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.

Princess cruise ship docked at Ketchikan
Float plane tours are available all over Alaska
Sunset arrives over Denali at 11 pm
Bob shooting video on location in Denali
All year sports are available in spectacular Girdwood
Alyeska Hotel mountain lodge is martini heaven
Spectacular Hatcher Pass near Wasilla
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.

Whales can be seen in Prince William Sound
Hubbard Glacier is a prime cruise ship visit
The colors of Hubbard Glacier are a fantastic sight
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.

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.

The bald eagle can be seen everywhere
A blond grizzly bear watches her young cub
A bull moose enjoys the plentiful summer grazing
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.

Alaska must be seen from the air
Bob flies as co-pilot with in a K2 Turbo Otter
Cockpit view of the Denali Range is stunning
At 14,000′ for a closer view of Mt. McKinley
Bob’s dramatic glacier landing experience
Mt. McKinley reveals it’s startling mass
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.

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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."