Adventures Continue

So I’ve neglected telling the tales of our Alaska Adventure since we’ve arrived, but rest assured, we’ve been having a great time. Today, our little clan went for a short little hike late this afternoon. We drove up O’Malley to Prospect Heights Trailhead to explore the South Fork Rim Trail – an easy jaunt without much elevation change, but spectacular view, and copious raspberries and watermelon berries to consume (which we did!)

For such an easy hike, the views really are spectacular. For family and friends who come to visit and aren’t wanting to climb a mountain, this is the hike we’ll take you on. Click on the photos for a larger view. Alaska summer is growing short. Play on!

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Out of State Visitors

We were blessed by our first out of state visitors! A seminary classmate, Christina O’Hara, and family had been in state for a class David had been teaching, and so we were able to meet up and after showing her around St. John and the totems, we shared a cup of coffee at Steam DOT before she and her kids had to continue down the road to Seward.

We were also blessedly surprised to hear from Dan and Deb Lindholm from Milbank. Dan is the worship leader there and Deb was our son’s 3rd grade teacher (whom he loves). They arrived to take a Denali vacation, and had a couple days in Anchorage. We got to share some time together at Moose’s Tooth (who recently earned the distinction as the THIRD BEST pizza parlor in the nation by Trip Advisor), the Alaska Zoo, and also a quick little hike up at Glen Alps. We LOVE them and were so blessed to get to spend a little bit of time with them.

My dad arrives next, unless we get another surprise visitor from out of state. Come on up! We’d love to see you. :)

Biking, biking, biking

We went on a family adventure today! We rode bicycles from Kincaid Park to downtown Anchorage and back again along the coastal trail, 22+ miles roundtrip. We also spent some time hanging around the downtown market, eating salmon quesadillas, ice cream, cheesecake cupcakes, and generally enjoying the wares on display. The boys particularly liked the break dancer, but thought the Elvis impersonator was a bit “weird.” I know I’m getting old, when I ask the vendor for ear plugs because I thought he was too loud. We also met (who we think) is the artist who created the granite whale above our fireplace.

The day was cooler than any of us expected, and we didn’t bring enough layers (cheechako mistake #1). We enjoyed lots of sights along the trail, including standing directly under HUGE aircraft coming in for a landing at the airport, Cook Inlet low tide, Cook inlet high tide, Mt. Susitna, downtown Anchorage from Earthquake Park, and we at lots and lots and LOTS of raspberries along the way. It was quite a trek for the short-legs, but they managed to get er done.

No sooner had we got the bikes loaded on the rack and climbed in the van than the sky opened up and proceeded to dump over 2 inches of rain. Whew! Just in time. All slept well that night.


Up, Up, and away!

What an incredible day. I woke up at 4am and headed south to Bird Creek to go fishing. I got to the river before just about anyone else and within the first few casts, managed to land an 8lb Chum salmon. I debated on releasing him, since I was on the hunt for Coho (silver) salmon that day, but he was fairly bright, so I decided I would keep him. Next fish caught was a bright Pink (humpy) salmon, but having brought home three of these a few days before, I decided I would let her go. I managed to sight-fish and hook a couple of silvers, but couldn’t get them in. Just as I was about to change spots in the stream, something SLAMMED my line, and went cruising downstream, whizzing line off the drag FAST. I finally managed to slow him down before he tangled some lines further downstream where some more fishermen had started to appear. I was only using 8lb test, and so I was being careful not to horse the fish in. After ten minutes of fight, I reeled in what may be the largest chum salmon I have EVER caught, close to 15lbs. This one was turning, and had the tell-tale stripes that he was well on his way to spawning out, so I released him, and soon called it a day.

