A mere two weeks after returning from our ski trip to Colorado, we were off to the slopes once again! This time our destination was the Okemo ski resort (pronounced Oh-key-mo) in Vermont, with a large group of friends from Tom’s choir. Just over 30 of us converged on the charming little town of Ludlow late on the Friday night, mostly driving up after work. Tom actually organised the whole thing – car-pool arrangements, the accommodation (we took over an entire establishment, the charming Homestyle Hostel), our group dinner reservation, even the lift passes – and it was a resounding success.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten to tell you about all sorts of interesting New York things lately, but it seems like 2018 so far has been all about the travel. After our trip to New Orleans Tom spent 10 days in England for work, then almost as soon as he got home he was off again, this time on his annual jolly (sorry, conference) in Las Vegas. As in previous years, we took advantage of his being out west as an excuse for a holiday, so I flew over to join him after the conference was over for a few days of skiing in Colorado.
I have been trying to persuade Tom that we should go to New Orleans for at least five years, but for some reason he wasn’t at all interested. At long last, a conference meant that I finally managed to get us there, and we both had a lovely time. Late January seems to be a good time to visit – apart from one day of torrential rain the weather was fairly mild, and despite being there over a weekend during the run-up to Mardi Gras the city wasn’t too packed with tourists – and I was particularly thrilled by how walkable it was.
… your road system is ridiculously over-complicated and supremely unpleasant to navigate: twisty connecting ramps on multiple levels, exits every few yards, and the need to change lanes repeatedly in order to avoid being spun off to goodness-knows-where. And that’s not to mention the fact that everyone drives horribly. Seriously, it all makes driving in New Jersey look positively civilised.
I could write posts and posts about our Alaska cruise, but I’m trying not to! In the interests of not boring everyone senseless, I’ve condensed the entire week into this single account, itself a lightly-edited version of the brief notes I took each day. We sailed with Princess cruises from Anchorage (Whittier) south through the inside passage to Vancouver, past the glaciers of Yakutat bay and Glacier Bay national park, stopping at Haines, Juneau and Ketchikan, and then caught the decidedly unglamorous but perfectly convenient Greyhound bus down to Seattle for a cheaper flight home to Newark.
Along the way we saw harbour seals and Steller sea lions, Pacific white-sided dolphins, humpback whales and a lone orca, and, magically, the Northern Lights. We shared a dinner table with some extremely nice people, and met all kinds of fellow travellers around the ship. We ate lots of food, drank plenty of cocktails, and generally had a lovely time – looking through my notes and photos is making me wish I was back there right now!
Friday September 1st was going to be our big day out at the Alaska State Fair, until we checked our tickets and realised that it didn’t actually open until noon. Luckily this happened the night before, so we had time to choose another local attraction to visit in the morning – the Independence gold mine. (We very nearly didn’t make it there either thanks to a Google mapping snafu, but happily the wonders of mobile technology set us back on track.) Continue reading
Denali National Park is particularly concerned with preserving as much land as possible in a pristine wilderness condition. Consequently, there are only a handful of areas within the park boundaries that visitors are permitted to access, and across its 6 million acres there is just a single 92 mile-long road, only the first 15 miles of which are paved. Visitors can travel the road by means of the park bus service, there are a handful of campsites along the way, and a few lucky individuals can take a backcountry hike with a ranger each day.