocache name, don’t stop in the highway to look at a moose! Alaskans don’t care typically about them so if they see one they aren’t stopping…and well may not expect you to..unless its in the road…then you can feel free to stop. Annnnwayy….Right before you get to Seward you come to Exit Glacier, I won’t get into the whole Global Warming debate here but suffice it to say that the glacier is about 90% smaller than it was in the 50’s, which is evident by the photographs of where it used to be and what’s left is pretty sad.
One of the first things you’ll notice in Seward is that there may or may not be a huge cruise ship right in the middle of town. Tourists come to Seward so they can eat Halibut (which is good but I recommend Mama O’s in Anchorage for it, cheaper, tastier, and less tourist filled) There are some geocahes downtown but not too many, you’ll have to go to outskirts of town, which consists of driving a mile at most. I recommend heading to Mt. Marathon to get a few. Mt. Marathon holds a race every year in which crazy people run up this mountain and fly back down. Be on the lookout for bears as we’ve heard that there are a handful around there.
If you are looking for fun stuff to do we recommend kayaking, again there are more than one company but they are all good. We lucked out when we went, it was super calm, we saw eagles, a few whales, otters, a pacific loon (rare I guess) and other stuff…really neat and only about $60.00. The other thing to do whether you have kids with you or not is to check out the Sealife Center. Tons of neat info and on a sunny day they have a great lookout over the Harbor.
I could go on forever about this trip, this was only the tip of what we ended up doing and about a pinhead sized portion of what we could have done had we had the time. If you ever think of doing a trip out to Alaska, I promise you will not regret it. Unless you get eaten by a bear…which in case you are worried doesn’t happen often..I think you can get struck by lightning twice before getting eaten by a bear…It’s a true story I just made up. Anyway, what I’m saying is enjoy it if you can make it up there it truly is the last frontier.
Thanks for reading!