There's No Place Like Nome DO: Ode to the Alaskan Midnight Sun (June 21-24, 2012)
Back by (overwhelmingly) popular demand, we're again making the wilds of Alaska accessible to FlyerTalkers worldwide.
Do #1, the 2009 Spring Break Do primarily organized by vysean, featured a wintertime railroad journey to Fairbanks and a warm soak under the Northern Lights at Chena Hot Springs.
Do #2, the 2010 Spring Break Do put on jointly by vysean and me, featured a fantastic tour of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport's airside operations and a relaxing beachfront condo getaway in Homer.
Do #3, the great 2010 127 Pounds of Cabbage Do, featured another tour of the airport plus an afternoon at the Alaska State Fair before journeying down to Seward for a whale of a time seeing ocean wildlife and calving glaciers. A subset of us continued on for an amazing two days in and around Denali.
Now we're at Do #4. We've headed north and south; now it's time to head west. Join us next summer at the end of the Iditarod Trail in Nome, Alaska!
Here's the tentative schedule:
Arrive in ANC on Wednesday, June 20 for a welcome reception dinner with BOB W and jackal.
Depart Anchorage Thursday, June 21 at 8:15am on the Alaska Railroad's Denali Star train. Pass through majestic Denali National Park, ending up in Fairbanks just in time to see the 107th Midnight Sun Baseball Classic--the traditional game played in the middle of the night without aid of artificial lights. (June 21st is the longest day of the year, and at the northerly latitude of nearly 65 degrees, the midnight dusk/dawn [they blend together; see the picture at the top of this post, which is from an actual Midnight Sun game] is more than light enough to hit a ball by.) One of ESPN's top 10 baseball events, Bobby Doerr called it the game "everybody should have the opportunity to come to." (If you can't make it to Anchorage by Wednesday night and join us on the train trip, be sure to get to Fairbanks by Thursday night so you don't miss the game.)
Spend the morning on Friday, June 22 enjoying the fine summer weather of Fairbanks before departing on Alaska Airlines in the afternoon back to Anchorage and then an epic journey to Nome via Kotzebue (above the Arctic Circle!).
(If you can't join us for the Fairbanks portion, make sure to be in Nome by 9:10am, on Alaska Airlines flight 151 from Anchorage to Nome via Kotzebue.)
Spend the day Saturday, June 23 learning about the 1898 Gold Rush and the epic 1925 serum run (on which the modern Iditarod race is based).
We'll return to Anchorage the next day, Sunday, when we'll hold the traditional Sunday afternoon barbecue at Casa de BOB W. Head home after that, or stay in town for a more extensive tour of Southcentral Alaska led by jackal and beckoa (beckoa says bring your fishing rods ).
PLEASE NOTE: We are providing the itinerary suggestions, but unless otherwise noted, you are responsible for planning and booking your own transportation and accommodation. We can help you with local expertise and ideas, but unless specified below, please arrange to get yourself to the arranged meeting points on your own (taxi, hotel shuttle, etc.).
Thursday, June 21st (summer solstice, the longest day of the year!)
