Thursday, June 13, 2013


We returned home yesterday from a totally amazing trip to Alaska!!  
Uncle Phil treated us to airline tickets that would have otherwise been outside of our budget. 
We managed to visit 3 cities, had beautiful weather, health, peaceful travels,
and God's grace with us the entire trip.  
It was a dream!  
We have over 600 photos of the trip, but I will just share highlights here!

First stop: Juneau
Although we never lived in Juneau, for me, it was a childhood destination to visit grandparents and attend family reunions.  While Adrian & I lived in Skagway, Juneau (100 miles to the south) was the place we often passed through (nearest airport, better shopping options, health care, etc).  Juneau is where we would ferry our car down, load it up with Costco goods, and ferry back home.  Juneau is the place Adrian had an emergency appendectomy when we had been married 6 weeks.  Juneau is where I traveled for every prenatal appointment, where I lived for 3 weeks while anticipating the arrival of our first child, and where Ella Rose was born.  It was the place Grandma Alm came to on a cruise ship so she could meet Ella Rose when she was a few months old.  

We spent time in Juneau before and after Skagway.
I was glad to see the familiar sights on Juneau, 
especially because 
we landed on the clearest, warmest day I have EVER seen in Juneau!!  
(And I knew I'd better appreciate it ~ smile!)
5 cuties at the skating cabin overlooking Mendenhall Lake

Our kids' amazing playground for a day:
Mendenhall Glacier

The view of the beach, lake and glacier ~
When I was a child, the glacier extended to the waterfall you see on the right.
It was nice to learn that while some glaciers are currently receeding, others are expanding.

My grandparents' cozy and memory-full log cabin.

Ella got to see the room she was born in!

Meeting Debbie, the awesome midwife that attended Ella's birth Feb '04
(We didn't imagine Ella would be nearly as tall as Debbie this time around!)

Luscious Wild Lupin in bloom along highways

Cubby began to take more & more steps in Juneau & Skagway.
Here he is being coaxed on by friend Howie. 

We visited Uncle Melvin's grave on rainy Wednesday.

Glacial Ice Samples!

The kids LOVED sleeping in "the little room" at G&G's!


Second stop: Skagway

Adrian and I have each spent 5 summers in Skagway.  I was there summer of '98, and he was there summer of 2000.  Then we were both there that fateful summer of 2001 when we met one another and, well, our love began to bud in Skagway.  We both landed year round jobs, decided to get married, and began our life together in Skagway.  In October 2004 our career choices took us elsewhere, but it's no wonder we were excited to return to our "old home" 8.5 years later.  
(And we couldn't have possibly imagined we would be returning with 5 children!)

boarding the Malaspina
~a very familiar sight~
it is about a 6 hour sailing from Juneau to Skagway
Because there is no road connecting the two cities, the other option is a 1 hour flight in a bush plane.

We passed the Matanuska and a lighthouse at the same time!

breakfast on the ferry!

Enroute, you can see mountains, islands and glaciers galore!

a sea otter greeted us at the Skagway ferry terminal
(as well as Aunt Patricia, Uncle Charles, and Elda!)

Tessa on my favorite hiking trail of all time

many many kid-less memories on this trail...
now here they are enjoying it along with us!
We got to go on a round trip on the famous White Pass & Yukon Route Railway
While Orion slept...
the other children made new friends

White Pass Summit
I would have been disappointed at the view
if we had paid full price for train tickets....
Thank You White Pass
for treating a past employee!!

a very special agate!

oops, this is actually a Juneau photo.  Cuties in the sun!

Tessa's Birthday Bash in a beautiful castle on the hill!

Aunt Jauna baked an amazing strawberry cake
at Tessa's request!

love Tessa's expressions
~opening gifts with Aubrey G~

Thank you Jaci!
And then came the gift of all gifts... 
Tessa had mentioned that all she really wanted for her birthday was to ride a horse...
Aunt Jauna caught wind of that wish, and made it come true!
grooming Sonny

such a good, patient boy with all the kids!

D&B came over from Haines to visit us,
so all got to join in on the horse treat!
A Birthday Girl and a horse...
what could be better?!
And of course everyone got a turn to ride Sonny!

and Orion got to say hi...

I <3 pass="" td="" white="">

Aunt Jauna (and Orijan) also treated us to a carraige ride!
(Adrian stayed with our Orion while he napped)
homework on the return ferry
I was blown away by how much I've missed Skagway!
With the population only 800 in the winter, it was a community where you knew most everybody.
Visiting 8 years later, I could still pick out locals amid the crowds.
I knew who lived (or used to live) in the houses.
I discovered much of what was the same, and what was different in town.
At one point, I heard a train give its road crossing signal.  I thought to myself, "that sounds like the engineer ___ ____".  When the train passed, I peeked into the engine, and sure enough, operating the engine was the engineer I had imagined.  Working for the railroad for 3 years I knew the engineers, conductors and brakemen so well, I could even tell their crossing signals apart. When we departed on the ferry, we talked to the employees like they were old friends.  Word had traveled very quickly that we were in town.  We didn't have near enough time to go everywhere and do everything in this little town, only 5 blocks wide, 16 blocks long.
So, time to plan the next visit!  :)


Finally, we flew to Anchorage to visit Uncle Dennis, Aunt Susana and their 4 handsome boys!  We had some splendid times with all of them, and Aunt Patricia tagged along for some of the time as well!
our welcome to Anchorage:
vast, largely unexplored, beautiful Alaska

ice cream after a day at the Alaska Zoo!
(with 11 kids 13 and younger)

Tessa & Jonny were fast friends!

A Day at Eklutna Lake!

snacking before playing begins

Cub insisted he wanted to sit in the icy cold stream
(for a few seconds anyway)

kayaking with my honey

peaceful, quiet, calm, still

One kid is done with mud...
...the others are just beginning!
up to their eyebrows and under their fingernails...
mud, mud, mud!

Another gorgeous lake, still melting off

Alexander is a natural

Tessa got another birthday celebration!
Gracias Tia Susana!
We did see a wild moose grazing next to the road,
but this bull was at the
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

Hand feeding Mr. Moose

We were glad this big guy was behind  a tall / electric fence
Estimated weight: 1200 pounds
Farewell Picnic near Flat Top