Sunday, October 25, 2015

Alaska! July 20th-30th 2015

Day 1 "Alaska or Bust"!
We woke up early and excited on Monday. We stayed the night at my Parents house in Mesa on Sunday night and had made arraignments for my mom to drive us to the airport and babysit Daisy and house sit while we were away. 
We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to go thru security and board the plane. It had been over 8 years since any of us were on an airplane so we were all impatient to get in the air and on our way. Thankfully, the flight to Seattle was uneventful. Adam and I made sure the kids had window seats so they could enjoy he view. 
We landed in Seattle and met Aunt Malorie for lunch. We had a four hour layover so We all piled into her little car and went out for some pizza and had a great visit with her.
After lunch Malorie drove us back to airport and soon, we were back in the air and on our way to our final destination.
We were surprised at how much snow and glaciers were on all the mountains on Canada's west coast. It was a beautiful sight, but we started to get a little worried. We hadn't anticipated it being very cold for us on our vacation.  Thankfully, about 30 minutes before we landed in Anchorage, the landscape became green once again.
 When we landed in Anchorage,  we were so excited to see Cousin Kris and his sweet wife Brooke. We are so thankful to them for their invitation for us to stay with them. Once We got settled in at their house in Wassilla, we had the kids go to bed, while the grown-ups played Rook until just past midnight! 
It was a long day of traveling, but we were so glad to finally be in Alaska and to officially start our most epic summer vacation! 

Day 2 "Reindeer Games"
Since Brooke didn't have to work on Tuesday, she became our designated tour guide for the day. We started with a hike to the top of The Butte. It was a good work-out and the view was amazing. After the hike, we drove a short way to a reindeer farm. While there, the kids got to hold some bunnies, feed reindeer and elk, see a buffalo up close and pick and eat tons of delicious raspberries. 
Brooke showed us around Wassilla for a bit and took us to "The Crazy Moose" for lunch. It was awesome! 
When Kris got home from work, he took Adam and the kids on a buggy ride while Brooke and I got dinner ready. 
After dinner, we put a movie on for the kids and played another few rounds of Rook! 
What a fun day! 

Day 3 "All Aboard!"
We woke up early on Wednesday, drove to Anchorage, boarded the Alaska Railroad and headed for Seward. The train ride was amazing! We were able to see some Bald eagles, moose, and Dahl sheep along the way and the views were breathtaking! There were waterfalls, glaciers, lakes, mountains, wild flowers and the ocean. When we arrived in Seward, we were shuttled to our Hotel and we checked in. Then, we walked across the street to the Sea Life Center and enjoyed looking at all the cool sea animals and creatures that were there.
We didn't stay very long at the Sea Life Center because we were all feeling really hungry so, we walked to a nearby restraint and ate lunch. After lunch we went for a walk along the beach. It was a bit overcast and rainy, but still beautiful. We saw a supper cute little otter playing very close to the shore and watched him for a bit.  It was nice to just walk along and enjoy the cool air and beautiful views. We went back to the hotel and Adam and I felt like taking a nap. (We stayed up too late the night before playing Rook.) The kids wanted to go back to the Sea Life Center and since the hotel was right across the street, we let the kids go there on their own while Adam and I took a little nap. When the kids came back we rode the bus to a sandwich shop on the other side of town for dinner. After dinner we walked down to the boat docks to look at all the boats and watch the fishermen weigh their "catch of the day". Then we walked back along the beach to the hotel and watched some tv for a bit before going to bed. 

Day 4 "Tails and Whales"
After a good nights sleep and a yummy breakfast at the hotel, a shuttle came to take us to the Seavey Ranch for an ididaride dog sled tour. I thought it would be fun for the kids to ride through the mountains on a cart pulled by dogs.  What I didn't count on, was the noise and the smell at the kennels. Adam and I didn't enjoy that part of the "experience". While our guide was hooking up dogs to our cart, a hundred other dogs were all barking and begging to be able to go for a run as well. It seemed really sad to see all those dogs chained to their dog houses just hoping for a chance to go out for a bit. It was super loud and super stinky.  Once we got on our way, is was fun. You could tell that the dogs loved running in the mountains. Our guide said he had to ride the brake, or we would be going too fast. After the ride, we went back to the kennels and the guide showed the kids some puppies and told us more about the Ididrod race. The kids loved the whole experience, so I'm glad we did it, but Adam and I didn't enjoy it very much.
After our ididaride tour was over, we were shuttled back to the hotel. We gathered up our things and checked out of the hotel. We took a bus too the boat dock and boarded the grand Chugach. We spent the rest of the day touring the Resurrection Bay. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day to be out on the ocean! It was clear and sunny. We cruised for a bit, then docked on a beautiful island for a buffet lunch, then we continued our cruise out into the outer edge of the bay and back. While cruising we saw more breathtaking views of mountains and glaciers. We also saw bald Eagles, otters, sea lions, puffins and best of all, we saw two humpback whales. We were able to watch them swim slowly along side our boat for a good 20 minutes.  It was so exciting for all of us! It was definitely one of the highlights of our trip!  
Once we were back in Seward, we walked over to the train station and boarded for our ride back to Anchorage.  The kids and I played a little bit of Skipbo while Adam napped on the train ride.  We didn't get to Kris and Brook's home until late on Thursday night, so we all went straight to bed. 

