Alaska and Squamish, British Columbia

Leaving the O-H, we began our trek towards Squamish, British Columbia. Several events had us heading into Canada. The first being our amigos Kim and Justin. These crazy kids were planning on running a 50 mile ultra trail run through the wilderness of Squamish. This race was no joke, and we were glad we could be there to cheer them on and drink celebratory beers. 

While in Squamish, we were able to camp together in the middle of a lush, coastal rainforest. Much of the visit to Squamish was dedicated to the race, but we did sneak in a visit to a waterfall and a quick visit to the Whistler area. 

Parting ways, Justin and Kim headed into WA, and Nick and I headed towards Vancouver to get a boarding situation figured out for Buford. Next up for the Couts, a family trip to AK. Nicks parents have always wanted to visit Alaska, and decided on a cruise of the inside passage.  The plan was to leave the van and Buford in Vancouver, and fly into Anchorage to meet his parents. 

The cruise of the inside passage took us from Seward, to Hubbard Glacier, to Juneau, to Icy Straight Point, to Skagway and then Ketchikan. Each stop allowed us one day to explore the area, which was a little tough on all of us. We like to try and create our own experiences, and it was hard to do with thousands of other people on board. 

We drove into Seward, after flying into Anchorage and had some time to check out Kenai Fjords National Park. In the park, we were able to hike right on up to Exit Glacier, which is derived from the Harding Icefield in the Kenai Mountains. If we had more time, the 4 mile trek up the Harding Trail would have been on our list. Julie, Nicks mom, and Britt were able to get their Junior Ranger Badges and swore to share the news of climate change and glacier recession. 

The following day was mostly spent on sea, with an hour "layover" checking out the Hubbard Glacier. The glacier was hard to take in, as it was so massive and intense in color. As chunks of ice fell from the glacier (calving), loud thunderous crashes echoed through the mountains. Pretty rad.

Waking up, we learned that numerous people had spotted the Northern Lights during the night. We kicked ourselves and swore to stay out that night to look for them. Later that day, we arrived in Juneau, and set out to explore the Mendenhall Glacier. Arriving at the glacier, we were surprised to also see a 377 foot waterfall "Nugget Falls". The day was spent checking out the area, and then staying up late to try and spot the aurora, with no luck. 

There wasn't much going down in Icy Straight Point, but it was one of the more "authentic" stops we took. After landing, we walked about a mile into town and ran into a local who we got to talking with. An hour was spent just hanging out near the water, talking about local and national government, and what life was like growing up in Alaska.

Skagway was our groups most favorite stop, as it was rich in history and in beauty. Skagway is home to the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, and the White Pass and Yukon Railroad. Julie and Britt were able to snag their junior ranger badges and as well the Parks 100 year anniversary badges.  Midday we came across a tour company heading up into the Yukon, and lucked out with a pretty cool guide who loved sharing his knowledge of the foraging of local, edible plants.

One of our last stops was Ketchikan. While here, we were able to spot hundreds of salmon swimming upstream, and even a seal who was taking advantage of the easy dinner. One of our favorite stops included Totem Bight State Historical Park, which houses 14 Native American Totem Poles, and a Clan House for visitors to explore. 

While the whole family agreed we are not "cruisers", it was fun to try to something new, spend time with family, and catch a glimpse at the last frontier. Nick and Britt are hoping to return to Alaska in the summer of 2017, with the van and Buford - something that's been on our list for quite awhile.