I have always wanted to go to Alaska, and when my friend Diana said that’s where she wanted to go for her 50th birthday, we booked our flights immediately. We arrived in Anchorage ready to see as much of The Last Frontier as we could fit in one week.
On our first morning, we were picked up at our hotel, the Inlet Tower Hotel and Suites, by Rust’s Flying Service who took us to our float plane. From there, we departed for Redoubt Bay Lodge, which is located 70 miles southwest of Anchorage. Redoubt Bay is home to one of the most concentrated and viewable bear populations in Alaska. Our float plane pilot, Curtis, set the mood for a great day by pointing out interesting sites during the flight. We even caught a glimpse of a Beluga Whale while over Cook Bay. We arrived at Redoubt and were greeted by Amy, the lodge manager. With a bubbly personality and an excitement about the day, we couldn’t help but like her immediately. After some coffee and muffins in the lodge and a brief overview of the area and plans for the day, we boarded a pontoon boat with Amy and went in search of bears through the chain of Big River Lakes.
There were several fishing boats on the water and in action as this area is home to sockeye and coho salmon. While we were watching the salmon getting ready to make a run up the river (it was absolutely amazing and looked like a shark feeding frenzy), Amy spotted a black bear walking along the waters edge right next to us. It was incredible to see this bear in its natural environment in search of food (as long as we weren’t it). We even had the unique experience to go "bogging" where we took off our shoes and walk along a water bog (spongy grass bed). After seeing two more black bears, we headed back to the lodge for lunch. Redoubt has two chefs on staff and they did not disappoint with a beautiful lunch anchored by a delicious salmon burger.
Dinner that night was at Ginger Restaurant. Our favorite dish was the Baked Sea Scallops “Mac & Cheese,” which is seared and oven-finished jumbo Alaskan scallops served over penne pasta with three-cheese cream sauce drizzled with truffle oil. Amazing! After dinner we went to the hotel’s Mixx Grill Bar (think Cheers but in Alaska) where we met locals and visitors and made new friends. If you are ever there, be sure to ask for Happy Harold.