Oh – and there was a bear. A young grizzly, maybe three years old, came to fish we me. He startled me the first time. He ambled down to the bank on the other side of the river. I sort of jumped in my waders, reeled in my line, and started waving my arms above my head and calling “Hey Bear!” I think I startled him too, because when he saw me he stopped in his tracks, and then turned up stream to fish somewhere quieter. As I watched him he snuffled around until he found a fish carcass, and then would drag it up into the trees to eat. Soon enough he was back doing the same thing. He did this three or four times. On one of his trips, he decided to chase the seagulls who were standing around. It was comical watching them scramble to get out of the bear’s way.

I slogged through the mud with my one fish, freshly filleted, and headed back for Anchor town. Our kids had a play date scheduled with my office manager’s kids, and Kate and I went on a Brunch date to an old favorite place called Cafe Amsterdam. We had a great time together, and spent a little time perusing a brew store, a bike store, and a bread store, all in the same shopping area. We headed back to fetch the kids, and get ready for another outdoor adventure together.

We decided we would go for a hike up to the Ballfields, as it is commonly known. It’s not REALLY a ball field, but a flatish bowl area within some mountain peaks, including O’Malley, Little O’Malley, and False Peak. The guide book had mentioned “easy,” but for the short legs (who don’t yet have proper footwear for such adventures) thought it was anything BUT easy. After making the steep and straight ascent up 1800 feet to the saddle between Little O’Malley and False Peaks, snacking on crow and blueberries all the way, we decided perhaps we would just summit Little O’Malley and head back down. The boys were pretty entertained with discovering some snow (in July!) in the saddle. After a little bit of horseplay, we summitted, selfied, and headed for home.

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The tire was fixed. In fact, it was amazing just how quickly he fixed it. So after four hours of waiting, he had us back on the road in 15 minutes. We stopped in Palmer for gas and Taco Bell (forgetting that this is the slowest Taco Bell in the universe. If ever you want FAST service, go to the Taco Bell in Wasilla).

We drove to Anchorage, and after construction detours and dodging a house-mover, we finally arrived at our new home around 9:30pm. Kate and the boys worked at unloading the minivan, while I dropped the Subaru from the car trailer, and then delivered the trailer to the church parking lot for the night.

We got the boys to bed around 11:30pm, and Kate and I followed around 12:30. We got up around 6am, and started unloading the truck. We received some blessed reinforcements from the church (thank you Thea, Gus, and Alex!) and we were done at 10am. Now the long process of unpacking boxes and finding new homes for things.

Tonight (day 11) we were sitting on the back balcony and were blessed to have not one, but two bald eagles fly closely over head, with mountains as the backdrop. We are blessed to be here, and God granted us safe travel all the way.

So while the road trip is over, the Alaska Adventure is just beginning! Check back for more updates in the days ahead.

Be blessed, and be a blessing.


Alaska Adventure Day 10

We woke up in the campground in Tok and I gotta say, they do tent sites well! Plenty of trees, but the kicker was they laid down 2-3 inches of spruce shavings for a tent pad. Pretty comfy!

We cooked some breakfast (scrambled eggs and salsa for the adults, waffles for the kids) and packed up the tent, reorganized the van, and hit the road sometime after 10am. The road headed south of Tok was FANTASTIC… for awhile, and then we returned to the heaved, pot-holed Tok Cut-off Road I remember so well. Sort of feels like being on six foot seas, rolling over the heaves in the UHaul. They did redo a fair amount of that road, so there was some good and some not so good. Mostly good.

We stopped for lunch in Glennallen at a nice restaurant. The entire ceiling was copper plated (expensive!) but when you’re in the Copper Valley, I suppose maybe you get a price-reduction on the stuff?

We kept heading south, the older son napping, the adults enjoying the vistas of mountains and glaciers, all of us ready to be done with the drive, and yet, I have to admit I was feeling a little sad that this adventure would be coming to a close, and we would be returning to a more “normal” life shortly. Afterall, in one’s everyday life, you don’t often get to look at this:

I just wasn’t ready for this trip to be over. So I guess it must be my fault then that the truck broke down. Yes. Again.

