Outside of my own dad, if there’s anyone in my family that understands my need for wandering this planet it’s got to be my cousin, Sam.
She came out to Montana with a few friends back in 2012 for a short visit during a cross country road trip. Shorty after she took off for Europe to study abroad and hasn’t stopped exploring since. Her most recent move took her to Oregon to complete her masters degree and I couldn’t be more proud of her. Being the closest relative to me (as she only lives roughly 1,500 miles away as the crow flies) I decided to take advantage of the cheaper airline fares and found a ticket for under $120.00 round trip. If you’ve ever bough a plane ticket to Alaska you will know how insanely cheap that is. Schedules were coordinated, tickets were purchased and then it was the waiting game until her plane arrived two months later.
Although it was overcast and nearing midnight on Thursday when her plane touched down it was still bright enough out to get the idea that the sun really does take over in the summer in Alaska. Having to still work the next day, I gave her a quick tour of downtown Anchorage, part of JBER, and our tiny house, then said goodnight until the next morning.
Friday morning I had to work, but my boss was gracious enough to let me off early to maximize my time with family in town. Almost as soon as I was out the door, Sam, myself, Brian, & his friend Shane were on our way to the Anchor River to catch ourselves some King salmon. The river didn’t open for fishing until midnight, so we first set up camp then hit the river to save our spots. Within two hours all four of us had caught our limit and were heading back to camp with our spoils of victory.
As soon as my head hit the pillow it felt like the alarm was going off. No, we hadn’t gotten much sleep, but I had warned Sam her short trip wouldn’t be for sleeping. Fueled on Redbull and Smartfood Popcorn, we left the boys sleeping in their tents and rolled out of town for Seward.
Once there, we checked into Kenai Fjords Tours for our cruise, perused the city streets for a short bit, then boarded our ship. Not before visiting with one of the locals first though.
Before long we had arrived at Fox Island for a prime rib buffet. Having finished our food rather quickly, we headed out to walk the beach, which was chalk full of the most perfect skipping stones.
After lunch we saw numerous Alaskan creatures.
The highlight however was one humpback whale in particular that decided to put on quite the show. He must have breached somewhere between 25-30 times as we watched. When he’d had enough of us, he then proceeded to not just swim away, but literally breached away from us. My only advice to Sam at this point is to never go on another whale watch again unless she is in search of a different species of whale.
We took our time driving home in the rainy weather, but made it back to Anchorage in time to pick up a couple pounds of King crab legs for dinner, before heading home to cook and feast like kings.
As to not run ourselves entirely ragged, we slept in Sunday morning before taking off to Matanuska Glacier. We left Brian at the house to work on his homework in peace but picked up my friend Ray along the way. The three of us spent the day trekking around the ice and Sam learned the true meaning of glacier blue.
On the way home, I attempted to show off the view from Hatcher Pass, but the weather had other plans. So it was a quick turnaround at the top where it was raining back down to the bottom of the mountain. Once out of the rain, we found an avalanche shoot with some remnants of snow in it and build ourselves a snowman.
Remind you of any current presidential candidates?
Before I threw her back on a plane Sunday night/Monday morning, we went home and cooked up the salmon we had caught only a few days before.
Although exhausting, I think I utilized what little time we had together to give Sam a taste of what Alaska is all about. Hopefully she had a good time and will convince more friends and family to come visit us while we’re up here! Now it’s my turn to come explore Oregon!