So, a long time ago (back in April, 2010) we started to plan a cruise to Alaska. Last month, it was time to make it happen!
We left on Wednesday, May 25. takaza and I worked a half-day, and then his mom was kind enough to drive us to Milwaukee Airport (and keep an eye on Buddy while we were gone). We had a 2:10 PM flight on Frontier Airlines, our first time flying with the carrier. We upgraded our seats to “Classic Plus” on all legs; it was probably too expensive, but it was worth the perks, especially guaranteed seating in the “Stretch” section of the plane. Four inches doesn’t sound like a lot, but it can make all the difference in the world when you’re flying 8 hours! Among other benefits, we were able to use the “Best Care Club” at Milwaukee Airport while waiting for our flight, and we had priority boarding, which was utterly awesome since it meant we were usually the first passengers to set foot on the plane (yay for always having overhead bin space!).
The 2.5 hour flight to Denver was uneventful. I liked the DirecTV at each seat; it distracted me enough through our flights that I didn’t use the iPad that Rustitobuck had so kindly let me borrow for the trip. Once we got to Denver, things looked bad – first our flight to Anchorage was delayed a little, then a lot, then back to on time. It turns out that our plane (which was coming from Chicago, irony of ironies) had a mechanical problem, so they provided us with a new plane.
The five-and-a-half hour flight to Anchorage was fine, but a little long. The Anchorage Airport was OK as well, though it seemed a bit of a maze to the unfamiliar traveler. We took a cab to our accommodations: Earth Bed and Breakfast. On the way, we passed a crowded park filled with people walking around and enjoying the lovely weather…except it was 10 PM and as bright as if it were 3 PM.
So, how was our stay at the B&B? I’m going to cheat and copy the review that I posted to TripAdvisor, since that covers everything.
How can I give a high rating and yet not everyone in our group enjoyed our stay? It’s very simple – our expectations and reality were different. I have encountered two types of B&Bs: the first is similar to a small luxury inn, the second is more like staying with relatives. Earth B&B is definitely the latter, but our group was hoping for the former. This is not Lori and Ronda’s fault at all! They were impeccable hosts – friendly and accommodating (heck, Lori mentioned she could have driven us to Seward, which probably would have been a much more interesting trip than the train ride we took there!).
The rooms were spotless and the beds were comfortable. The living room was comfortable and a pleasant place to chat with friends. The breakfasts had a nice variety of cold foods and a home-baked bread each morning. If pressed for something negative to say, it was mentioned by some of our group that better room-darkening curtains/shades would have been appreciated as they acclimated from Eastern Time to Alaska Time. This is relatively minor, though.
Part of the problem was that we had two groups of three and my partner and I, plus another couple we didn’t know, all sharing two bathrooms. This can get a little cozy, and when you’re trying to get everyone rolling in the morning can introduce significant delays. As long as you understand that there is one bathroom to share between two rooms downstairs and another bathroom to share between two rooms upstairs (the third upstairs room has its own bathroom) and are comfortable with that, you’ll do just fine.
In summary: Earth B&B offers incredibly good room rates, great rooms and comfortable beds in a welcoming environment. As long as you are OK sharing a bathroom (or can get the Mt. St. Elias room, which has a private bathroom), I would recommend them highly!
Roho, Genet, Rhene, Karwood, Brophey, and Rasslor stayed at the B&B with us (those six people, in two rooms – you can see why it was a bit cramped!). The change in time zones hit several of us hard, particularly Roho and Genet (and Rhene, who was from Denmark – I don’t even know how he managed to stay awake!). Once everyone was awake and rolling, though, we walked the 8 blocks or so downtown. We passed a huge number of tourist joints selling many and varied Alaska-themed tchochkes, all made in China.
Our first target was the Official Iditarod Store. Unfortunately, we were disappointed to find it in a dying mall. It was pretty sad, too. There was a limited amount of unique race-related stuff – mostly just generic crap that they had printed “Iditarod” onto. Dan picked up a few trinkets and we moved on.
We were joined for lunch by Roman and Austin at Sack’s Cafe’, the first of a series of excellent restaurants that Yelp helped guide us to. After lunch we walked around a bit more, but my foot was starting to bother me so we split up and I went to Humpy’s with Roman and Austin, where we chatted and enjoyed inspecting their beer list. We were later joined by Karwood, Brophey, and Rasslor.
That’s all for now. Part 2, coming up soon!