I knew this day would come eventually. It’s been pretty much written into our story since before we even got to Alaska. Eve as the years ticked by here the inevitable goodbyes always seemed so far away.
The day after New Years the movers came and packed up our host. The took most of our belongings to port and shipped them back to the lower 48. Three days ago we packed up the Jeep, hugged our friends goodbye, and set our sights on a place far, far away.
We managed to knock out the trip in less than 72 hours – a feat I would not again recommend – but I also wouldn’t recommend driving in -35 degree temps either.
A few snaps from our last few days in the house and our travels through Canada.
I’m going to miss you Alaska… but damn it feels good to be home.
Well then, it’s time you turn on your speakers, crank up the volume, and give Raffi a few minutes of your time. You can thank me later.
Go on. I’ll wait.
Mind blown, right?!
Okay, perhaps if you’re not a wide-eyed, animal loving youth sitting in Mrs. Ruppel’s second grade classroom, hearing Baby Beluga for the first time wasn’t as life changing for you as it was for me. There was a lot of magic in that classroom. Mrs. Ruppel had a way with kids and making learning fun. I wish there were more teachers like her in the world.
Moving to Alaska has more often than once reduced me back to the blonde haired, blue-eyes-full-of-wonder girl that sat in that classroom. Building snowmen in Denali, running sled dogs to the starting line of Iditarod, watching wild orcas from the back of a vessel, scaling the face of a glacier, and most recently; singing Baby Beluga to Tyonek the baby beluga.
How Tyonek came to the Alaska Sealife Center is a story in itself. You can read more about that BY CLICKING HERE or follow his upcoming adventures and move to the San Antonio, Texas BY CLICKING HERE.
I’d been following the story of this little guy since his discovery and transfer to the Alaska Sealife Center in Seward, which is only about 3 hours south of Anchorage. The Cook inlet beluga population is in critical danger of being wiped out and Tyonek was initially kept out of the public view; a rule set by NOAA standards to protect the precious case. I was beginning to feel like he wouldn’t be released for public viewing before our scheduled move out of Alaska when I finally heard the news.
Three days after Christmas I drove to Seward and spent the afternoon sitting in front of the big windows overlooking the pool containing Tyonek.
Of course, I made two laps around the aquarium while I was there, needing to stretch my legs after they’d fallen asleep.
I’m going to miss you Seward, you’ve been good to me.
Not that I needed an excuse to see my friends Maggie & Chris or their son Ridge, but sending letters from Santa seemed like the perfect excuse for a weekend getaway to Fairbanks.
Thanks to the terrible storm that had rolled in earlier that afternoon, the drive took me a couple hours longer than normal, but I was greeted by a cheerful note and the welcoming sight of a soft bed.
It had been over a year since my last visit to my friends in Fairbanks, so I hadn’t yet met their new little bundle of joy, who is turning one year old later this month. Ridge & I hung out all morning, getting to know each other a bit better before we all ventured out to the North Pole to visit Santa and make a very special delivery.
A few weeks before my planned trip to my Fairbanks friends I’d posted on Facebook about sending letters from Santa to kids belonging to friends & family. I’d done this once before & mailed out around 30 letters ‘from Santa’ in North Pole, Alaska. Expecting around the same number, I was a little more than floored when I tallied my final count and saw that there were over 100 requests to be written.
At least I had good weather for the ride home. Bonus points to Chris for making me the BEST breakfast burrito that I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting – complete with reindeer sausage Chris harvested last season.
At the base of Hatcher’s Pass, just at the bend in the road that takes you up, up, up the winding trail to the top of the pass, is a trail head to a valley known as Gold Mint Trail. Despite having spent numerous days exploring Hatcher’s Pass, this trail has eluded me up until now – on a perfect bluebird day.
Recently some friends asked me if I would take their son’s senior pictures. Since I have never taken anything close to portraits let alone the all important senior portrait I was hesitant to say yes. After talking to them, and making it known that this was outside my comfort zone, we came to an agreement and I decided to take the photos contingent on the fact that if they didn’t like them they would have plenty of time and resources to get them redone by a professional.
The following are a few snaps from my Senior Portrait Session with Tyler.
After a successful maternity shoot with my co-worker Malissa, two friends pulled me aside and asked if I minded doing an outdoor boudoir shoot for them. Their husbands recently deployed & they wanted a fun surprise to send to them while they’re overseas.
This was another first for me. I seem to be having a lot of them lately and I’m completely okay with that. I like being pushed outside my comfort zone and look forward to more opportunities.
It seems as though everyone I know is having a baby. One of my very best friends clued me in a few weeks ago to her upcoming little one, several other friends just welcomed a small sibling to their respected line-ups and my co-worker, Malissa, is due mid-October with her first child – a boy. Months ago, Malissa came to me with the idea of doing a maternity shoot with her at one of my favorite Alaskan locations. I reluctantly agreed, but only after making sure she was fully aware that this would be a learning curve for both her and I.
We wanted to do the shoot in August for the colors, as well as the full, round pregnant belly Malissa would be sporting around that time. Unlike the rest of the country, August in Alaska is a cold, rainy month. It took over two weeks into the month to finally catch a break in the rain long enough that we could make the 45 minute drive south to Virgin Creek Falls in Girdwood. After a short hike and a quick wardrobe change, here are the results of our adventure.
While the maternity shoot was lots of fun, we decided to add a lot more laughter to the mix by having friend/assistant for the day – Cally – don my dino suite for her very own photo shoot.
For as long as I have memories I have suffered from motion sickness. Please don’t ever stick me in the back seat of your car unless you’d like it plastered with my most recent fare, and there have been occasions where particular winding roads in Idaho have meant even the passenger seat wasn’t safe from my sensitivities in a moving automobile. No vehicle is safe from exclusions either – whether it be plane, boat or train – they’ve all proven to make me queasy.
Despite this fault in my genetic make-up, I’m usually not one to skip out on an adventure when it’s presented to me and when my friend Ray asked me to spend a day on his boat with him, I wasn’t about to pass up what was probably my last opportunity to adventure out into Resurrection Bay. Our goal was to spend the majority of the afternoon scrambling up a mountainside on an island at the mouth of the bay in an attempt at a geocache (GC1ED58) that hasn’t been located since 2013. However, true to Alaska in August an impending storm prevented us from reaching our true goal and we set off for a secondary adventure that is something both of us are very happy to do – take pictures!
Instead of bushwhacking up a steep and rugged island, drenched in blood sweat and tears we spent the afternoon standing on the bow of a rocking boat observing various wildlife feeding and getting drenched by frigid rainfall. That much time on a boat left me sickly for hours after I left the boat for solid ground but it was all worth it tho and I hope you also see why:
Thanks for the adventures Ray. This might be our last in your boat for a while, but even as we ready to leave Alaska for good, I know this isn’t our last adventure!
While the tiny town of Whittier, Alaska is only 60ish miles from downtown Anchorage, it requires a paid pass through the longest highway tunnel in North America. The 2.5 mile tunnel is a one way tunnel and shares its time with the Alaska Railroad, meaning traffic only flows one way at a time and is occasionally paused for the train to use the space as well.
I’ve not spent much time in this town, only having really explored it once a few years ago, Brian & I set out with Kratos to complete a short hike through Portage Pass that we’d been hearing so much about.
After having trekked (and down and up and down again) this short trail, I can’t believe we haven’t spent more time on it’s dirt pathway to heaven. Hopefully we can make a trip up here again after the snow has fallen for another unique view, although I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the lake completely freezes over and we can walk straight up to Portage Glacier before we depart Alaska.