Goodbye Alaska

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.
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I’m going to miss you Alaska… but damn it feels good to be home.
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Boudoir

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.
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Final Farewell

It’s been a revolving door of friends and family the past few years but now that Heather & Chris are safely on a plane headed back to the lower 48 I can [with great sadness] say I’ve said my final farewell to my Alaskan visitors.

Even though I’ve tried to remember, I can’t honestly tell you the last time I saw my cousin Heather. One of us was probably in high school – although with us being 4 years apart I’m not sure which one of us that was.

The weather seemed to hold out for the most part (a rarity this time of year in Alaska and something that seemed to be even more rare this summer in particular) and I think it’s safe to say they had a pretty good trip and got to experience a good chunk of Alaska. They slept in a different bed almost every night, traveled several hundred miles and still managed to squeeze in some quality time with Brian & I, not to mention an impromptu camping trip. We’ll be stopping in to visit ya’ll in PA soon enough! xoxo.

Zoo

My friend Steve and I met back in college @ DelVal. We were both in the Zoo Science program and fancied lacrosse. Since then he’s gone on to an impressive career as a keeper with the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore and has been known to pick up a camera from time to time to document the animals he works with and around. His photos, which you can check out HERE, are a frequent reminder of a life and passion I’ve left behind. Seriously, you should stop what you’re reading and go check them out. He does great work and I can promise you they aren’t even in the same league as the photos you’re about to scroll down and see. Go!

Feeling inspired by Steve’s work, I found myself wandering about the tiny campus of the Alaska Zoo this afternoon. It was one of those overcast days where the sky couldn’t decide if she wanted to pour down on you or let the sun shine forth, so it stayed in a constant limbo all day. For me, that is the perfect kind of day for viewing wildlife and keeping the hoards of mosquitoes at bay. A few of my favorite shots:

Thanks for the inspiration Steve. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Municipality of Anchorage Greenhouse

Recently, at a park very near our house, I discovered a greenhouse owned by the Municipality of Anchorage. It’s free to the public and open 7 days a week. While I am here in early June taking in the beauty of all the flora grown inside, I look forward to coming here as a refuge from the cold during winter as well. It will also be neat to see what plants are in bloom throughout different times of year here too.FlowerpokieRJPBotanicalGarden-1RJPBotanicalGarden-2RJPBotanicalGarden-3RJPBotanicalGarden-4RJPBotanicalGarden-5RJPBotanicalGarden-6RJPBotanicalGarden-7RJPBotanicalGarden-8

Springtime at Potters Marsh

In 1917 construction of a railroad embankment unintentionally created a 564 acre marshland. That man made accident has since become home to a plethora of creatures that call Potters Marsh home, even if only for a short while each year.

100 years after it’s accidental creation creation I find myself sitting along the edge of this wetland, camera in hand, observing the wonders of nature so you too can observe with me for a while too.

Thirteen moose wander about the opening, gorging themselves on the plant-life at the bottom of the shallow waters.  In the water in the foreground a pair of Tundra swans float about, napping intermittently. They have made their way to these waters for years and will continue to do so for the rest of their natural lives. PottersMarshMooseMadness-1PottersMarshMooseMadness-2PottersMarshMooseMadness-3PottersMarshMooseMadness-4
A car gunning down the highway to my back thunders down the road and scares off all the moose closest to me. They flee into the cover of nearby treesPottersMarshMooseMadness-5PottersMarshMooseMadness-6PottersMarshMooseMadness-7PottersMarshMooseMadness-8PottersMarshMooseMadness-9PottersMarshMooseMadness-10PottersMarshMooseMadness-11PottersMarshMooseMadness-12PottersMarshMooseMadness-13PottersMarshMooseMadness-14
When I pull my head back from the camera again, a pair of mallards drift by just a few feet in front of me. They waddle up onto a chunk of ice and make themselves at home there until a bald eagle swoops into the scene nearby. PottersMarshMooseMadness-15PottersMarshMooseMadness-16PottersMarshMooseMadness-17PottersMarshMooseMadness-18PottersMarshMooseMadness-19EgerFlyin-1
There is so much to watch in one little place, but as the sun sets this time of year it signals bedtime for me, so off I retreat to my home across town.

Facebook Friends Forever

Thinning of the herd. Filtering your friends list. The purge. Whatever you call it, most people are guilty of it. We haven’t talked to someone in a while so we periodically sift through our friends list and filter out those who are no longer present in our everyday lives.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with this practice, it is one that I refuse to be a part of. There are plenty of people on my Facebook friends list that I haven’t talked to [in real life] in years. For me, Facebook – and other forms of social media – serve as an easy way to re-connect with someone when out of the blue I’ve had a thought or dream about them, or they come across my news feed with a big life event, or when I’m traveling to their area and want to meet up or even just need advice on what to do there. Over the years there have been plenty of occasions I’ve been happy to have not weeded out those simply because they’re not currently in my everyday life.

