GER and First Lady Donna’s visit to Alaska
August 29 – September 4, 2016
Our traveling party composed of PGER Roger True, Washington State President William “Bim” Lindsey and his wife Janice, Donna and I left Bellingham Washington for Anchorage, Alaska. Upon our arrival we were met by Alaska State President Konrad Jackson and his wife Mary, State Secretary Paul Whitney and his wife Jeanne, Central District Deputy Mike Southcott and his wife Madonna and a host of other Alaska Elks.
We traveled by car to Seward, AK checked into our hotel and were treated to a delicious lunch. On our way to Seward we stopped to visit the Wildlife Refuge.
While there we observed a number of Alaska’s natural wildlife.
After lunch, we visited the Sea Life Center, also located in Seward where we viewed the sea life native to Alaska.
On Tuesday after breakfast, we boarded the Orca Voyager for a 6-hour tour of the glaciers in the Seward area. The scenery was breath-taking and being there was a lifetime dream come true. The following pictures were taken during the cruise:
Picture of Seward Harbor and Cruise Ship dock.
Mountains in the Seward Bay Area
After the boat trip we headed to Soldotna, AK. On our way we stopped for a delicious lunch and some picture taking. The Alaska State Association arranged to have a welcome to Alaska sign posted on the side of the road.
After checking into the hotel, we were off to visit the Soldotna Lodge, where we enjoyed a delicious dinner and had an opportunity to meet and greet all of the members and guests that were in attendance. Donna and I had the pleasure of presenting everyone with one of our GER and First Lady pins.
In addition to presenting Donna and me with beautiful personal gifts, Exalted Ruler John Anderson presented me with a very generous donation to the Elks National Foundation on behalf of the Soldotna Lodge of Elks. It was truly meeting everyone and stated that Soldotna Lodge was very fortunate to have such dedicated members and officers within their lodge. I commended each and every one of them for carrying on the programs of the Grand Lodge and for continuing to prove that “Elks” are “Leading the Way”.
On Wednesday we were on our way to Homer which was about a 75-mile drive. On our way, we had the opportunity to make a few sightseeing stops. First, was a stop at the Holy Transfiguration of Our Lord Russian Orthodox Church, Ninilchik, Kenai Peninsula Borough, AK
Then on to Homer with a stop overlooking one of the volcanos located throughout Alaska and then on to the Lodge.
Donna and I along with Washington State President Bim Lindsey and his wife Janice took a Helicopter Glacier Tour where we actually landed on a glacier and popped a bottle of champagne and made a toast to all of fellow Elk Members and to the continued success of our beloved Order.
After our tour the pilot landed on the back lawn of the Homer Lodge, where we all gave him a thumbs up for getting us back safely to the lodge.
During the day on Thursday the traveling group was off on a tour of Kachemak Bay, Halibut Cove and a boat ride to Seldovia on another sightseeing trip. We boarded the Rainbow Connect with our group for the trip to Seldovia. Before returning back to Homer we enjoyed a delicious lunch and I had my first taste of fresh fried Halibut.
On Thursday evening we were hosted with a cocktail reception and dinner at the Homer Lodge. After dinner Exalted Ruler Tom Stroozas welcomed us to his lodge and presented me with a beautiful glacier portrait with a complete set of the Alaskan dog and sled pin set. He also presented Donna with a set of gold nugget earrings. Gifts that we will always treasure always as we will treasure the memories of our wonderful trip to Alaska. Below is the portrait being presented by ER Tom.
On Friday we were off to Kenai, AK which was an 85-mile trip. On the way Donna, me, Bim and Janice were scheduled to take a bear viewing trip; however, due to thick ground fog, the pilot would not take the chance to fly the plane. We checked in to our hotel and after lunch stopped by the Kenai Lodge for an afternoon visit. Later that evening we returned to the lodge for a casual dinner.
Saturday was a leisurely day and the traveling group took a tour of the Kenai area, including Boy Scout Park and a local arts and crafts event. Saturday evening featured a Cocktail Reception and Banquet at the Kenai Lodge. Pictured below is Donna and I and State President Konrad Jackson and his wife Mary arriving for the banquet.
The reception and dinner at the lodge was very enjoyable and after the banquet, Exalted Ruler Don Anderson officially welcomed Donna and I to his lodge. State President Konrad and his wife Mary presented both Donna and I with personal gifts including a genuine Alaskan gold nugget necklace for Donna from the State Association and ER Don presented personal gifts as well. ER Don also presented a very generous donation to the Elks National Foundation.
Donna and I both spoke after the dinner and thanked all of the lodges for their warm and outstanding hospitality shown to both of us throughout our visit in the Great State of Alaska.