Sunday, August 10, 2014


We spent our second week in Anchorage relaxing and hanging with family in Anchorage. Lots of low key fun.

Silas thought grandma and grandpa had some awesome toys.

They live in an awesome location as well.

Skadi's big purchase in Alaska - her dad bought her a pocket knife.

Pirate ship on the lake that grandpa lives on.

Waiting for a table at Moose's Tooth - yummy pizza!

Silas mastered the four wheeler.

Alaska Zoo - always a must do - but pretty run down.

One of my fascinations is the moose wandering Anchorage. This mama had a calf behind her.

Downtown Anchorage - hanging out for a bit.

Hans and I escapted for a long awaited dinner out together at the Double Musky. We have tried for years to get in and for a variety of reasons have always been thwarted. The Alaska version of Cajun.

After the Double Musky we stopped at Beluga Point (where I have never seen a beluga), and built a little fire on the beech.

One of the highlights for the kids - panning for gold at the Indian Valley Mine. We found a few flakes and Leif found a nice garnet.

Hike after the mining at Alyeska - the lowest elevation ski area.

Silas and Hannah

There's something up on that trail!

Don't worry, Leif will save his sister.

Two young bull moose.

The tree with a big butt.

The last night in Anchorage - the sky put a show on for my husband who didn't want to leave. Someday we will make our home here. It may be as soon as 5 years, it may be once Leif and Skadi graduate from high school and we have a 12 year old left in the house. Or it may be when we are empty nesters. It's hard to give up two good jobs in hand and mine affording me the flexibility I want to spend time with the kids and do the work I enjoy.

Insert picture of black bear - here.

We got up the next morning and I was outside in the driveway with the kids. They had (for days) been out riding the little four wheelers up and down the driveway. For some reason this morning I was out with Skadi, Silas and cousin Wesley. Skadi very non-chalantly says, "oh look there is a black bear there!"

Sure enough there was a black bear at the top of the driveway - Skadi says he was about 10 feet from her when he walked out of the forest. Only moderate panicking from me as I scootched all three kids in the front door and cursed that I had left my camera on the counter. I was able to mark one thing off my list new this time around - black bear in the wild. In my own head I collect wildlife sightings - I have seen brown bears, black bear, eagles, and moose in he wild in Alaska. I need to mark off polar bear and musk oxen. Thought the polar bear I hope to see from afar - Hans was able to see one before he left working on the North Slope.

Everyone's Favorites:

Skadi - "Going to the water park. Seeing a bear very close."

Leif - "Going for a long walk with Dad on the beach."

Silas - The four wheelers at grandpa's.

Hans - The octopus experience and fishing.

April - "Seeing wildlife and walking on the beach."

Saturday, August 02, 2014

North to Alaska - Part 2

So we headed from Homer towards Soldotna, which is a sleepy little town for 9 months of the year. Then it turns into an absolute madhouse during the summer as people swarm the Kenai River in order to slay salmon. And we were there right in the midst of it all. Of course we missed the peak of the run by a few days it sounds like, but we are skilled and didn't leave empty handed.

The first night we were there I finally managed to make it down to the river about 11pm. I pulled in the first salmon. Then Hans hit the biggest and finally landed our third - making "the most". Then it was dark and we crawled our way up to the cabin for bed.

Sun is setting about 11:30pm on the Kenai River.

Skadi is the type of kid that always finds a friend to play with. I envy her this. At the fish camp was no exception. She happened upon another little girl and the two played and played and played. This freed up Hans, my MIL and I to alternate with caring for Silas amd Leif to either fish or read depending on his mood. The child plowed through some serious book volumes on this trip.

So Hans and his mom spent a fair bit of time fishing and were skunked. Hans finally tired of this treachery and went to care for Silas. I took over the pole. Salmon on and in. It must have been a fluke. Then I caught another and for the trip we were now 3-2.

Hans and I have a very equal relationship - we aren't terribly competitive and if I am better than him at something it isn't a dig deal. All that goes out the window with fishing.

I knew we were now stuck there until Hans pulled in at least one more fish and quite possibly 2 - so that he could win.

His determination won out and he and Leif pulled in one fish - fulfilling one of our huge goals to have our nearly 10 year old feel the strength of these fish on the end of your line. Then he pulled in fish #7 to secure the lead for the trip.

 Coming down the path carrying his prize.

 Fishy kisses!
We wrapped up our Soldotna experience having restocked our groceries, frozen our 7 fish and saw a few moose. We enjoyed fishing at a fish camp as opposed to fishing in the public access areas where Hans and I have fished for the many years before. The shoulder to shoulder fishing just isn't fun - nor is it without safety concerns - we saw a man with a big old fish hook in his cheek at one point. Yikes!
We set out for Seward, Alaska to meet up with my FIL and his wife! One of my favorite places on earth. I have only been to Seward once before - about 18 years prior I suspect in 1996. I was anxious to take the kids to the Sea Life Center and to just have some time in a beautiful place.
Downtown Seward

Iditarod Mile 0

And imagine, they even have a nice park to play in!

