PANDEMIC TRAVEL My husband and I, along with our 10-year-old granddaughter, recently traveled to Alaska. Like so many others, this was a postponed 2020 vacation. We had booked a Lindblad/National Geographic cruise for one week but wanted to supplement that experience with a second week of exploration using Anchorage as a base. To plan that part of our journey I turned to Judith Root. Thank goodness I did!
Judith and I started planning at least a year ahead of our proposed cruise, giving us plenty of time to book preferred hotels, flights and activities. One day was devoted to flying by helicopter to the top of a glacier to dog sled. Another day was planned to fly to Katmai National Park for bear viewing at Brooks Falls. We wanted to thoroughly explore Anchorage and its wonderful museum, so had a day for a walking tour and picnic. Everything came together beautifully. We sat back and waited for the 2021.
As the year progressed the cruise part of our trip became very much in doubt. Our ship was to be an expedition size with approximately 120 passengers. The big ships were definitely not going to be allowed into Canada or the National Parks waters. Ultimately, Lindblad cut the number of passengers to 100 allowing us to fall into the “small ship” category. The cruise was on, but for our safety, new requirements were imposed. Anyone who could be vaccinated had to provide proof. Also, we all needed two negative Covid tests, one five days out and another at the time of boarding. Lastly, we had to isolate for five days before our flights. Unfortunately for us, that was exactly when Judith’s part of the trip was planned. We had to totally rearrange her part and rebook it for after the cruise!
I can’t say enough for Judith’s response to my frantic phone call. By this time Americans were still not allowed in Europe or many other countries. Alaska had become a sure and popular destination. There was also a large sum of money involved for 50% deposits, airline tickets to change, etc. They took care of everything with very few changes. We still went dog sledding on the glacier, saw lots of wildlife and had a terrific time. Our day flying to see the bears was canceled because of bad weather. There was no hesitation on their part to refund us the full cost. It was a trip of a lifetime for all three of us and I thank Judith and her team for making it happen.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Our trip to Alaska planned by Judith and her team was a perfect COVID-era trip. Vast majority of the activities were outdoors and a domestic destination that felt so exotic and different was perfect at a time we didn’t feel comfortable going abroad. The trip itself was wonderful and a perfect mix of adventures, wilderness lodges, wildlife, glacier trekking and more. When weather prevented a flight from Talkeetna to a lodge they got us a driver to take us to Anchorage and on a flight from there. They were instantly responsive by text while we were on our trip and quite responsive by email during the planning process. Great trip and great job!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We had an absolutely amazing trip to Alaska filled with incredible memories (including photos and videos) and not only did Judith’s team pick perfect locations for us but they took care of all the logistics once we arrived in Anchorage, many of which had to shift and change due to COVID and the impact it had on certain businesses. This was the second time we used them for an Alaska trip and when we go back, we will definitely do so again.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Judith’s team did a great job helping us plan our family trip to Alaska. The lodges were wonderful and the excursions were just what we wanted. All 9 members of our family, from 12 to 77, had a great time. I highly recommend Judith!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Judith made sure I understood what was required. She let us know that we had to have a negative Covid test within 72 hours of travel. She sent me information on where I could go in Houston for the Covid test and walked me through the worst-case scenario if we didn’t get our results. This is the exact reason why we use travel specialists from WendyPerrin.com—for situations like this.…
The Lodge at Whale Pass is an amazing remote upscale adventure lodge. Mainly the focus there for us was fishing. We wanted to get remote because I love remote Alaska, away from cruise-ship passengers. Judith recommended it for the food too. Only one other family was there when we were, and for dining we sat spaced out, but we had just gotten our negative test results and the other family obviously had too, so our masks came off the minute we arrived.
Tutka Bay Lodge in Homer was everything I imagined it would be…and we were the only family there. At about 6 a.m., we headed out on a bear-viewing adventure. We saw seven bears, a mom with her cubs, a red fox, and a couple of eagles in their nests with babies inside. It was just a fantastic day.
We got back to Homer at about 2:30 in the afternoon and there was somebody waiting for us. They said, There’s some bad news: There’s an issue with the restaurant you dined at Sunday night [in Anchorage]: It has shut down because an employee has tested positive. They didn’t yet know which employee or whether that employee was even working when we were there. But the lodge made the safety decision that we would not be returning.
