I enjoyed my position enough that I was willing to extend my stay a bit longer to help the staff through the Thanksgiving holiday. Unfortunately, Alaska was just too far from Texas and I did not want to stay on permanently as invited … I guarantee that I would have worked for them permanently if I could pack them all up and bring them back to Texas with us! Knowing that I was a traveler, the facility was more than willing to accommodate my schedule to allow us to get out and see the rest of the state. Oh, what a beautiful and huge state! We arrived in early June and were able to experience almost 24 hours of daylight on the summer solstice. Long days and mild temperatures made it so inviting to get out and enjoy the outdoors as God created them. On the solstice, we attending the Midnight Sun Classic, a minor league baseball game with the first pitch being thrown out at 10:30 PM and not a single light use for a full nine inning game. The game was attended by people from around the globe just for the event. Throughout the summer, we enjoyed road trips that included the Dalton Highway featured on Ice Road Truckers that took us across the Yukon River, north of the Arctic Circle, and into the Brooks Range that leads to the northern arctic plains. We were able to make multiple trips to Denali National Park where we viewed moose, caribou, grizzly bears, fox, dall sheep, and a brief but majestic view of Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America!
Another trip included an eight-hour road trip with the dogs to Anchorage, to Portage for a cruise out to Portage Glacier, then a short drive to Whittier where we boarded a ferry to the fishing town of Valdez. Aboard the ferry were more views of glaciers, sea otters, sea lions, whales and bald eagles. Valdez, also known as the terminal of the Trans-Alaskan pipeline, was home to hundreds of personal and commercial fishing boats and was our opportunity to stop and buy a variety of fish from a local market. Had time allowed, we would have boarded a chartered fishing trip for salmon or halibut. The drive from Valdez skirted along the pipeline with views of some of the great, remote Alaskan wilderness!
As summer drew to an end, we caught our first glimpse of the Aurora Borealis. The “northern lights” are among some of the most spectacular and breathtaking sights I have ever experienced! Just a short drive away from town and the lights, my wife and I would spend hours watching the lights dance across sky. As the leaves began to change and the fall colors developed, a labor day weekend trip across the historic Denali Highway turned out the be a perfect time to see Alaska undisturbed. Unavailable for many tourists who only see the state from a tour bus, many locals retreat to the hideaway for camping, hunting and ATVing. Of course a trip to Alaska wouldn’t be complete without a world class salmon fishing trip and a moose hunt! The fishing trip was a success and left us with plenty of salmon to eat for the rest of our stay. As winter set in on the interior of Alaska, we were able to experience our first snow and experience a true COLD. At -42 F (a “chilly” day in Fairbanks) the way of life changes. With the cold temperatures left a beautiful frost on every tree in sight.
The drive back to Texas via the Alaskan-Canadian Highway (AKA…The Alcan) was more spectacular than the drive north. With the potential for hazardous conditions, we were blessed with mild weather and better road conditions and a drive home that would leave us with memories that will last a lifetime.
I can’t thank Jeff and Health Carousel Travel Nursing for this opportunity and look forward to a partnership that leads us on more adventures like this one!