22671
Alaska
Alaska's Playground: Wildlife & Nature on The Kenai Peninsula
With calving glaciers, shimmering waters and rugged mountains — the Kenai Peninsula is stunning. Discover the history and wildlife of “Alaska’s Playground.”
Rating (4.43)
Program No. 22671RJ
Length
8 days
Starts at
2,769
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8 days
7 nights
18 meals
7 B 5 L 6 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Anchorage, AK
D
Westmark Anchorage Hotel

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, visit the Road Scholar table outside our meeting room to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes and other important information. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in.

Dinner: In our private meeting room at the hotel with your fellow Road Scholars, we will have a plated meal including a house salad, entrée, and chef’s choice of dessert, plus coffee, tea, water.

Evening: Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes. We will also discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Evenings at leisure offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable through personal independent exploration, engaging in available activities on your own, or simply relaxing and making new friends among fellow participants. The Group Leader will always be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may be changed due to local conditions/circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

DAY
2
Anchorage Museum, To Soldotna, Conservation Center
Soldotna, AK
B,D
Aspen Hotel Soldotna

Activity note: Transfer is about 50 miles, taking approximately 1 hour and a 1/2 to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center; and about 100 miles, taking approximately 2 hours to Soldotna. Walk approximately 1/2 mile on Anchorage sidewalks.

Breakfast: In the hotel’s restaurant, we’ll use restaurant vouchers for a breakfast to include two eggs, breakfast potatoes, breakfast meats, toast, plus coffee, tea or juice, and water.

Morning: We will gather in the hotel lobby to check out and store our luggage before walking approximately three blocks to the Anchorage Museum for a self-led exploration. The Anchorage Museum's focus is on the art, history, ethnography, ecology and science of Alaska. The upper floors have displays of clothing and everyday pieces made by the various tribes of Native Alaskans. Following our visit, we will have some time to explore town independently, or to purchase any sundries needed for the week. Our Road Scholar Group Leader will provide you with suggestions on nearby (within walking distance) attractions.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Afternoon: At a predetermined time, we will gather at the hotel to board our motorcoach to begin our travels to Soldotna, on the Kenai Peninsula. Soldotna is located along the Kenai River and is a popular vacationing spot for Alaskans. Before we leave, we'll meet our study leader for the program who will provide expert commentary en route to Soldotna. We will travel just over three hours total to Soldotna with a stop at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center for a narrated fieldtrip. The center cares for hundreds of displaced animals each year to rehabilitate them for return to the wild. They often have animals such as moose, deer, bison and elk in their care. Back on the coach we will drive the remaining two hours to arrive in Soldotna early evening. We will check into the hotel and have an hour to freshen up and relax prior to heading to dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, order an entrée from a select menu, plus coffee, tea, water.

Evening: At leisure to continue enjoying the company of your new Road Scholar friends.

DAY
3
Russian Orthodox Church, Wildlife Refuge, Homestead Museum
Soldotna, AK
B,L,D
Aspen Hotel Soldotna

Activity note: Walking up to 1.5 miles throughout the day on city sidewalks and uneven terrain. Hike at the Kenai Refuge is approximately 1/4 mile on a combination of paved pathways and rough, uneven terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we will have a buffet including waffles, bagels & cream cheese, English muffins, hot oatmeal, cold cereal, milk, coffee, tea and juice.

Morning: Departing from the hotel via motorcoach, we'll head to Kenai and make our first stop at the Kenai Visitor and Cultural for a self-led visit through its displays. This will provide us with historical information on the Kenai area. That will be followed by a walk with our study leader through the old Kenai settlement, concentrating on the Russian influence in the area with the opportunity to visit some of the historical homes. We will then visit Kenai's Russian Orthodox Church, built in 1895 to replace the original church, which was built in 1849 and dedicated as a National Historic Landmark in 1970. The parish house was built in 1887 and is currently the oldest standing building in the Cook Inlet region.

Lunch: At the Kenai Senior Center, we’ll stop for a plated meal, plus coffee, tea, water. As we share our meal with local seniors, our group leader will suggest topics for discussion enabling us to have interesting table-time conversations.