I was very disappointed but, when you travel in a pandemic, you take that risk that things may change. It turned out that the employee who had tested positive wasn’t even working on the day that we were there Tutka Bay Lodge very graciously offered to let us come back later for the unused portion of our stay, and Judith credited us back for the unused portion of the chartered flight that we didn’t use on the return to Anchorage.
Editor’s note: To be clear, Mr. and Mrs. Gill were not exposed to the virus at the restaurant. They returned home more than two weeks ago and did not get sick. You can read a full interview with the Gills about their trip to Alaska here.
Judith picked out three lodges in Alaska tailored to my interests. Each lodge exceeded my expectations in terms of Service, accommodations, flexibility in scheduling activities specific for me and my wife, kindness and expertise in the staff, accommodations, and gourmet dinners. I could not have asked for more experienced a nicer vacation.
We were put in contact with Judith Root via Wendy Perrin. We travel quite a bit and with a few exceptions have always did our own itinerary planning. We know that there are travel agents and then there are travel experts. Judith is a travel expert specifically for Alaska. You can buy a nice package deal off of a travel agent, get a cruise, take some side tours and perhaps and extension to Anchorage, Katmai, Talkeetna, Denali or Fairbanks. You will see a lot of great places, but you will be part of a crowd. We wanted to see what a travel expert would do to customize a trip to meet our desires. Our main objective was to see one of the wildest areas of North America, the back country of Denali National Park and Preserve. There are very few travel agent packages that take you this deep.
A travel expert like Judith (and her associate, Andrea Clarke) will book you in place that is off the grid, 92 miles inside Denali in the only back country lodge permitted to conduct guided hikes within the Park and Preserve. Despite the location, this lodge is a first class operation. She will also connect you with a knowledgeable local guide in Fairbanks and a behind the scenes tour with a native Alaskan. They will note your love of birding and will set up a first rate guide in Talkeetna for a relaxing day in nature at your own pace.
We usually do our own driving, but Judith convinced us to try the Alaska Railroad Goldstar Service between Fairbanks, Denali Park, Talkeetna and Anchorage. Good move, with wonderful travel on each leg of the trip. The views from the train were spectacular and meeting other train travelers was a fascinating experience.
Judith’s itinerary was very detailed, covering all accommodations transfers, transportation, included meals, guides, projected gratuity costs, packing lists and reading lists. It was readable and thorough. We had one potentially major problem at a critical point on our trip. Judith and her team were just a phone call away and were very responsive to meeting our needs. It was nice to have them there for support.
Warning: Alaska is expensive. Judith will provide a first class experience of a life time. Only about 30% of the people visiting Denali get to see “The Great One”. Judith, Andrea and the rest of the team gave us an excellent shot of seeing the highest mountain in North America. We succeeded and now are part of the lucky 30%.
We contacted Judith Root, one of Wendy’s trusted travel specialists, to help us plan our trip to Alaska. We knew that we wanted to experience Alaska from land rather than a cruise, but were overwhelmed by the difficulty of finding the sort of vacation that we wanted. Judith really listened to our wish list and organized a trip of a lifetime to a couple of wilderness lodges. The lodges themselves were isolated although you would not know that from the quality of the food, and we enjoyed incredible adventures. These included a glacier hike with a guide where we were the only people there, up close brown bear viewing and kayaking to see sea otters. Everyone at the lodges was friendly and happy to help make our time everything that we wanted. Most of the arrangements were very smooth but we were unavoidably delayed by weather (a hazard in Alaska). Judith’s team were readily available on a Sunday to book a hotel and dinner reservation and make sure that we were looked after. Overall this was a vacation that we will never forget and we would not hesitate to recommend Judith to plan a trip to Alaska.
I love to travel and typically enjoy planning my and my husbands trip myself. However, since the vastness of Alaska presents so many logistical challenges, I decided to try working with a Wendy Perrin expert for the first time. Boy, am I glad I did! From our very first conversation, it was clear that Judith Root was actually listening to me, and not trying to sell me on a “canned” trip. After much discussion, Judith presented me with at least three iterations of our trip and patiently stated that she would tweak our itinerary as many times as we needed. I’m sure we presented a particular challenge for her, as I explained that we love to view nature, but not necessarily engage with it! In addition, we decided to take this July trip sometime in late winter/early spring, which did not leave a lot of time to secure reservations.
