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.
Goo1dbyeAlaska-GoodbyeAlaska-2GoodbyeAlaska-9GoodbyeAlaska-10GoodbyeAlaska-11GoodbyeAlaska-12GoodbyeAlaska-19GoodbyeAlaska-20GoodbyeAlaska-23GoodbyeAlaska-24GoodbyeAlaska-25GoodbyeAlaska-26GoodbyeAlaska-27GoodbyeAlaska-28GoodbyeAlaska-29GoodbyeAlaska-32GoodbyeAlaska-34GoodbyeAlaska-36Processed with VSCO with g3 preset

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

Portage Pass

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.Portage Pass - 1Portage Pass - 2Portage Pass - 3Portage Pass - 4Portage Pass - 6Portage Pass - 8Portage Pass - 9Portage Pass - 10Portage Pass - 11Portage Pass - 12Portage Pass - 13Portage Pass - 14Portage Pass - 15Portage Pass - 16Portage Pass - 17Portage Pass - 18Portage Pass - 19
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.

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.

Dip Netting

According to my calculations I’ve been a transient in Alaska for exactly 3 years and 25 days. It’s always been a known fact that my time here was (most likely) going to be cut off at some point or another, so I’ve tried my best to experience Alaska to the best of my ability. Despite all my adventures here it was this weekend that I firmly believe I became a tried and true Alaskan after dip netting the Copper River. (Don’t worry Montana, you’ll always have this girls heart) To fish this river one usually employs a boat to avoid having to navigate the steep cliffs and raging current, but wanting a true Alaskan experience, we chose a different route.

Brian’s Army buddy Scott flew in to town to visit his brother who was stationed at JBER just two days before. Brian is not known to be the most outright adventurous person, there is one person – other than myself – who can talk him into crazy adventures, it’s Scott. So when I learned that Scott was coming into town I knew to expect an adventure and got excited for his arrival.

The four of us took off for the little town of Chitina (pronounced Chit·na by Alaskans) where we parked our vehicles, loaded up our gear onto our backs and took off down an old mining trail for our destination. About 5 rough and tumble miles down river Scott took us down an even gnarlier path through the tree to the cliffs directly above the river. Here we set up shop for the night and got to fishing.
Dipnetting - 1Dipnetting - 3Dipnetting - 4Dipnetting - 5Dipnetting - 7Dipnetting - 8Dipnetting - 9Dipnetting - 11Dipnetting - 12Dipnetting - 13
The boys made quick work of it and by morning we were already packing up and heading back down the trail; except this time we have about 70 lbs of fresh salmon fillets to add to the weight on our backs.

We had strategically taken two vehicles so that the boys could return to Anchorage and I could set out to explore one of the few unexplored (to me) , drive-able sections of Alaska. I made a quick trek into Wrangell – St. Elias National Park as well as explored the town of Valdez. Dipnetting - 14Dipnetting - 15Dipnetting - 16Dipnetting - 18Dipnetting - 19IMG_9788

Ketchican Bird Fest

Every year hundreds of thousands of birds from all over North & South America migrate to Alaska for various reasons during the late spring and summer months. Their migration is almost like clockwork and every years birders from all over the country gather in Homer, Alaska for the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival. Having no previous plans that weekend I took off for Homer as soon as I was out of work on Friday night. In true Homer fashion, it rained most of the weekend, but it was impossible to not have a great time. Birding is not a particular hobby of mine, but I love watching just about any animal interacting in and with their natural habitat.
ShoreBirdFestival-1ShoreBirdFestival-3ShoreBirdFestival-4ShoreBirdFestival-5ShoreBirdFestival-6ShoreBirdFestival-7ShoreBirdFestival-8ShoreBirdFestival-9ShoreBirdFestival-13ShoreBirdFestival-15ShoreBirdFestival-16ShoreBirdFestival-18ShoreBirdFestival-19ShoreBirdFestival-20On my drive home on Sunday afternoon I stopped in the village of Ninilchik as well as Kenai city to visit their Russian Orthodox churches. While I have no religious affiliation with that particular church, I find their architecture stunningly beautiful and always drawn to it. ShoreBirdFestival-21ShoreBirdFestival-22ShoreBirdFestival-23ShoreBirdFestivalDriveHome-1

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:
BaseEager-1BaseEager-2BaseEager-3BaseEager-4BaseEager-5BaseEager-6CameraBagFlatTopSunset-1FlatTopSunset-2FlatTopSunset-3FlatTopSunset-4FlatTopSunset-6FlatTopSunset-7GlacialMoulinItsHardBeingAPuppyMirroredMatanuskaGlacierWithSam-1SamBsTripToAlaska-1SamBsTripToAlaska-2SamBsTripToAlaska-3SamBsTripToAlaska-4SamBsTripToAlaska-5SamBsTripToAlaska-6SamBsTripToAlaska-7SamBsTripToAlaska-8SamBsTripToAlaska-9SamBsTripToAlaska-10SamBsTripToAlaska-11SamBsTripToAlaska-12SamBsTripToAlaska-13SamBsTripToAlaska-14SamBsTripToAlaska-15SamBsTripToAlaska-16SamBsTripToAlaska-17SamBsTripToAlaska-18SamBsTripToAlaska-19SamBsTripToAlaska-20SamBsTripToAlaska-21SamBsTripToAlaska-22SamBsTripToAlaska-23SamBsTripToAlaska-24SamBsTripToAlaska-25SamBsTripToAlaska-26SamBsTripToAlaska-27SamBsTripToAlaska-28SamBsTripToAlaska-29SamBsTripToAlaska-30SamBsTripToAlaska-31SamBsTripToAlaska-32SamBsTripToAlaska-33SamBsTripToAlaska-34SamBsTripToAlaska-35SamBsTripToAlaska-36SamBsTripToAlaska-37 Thanks again for coming to visit Sam! It was great getting to reconnect with you and it’s always a treat to share my home with like minded individuals. I hope we can do this again in the future!