Afternoon: This afternoon we will ride to the Kenai Wildlife Refuge, located just outside of Soldotna. The refuge center's mission is to conserve and protect the diversity of fish and wildlife in their natural habitats. This includes moose, bears, mountain goats, Dall sheep, wolves and salmon, plus waterfowl and other migratory and non-migratory birds. We'll explore the exhibits as a group, enjoy a movie about the refuge and have the opportunity to experience a local spruce forest with a short hike. We will then head back to Soldotna to the Homestead Museum. Soldotna's homesteaders arrived in 1947. The museum grounds include some of the early homestead cabins. We'll see handmade utensils, pioneer objects and Alaska native artifacts.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we'll have a catered dinner featuring hearty soups, salads, and bread, plus coffee, tea, water and a special dessert.

Evening: In a meeting space at our hotel, we'll enjoy a presentation led by our study leader to give us further insight on this fascinating region of Alaska.

DAY
4
Ninilchik & Homer, Center for Alaska Coastal Studies
Soldotna, AK
B,L,D
Aspen Hotel Soldotna

Activity note: Drive to/from Homer, with a stop along the way in Ninilchik, takes approximately 2 hours one way. A brief stop at the Ninilchik Russian cemetery will include walking on uneven terrain. Presentation in Homer will take place on floating docks, which may cause unsteadiness.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We'll begin the morning viewing the Russian-influenced community of Ninilchik overlooking the Cook Inlet. It is the oldest settlement on the Kenai Peninsula. The Russian-American Company established Ninilchik in the 1820s to house its employees who were unable to travel back to Russia due to age or health after completing their work with the company. Eventually others of Russian descent settled in the area and remained after Russia sold Alaska to the United States in 1867. The descendants of these early settlers make up the majority of its current population. We'll visit the Russian Orthodox church, built in 1901, and the town's cemetery to learn about the Russian culture that still survives. We will continue on to Homer, situated on Kachemak Bay with an incredible panoramic view of mountains, snowy peaks, and glaciers, with our study leader providing expert commentary along the way. We'll travel down the Homer Spit, a long strip of land that stretches into the bay to the town docks for a presentation by the Center for Alaska Coastal Studies. Their mission is to bring the coastal ecology to everyone! Learn about sea life in the bay through their presentation on creatures of the dock. We’ll then get down to the docks to see and handle some of these creatures.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, enjoy views of fishing boats and wildlife. Order from a select menu offering soups, salads, and sandwiches, plus coffee, tea (hot/iced), water.

Afternoon: After lunch we'll stay in town for a visit to the Pratt Museum for a self-led exploration, including short videos and exhibits on the Kachemak Bay region of Alaska. Exhibits focus on art, natural history, Native cultures, homesteading, fishing and marine ecology. The adjacent Harrington Cabin reflects the life of early pioneers with hand tools, diaries, needlework and kitchen supplies. Outside the house is a small garden with a variety of produce, staples of the early settlers. We will then board our motorcoach to travel to the Norman Lowell Gallery, near Anchor Point, to find fine art tucked away in an unassuming location. Artist Norman Lowell came to Alaska over 50 years ago to paint the 'wild north.' The gallery, built on his old homestead, now exhibits over 300 pieces in various mediums and also offers an excellent opportunity to see a wilderness homestead. Following our visit here, we will return to Soldotna.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we will have a salad and entree, plus coffee, tea, water.

Evening: At your leisure.

DAY
5
Fish Hatchery, Seavey Ididaride, Seward
Seward, AK
B,L
Breeze Inn

Activity note: Drive is about 100 miles to visit the Seavey Iditarod Racing Team's facility. Dog sled ride for approximately 2 miles on summer “sleds.”

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Checking out of the hotel, we will ride across the Kenai Peninsula for our transfer to Seward. On the way we will make a stop at the Trail Lakes Fish Hatchery. Owned by the State of Alaska, this facility incubates 30 million sockeye, 6 million coho, and 4 million Chinook salmon eggs. We will learn how hatcheries play an important role in keeping Alaska's fish population healthy.