The Sea Life Center - Silas loved the sea lion.
I missed it for unspeakable reasons (sigh), but Hans took the kids and grandpa paid a small fortune for the Octopus Experience at the Alaska Sea Life Center. An hour up close and very personal with an 80 lb octopus. Hans still ranks this as one of his top favorite things we did during the two weeks. He has footage of the octopus crawling up his arms and the kids feeding it shrimp. Apparently Skadi was a bit freaked out by it, but finally came around.

Skadi outside the Seavey dog sled experience. We were going to do it - Skadi was DYING to hold the sled dog puppies and was begging to pick one out to bring home. - but logistics just weren't working in our favor. And then we found it that it wasn't actually going to be Dallas Seavey to take us out. And Leif's interest then waned too.

We went to Lovell Point and hung out on the beach a bit.

Photobombed by my oldest.

Our girl with the fireweed. Love. 

Family of five selfie. Do you know how hard this is?

About 18 years ago Hans and I went to hike Exit Glacier. We had a great time wandering around the glacier and crawling inside the little side caverns.

Not anymore. Not only do you not get close enough to touch the glacier, but you would never walk into a side cavern. The glacier has receded an incredible amount.

Leif at Exit Glacier

Hans, my FIL, me, Leif, Skadi and Silas' Viking hat...

Sweet brother and sister.

Exit from afar.

 Two moose - a mama and a baby - on a side road after we took a wrong turn.
This wraps up a week out on the Kenai peninsula. After seeing the moose we made the trek back to the big city of Anchorage for the second week of our vacation.

Friday, August 01, 2014

North to Alaska!

So aside from all the things that I haven't blogged about lately (Silas' 1st birthday, Leif's 10th birthday and probably Skadi's 7th birthday, life in general, camping this summer... the list goes on) we spent nearly 2.5 weeks in Alaska this summer!

I am not sure the last time we had that much time off. I was drastically worried that I wouldn't be able to disconnect from work. And, of course, that things would completely fall apart while I was gone. What if this or that. Truth be told I work with some terrific people, nothing fell apart and I only had about one phone call with a colleague who totally gave me an out not to call him and to continue ignoring work. But I called.

So we flew to Anchorage and it wasn't awful with the three kids. The older two kept themselves easily occupied. The delay out of our local little airport resulted in us having to full on sprint to make our connection and no real dinner. But oh well.

We spent our first few days at my FIL's and step-mother-in-laws house on a little lake in the foothills of Anchorage. Fabulous place. The kids got to fish for trout in the lake:

Leif and grandpa with his 16.5" trout. House record.

Skadi with her 15" beauty!
After a day of recovery from travel in Anchorage we packed up and hit the road jack!
Turnagain Arm - so pretty. Some of the largest and most dangerous tidal swings in the world.
We were Homer, Alaska bound. We stopped first at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center which is truly a wonderful place. Way back about 6 years ago we went there it was a lot less built up - like a chain link fence between us and the grizzly bears. Now it is much more built up and truly an amazing place.

Skadi and I hit the gift shop while the boys sought reprieve outside. Skadi is ALL about gift shops. Seriously the highlight of her trip is to hit a gift shop. I bought for Leif a little vial of REAL Alaskan gold. It stayed with him the.entire.trip. In his pocket. Moving from pants to pants. Seriously best $8.99 spent.
We arrived down at Homer, Alaska and stayed at a very unique little "hotel". I guess you would call it a hotel. The rooms were built into the bluff - dug out of the earth, lined with cement and an amazing view. We stayed in "the Bear's Den". The kids loved it and I wish we would have had another night in this unique hotel and in Homer. I love Homer, Alaska. Skadi and I scored sweaters and Silas scored a new and appropriate hat.

Skadi thankfully was able to keep herself occupied while waiting for us. Should you ever be in Homer, look for a Pay to Park box where she autographed it.

Quintessential Homer
The following morning we loaded stuff for a month or more into the truck (I learned to pack well) and hauled it all down a horribly steep dock to the water taxi for our 2 night trip over to Kasitsna Bay with my MIL.
On the water taxi to Kastitsna Bay
Hans' favorite weed - Fireweed and our daughter.
Our digs for two nights in Kastisna Bay.
With grandma!

Something special to someone.

Not the best clamming we ever had...

Bald eagles everywhere. There were 9 on this spit.

This eagle loved to harrass the seagulls and steal their catches.

I loved this picture of Skadi and an eagle on the beach.


Sea kayaking

Skadi hauling her boat in.

Hans and Leif
We had a fabulous couple nights in this beautiful place and met the way too early water taxi with our few months supply of things and ferried it all back to Homer.
(This is the part where I will just skip the whole 5 days worth of gastroenteritis cycling from Skadi to Silas to Leif to Hans to my MIL and finally to me. You can just pretend that I went into gory detail about this wrinkle in our trip when you look at our next lovely set of pictures.)