Michelle Theall


Calling all wildlife weekend warriors IF YOU WANT TO GET A QUINTESSENTIAL TASTE OF ALASKA, and you want to check a few items off your bucket list in a single weekend, point your car down the Seward Highway, a nationally designated scenic byway, and get your camera ready. The 127-mile trip from Anchorage to Seward can take over two hours (or four hours by train), but trust us, you’re going to want to stop along the way for the massive views, flora, fauna, glaciers, and waterfalls. That said, the drive is a mere appetizer plate for the main course of Seward. The first whets your appetite; the second sates you. POTTER MARSH Just as you’re leaving Anchorage (mile 117.4), park and explore the boardwalk over wetlands of Potter Marsh, a birder paradise that’s also rife with spawning salmon and marauding moose. Wooden paths stretch 1,550 feet along sedges and sloughs,…

Despite an economy driven by oil and commercial fishing, Valdez earns the moniker “Little Switzerland” honestly. The city of around 4,000 people rests in a deep fjord beneath the 5,000-foot peaks of the Chugach Mountains, with waterfalls cascading down lush green hillsides at every turn and calm, clear waters lapping along the small boat harbor of Port Valdez.

Denali looms out the window of our motor coach on the windy road to Talkeetna. It’s a welcome sight after driving through the haze and hot spots of the Sockeye Fire in Willow. We pull over at a rest stop to take photos of the peak while a local cross country ski team trains up and down the steep bike path using rollerskis and poles in the 80-degree heat. My 10-year old son has come with me on this trip, a seven-day Voyage of the Glaciers Princess cruise combined with their Denali Explorer land tour. Like most kids his age, Logan bores easily, and a little ADHD doesn’t help. The last time I was on a large cruise ship (somewhere in the Caribbean), I was his age. I don’t remember much about where we docked or what we did off the boat, but I loved the ship: It was massive…