Day 5 "That's what I'm Talkeetna 'bout"
On Friday, we had planned on going Zip-lining in Talkeetna. It took us a little over an hour to drive there. It was another clear beautiful day and closer we got to Talkeetna, the more we could see Mt. McKinley (Now re-named Denali). It was so impressive and I wished we could see it up closer, but it would've taken four hours to drive to Denali park. When we got to Talkeetna we decided not to go Zip-lining. Adam didn't really want to go and Eliza didn't weigh enough to go anyway so we just decided to explore Talkeetna a little bit. We walked past a flight seeing tour office and just out of curiosity went in asked how much it would to cost to take a flight tour of the Denali Mountain range. It turns out it wasn't going to cost much more than we would have spent on Zip-lining, so we scheduled a tour for later that afternoon. Kris and Brooke had already planned on meeting us in Talkeetna that afternoon when Kris got of work, so Adam told them about the Flight tour and they were excited to join us. We had some time to kill, so we walked along the beach for a bit and toured the little museum there. We also went to the Denali ranger station and watched a movie about climbing Mt McKinley. (Not something I ever plan on doing!) 
We found an amazing pizza place for lunch. Caleb tried the reindeer sausage pizza and loved it!   Talkeetna is such a cute little historic town. It reminded me a lot of Silverton Co.  
Kris and Brooke arrived and we got ice cream cones and whent to the airport. We were just about to board the plane when Adam and Kris decided to spend a bit more to have the pilot land the plane on a glacier. 
My wish to see Mt. McKinley up close came true in a way that I never even dreamed of!  As long as I live, I will never forget that ride! Words could never express the thrill of flying through that majestic mountain range. When the pilot landed on Ruth Glacier (yes, that was the name of the glacier we landed on) I knew this was a once in a lifetime experience. We were on the glacier for about 15 mins. The kids played around in the snow for a while the pilot told us more about the glaciers and mountains.  Once we were back up in the air again, we headed back to the airport. 
Back in Talkeetna, we went to the pizza place again for dinner (Yes, it was that good.) and then headed back to Wassila. 
It was a glorious day! 

Day 6 "A spray a day keeps the bears away"
 Kris and Brooke wanted to take us on one of their favorite hikes so on Saturday we drove too Crow Creek, in Alyeska and parked at the trail head. We were in separate vehicles and Kris and Brooke had gotten there first. Evidently, Kris noticed a can of bear spray sitting on the guard rail in the parking lot. Someone had left it behind so Kris picked it up. To his delight it was completely full. He wondered how far the stuff could spray so he pointed it at a bush about five feet away and sprayed. It colored the bush and orange color, and I guess that looked cool so he proceeded to empty the entire contents of the can onto the bush. Just as we were all getting out of the car, a big gust of wind came and blew the spray into all of our faces!! We inhaled it and it got in our eyes we all ran away but evidently, we were running in the same direction that the spray was being blown! It seemed that no matter how far we ran it was still in the air all around us! Our eyes and throats burned and it felt like we were choking! Caleb threw up, and we were all crying and yelling at Kris! At the time, it wasn't funny! But as the day went on we joked about it. We told Kris that it wasn't meant to used like insect repellent. You're not supposed to spray it on yourself and loved ones in order to keep the Bears away! Haha! 
The hike was awesome and really fun! At one part of the hike, you have to climb into a small metal trolley and pull yourself across a ravine on cables. On the other side of the ravine is a cool bridge that crosses a beautiful, crystal blue water fall. 
After the hike, we went to an adorable little bakery near the ski resort and ate lunch. We loved the beautiful flowers that were planted and growing all over the place. It was like paradise! 
Speaking of paradise, on the drive home we stopped at a fun chocolate shop and saw "The World's Biggest chocolate fountain!  We picked up some yummy treats and then headed over to the swap meet in Anchorage and did a little shopping. 
On the way home we also stopped at the Salmon hatchery in Anchorage. It was pretty cool to get to see all those cool fish up close.
When we got home, we had some dinner and let the kids watch a movie, while the adults played several hands of Rook. We stayed up super late, but it was worth it. We love playing Rook!

