Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Let's just start off by saying that if you're the type of traveler that likes all the luxuries of the finest hotels and B&B's, then the "Get Up and Go tours" is probably not for you. No room service (unless you include your partner), no jetted tubs, no huge living/dining areas, most had no AC (this is Alaska), and most had no TV!!! Those kinds of places do exist in the touristy parts of the state, but this was after all an adventure tour not a luxury tour.
Now that being said, every place we did stay was clean, quiet, and had everything we needed to be comfortable (hot water and a comfortable bed!) A couple of the places were basically nice motels with nice amenities - one even had an indoor pool and a hot tub which we got back too late and were too tired to even think about using! A couple were cabins, again basic, but very nice. One set of cabins was along side of a fast running stream and each had it's own deck, (Yes a deck!) where our group would congregate for our "happy hour". (see Life is Good!)
My personal favorite was an OLD hotel named "Ma Johnson's Hotel" in a LITTLE town called McCarthy, which by the way is pretty much a ghost town. I loved McCarthy!!! But first a little description of our experiences leading up to this town. We arrived at McCarthy via 2 small bush planes that flew over some of Alaska's most beautiful landscapes - rugged mountains, with goats clinging to the jagged rocks and low lying glacier ponds, several that had moose feeding in them. Upon approaching our destination, our pilot flew us past deserted copper mines - structures built where only the goats should have been and the ghost mining town of Kennicott, 5 miles from McCarthy. McCarthy actually came into existence because the mine owners didn't allow alcoholic beverages and partying. So McCarthy sprang up out of need for saloons and women! Anyway, back to our introduction to this little town.
When we set down at the airport, a grass strip just long enough to land a small plane and a shack where mail was brought to to be flown out 2x a week. The pilot told us we'd find an ATV trail at the end of the runway and to follow it to town. He assured us we couldn't miss it. Roughly a mile later we came upon a couple of very rustic cabins (I'm being nice here) with junk sitting around everywhere and dogs that wandered out to greet us. Oh! Oh! What have we gotten ourselves into. (BTW, our guide was not with us at this point. He was driving our van in across 60+ miles of very rough dirt "road".) With nervous laughter and jokes about our situation we reached town. Two dirt roads with roughly a two dozen buildings most which looked long deserted. However, a couple of the buildings had been restored: Ma Johnson's Hotel and the saloon across the street!!! Yeah!!! What a surprise they turned out to be!!!! The hotel had few amenities including no outlets in the rooms and we needed to share baths, but the place was fantastic! It was like stepping back a hundred years (except that we had running water in our shared baths) and everything was beautifully restored. The innkeeper and the women who worked at the front desk were extremely friendly and helpful. It was perfect!!!
We stayed at Ma Johnson's 3 nights. Each night our group sat out on the hotel porch, drank our wine and brandy, and laughed and told stories under a beautiful stary night, truly out in the middle of nowhere!!! The one night Glor and I even gave line dance instructions out on the dirt road in front of the hotel! lol! OH! and it was here that we also got to experience our first Aurora Borelis - a living maganificent spiritual display that just filled us with awe!
In addition to the hotel being perfect, so was the saloon. The saloon is the hangout for the guides and the locals that somehow appear out of nowhere! It's always a party there and the food was outstanding!!!
I need to quickly finish this up and I have yet to mention the food other than the saloons. Lunches were supplied by "Get Up and Go" and consisted of packed lunches that we packed ourselves. The selection of food was very adequate and even included items liked smoked salmon. Breakfasts and Suppers were eaten at the saloons, restaurants and in 2 cases in the motels themselves. Everywhere we went we had outstanding meals. My favorites included the local fare of salmon, halibut and reindeer sausage. Is it any wonder that I didn't lose weight on this adventure!!!
Yep, Life was good in Alaska!
to be continued