7:15am: arrive at the historic art deco Anchorage depot in preparation for our morning departure
8:15am: depart for Fairbanks on the Alaska Railroad's Denali Star
Lunch available in the on-board dining car
8:00pm: arrive Fairbanks (transportation provided from railroad depot to Midnight Sun ballgame)
9:45pm: cutoff for arrival into Fairbanks for those making their own arrangements for arrival in Fairbanks (after this, you'll need to arrange your own transportation to the game)
10:30pm: 107th Midnight Sun Baseball Classic (Wikipedia; Alaska Goldpanners)
After game: Transportation to area hotels provided
Friday, June 22nd
Morning TBD Two Options:
For those who would like to go straight to Nome and sleep in the next morning:
You'll be riding with BOB W
Check with BOB W about breakfast plans or any other early morning plans and his van's schedule
11:40am: depart Fairbanks International Airport on Alaska Airlines flight 184 to Anchorage, arrive 1:04pm (transportation to airport provided)
Enjoy a leisurely layover in the Alaska Airlines Board Room, eat lunch at the world-renowned Humpy's (Concourse B), or hitch a ride (max 2 people) with BOB W for wine in exchange for rendering your services as a sous-chef to prep for Sunday's barbecue
5:10pm: depart Anchorage International Airport on Alaska Airlines flight 153 to Nome via Kotzebue (above the Arctic Circle!), arrive 8:10pm
Overnight at the Aurora Inn (see post #3 for booking details) or (backup) Nome Nugget Inn (all transportation in Nome provided)
For those who want to see Fairbanks and/or want to overnight on an award or at a points-earning hotel:
You'll be riding with jackal
We'll spend the morning and afternoon visiting the highlights of the Golden Heart City (details and pick-up times given the previous evening)
5:55pm: depart Fairbanks International Airport on Alaska Airlines flight 190 to Anchorage, arrive 6:55pm (transportation to airport provided)
Head to hotel of your choice (all major chains are represented in ANC)
Saturday, June 23rd For those taking option #2 above:
5:00am arrival at ANC
6:00am: depart Anchorage International Airport on Alaska Airlines flight 151 to Nome via Kotzebue (above the Arctic Circle!)
9:01am: arrive in Nome
11:00am: Midnight Sun Parade
12:00pm: Lunch on your own (Subway or other restaurants in downtown Nome)
1:00pm: Depart for Teller
7:00pm: arrive back in Nome, refresh at hotels
8:00pm: dinner at Husky (Yelp, Urbanspoon, Facebook)
TBD (Tour of Nome, wildlife and culture road trip to Council, Taylor, or Teller) (all transportation in Nome provided)
After dinner: return to hotels
Sunday, June 24th
9:47am: depart Nome for Anchorage on Alaska Airlines flight 151
11:12am: arrive Anchorage; brief stop in Board Room for soup and an Alaskan Amber
12:00pm: Limited transportation available to Costco, Carrs, and possibly the Brown Jug warehouse for purposes of acquiring side dishes and adult beverages
3:00pm: Casa de BOB W opened to the masses (food prep and set-up volunteers gratefully expected earlier than that )
4:00pm: Dinner Sunset: BOB W gets his house back
Monday, June 25th and beyond
Optional extension, but if anyone wants to stay, we'll guarantee you a good time!
-Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum
-Alaska Native Heritage Center
-Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center
-Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
-Mountain viewing (Denali) from Talkeetna
-Stay longer and we can help you plan some hikes, kayak trips, glacier cruises, flightseeing trips, and all manner of other things a real traveler might do in Alaska!
Standard fare: $210ow (group rate already booked, sorry)
GoldStar fare: $320ow
For all fares on Alaska Airlines (intrastate and interstate): our Group Discount Code is ECMG240. If you are flying Alaska Airlines, use this code, which should take 5% off of most base fares (some lower fares may not qualify).
FAI-ANC-OME: "Best Deal" fare: $309.20ai (using discount code on afternoon flight ANC and evening flight to OME, led by BOB W) or $335.40 (using discount code on evening flight to ANC, overnight in ANC, and morning flight to OME via OTZ, led by jackal); prices subject to change; both available for as low as 7,500 Alaska Airlines miles (miles can be purchased for $150, but make sure there is saver award space available before buying miles!). No need to book two awards for FAI-ANC and ANC-OME; a single intrastate award on AS allows routing through and/or a stopover in ANC.
