The Rosy Wanderer

Wandering with a purpose

Category: Travel (page 2 of 2)

#TBT – Alaska

For this week’s #TBT (Travel Back Thursday), I bring you Alaska. One year ago, I made it to my 50th state. It was a major accomplishment for me in my life. A year and a half before, I made a goal to visit all 50 states by the time I was 30 with only 25 under my belt. A month after my 30th birthday, I made it to Alaska. The accumulation of planning and commitment, I achieved a goal that I thought would take me the majority of my adult life.

Mendenhall Glacier outside of Juneau, AK! WOW!

Mendenhall Glacier outside of Juneau, AK! WOW!

There are two ways to do Alaska: 1. by sea, 2. by land. I’ve heard land is amazing and what is highly recommended. Unfortunately, timing and the logistics wouldn’t work for for what I was planning; I opted for sea. As a victory celebration, I thought it would be fun to invite family and close friends to join me on an Alaskan adventure. A cruise ship would be the easiest way to plan this, as well as give each person the flexibility to design the trip to their interest. We could meet up for dinner in the evening and talk about what we experienced that day.

Life Lesson: when you have a chance to drink local - do.

Life Lesson: when you have a chance to drink local – do.

In the end, we had a group of 13 brave the great Alaskan Wilderness. I mean, it was much more adventurous than you think. We survived a bear attack, a sinking ship, and an earthquake.

Be Bear Aware! We survived a "bear attack" when we had to walk past the grizzly to get from the Musher camp to our bus. The first bear sighting of the season.

Be Bear Aware! We survived a “bear attack” when we had to walk past the grizzly to get from the Musher camp to our bus. The first bear sighting of the season.

 

 

 

 

 

I’d say we roughed it. The Crown Princess (Princess Cruise Lines) took us from Seattle, WA, to Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Victoria (Canada). It was absolutely amazing! We didn’t have long at each stop, so that is one reason to do a land trip. Just be careful, Juneau is the only US capital that is not connected to the rest of the state by a car. You can get there by air, sea, and birth canal (thanks to our tour guide for that funny joke!) It’s a big state, so make sure to plan any driving trips prior to arriving…

I didn’t realize it when booking, but May was a wonderful time to go. The mountains still have snow on the top; if I got to Alaska and didn’t see snow, I know I would have been upset. I originally wanted to go in April for the birthday, but cruises only leave from May until September. I imagine fall is a beautiful time to visit.

One of the most mind-blowing experiences about Alaska has sunk in more since I returned home than I could process while I was there. In most of the continental US, we are used to very populated areas. There are buildings, signs, roads, and other man-made items almost everywhere we look. Alaska is virtually untouched. There are no man-made items for our mind to recognize to put size in proportion.

What kind of blue is that? Windex Blue! They don't look that big until you see the boat next to it.

What kind of blue is that? Windex Blue! They don’t look that big until you see the boat next to it.

Driving down the road, you see other cars, billboards, and buildings to show you how big a hill or mountain is. In Alaska, you don’t have that to scale. Sailing down the Inner Passage, there are rolling hills on either side, but it wasn’t until we passed an equally large cruise ship that they looked like mountains.

OVERALL

I’m really glad we did Alaska by sea for the first trip. We didn’t see much of the state, but we saw amazing landscapes, and it gave us the flexibility we needed for the trip. The inner passage is gorgeous, and I hope to visit it again.

Two lessons learned (besides staying longer):

  1. Get a balcony window. There is too much to watch in the inner passage. It’s not like sailing to the Caribbean where you see ocean for most of the time. This cruise provides opportunities to watch for animals and the shore line.

    The water was as clear as glass throughout the entire voyage.

    The water was as clear as glass throughout the entire voyage.

  2. On the visit to Tracey Arm Fjord, do the excursion to take a boat to the glacier. I can only imagine how amazing that would be from sea level.
    Tracey Arm Fjord. This was something that I didn't even know existed! We were lucky to get so close.

    Tracey Arm Fjord. This was something that I didn’t even know existed! We were lucky to get so close.

    Some more pictures for fun..

Even though it was May, it definitely wasn't a warm-weather adventure.

Even though it was May, it definitely wasn’t a warm-weather adventure.

I desperately wanted to see a puffin, but no such luck. I LOVED this sign!

I desperately wanted to see a puffin, but no such luck. I LOVED this sign!

I am not a big beer drinker, but I love flights at microbreweries. It's always great to sample! (This is from Skagway Brewing Company)

I am not a big beer drinker, but I love flights at microbreweries. It’s always great to sample! (This is from Skagway Brewing Company)

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MUSH! Sitting on a dog sled. I almost packed my winter boots for this...good thing I didn't!

