Bob’s True-Life Adventures – No.2 2009 Alaska

Written by Bob Gurr. Posted in Bob Gurr, Bob's True-Life Adventures, Features

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Published on February 19, 2014 at 2:00 am with 7 Comments

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From time to time, Bob Gurr shares a past adventure with us. The destination and the year is up to fate. Today’s Wheel of Adventures has stopped at 2009 in Alaska . . . and off we go . . .

Make sure you have a visit to Alaska on your bucket list. This is the one place in America not to be missed. It’s a vast place with few highways providing an array of vistas best seen by air and water. Still, much of Alaska’s spectacular areas can easily be enjoyed by a road trip with side day trips by excursion boat, land and float plane. Two main ways to reach Alaska are by large sea cruise ships embarking from Vancouver Canada, and by airline to the major city of Anchorage.

Bob’s Alaska from Bob Gurr on Vimeo.

After a previous August 2005 Alaskan Cruise, I flew to Anchorage in June 2009 to begin a highway exploration north to Denali, the gateway to Mt. McKinley after first sampling some adventures in the Anchorage area. Not only did I enjoy much scenic photography, I also wanted to produce an Alaska travel video to capture the stunning and dramatic experiences to share with friends. You can see this video by visiting https://vimeo.com/gurriniworld to view Bob’s Alaska.

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Princess cruise ship docked at Ketchikan

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Float plane tours are available all over Alaska

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Sunset arrives over Denali at 11 pm

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Bob shooting video on location in Denali

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All year sports are available in spectacular Girdwood

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Alyeska Hotel mountain lodge is martini heaven

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Spectacular Hatcher Pass near Wasilla

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Independence Silver Mine ruins

Anchorage is a large sea level city surrounded by high mountains and numerous fjords and glaciers, with a number of easy day trips reachable by highway. On day one I drove to Girdwood, an all year sports mecca, to ride a cable gondola up to a mountain peak cocktail lounge with a most glorious view to enjoy a sundown martini. Next day’s outing was a cruise on the Klondike Express thru Prince William Sound for a full day’s viewing of many glaciers, whale sightings, sea otters, and birdlife. Seward was another road adventure thru high mountains to go hiking on Exit Glacier on a very warm summer day.

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Whales can be seen in Prince William Sound

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Hubbard Glacier is a prime cruise ship visit

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The colors of Hubbard Glacier are a fantastic sight

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Exit Glacier crevasses have a bright blue ice color

Before heading north to Denali, I went for a flight in a Cessna 205 floatplane to view the wider Anchorage area by air, and also rented a bike for a 20 mile ride along the Anchorage sea coast forest, in addition to hours of local sightseeing walks. While one can stay in a hotel, you really should stay a few days at one of the plentiful B&Bs to get to know real Alaskans. Also one should take many hikes thru the local bird preserves for an even deeper Alaskan nature experience like I did.

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A very rare cloudless 20,320′ Mt. McKinley

 

On the way to Denali there are spectacular mountainside roads such as the green Hatcher Pass to explore the old Independence Silver Mine ruins. Among the scattered ruins was an old electric Mancha Mine Locomotive, the exact model that we used at Disneyland on the 1956 Rainbow Caverns Mine Train Ride. I made a stop at the Wasilla Transportation Museum filled with antique agricultural railroad, and mining equipment.

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The bald eagle can be seen everywhere

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A blond grizzly bear watches her young cub

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A bull moose enjoys the plentiful summer grazing

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Mother moose can find underwater tasty grass

Another stop on the way to Denali is the interesting village of Talkeetna, home of K2 Aviation where I experienced the most absolutely glorious airplane sightseeing flight of my 70 years of flying!  Boarding a 10 passenger DeHavilland Turbo Otter, I was invited by the pilot to join him in the cockpit. This would allow me to shoot the video scenes of fabulous Mt. McKinley (Watch the video below to fully enjoy this flight with me). Words cannot describe the emotion of viewing the majestic Mt. McKinley from the air close up, then landing on a nearby glacier. Stepping out of the plane into a blinding white totally silent wilderness just took my breath away.

