Friday, July 25, 2014

Flashback Friday: Alaska, July ‘13

I’m wishing I was there today… not that there is anything wrong with where I actually am. I’m just daydreaming of all the wonderful adventures we had last July (one year ago almost exactly!) when I first visited Alaska with my husband, his best friend, and his parents. It was truly a trip of a lifetime. I promise I will update this blog with current happenings as they happen, but I thought it might be also nice to look back on some of our favorite travels together. This one was definitely my favorite so far!

Our trip to Alaska was my husband's (my boyfriend at that time) and my first airplane trip together. That was exciting in itself to me. :) He’s a funny person to ride in an airplane with because he just knows so much about them. If we are stalled for a few minutes, he knows why. If we have any turbulence, he predicts it before it happens. So, it was a fun trip. Veryyy long one, though. It took almost an entire day to travel from to Anchorage, AK, where we spent a full day exploring. Anchorage is where I had my first encounter with a bear and a moose (ok, by encounter I mean I was a safe distance away and in a moving vehicle, and they were just in sight)! But, it was still the coolest thing ever. A moose literally walked out right in front of our vehicle, and we saw a grizzly bear on the side of the road guarding a cooler of some sort. He didn’t seem to mind any cars that were passing by. Encounters like that, where you can take photos and not be in any sort of actual danger, are the kinds I like. :)

After spending a little time in Anchorage, we headed to where the cabin is located: in Homer, AK, which probably ranks as my favorite place in the U.S. now. My husband's parents have a beautiful cabin located right alongside of a bay. They take a boat to get from the main part of Homer (called “The Spit”) to their cabin, and that was fun! We had some boat issues that his dad had to work on quite a bit of the trip, but we were still able to use it some and have a lot of fun. Since the boat wasn’t working all that well, we ended up going on a charter boat to go halibut fishing. If you are ever in AK, you have to fish for and eat halibut. It is the most delicious fish in the world, and many that aren’t even a big fan of fish like it. :) It’s delicious. Mmmm… Anyway, we were allowed a limit of two halibut with our fishing license, and there were deck hands that helped us with the fishing experience and had everything very organized so that everyone was able to fish in the best part of the ocean. They took us to the part of the water that they knew was the most populated, and they were right. I even caught two decent-sized ones! They weren’t big by any means, and no one really caught a huge halibut. They have competitions there, though, where they tag some of the biggest halibut fish, and you can buy a lottery ticket so that if you end up catching one of those fish, you could earn quite a bit of money! It was such an experience to be around all these people that were so serious and talented fishermen. I didn’t even realize I liked fishing that much until that trip, but Randy has definitely hooked me in. :) It’s a blast. Our captain took a turn at fishing with us, and he caught an octopus! It was such a site to see. The deck hands showed everyone how the tentacles still had suction after the octopus had died, and then they cut it up for bait (according to them, the best bait ever). No big deal…. lol. Definitely one of the highlights of that trip, but then again, there were so many.

Crazy, large octopus!!

We did actually do some fishing that wasn’t as exciting as that. More of the type of fishing that you would think of. Just the two of us (me and the boy) took the small boat that they have out in the bay and tried to fish for salmon. We didn’t have any luck because apparently they aren’t as populated that late in the summer, but it was so nice and peaceful. Just him and me. Having him teach me how to fish was fun, too. I’m exciting to try some fishing around here soon. :) During that trip, we saw a bear (maybe a baby bear—couldn’t tell how big but it looked small… and cute :)) on the other side of the bay. We tried to get some pictures, but they didn’t turn out too well. My second, but not last, “encounter” with a bear of the trip.

One night at the cabin, I had to go to the bathroom around 2 am when it had just gotten dark (during the summers, there is daylight almost round the clock—if we had been there earlier in the summer, it would have still been light out!). So, I walked out to the outhouse. Almost as soon as I returned, my husband got up to go to the outhouse, but before he walked out the door, he heard huffing, angry noises coming from outside the cabin. We are almost positive by the sounds we were hearing that a bear was right outside our cabin. That was also the night before we had to get up at 4:30 to leave for the charter fishing expedition. I know I was a little scared to leave that day (when he had just been huffing an hour or so before!), but thankfully, there was no sight nor sound of the bear when we left. It was definitely a little excitement for that day. :)

We explored all different parts of the area during that week and a half. Near Anchorage, we hiked to the top (well, the boys did—my mother-in-law and I hiked to close to the top since I wasn’t as up for it after the long trip) of Alyeska Ski Resort. It was gorgeous! We explored the adorable Halibut Cove, with some incredible shops and views. We saw Alaska’s Arch (prettier than the STL one, in my opinion). So many places and so many things to do. One of the best parts about hanging out at the cabin was that we had the opportunity to go kayaking in the bay there. We kayaked all around, and there was an adorable sea otter that was so friendly and pretty comfortable around people that we were able to kayak very close to him. It was such a neat thing to be that close to an animal that usually swims away and dives under the water as soon as people get near. But this one would let you get pretty close before he dove under. If I lived there, kayaking would be my choice of exercise. So peaceful; a great workout; and so many incredible plants and animals in the sea (incredible starfish, too). His mom said that usually there are porpoises that swim in the bay there, too, which would have been awesome to see. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any there, but we saw a ton on our cruise.
Exit Glacier

Our favorite sea otter!!
The final leg of our trip was to explore one of the many National Parks in the area. When my husband and I first started dating, we began exploring National Historic Sites together, and we made a goal to see every site in the United States (and associated territories) together at some point in our lives. We have achieved around 24 of them so far. For more NHS posts, check back here. I’ll update that page with links to them as I write more. :) For this trip, we explored Kenai Fjords National Park. It was incredible. His parents generously arranged for us to take a tour of it since the park encompasses the sea that surrounds the Kenai Peninsula. The cruise was absolutely amazing. The captain was so great about stopping when she saw any signs of wildlife. We had porpoises swimming right along the boat; we saw humpback whales (and their bubble feeding—a group of whales blow bubbles to capture prey from underneath and then feed off the prey as a group—one was bubble feeding by itself which is just unheard of!); jellyfish; sea and river otters (sea otters swim on their backs while river otters swim on their front sides); bald eagles; sea lions; and we saw incredible glaciers that are continually diminishing in size. While we were viewing and taking pictures of the glaciers, there were huge chunks of ice falling continuously. It’s crazy to think about how much of the glaciers might be gone even by the time we hopefully have the chance to visit again next summer, not to speak of how much they will have melted by the time the next generation is old enough to appreciate them. It was the best cruise we could have ever asked to go on, and the food was even great! If you are ever in Alaska in the Kenai Peninsula area, you should definitely go on a cruise of the Kenai Fjords!

We got some awesome photos of the humpbacks!
Love the sea lions!
Love that man. He makes me so happy. :)
I could obviously write about this trip forever, but since I’m sure I lost readers as I kept writing, I will end it there. It was the best trip, and not only did we eat on halibut and salmon for months afterward (had the ones we caught frozen and shipped!), we still talk about how much fun we had and how we are hoping to go back next year! Maybe more family will be able to join. :)

On another note, Happy Friday! Have a wonderful weekend!


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Much Love!

Much Love!