At one point or another some set of circumstances led me to either send or accept a friend request and that’s enough for me to keep them there.

Earlier this year is a great example of why I am more than happy to keep people around on my friends list even if I haven’t actually seen them in years. A girl whom I attended DelVal with contacted me about coming to Alaska. She had spent a summer up here working at the SeaLife Center in Seward and wanted to return for spring break (she’s now a school teacher in NY). After a few weeks of messaging back and forth it was agreed upon that she was going to stay with Brian & I during her visit back and she booked her ticket to Alaska.  In my opinion, that takes some balls, but those are exactly the kind of people I like to have in my life.

We spent a week gallivanting around south central Alaska in an attempt to do as much as possible while she was here. Considering  she was only here for a few days & I never took any time off work, I think we did pretty well for ourselves. Thankfully, Sam likes taking photos as much as I do so we spent a lot of her trip taking pictures. Here are a few of my favorites:
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A Very Bennett Christmas

Perhaps I’m one of the lucky ones, but I absolutely adore my in-laws. I haven’t met a single person in Brian’s family – immediate or extended – that I haven’t liked. In fact, I rather enjoy their company and wish we all lived closer. When Brian’s parents called to say that they’d be coming to Alaska for Christmas I was ecstatic. Then we found out his younger brother Jesse would be joining them and it meant the whole Bennett family would be together under a single roof for the holidays for the first time in years. The pressure was on to create a perfect meld of Groff / Bennett holiday traditions, but I couldn’t see a better group to test them out on.

At exactly noon on Friday Brian & I pulled up to the curb at Ted Stevens International Airport with Kratos in tow.  It was a short wait for baggage claim to deliver their checked bags and we were on our way home. Brian’s mom had visited our cozy little two bedroom home right before Brian’s deployment to Korea but we hadn’t seen his dad or brother since moving to Alaska back in 2014. We dropped off everyone’s suitcases, gave a quick tour of our home and headed back out the door so everyone could finish up a few last minute Christmas errands.

We spent a better part of Christmas eve at the house watching football and catching up. Other than my daily outing with Kratos and a trip to the store to find the last minute request for eggnog that took me 4 stores and 2-ish hours to find, I didn’t stray far from the comforts of my couch and visiting family. As evening approached I buzzed about the kitchen preparing a traditional seafood smorgasbord. Parmesan crusted halibut, BBQ shrimp with a light lemon aioli, and king crab with a garlic lemon butter dipping sauce topped off the menu. Several friends and neighbors joined in on the feast and the full house transported me back to the Christmas eve’s of my childhood where dozens of friends and family would filter through our door for my parent’s annual seafood bonanza. The hour was late when our last guest strolled out the door. Soon after everyone was in their beds snoring. I snuck out of my room to retrieve on last hidden gift from it’s hiding spot and added it to the stacks of gifts that had accumulated under the tree during the month of December.verybennettchristmas-1verybennettchristmas-4

I was the last to rise on Christmas morning. The house was dark and chilly per usual in December and I had no desire to leave the warmth of my down comforter just yet. I was finally coaxed out of my warm cocoon with a mug of hot tea and the promise of gifts. Not long after there was a flurry of boxes and wrapping paper only Bucket could truly appreciate. One large neatly wrapped package remained  near the tree at the end of all the calamity. It was an electric ice auger that I’d somehow managed to pull off as a surprise gift for Brian. I’m really proud of myself for that one because surprising my husband is no easy task. Before long he and his dad had donned a few more layers and were out the door for a day of fishing. I pushed back plans for dinner so the boys could utilize as much usable daylight as possible but headed for the kitchen to get all my prep work done anyways. That night, once again accompanied by friends, we feasted on pot roast, mashed potatoes, corn, {Aunt Joy’s special] rolls, and my paternal grandmother’s recipe of Yorkshire pudding – another family tradition of mine.verybennettchristmas-2verybennettchristmas-23verybennettchristmas-12verybennettchristmas-11

On Monday we finally made it out on the ice as a family. Since our ice hut is only made to fit two comfortably we rotated between holes we drilled at various spots in the ice of Matanuska Lake. Fishing was so-so but we managed to spend most of the day out on the ice anyways. We headed back to Anchorage for a hot meal out on the town and then home for some quality family time. I headed back to work on Tuesday morning, which left Brian playing tour guide by himself for a few hours before sending everyone back to the airport. Until next time family! Hopefully it’s during warmer weather next time we meet! xoxo.

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