MUSH! Sitting on a dog sled. I almost packed my winter boots for this…good thing I didn’t!

Victoria, British Columbia. Stunning.

Victoria, British Columbia. Stunning.

 

Welcome to Music City. Welcome to Nashville, TN!

IMG_0868One of my inspirations for this blog was travel. I love to travel, and I have had so many amazing experiences that it is selfish of me not to share those with people. Therefore, stay tuned for more #TBT – Travel Back Thursday – where I will share previous wanders. I travel mostly with friends, but I also travel alone. I love to talk about travel and get suggestions, so please leave them in the comments section!

In mid-April, I went to Nashville with my friend, Cathy, to celebrate my birthday. This was my second trip there, but my first with a friend. When I travel alone, I don’t go to bars or go out late…all of which makes Nashville the exciting place it is.

TRIP OVERVIEW

  • How to get there: it’s only a 6 hour drive from Charlotte, and with a limited number of direct flights, we decided it would be best to drive. It was nice to have a car, but we only used it to go out to Bellmeade and the Hermitage.
  • Where to stay: we used AirBnB to stay at a house in Germantown. Much more discussion to come on this. It was my first AirBnB experience, and I can’t say enough good things about it! Great location, great people, and great facility.
  • Where to eat: Yum, yum. We had delicious meals in Nashville. I’ll list them below, but follow me on Yelp as “The Rosy Wanderer.” I’m a big Yelper and leave reviews of everywhere I eat when I travel.
  • What to do: one of the best parts of Nashville is there is a lot to do, but it changes over time. This is a place I can see myself visiting often and no matter how old I am. There is great history, music, and various events. If you enjoy country music, then there is always something to do. That being said, I’m sure there are non-country hangouts, but who would want to do that? Our goal was to listen to good music and see the city. Mission accomplished.

THE DETAILS

The Hermitage  We decided to do a long weekend. On our drive to Nashville, we stopped at the Hermitage, which is where Andrew Jackson (7th president of the United States) lived before becoming president and after he left office. I love history and have been reading presidential biographies for the last year or two in order of dates in office. Jackson was a rouIMG_0992gh character and his wife, Sarah, died shortly before he became president. Because of this, I didn’t have high expectations for The Hermitage, but not only did it exceed my expectations in elegance, but it was one of the best preserved historic houses I have ever visited! A lot of former president’s homes from this time and other pre-Civil War houses are restored to look like that time. Because Tennessee was the last state to secede from the Union and the first to be conquered, very little damage was done in state. On top of that, Union and Confederate forces agreed early on not to used The Hermitage for anything out of respect to President Jackson. AMAZING! This house was insanely elegant with rich tapestries, beautiful chandeliers, and original wallpaper from the early 1800s. Not bad for Old Hickory.

Tin Pan South  When we arrived to our house, we met Taylor who just re-branded herself as @HeyParkerMcKay. What a voice! Anyway, as she gave us a suggestion to attend an event for Tin Pan South. This is a week long festival where song writers perform their songs that were picked up my major
performers. Sounded right up our alley, and it was. The second night of performances, we listed to the cast of ABC’s Nashville. This is one of our favorite TV shows, and there are just no words to express how cool of an experience this was. The venues are small and intimate – and we met Chris Carmack who plays Will Lexington. Umm…yeah. That was awesome, and he was so nice. That’s great to see someone be so nice to his fans.

Touring Downtown and Belle Meade  When I travel to a new place, I like to walk around. Each city and town has its own energy. We had breakfast at the Frothy Monkey then walked around downtown. We got to see the state capitol (you have to be slightly nerdy to travel with me). It was a beautiful building, but it was closed on Saturday. My inner-history nerd was very excited to see this statue of President Jackson. This is the statue you see on many documentaries about him. IMG_0922

We then drove to Belle Meade, a beautiful section of Nashville where the average income is almost $200,000 annually. The mansions lining the roads were gorgeous. The area is named after the historic Belle Meade Plantation, which is a historic site and winery. IMG_0924The house was home to the Harding and Jackson (not the president) families. They were well known for breeding horses. An interesting fact is that all Triple Crown winners (or close to all) descended from their line of horses. Pretty amazing. We even got to see a Civil War cannon shot. BOOM! After touring the house, we visited the winery and sat outside on a beautiful afternoon. What a relaxing and enjoyable visit.

THE TAKEAWAY

Overall, Nashville is a place everyone should visit. I love it because it is a place for people of all ages. I have to assume that being above the legal drinking age makes it more fun, but there is something for everyone.  Anything from history to honky tonks – makes for a great weekend visit!

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