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Alaska must be seen from the air

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Bob flies as co-pilot with in a K2 Turbo Otter

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Cockpit view of the Denali Range is stunning

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At 14,000′ for a closer view of Mt. McKinley

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Bob’s dramatic glacier landing experience

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Mt. McKinley reveals it’s startling mass

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Mt. McKinley in a closer view

 

Continuing on to Denali, the scenery gradually becomes ever more beautiful. After a restful night in a tiny log cabin, I was off for an all day bus excursion with Denali Tours, the only way to reach the main extent of the park. http://www.alaskadenalitravel.com/ This tour stops every time we see any wildlife, since it’s designed for nature photographers. I saw grizzly bears, moose, elk, deer, beavers, all sorts of birds etc. But the highlight was the gradual approach to Mt. McKinley – the mountain got bigger and bigger with each mile until we were quite near the north side. Almost cloud free, it’s a sight I’ll never forget – ground based from the north and viewed from 14,000′ from the south. I enjoyed such a long wonderful Alaskan summer day celebrating sunset at 11 o’clock in the evening.

Alaska just has to be on YOUR bucket list.

About Bob Gurr

Bob Gurr is a true Disney legend who was hired on to design the Autopia for Disneyland. Over nearly four decades, Bob would become famous for developing the Monorails, Submarines, Flying Saucers, antique cars and double-decker buses of Main Street, Ford Motor Company's Magic Skyway (at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair), Omnimover ride system, Matterhorn and lots more. It has been said that if it moves, Bob probably played a part. Upon leaving Imagineering in 1981, Bob worked on a number of "leisure-time spectaculars" and "fantastical beasts" for parks and developments all over the world. Most notably, he created King Kong and Conan's Serpent for Universal Studios Hollywood, A UFO for the closing ceremonies of the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics, and the memorable T-Rex figure featured in Steven Spielberg's motion picture "Jurassic Park." You can find Bob's column, Design: Those Were The Times, right here on MiceChat. Though don't pin Bob down to a schedule, he's busy being "retired."

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7 Comments

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  1. Wow! Incredibly beautiful photos and video. My husband, I and the kids went to Alaska five years ago and are now inspired to go again! Thank you so much…What beautiful pictures to wake up to.

  2. We are just now planning a MiceChat Disney cruise to Alaska. I wasn’t thrilled about it until I read this article. Thank you Mr. Bob!!! I can’t wait to see those blue glaciers. Amazing.

  3. I’ve never considered Alaska a “must do” until I watched your video, Bob. Truly gorgeous nature, plus all of those sea planes and that awesome mine! The mountaintop martini bar is a must do. I’m sold!

    Bob has another video posted that’s a tour of Garner Holt’s animatronic shop, hosted by Garner Holt himself. Not sure if I missed its posting on MiceChat, but it’s definitely worth a watch! Here’s the link: https://vimeo.com/87023039

    Thanks for the videos Bob, and a bit of mid-week Wednesday inspiration!

  4. Another great article with fantastic photos Bob! We loved our trip to Alaska. We took a flight to a glacier as well, but by helicopter. I’m not sure I would go for a plane landing too well.

  5. Great photos. Went to Alaska as teenager in 1970. Will have to dig out my slide projector and look at those photos again. Two memories that are still vivid was seeing a beaver dam and lodge for myself and knowing that an animal capable of building such things was not just a fantasy from Disney’s “Beaver Valley” true life adventure film. The other was seeing 3 of Boeing’s brand new giant 747′s for the first time side by side by side at Anchorage Airport. Not to pick up or drop of passengers but as a refueling stop for PanAm flights between Europe and Asia over the North Pole.

  6. Bob it’s great to hear that you had such a wonderful trip to Alaska. As someone who has lived in Alaska my entire life, I love hearing perspectives from visitors. I would recommend that you travel farther north next time, though. We’ve got lots to see in Fairbanks and beyond!

  7. Absolutely beautiful photography thank you for sharing Bob