I just said goodbye to my final visitors for 2015.
Alaska was a place my parents have always wanted to visit, but never thought they’d get the chance to. So when Brian & I were station in Anchorage, I told them what I told everyone who’s expressed interest in visiting us while we’re here; get here as soon as you can, because with the Army you never know how long we’ll actually be here.
So I twisted their arm a bit (or not at all) and convinced them to come up to the land of the midnight sun for a visit. If I’m not mistaken, my mom was planning her trip up here before I even arrived in Alaska, but decided she had better give the newlyweds some time to themselves before visiting. So the dates were set for summer solstice 2015 so the could experience firsthand what the term midnight sun actually means.
Unfortunately, plans had to be altered when we found out Brian would be deploying in May and missing most of our guests passing through this year. My parents were disappointed they wouldn’t get to spend their trip getting to know their new son in law more, but I was determined to show them a good time in my new home state none the less.
They arrived late on a Wednesday night & spent the first few days orientating themselves to not only Anchorage, but adjusting to the current time zone and lack of darkness at night.
As soon as the weekend hit we headed for Fairbanks. Along the way we made a few pit stops to help break up the long drive.
After settling into our hotel for the night, mom and I took Bosco to a nearby park to let him stretch his legs for a bit after such a long car ride. As Bosco meandered around and chewed on nearby sticks, mom & I enjoyed the swing set and caught up on life. We noticed a couple loitering around the opposite end of the park, displaying all to familiar patterns of someone looking for something they’d never lost. When we were ready to leave mom and I walked by them and asked a simple question that led to the four of us on a quest to find Birch Dinner. As it turns out, Donna and Jim were in Alaska to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary and, after not being able to fall asleep amidst the midnight sun, set off to find a couple nearby geocaches, a sport they had only recently begun participating in. (Congrats again you guys! I hope you enjoyed the rest of your Alaskan adventure!)
The next morning we set out for the Arctic Circle for the summer solstice. It was 81 degrees and a beautiful drive the entire way. A completely different experience on the Dalton Highway than my first trip to it in October during a snowstorm.
Before returning to Anchorage, we had one last trip to make. There’s no way I could bring my mother this close to Santa and not visit the North Pole.
We made a quick stop in Denali National Park on the way home, but it was shorted lived due to the thunderstorm that arrived not long after we did.
After sleeping in the next day. my parents were already rearing to go. So we hopped in the car and took off for Matanuska Glacier. This is my third visit to this glacier in the past 3 months and I love seeing how it changes. More than that tho, I loved watching my parents turn back into kids and crawl all over a glacier for a few hours.
The rest of their trip was a whirlwind of adventures. Lots of ice cream was eaten, food was tasted, and snowmen were built.
We spent time exploring much of Alaska than can be driven to, including a drive through the longest tunnel in North America.
Mom and I even convinced dad to try sushi for the first time. He wasn’t impressed.
One of the many highlights of the trip was being able to take my parents on the same whale watching tour Karina and I had done just a few week earlier. We weren’t lucky enough to see any orca, but amazingly saw over 20 humpback whales and a myriad of other sea life.
When it came time to saw goodbye to Momma, I wasn’t even trying to fight back the tears. Never knowing exactly when I’ll see my family next is hard, but I am always grateful for our time spent together. Thankfully, this time I also was lucky enough to get to spend another two weeks with my dad as well. While mom was headed back to work, dad is retired and hung around longer to fish. We both missed mom dearly tho as soon as she left.