Lunch: On the way to Seward we will enjoy boxed lunches that will include sandwiches, chips, a hearty cookie, and a beverage.

Afternoon: Following lunch, we will visit the Seavey Iditarod Racing Team's facility. Here we will take a thrilling, 2-mile dog sled ride on their summer "sleds," offering a chance to feel the power of the dogs as they pull us along. Then we'll visit with a member of the team to learn about the trials of this demanding race and meet some of the puppies in training! After our visit we'll return to Seward via a short coach ride and check into our hotel.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure to explore on your own or rest and relax for the busy day tomorrow.

DAY
6
SeaLife Center Behind-the-Scenes Tour, Exit Glacier Hike
Seward, AK
B,L,D
Breeze Inn

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles. Exit Glacier is considered moderately strenuous at approx. 1.2 miles with some steep, uneven surfaces and exposure to wind. Benches available in some locations along the way.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we will have a buffet including eggs, breakfast meats, pancakes, and more, plus coffee, tea, juice, water.

Morning: We will begin our day at the Alaska SeaLife Center. This public aquarium is Alaska's only permanent marine mammal rehabilitation facility, and is located on the shores of Resurrection Bay. Upon arrival SeaLife Center staff will provide an educational talk. We will then continue exploring the Center with an expert-led Behind-the-Scenes visit through the facility. This is followed by a self-guided exploration of exhibits.

Lunch: At the Alaska SeaLife Center, we'll enjoy a selection of sandwiches.

Afternoon: Enjoy a ranger-led interpretive walk to the edge of Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park. Exit Glacier received its name for serving as the exit for the first recorded crossing of the Harding Icefield in 1968. We will learn about this iconic feature and view the dense blue ice up-close while listening to it crackle.

Dinner: At the hotel, we will have a plated meal including salads, an entrée, and more, plus coffee, tea, water.

Evening: We'll enjoy another fascinating lecture presented by our study leader.

DAY
7
To Anchorage, 26 Glacier Catamaran Ride
Anchorage, AK
B,L,D
Westmark Anchorage Hotel

Activity note: Drive is about 60 miles to Whittier; about 60 miles to Anchorage. Ramp aboard the ship may be steep depending on the tide; the vessel’s staff will be available for assistance.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We'll have a relaxing morning, checking out of the hotel and departing around 9:30 a.m. We'll travel via coach to Whittier, arriving at the Whittier Tunnel in time for the 11:30 a.m. tunnel access time. The tunnel is the world's longest highway tunnel. It provides vehicle access to Whittier, AK in Prince William Sound. Once we arrive in Whittier, we will board a 137-foot high-speed catamaran for a cruise into the sound. We will sail into Passage Canal towards Egg Rocks or Perry Island in search of migratory Stellar sea lions with commentary from a park ranger.

Lunch: Aboard the vessel, we will have a warm meal with dessert, plus coffee, tea, water.

Afternoon: We will continue sailing into scenic Esther Passage, where only small ships can navigate the waterway. High mountains protect this narrow channel from rough seas and winds. We may have the opportunity to see bald eagles, black bears, whales, sea lions, harbor seals, or sea otters and a variety of birds in this narrow passage. From here we will venture into College Fjord, where the vessel turns north for a panoramic view of all the glaciers named after the Eastern Colleges during the Harriman Expedition. Next, we'll cruise towards Surprise Glacier and Barry Arm, located in Harriman Fjord. We'll travel through ice filled waters up to the front of the glacier to watch for glacier calving. Although this happens only occasionally, it is quite a sight to see a chunk of ice fall into the water! On our return we will visit a kittiwake bird rookery and then return to Whittier. Back on dry land, we will make our way to Anchorage and our hotel for the night.

Dinner: En-route to Anchorage we'll stop for a dinner to include a salad, an entrée, and coffee, tea, and water.

Evening: We will arrive at our orginal hotel in Anchorage and check in.

DAY
8
Wrap Up, Program Concludes
Anchorage, AK
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out 11 a.m.

Breakfast: In the hotel restaurant using hotel vouchers.

Morning: We will meet our Group Leader for a program wrap up, reflecting on our exploration of the Kenai peninsula and provide some time for farewells. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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