Our trip to Alaska sprang upon us suddenly one October day in the form of question and a happy answer.
"Will you marry me?"
And all of a sudden our vague thoughts of, "oh, wouldn't it be neat to visit Chris (my husband's brother) in Alaska someday?" became, "We're going to Alaska next summer!"
|A view from Skilak Lake Rd in the Kenai Wildlife Refuge|
|Fireweed, gorgeous and incredibly common|
|A big horn sheep at the Anchorage Zoo|
|This is an amazing scale model of the solar system, where the sun (pictured) is in downtown Anchorage and Pluto is about 8 miles away in Kincaid Park. They scaled the walk so that at a leisurely walking pace, each step equals the distance light travels in one second.|
|The bike trail that runs along the sound in Anchorage|
After the wedding, Matt unplugged and we headed off to the Kenai Peninsula. We had brought a huge duffel packed with all our sleeping bags and pads, as well as our backpacking stove, tent and cooking gear. Because we were outfitted already for backpacking, our gear was small enough and light enough to be able to bring without too much trouble. We did have to borrow two more tents from Matt's brother as well as an ice chest, but he was more than happy to help. We spent three days camping near Kenai Lake in the intermittent rain and drizzle, but had one gorgeous day where we got to float the Kenai River on Chris' drift boat. The three older kids got to try their hand at fishing for the first time, and we got to see a grizzly and many bald eagles.
|Exit Glacier, from a viewpoint showing where the glacier was 200 years ago. What I find even more amazing is that at the peak of the last ice age, this glacier filled that central bowl and only bit of the peaks on each side peeked through the ice.|
|The Kenai River - isn't that glacial blue amazing?|
|Wasn't it considerate of this bear to pose so nicely along the river, just after the spot where we put in?|
I had a great time with the younger three in the Palmer area. The rental suite, being a little off the beaten path in Palmer, was reasonably priced (for an Alaskan summer rate, at least) and turned out to be a gem. The weather was great (although it was funny to hear local kids complaining about it being "too hot" at a very pleasant 74 degrees!) and we visited the reindeer farm, a small local lake, a local park, went to Mass at the local Catholic Church and crashed their parish picnic and drove to the Matanuska Glacier. On the way to the glacier I got to see a female moose and her calf, but unfortunately didn't have the presence of mind to take a picture. I was too busy trying to make sure the kids were able to see it too! This was, by far, the most restful part of the trip, and I relished the opportunity to focus on my younger ones and move at their pace without feeling torn between their pace and the pace of the older kids and my husband. I taught our six year old to play chess, put littles to bed early and read Daisy Chain and enjoyed watching them interact with the beautiful surroundings.
|Their undercoat is amazingly soft and warm, but it takes six hours to brush each musk ox in the spring! And then the hair has to be cleaned and spun... no wonder it costs $90 for a small skein!|
|The view from the parking lot at the Catholic Church in Palmer.|