We are currently sitting in Sutton, Alaska – just 14 miles north of Palmer, waiting for a U-Haul dispatched wrecker service to come and respond. As I was slowing down coming into town, I heard a distinctive “flap-flap-flap-flap” and I knew what had happened. I pulled the truck over, got out to inspect, and sure enough. Tread separation. Rear, inside tire (duallys).

So, now we wait. ETA of the guy to change the tires is 2 hours. If it were my car, I could just change the tire and be on my way, but they don’t want the customer messing with their equipment I guess. And if I’m being really honest with myself, I guess I’m not all that excited about hoisting 14,000 lbs in the air to pull off TWO tires and replace them.

So, I got my wish. Sort of. The trip isn’t over yet. And the carpets get a little extra drying time.

The adventure continues… Stay tuned to find out when we will finally land in our new home in Anchor-town.

Alaska Adventure Day 9

Today was the day. The big push. Not only were we trying to gain a lot of miles, we knew it was going to be over THE WORST section of road. The stretch from Destruction Bay to Tok is notorious for its frost heaves, pot holes, and other tire/axle/furniture busting features.

We left Johnson’s Crossing after partaking in their “world famous” cinnamon buns (except mom, she had a scone, and said it didn’t compare with Papa John’s breakfast cookies). Once all were fed and nourished, we hit the trail. Our first stop ended up being in Whitehorse. Sometime in the past ten years they put a bypass in, and so we actually had to “exit” the highway in order to go into town. We found a gas station and fueled up. Then mom and the boys went shopping in a Real Canadian Superstore (that really is what its called) while I went searching for my Yukon Territory geocache.

I think mom was happy for me to go geocaching for once, because I came back with coffee!  A REAL coffee. The geocache was hidden outside a combination bicycle/coffee shop! After locating the cache, I had to pop in and purchase two americanos. It was the best coffee we have had in over two weeks.

Once getting our hot bitter beverage fix, we jumped back on the highway and headed north. The smoke in the air got thicker throughout the day due to the multiple forest fires burning in both Alaska and Canada. We made a stop at a roadside rest area to make sandwiches and continued our drive.

We had gorgeous views driving around Kluane Lake, stopping to refuel in Destruction Bay.

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As expected the road was the pits. Literally. For miles and miles and miles, we endured long waits for pilot cars in road construction, and shook ourselves along washboarded, heaved, pock marked roads at 20mph. We also were sharing a radio channel with another Uhauler who was more chatty than we, and we eventually pulled over into a rest area to get the channels synced up to a quieter frequency. It was a really nice stop, full of beautiful views and some informative charts that showed us how the topography is thought to guide trumpeter swan (and other bird) migration. It was a needed break from the stress of the road and noisy and radios.

What WAS a pleasant surprise, is that the bad roads didn’t last as long as we expected. They are rebuilding the roadbed from Beaver Creek (Canada border) all the way south for 40km, so while it was slow and loose gravel, the road was actually REALLY good for the final 30km in Canada. Once we crossed the border, I was also pleasantly surprised that they have repaved the stretch of road from Tok to the border (about 90 miles). All in all, it was a great day of driving.

We crossed the border into Alaska at 5:40 pm ADT. We arrived in Tok, got a campsite, and headed over to Fast Eddie’s for supper. Tonight the boys don’t think they will ever go to sleep. The sun isn’t going to set until 11:35pm and then it rises again at 3:30am. They don’t call this the Land of the Midnight Sun for nothing (even if it does technically set before midnight).

Tomorrow, we start the drive to Anchorage. Sounds like the carpets are getting cleaned in the morning, so we won’t actually be moving anything into the house until Thursday, but perhaps we’ll unload the Uhaul into the garage, staging the boxes by room so we don’t have to live in boxes for the next two weeks, but rather unpack at our leisure without a forest of cardboard around us.

So for tonight, we rest with full bellies knowing we are so very close to our new, and former, home. Alaska, we love you and we’re so glad we’re home.

And there was evening, and there was morning. The ninth day.



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