In spite of the aforementioned challenges, Judith nailed the trip planning. Her colleague, Andrea Clarke, provided invaluable assistance in the trips execution, deftly dealing with a couple of minor glitches that we experienced while we were traveling. As a result of Judith’s impeccable planning we were able to cover a lot of ground–from a flight with the midnight sun to visit a community near the Arctic Circle; to a stay in Denali at a backcountry lodge which included a spectacular flight over the mountain; to a visit to the ski resort of Alyeska, where we took a helicopter that landed on top of a glacier (amazing); to the remote Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge, where we hiked, canoed and kayaked, all in the pouring rain! In addition to flightseeing, we rode the rails, took a boat to the Kenai Penninsula during which we viewed wildlife and calving glaciers, and rode a tram to the top of Mt. Alyeska. Throw in the bus ride into Denali and the automobile transfers and there aren’t too many modes of transportation we failed to experience!
Judith routed us from Fairbanks to Anchorage in a manner that maximized how much of the state we could see and minimized the stresses of traveling on a tight schedule. Every detail was seen to, and when the occasional problem arose, one phone call and Andrea sprang into action. In addition, I believe that Judith’s connections and reputation enabled us to secure reservations that we might not have been able to on our own, given the relatively short time we had to plan the trip. These same attributes gave us confidence that the excursions we took–particularly those that were on the riskier side–were booked with companies that have been vetted for both pleasure and safety.
In short, I cannot recommend Judith and her team highly enough. If they are indicative of the quality of all of Wendy’s travel experts, this trip to Alaska is the first of many WOW trips that well be taking!
This was a ‘wow’ trip for us!!! From the beginning of planning this trip thru execution and completion of the process when smoothly and there were, fortunately, no unexpected situations. Judith and her team were there to answer any questions or provide insight on possible excursions and depending on what we wanted to see and do they provided many options. This was our third trip to Alaska and this trip was completely land-based. Judith and her team provided insight and opportunities for excursions and we could select to make this trip a ‘WOW’ trip for us! Also, my husband recently had knee unexpected knee surgery and we were not sure if this trip would happen. Between my husband’s determination to go by doing all the necessary therapy and exercises and also Judith being aware of this recent situation, some of the hikes could be adjusted to how he felt with the terrain and length. The vans used for transportation were very comfortable and accommodating of his knee situation.
The guides we had for the various parts of the trip were exceptional with their in-depth knowledge of the area and history. And a willingness to work with us on things we might want to see and visit. For example, we had visited Fairbanks before but didn’t have time to see the Alaska Pipeline area. Our guide Karen drove us to a very nice stop and provided us with a lot of information that you don’t get from reading a plaque or even a guidebook. Additionally, Karen drove us to the Alaska Bowl Factory, my must stop, as we didn’t have time to stop on a previous trip. Karen took us to ‘Creamery Field’ to see the Sandhill Cranes, such an unexpected delight. And Anne, our driver/guide from Denali area to Talkeetna, was also a gem. She stopped several times for us to take pictures of Denali. And I appreciated her in-depth knowledge of the area. And we did a nice hike around part of Byers Lake. Anne spotted several birds and was able to share insight on the various plants in the area. We had a delightful picnic lunch at Byers Lake.
From the guide in Fairbanks; to the air trip to/from Anaktuvuk; Bus trip to ‘The End of the Road in Denali Nat’l Park and flight back; the weather – beautiful clear days of Denali; salmon fishing in Talkeetna; seeing bears at Brooks Falls; getting a private tour at the Morris Thompson Native Heritage Center – it was arranged and went smoothly. Everything was just a delight! We learned so much and appreciated having some time with our guides and being in nature.
We, my husband, and I, thoroughly enjoyed the trip and all the things we were able to do. And without Judith’s knowledge as to where to stay, what flying companies to work with, what fishing licenses were needed and the many details and connections that were necessary for this trip, I could not have put it together without being frazzled and worried about making sure things worked as intended. This was a delightful stress-free trip. We had several flying trips that required transportation before and after the trip and then even one way to and from the various airports in Denali National Park. My husband and I are still trying to digest this trip. It was just wonderful! Judith and her team even arraigned the weather for us to get a ‘clear’ view of Denali.
A special highlight that Judith arranged for us was lunch with Martin Busher. I think my husband really enjoyed meeting the dogs at Martin Busher’s homestead. The puppies! One about fell asleep in his arms.