OME-ANC: "Best Deal" fare: $212.45 (using discount code); available for as low as 7,500 Alaska Airlines miles (miles can be purchased for $150)
Check about booking a paid or award ticket Lower48-ANC-OME and back; fares may be reasonably priced if included in a multi-city itinerary originating out-of-state
Fairbanks Activities: Transportation in Fairbanks: 12-passenger vans (number of vans depends on the number in our party; each van is approximately $65/day, and the cost will be split evenly and payable to me) Hotel in Fairbanks: Book on your own. We will provide transportation to and from hotels within Fairbanks proper (i.e. not to Chena Hot Springs or B&Bs way out in the countryside) Fairbanks Midnight Sun Game tickets: http://www.goldpanners.com/Secure/20...n-game-ticket/ (on sale now--you are responsible for purchasing your own ticket!) Note: if that link doesn't work, try accessing the purchase link from here: http://www.goldpanners.com/MidnightSunGame/index.html
Nome Activities: Transportation in Nome: 15-passenger vans (number of vans depends on the number in our party; each van is $160/day, and the cost will be split evenly and payable to me. Failure to pay will result in you getting left in Council or Teller, approximately 80 miles from Nome. ) Suggested hotel in Nome: Aurora Inn; $170/night. Book on your own at http://www.aurorainnome.com/ or 907-443-3838/800-354-4606. Fallback option: Nome Nugget Inn. Book on your own at http://www.nomenuggetinnhotel.com/ or 1-877-443-2323/1-907-443-4189. See here for FTer review.
Please bring $15 per person to cover food 'n' stuff, plus one (well, more if you want ) of the following:
An appetizer or side dish of sorts valued at $15 (yes, we have Costco and real grocery stores in Anchorage if you need to buy something--see below)
A bottle of wine to share (or leave with Bob, over his objections )--we request that the wine value at least $15
$25 to "purchase" a bottle of wine from BOB W Cellars for consumption at the party
Menu supplied as part of the event:
Pork spare ribs and beef short ribs with a ginger, shoyu, brown sugar, and pineapple marinade a la beckoa
Caprese salad a la violist
Couscous & grilled veggie salad a la BOB W
Hot dogs and hamburgers
Alaskan cabbage coleslaw a la BOB W
Strawberry spinach salad a la AKronin
Ice-cold soft drinks (most likely no glacial ice this year )
For those choosing to bring a side dish instead of wine (or money to purchase wine from BOB W), we recommend dishes similar to the following:
Cold cuts tray
Case of Alaskan Amber (available at Costco) if you would rather drink beer than wine
We will be providing limited transportation from the airport to Costco and Carrs (the local grocery store) on Sunday for those who will need to pick up such side dishes or adult beverages
Alaska Airlines: 1-800-ALASKAAIR or http://www.alaskaair.com
Alaska Railroad: 1-907-265-2494 (Monday-Friday 7am-5pm & Saturday-Sunday 7am-4pm, Alaska time) or http://www.akrr.com
Suggested Fairbanks hotel: Anything within the city proper
Suggested Nome hotel: the Aurora Inn & Suites; $170 for a two-queen kitchenette. Fallback option: the Nome Nugget Inn (see here).
Hotel options in ANC
Closest to the airport: Millennium, Courtyard by Marriott, Quality Inn (and attached Econo Lodge), and Holiday Inn Express are on Spenard, just a few minutes from the airport. There is also a Comfort Suites and a Microtel on the frontage road just off International Airport Road.
All of the above have airport shuttles, though I do not know if they run 24 hours. The Comfort Suites is the newest, but the Courtyard, HIX, and Microtel are all new and fine; the Quality Inn and Econo Lodge used to be a Best Western and is older but well-maintained. The Millennium has a great setting on the Lake Hood seaplane base and is quite nice; it also retains some of its local character from the days it was known as the Regal Alaskan.
You also have your pick of chain properties in Midtown. These are all only an extra 5-7 minutes away from the airport, and all of those have free airport shuttles as well. These choices include (in order of distance) the Crowne Plaza, Marriott Fairfield, Motel 6 [very new and nice as far as Motel 6s go], Homewood Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, Marriott SpringHill Suites, Embassy Suites, and Marriott Residence Inn. The farthest one--the SpringHill Suites University Lake (different than the midtown SpringHill)--is only a 15-minute drive from the airport. I would feel comfortable recommending any of the above--all are in safe areas (safer than the closer ones on Spenard, actually) and are good, new properties.
