Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Spring/Summer 2012 in Alaska; Part 1

I have to say I've never been quite so happy in my life.  There are some things that are troublesome - Faith has had a bit of a hard time adjusting; my agoraphobia has gotten worse over the last few weeks, and the damn sun never goes down =/.  I could totally handle the darkness.  Constant daylight (even with blackout shades)?  Hell.  My sleep patterns were bad before, but now I'm all kinds of confused!

As the snow melted slowly around May-ish, I began to question the people who said spring and summer in Alaska are amazing.  Everywhere there was mud and muck and bare trees, and the roads were like going 4x4ing in the woods.  Then, seemingly overnight, the grass greened, the leaves magically appeared on the trees, and everything was clean again.  It is so beautiful here that I don't have words to describe it, even in Anchorage.  The temperature doesn't get much about 60-70 (above 65 and people start complaining about the heat - love it!), and at night it rarely falls below 50.  I am in heaven with the temperatures and feel comfortable pretty much all the time.  Well, there was that weekend in Talkeetna, but that's coming up in a minute.

Richard has shown us so much of the state already.  In May we went to Homer, where we rented an amazing cabin with a stunning view of the inlet and the mountains across the way.  Unfortunately, I was so in awe of everything that I managed one whole picture, and it's quite sad looking:

But you can see the mountains at least.  They are MUCH closer from the actual cabin, I hate how pictures make things so minuscule.  In any case, here is the cabin's website with better pics :) -  I was disappointed that the only land-bound animal I saw was a snowshoe hare.  I saw lots of seal and otter though on the spit.  We enjoyed our time there immensely :).

In June, we made a quick trip to Talkeetna and Denali Park.  We once again rented a cute cabin in the woods that I loved, but the mosquitoes were fighting for ownership of it, so we spent our time indoors.  Here are my pics:

Well, this is Richard's actually.  He braved the swarms of giant killer mosquitoes for this shot....

And this is the inside, Faith's bed/couch. Upstairs was our bed.

It had a very hippy, groovy vibe and I LOVED it. It was called the "Moonflower Cabin."

We ventured into Talkeetna and I was totally unprepared for the hoards and hoards of cruise line tourists that had invaded. It's a lovely little town, very historic as it was the original starting point for climbing Mt. McKinley. Most of the original buildings still stand, and are cute, kitschy little shops now. Another thing I wasn't expecting was the 77 degree temperature and 1000% humidity. I had dressed for typical Alaska summer days (jeans, tank top, and light top over it), and I was drenched in sweat immediately, It felt like 100 degrees did back in Grants Pass, but with ridiculous humidity. We had lunch at a neat old restaurant/inn and browsed a few shops, but the heat got to us and we went back to the cabin. I immediately took a shower to cool down. We hung out at the cabin, had sammiches for dinner, and just enjoyed the light breeze through the (screened) windows. Upon arriving in our bedroom, we realized only one window had a screen....meaning there would be no moving air. I swear, it was 90+ in that room all night. We slept with wet washcloths behind our necks and wet towels in front of the open window to try to cool the air, but we were miserable most of the night.

We left rather early the next day for Denali, which was a 3-ish hour drive from Talkeetna. We passed some beautiful tundra, and mountains so high that you couldn't see the tops through the clouds. Unfortunately, the little "town" (more of a hotel with shops built around it than an actual town) was also stuffed with cruiseline passengers, but we had a mission. We were going on a 3-hour 4x4 adventure, driving our own jeep! There were only two other groups coming with us, so we had a 3 jeep caravan following our guide. Ironically, the road we were on was the one Christopher McCandless (Into the Wild) took to reach the bus he lived and died in. No, we didn't go to the bus - it's about 18 miles from the main road, and crosses a medium and very large river. We did, however, go "muddin," as the road was rutted and we went through several streams. I felt like I was back in my redneck days, working at the mill and spending the weekends in the hills! We went into one scary area called "the bobblehead" where you drop into a hole literally the size and depth of your jeep and climb back out, only to be jounced through deep ruts for quite a few yards. We giggled and screamed and had a grand time :). We met a guide who was very knowledgeable about Chris McCandless (or Alexander Supertramp as he renamed himself) and had himself hiked out and camped in the bus. It was a nice stop, then we turned around and did it all again! By the time we got home that night, we were all feeling sore and stiff, but it was a blast and totally worth it. Here is the company we went with -

Some of the very few pics I got from Denali:

Richard at the wheel, keeping us in safe hands :) 

 The guide telling us about Chris McCandless

This was a fun one!

Since then, we've been enjoying the cool Alaska summer, going to movies and exploring excellent restaurants (my favorite is the Spenard Roadhouse!).  I'm not sure what trips we have ahead, but I know winter is creeping up soon.  I'm ready!  I love every season here :).

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