We did catch fish – 15-pound salmon. I caught 7 and my husband caught 3. We had never fished before and the guide we had was perfect. And the weather was delightful, clear blue skies not to hot with a light breeze to keep the bugs away.
I would recommend Judith Root and her team for any future Alaska trip!
Judith listened to the type of Alaska experience we wanted to have. She and I had a couple of long conversations about an active holiday and an overview of Alaska. She planned an amazing, unforgettable trip for us. She was always available. I would recommend Judith to friends and anyone wanting an awesome, flawless holiday. Carol Wilson also was a partner to Judith in making our holiday to Alaska absolutely memorable. We already want to plan another adventure to Alaska. We are hooked. It was FABULOUS!!! And due to the professional aspects your company we will be using your professionals for a trip to eastern Canada.
The individual activities included in the planned trip were excellent. All of the elements we were looking for were there and the pacing was exactly right for us. We were especially pleased with three of the activities. The private guided tour with Dixie Alexander at the Morris Thompson Cultural Center was superb, a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn from a native Athabascan. The fishing excursion with Phantom Tri-Rivers Charters was a high point of our trip as both my wife and I, with essentially no previous experience, were able to land 30 pound King salmon. Finally, the stay at the Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge was everything we could have hoped for and was made memorable by an all-day kayaking expedition to the glacier. The only element of the trip that we might have reconsidered was the bear viewing trip to Chinitna Bay. While we did indeed see many brown bears, they were a great distance away and it required two lengthy flights in a most uncomfortable (at least for someone over 6 ft tall) prop plane. Even so, we were not unhappy that we did it.
Judith organized a memorable and outstanding trip for us in July 2017. We stayed at Backcountry lodges with like minded people who love hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, and traveling to wilderness and pristine areas of the world. We saw grizzlies, black bears, and moose, caribou, bald eagles, insects, fish, flowers, birds, squirrels, voles, etc. We saw (and heard!) rivers, waterfalls, mountains, meadows, tundra. We hiked, rode in seaplanes, helicopters, wheeled planes, buses, shuttles, and cars, and we ate some of the best food we’ve ever had. All around, an excellent trip!
Perhaps one of the most glorious things about traveling is getting the privilege of seeing something magical that you didn’t fully expect to get to see, or seeing it even better than the best you might have expected. Seeing the Northern Lights in the Arctic circle was one of those encounters. It happened for us in a small Cessna flying to see Mount Denali up close. The sky was blue and calm, and we had a 26 year veteran pilot who flew us up and all around the giant landmass that is Denali. We could even make out Base Camp and some of the tents there, and even some tracks of climbers who were there, and of the trails their sleds made carrying supplies for their summit run. We saw the mountain from all sides and all faces, and the majestic Alaska Range surrounded us, jagged and bold and white — the snow looking like meringue or sorbet — like you could just scoop up heaps of it in your hands. I never dreamed we could get so close to the sheerness and boldness of it — it was awesome.
Alaska is so big, so vast, so pristine and wild. So fresh and clean and clear and empty. So full of nature. Like America probably was 200 years ago. It was fascinating to see it with naturalist guides, hear talks with experts who live and work there, and feel the soft, spongy tundra under our feet, the bounce when we walked on it, the hard permafrost, the boreal forest, the taiga, the deep snow, the glaciers and ice under us when we walked upon it with crampons — a geologist’s heaven. The weather can change in a second — you can have all four seasons in one day, and have to dress in layers and have waterproof clothes and boots — all of it a hassle, but still, worth the effort to get to experience a land so raw and honest and real. There are huge amounts of land where you can only access by seaplanes, helicopters, other small planes or boats. There are very few roads.
Our entire trip went like clockwork — BAC transportation was always there, right on the dot, and considerate to text us they were on the way every single time. All of the transfers worked perfectly. The lodges and staff were all wonderful, the planes were all well maintained and flown by experienced pilots, the food was delicious — everything was perfect — couldn’t have gone better. Judith even organized the arrival of Diet Dr. Pepper everywhere we went — such an unexpected treat!! Thank you, Judith!
My family of four including my husband and myself and two adult children travelled to Alaska on a trip planned by Judith Root. Judith listened carefully to what we were looking for in an Alaskan vacation and put together an excellent itinerary that exceeded our expectations. All details of the trip were handled by Judith and her team and we had a fantastic vacation that we would rank among the best-ever holidays we have had. I would not hesitate to recommend Judith to plan a memorable and enjoyable Alaskan holiday.