If price at any of the chains is an issue (this is summer we're talking about), there are some non-chain properties that are decent and have airport shuttles. FlyerTalker ozstamps was quite impressed with the Executive Suite on Spenard, and the Puffin Inn's remodeled side (the deluxe rooms) is quite nice (though avoid the older side). The Puffin's owner, Jay, is a kick, too. They are both right across the street from the HIX on Spenard. I've seen many of my customers stay at the Coast International Inn or the Long House Alaskan Hotel (both on Lake Hood very close to the Millennium), and I've never heard anything negative about them, but they're unknown commodities to me. The Dimond Center hotel is on the south side of town, relatively far from the airport (a 15-minute drive) and in a commercial district with not much activity late at night, but it is a very nice property (huge rooms, jacuzzi tubs, HD TVs, etc.) with a free airport shuttle. It's also probably the closest hotel to BOB W's house.
Downtown will afford you the easiest access to the Alaska Railroad depot. Aside from the big four full-service places (Marriott [newest of the downtown options], Hilton [less than a five-minute walk from the depot], Sheraton, and the locally-owned four-star Hotel Captain Cook [probably the nicest and definitely the one with the most character]), there are some other lodging options downtown. There's a Clarion, a Hawthorn Suites, an older HoJo, and a run-down Ramada Limited on the chain side of things and a smattering of independent places. The decent independents downtown are not going to be cheap, but they do have some character. Check out the Historic Anchorage Hotel (next door to the Hilton), the Anchorage Grand, the Voyager Hotel (across from the Captain Cook), and the Copper Whale Inn. I'm probably missing a few, but do stay away from the Inlet Inn. (The Inlet Towers is completely different and reportedly decent, but I know absolutely nothing about it other than having driven by it.) Also avoid the Econo Inn, which is so crappy it lost the Econo Lodge franchise rights , and the Red Roof Inn, which looks new but is in a junky area. The Days Inn gets mixed reviews, too.
ANC in the summer can be a great value for point redemptions. But if you are not bound to hotel points, the above-mentioned non-chain properties are worth looking into.
If hotel price is a major concern and points aren't an option, PM me. I might have some connections I can use to get a little bit of a discount off of the high summer rates.
I also have a couple of B&Bs that I always recommend to people visiting. These are absolutely gorgeous properties that can be cheaper than many of the chain places:
FlyerTalk Evangelist, Ambassador: Information Desk &Alaska Airlines
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: ANC, MRI
Programs: Pure AS MVP Gold75K, AS BR lapsed, Maika`i Card, AGR, HH Gold, Hertz 5*, Marriott Gold, SPG, CO, 7H
Who wants to Fish!
We need something to BBQ - so bring your rod/reel unless we get lucky with some fur bearing animal(s)
->And if not there is always...
Also I do have a gold pan or two in the garage. Perhaps we can strike it rich in OME so we can make it back to ANC for the BBQ
And as noted further in the thread, OME is having celebrations for Solstice that weekend- so bring your swimsuit for the Polar Bear Swim There also may be an assortment of street vendors we can use the last of our dollar coin collection on Just think if everyone was using Gold Coins
As usual we are highly probable for this affair. If we keep trying, one of these days we will be in Alaska for the Solstice and it will not be cloudy and/or raining.
Nevertheless, in the past, suitable amounts of adult beverages have managed to mitigate feelings of disappointment at midnight as we have contemplated the gloomy Alaskan landscapes.
So, as far as we are concerned, fishing is out and the train ride, even though it has some virtues, may likely be replaced by the use of SkyPesos on AS to FAI.
The "Wall O" Wine™" is fully stocked. Not one empty slot in the area (subject to change any evening ). So, we will plan on your presence.
Also, the train trip should be completely different in the summertime. The dome cars will be in use, the scenery will be much more colorful (less white )
and will be more of an express trip. The many stops for bush riders will not be part of this journey.
There ain't no reins on this horse
Just need to figure out flights. Is stop over allowed on domestic award? I tried to do BOS-ANC and FAI-OME on multi-city and got an error Grrrrrr
Not sure if there's saver space left on FAI-OME.
I tried to book an award with a stopover last night, and it was giving me grief. But not 30 minutes later, beckoa had an award with a stopover confirmed, so I will just admit defeat and not claim the title of Master of Alaska Airlines' Award Booking Engine.
Post your question in the AS forum and link to this thread. Hey, at the very least, it'll help publicize the DO there...