Day 7 "A day of rest"
Sunday was a nice quiet relaxing day. We went to church in the morning and that afternoon we were invited to go pick some salmon berries and raspberries at one of Kris's patients home. We weren't there very long yet we picked SO MANY berries! We only kept half of what we picked and still had more than enough.
That evening we made some yummy berry milkshakes and went for a quiet walk around the neighborhood and of course, played more Rook! 

Day 8 "The fun at the end of the tunnel" 
On Monday we took the kids to the Wildlife conservation center in Portage.  There were bears, moose, Bobcats, elk, an Eagle, bison and so much more. All of the animals there were rescued and kept at the center because they wouldn't survive in the wild.  It was neat to get to see so many animals up close.
From Palmer we we drove to Whittier to see portage glacier and more of the coast. To get to Wittier, we drove thru a 12 mile tunnel.  Adam and the kids really enjoyed that. I got a bit claustrophobic, but I was glad we went. The town of Wittier is really cool. I thought it would be kind of like Seward, but it was a lot smaller and there really aren't any houses. There was a big old building on the edge of town that used to be an army barracks. Now it's been turned into condos,  And that's where most of the towns people live. We had a beautiful view of Prince William sound and ate at a nice little Chinese restaurant there. 
One little funny thing that happened was, while we were waiting for the tunnel to be open to head into Wittier, Adam and the kids walked around portage lake for a bit there was an iceberg out about 50 yards from the shore and a guy on the shore stripped down to his undies and swam out to the iceberg. He climbed up on it, waved and then swam back to the shore! CRAZY, 
On the drive home, we stopped to see the Anchorage temple. The kids were happy to see that the Snowflake temple isn't the only "small" temple in the world!
Adam's cousin Jewellene and her family joined us for dinner at Kris and Brooke's house. Brooke made a delicious shrimp boil dinner. After dinner we all walked down to the park and the kids played for a bit. 
After that... You guessed it, more Rook! 

Day 9 "As thick as pea soup" or "shake, rattle and roll"
Tuesday was another hike day with Brooke. This time Jeweleene and her boys joined us. We went up to summit lake at Hatchers pass. The hike was fun but the views...were non-existent. You see, it was so cloudy and foggy that you could hardly see 20 feet ahead of you! I didn't even see summit lake until I was 10 feet away from it, and we couldn't see the entire little lake. It was actually sort of eerie and cool. 
Later that day Kris and Adam and Eliza and Caleb went for a buggy ride. Brooke, Sarah and I stayed home. We were just hanging out at home and Sarah and I were playing a game at the table when Brooke who had been laying on the sofa sat up suddenly and calmly said "earthquake"! Sure enough Sarah and I felt the shaking! It felt like the house was sitting on top of a giant blob of jello and was being jiggled. We just looked at each other with wide eyes and grinned. We survived OUR FIRST EARTHQUAKE! So cool! 
I called Adam, they didn't feel it because they were driving when it happened. I think they were a little jealous. They did have a fun ride though, so they weren't too sad about missing the earthquake.

Day 10 "Culture shock"
We had already done everything we really wanted to do while in Alaska but we didn't want our last day to be spent just hanging out at the house, so we went to Anchorage and visited the Native Alaskan Cultural Center. We heard and watched some native Alaskan songs and dance. We also learned that the tribes still have their own Alaskan olympics. Some of the events they showed us were really cool.  We toured replicas of traditional Alaskan homes. Many of them were built underground. It was really neat to learn how the native Alaskan people survived in such a harsh environment. 
Afterwards we did some last minute shopping and then spent the of the day cleaning and packing our bags for our trip home the nest day.
Adam and Kris picked up some Crazy Moose subs for dinner then we spent the rest of the evening playing rook while the kids played at the park.
It was bitter sweet, knowing that our Alaskan Adventure would soon be coming to a close. We would miss Kris and Brook and all of our late night Rook games and adventures so much! 

Day 11 "Homeward bound"
We said our Goodbyes to Kris and Brooke before they left for work. We made sure we had everything ready to go, packed up and drove to the airport. We were sad to leave, but we missed Daisy so much, we were excited to be going home. The flight home was again, thankfully, uneventful. We had another layover in Seattle but this time it wasn't for very long so, we just hung out at the airport. My brother Ben picked us up at the airport in Phoenix and drove us to Grandpa and Grandpa Quists house. We were so happy to see Daisy again and she was happy to see us! We spent the night there in Mesa, and told my mom we would have to go home to Taylor in the morning.... But we didn't.

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