From Alaska to Nebraska and back

Harriet Hunter Ford, Around Town
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The month of June proved to be jam-packed with wonderful travel adventures. Seven friends and I decided that a cruise to Alaska via the Inside Passage was in order. The planning actually began nearly a year ago. After all, we didn’t want to rush into anything. Our Holland America cruise left from Vancouver, British Columbia, but we discovered that it was considerably less expensive to fly to Bellingham, Wash., and take a shuttle bus to Vancouver.

Our overnight stay in Vancouver whetted our appetites to plan an extended stay in that lovely city. We did have time to visit the famous Stanley Park and the Gastown Historic District, where we happened upon a delightful Italian restaurant just in time for dinner. Our cruise began late afternoon the next day. Thankfully, the seas in the inside passage are smooth and my new-found best (traveling) friend, the trans-dermal patch, worked very well.

The cruise itinerary included stops in Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway where we went on some extraordinary excursions. Among those chosen were whale watching, a lumberjack competition, a city tour via a “duck” (an amphibious vehicle), a narrow-gauge-train trip into the mountains, and a seaplane tour of five glaciers (one of my personal favorites).

There was also time to explore the towns. Tourism plays a large part in the economies of the three cities, as do the fishing and lumbering industries.

After we docked in Seward, we took a bus to Anchorage where six of us rented a van and spent another three days visiting Denali National Park, and Fairbanks where we took a tour on a paddlewheel riverboat; the tour included watching a dog-sled team work out and a stop at an Indian village. We returned to Anchorage on the Pipeline Highway.

As is to be expected, the scenery is breath-taking and we were lucky enough to have very favorable weather for the majority of the trip. We almost saw the top of Mount McKinley — something rare for this time of year. While we saw a number of animals, I was surprised that we didn’t see more. It was indeed a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I highly recommend it.

My next adventure took me to my sister and brother’s farm and lake just outside Columbus, Neb. My daughter, Suzie; son, BJ; and I were the only representatives from our immediate clan. We weren’t lonely, however, as more than 40 people were there. A highlight of this adventure was a fish fry featuring more than 40 pounds of fish that had been caught in the lake. One of my nephews engineered that monumental undertaking. In a word: delicious! I got to do one of my favorite things in the world, which is taking a nap on the 100-year-old (literally) hide-a-bed (honestly) in the cabin, with a summer breeze blowing through the windows. Life doesn’t get much better than that.

Until next time, I’ll see you around town.

Columnist Harriet Hunter Ford may be reached at hhunterford@msn.com.

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