I’ve always thought about visiting Alaska, so when my wife shared an upcoming voyage itinerary with me, I was intrigued to say the least. There’s beautiful wildlife, ancient culture, and almost alien environments in America’s largest yet least populated state.

Everything seemed to line up perfectly for us to take a Lindblad expedition to Alaska in August, so we said yes. We would need to fly through Seattle and Atlanta on our journey, so we decided to visit friends in each city. The only rule I made for this trip was to order salmon every time I could…because I love salmon, and that’s what I associate Alaska with.

Stress from long security lines and covid testing aside, we arrived in Juneau relatively smoothly. We had a quick tour of the city (town?) of Juneau, where we learned more about the history and landscapes of the area, as well as a Native American demonstration about the Tlingit and Haida cultures. We also learned about 5 types of salmon, represented by each finger. This was important to my own personal salmon challenge:

  • Thumb → Chum (rhyming, got it)

  • Pointer → Sockeye (imagine poking someone’s eye?)

  • Middle → King (tallest finger)

  • Ring → Silver

  • Pinky → Pink

Off to a great start! On this expedition, we’d explore the ABC Islands (Admiralty, Baranof, and Chichagof), viewing wildlife and experiencing different biomes, all while being guided by Nat Geo naturalists.

When it comes to wildlife, this trip was up there with our Kenyan safari. In the air, we saw a ton of bald eagles and other birds. On land, we spotted deer and bears (both brown and black!), as well as plenty of little critters like banana slugs…someone on our trip licked a banana slug. And the water was the real wildlife highlight, where we saw adorable otters, massive whales, barking seals (aka sea sausages), and mustachioed sea lions that got a little too close for my liking.

One of the most memorable experiences was visiting a glacier. As it was calving, we watched and heard in awe.

And the plant life was both varied and amazing. The soft, spongy ground we walked on reminded us that we were in a rainforest, albeit a much colder one than the stereotypical tropical rainforest. On one of my favorite hikes, we followed bear tracks and foraged for berries, including wild strawberries and nagoon berries.

Life onboard was pretty luxurious. Every day there was at least one salmon dish, everything was spotless, and the crew was super attentive. A++

At the end of the trip, I’d had baked salmon, grilled salmon, salmon chowder, smoked salmon, salmon puffs, salmon flakes, and salmon patties. AND we saw salmon spawning at the end of our trip, hiking around Sitka, which was kind of bananas – thousands of big fish right up next to each other, fighting to lay their eggs.

On the way back, we visited friends and family in Seattle and Atlanta, again enjoying the reconnection with folks we hadn’t seen in a long time by overnighting in each place.

Overall, the trip was incredible, with breathtaking nature all around us on our week-long ship voyage, surrounded by waterfalls in the various fjords and national parks. Going in with few expectations, our Alaska expedition was a great way to kick off the post-road trip phase of travel.

Next up – international travel!