AUWPS: Alaska Ultimate Wildlife Photo Safari
Day -1: I flew Alaska Airlines from Sacramento to Fairbanks with a stop in Seattle. Alaska Airlines is good on legroom and adjustable headrests, but lousy on boarding: as a infrequent non-elite flyer sitting in a row numbered 5-19, I always boarded last. People needing extra time, first class, active service military, elite milage club members, rows 20-35 (or whatever the highest row number was)—all were on board before me. There was always a good chance that there would be no overhead luggage space left by the time I boarded. And I was not keen to gate-check my photo gear.
Despite a long delay in Seattle, Natural Habitat's guide was at the airport in Fairbanks to transfer participants to our hotel. Unexpectedly nice! Somewhat unnerving though, was the smoke in the air. Alaska was very much on fire. And in that much uninhabited wild space, fires are left to burn themselves out.
Day 0: A few of us early arrivals took advantage of Eric's (our guide) offer to drop us off at the University of Alaska/Fairbanks' Museum of the North. Quite a place! The architecture is modern; some say it looks like a while whale. Eric refers to it lovingly as The Beluganheim.
Day 0 - The Museum of the North
Upon returning to town, we enjoyed lunch at The Crepery, a highly rated crêpe restaurant across the street from our hotel. It was the #1 restaurant in Fairbanks, according to TripAdvisor.
Day 1: We gathered for a pre-departure briefing before breaking bread for dinner at The Springhill Suites' restaurant, Lavelle's Bistro. It was our first official bonding experience: couple from California, a couple from Colorado, a pair of active birders from Sweden, two vacationing NatHab'ers from Boulder, a Peruvian, and me.
Natural Habitat's Alaska Ultimate Wildlife Photo Safari / June 26, 2015 Departure was officially underway. Each running of this trip, like snowflakes, is unique. The subsequent posts serve only to chronicle what I remember of the trip I was on. YMMV!