Anthony Dowlatshahi set out on a pretty wild gay adventure in Alaska. We couldn’t resist getting in touch to see how it all went. It turns out that there’s more to America’s coldest state than huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’. As Anthony explains, Alaska has some of the world’s most breathtaking landscapes, perfect beer and surreal midnight sun.
What would you say were the best highlights of your trip?
Taking a sunset walk in the mountains (from 10:30 pm until after midnight) and encountering a black bear. He was only about 100m in front of us. We had to be deathly quiet – we climbed up onto a rock and watched him pace around for about 20-minutes. He got rather close at one point and my heart was pounding. It was a completely surreal experience.
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The people – especially the guy who called himself ‘Grandma.’ I’ve never laughed so hard in my life. There was laughter throughout the whole trip. Such a great group of guys from all over the world. There were some really interesting characters – we all felt like a family for 10 days.
Valdez! Most of the towns have squirrels, pigeons and other creatures you see all the time, but not this town. No, in this town there are bunnies hopping around everywhere, and domestic bunnies no less. Over many years domestic bunnies had bred and as a consequence, it’s a little out of control. They are everywhere. It was rather surreal but put everyone in a very good mood.
Give us a sense of the grandeur of Alaska’s landscapes
It’s absolutely vast and it goes on forever. I’ve took a lot of pictures but there’s no way to put words to it. Try multiplying the beauty and vastness of the Lake District by a factor of 100 and you might come close.
How did you adjust to the “midnight sun”?
It’s unreal – you’re never quite asleep. The sun dips below the horizon at around 11:30 pm and you get this twilight that lasts for 3 or 4 hours, so there is no end to the day. It’s deeply magical as everyone is up and about and enjoying the endless days. You lose all sense of time there.
How did you cope with the more physically challenging aspects of the trip?
It was actually not too bad – I thought it was going to be a lot more challenging than it was. I had been hitting the gym and training quite solidly leading up to the trip so I may not have felt it as much as I would normally have. The hikes weren’t exhausting. The Kayaking was moderately challenging and a great upper-body workout. White water rafting was a lot of fun but it only lasted about 90-minutes. The general adrenaline of being there and the grandeur of our surroundings certainly fuelled us, but equally, there was plenty of time to rest.
How did you get on with your fellow travellers?
Yeah, they were fun. Still friends with them all and chatting away on social media all across the world.
Did you see any bears?
Hah hah, yeah, there were loads of bears 😉. But the one I mentioned in my top 3 moments of the trip, that was really special. Our guide looked a little concerned as the bear was very close to us at one point, but we just enjoyed the moment.
Was your experience of Alaskan cuisine positive?
You’re not going to get the kind of food you’ll get in Italy or France. You don’t have 5* restaurants there. But you do get incredible seafood and the salmon, in particular, is to die for out there. The food is what you need in order to sustain yourself, it’s filling and comforting. We went to McCarthy, a small hamlet in the middle of nowhere which you need to either fly to or drive for 6-hours. The food there is basic but perfect, home-made, organic and yummy.
When you’ve spent an entire day walking on a glacier and exploring the wilderness, eating a plate of fresh salmon with mash potato, beautiful vegetables followed by home-made apple pie, you’re going to be happy. Plus, Alaskan beer… WOW.
Convince me to book a trip to Alaska
Cannabis is legal in Alaska and the guys are hot 😉! You have no idea…
People are outdoor types, so active, earthy and unassuming. They are welcoming because they know how special Alaska’s beauty is, and you’re invited to experience this knowing that you’ll be well looked after by the Alaskans. I was taken aback by their kindness and hospitality.
For those of you who want to see and experience something unreal and outdoors-y, then this is a must.