Tuesday, August 18, 2009

alaska, june 2009


WARNING: there are a ton of pictures posted here today. Don't be a hater. You don't even have to look at them all. Choose your own adventure. I realized that we took a TON of pictures this trip. Maybe it was because we didn't have an extra body to juggle. Maybe it's because we weren't towing a diaper bag with a million baby delights? who knows. But, whatever the case may be, there are a TON of pictures from our Alaska trip. These aren't even HALF of them. Yeah. Crazy.

So, let's get the 411. Aaron is applying to some different Pediatric Dentistry programs. A few of the schools he is applying to offer "externships" (pretty much like internships, but they are about a week---instead of a few months). So, he went to do that at a few of his "top" programs this summer. Alaska, believe it or not, is high up on the list for Aaron. And, I decided, if I was even going to CONSIDER the idea of moving there with him, I'd better go have a look-see for myself.

Hence, the trip to Alaska.

Aaron flew up to Utah with me at the end of May (he had a layover in SLC, I got off the plane completely), and he traveled solo up to Anchorage. I stayed in Utah for a week with the fam and the little Miss---and we played. During that week, Aaron did his externship. Then, I flew up, SOLO (yes, without my little shadow---which was so ridiculously sad for me) and left her in the capable and loving hands of the family. It was so strange to travel on the airplane ALL BY MYSELF. Of course, every baby/child/little girl I saw, I ached for Tillie, but at the same time, I have to say, it was nice to be able to take a little nap, pull snacks out of my bag for ME, read my book---things I haven't done for a while.

Aaron met me at the tiny airport in Anchorage and thus we started our 6 day vacay together. It was pretty fun to have so much time together. We loved it. Don't believe me? Well, just look at the pictures.

Farmer's market. I got a cool Alaska charm, and Aaron kept debating whether or not he should get some Ukrainian cheese ball thing (which, in my opinion, looked and smelled disgusting--and it was really early in the morning). He opted not and I think regretted that decision the rest of the day. Poor boy.

We had to try out a little Alaskan cuisine. So, we had heard multiple recommendations for
"Humpy's" and we tried it out. Pretty good.

we should SO be on the Food Network. Oh wait. Maybe not. Here I am about to try my very first halibut. It was delicious. But, secretly, I liked their tomato soup even better.

Aaron got the halibut fish and chips. He was in heaven. Can't you tell? :)

Just hanging out watching the float planes take off and land on the water. This was fun.
And, we played on the swings, walked around. Pretty fun and laid back. Just our style.

Checked out the Anchorage LDS Temple. That was pretty. It was a smaller temple and shared a parking lot with a church. Of course, had to take a photo op.

Pretty flowers on the temple grounds. Good shot, Aaron.

Checked out Eagle River, a place where a lot of dental kids/families/dentists live. It is BEAUTIFUL there. If we moved to Alaska, I'd definitely want to live in this town. Big fan. It was gorgeous. As you can see. Here is a shot of the church that we attended on Sunday. Yeah, I'd like that view every morning. Can you believe all the trees?

After church we went on a little hike called, Thunderbird Falls. It was MY kind of hike. Not to strenuous, lots of pretty nature, and at the end we were greeted by a waterfall. Love those kind of hikes.

it was QUITE the drop off from the side of the trail. If you accidentally slipped... let's just say, it would not be fun. This is us near the edge on a look out spot. I was a little nervous here. As you can tell by my face.

like I said, this was MY kind of hike. Whoopin' it up, y'all.

Nice ending to a nice hike. Peace dudes.

Same day, different outdoor park place. Another, what do you know, HIKE! :) No, this was more of a walk and boy it was beautiful. Are we sensing a theme here? Here we are, posin' it up.

Aaron, being the hard core rebel that he is, left the protective observation deck and decided to jaunt off on his own. Apparently he felt like a real mountain man (in his slacks and button-up shirt, mind you), and decided to REALLY check out the place.

I was the picture taker. I'll spare you the 15 self portraits I did, but let's just say, Aaron was happy to have his "alone time" and be "ONE" with nature. Whatev. I had fun by myself on the deck. Get a load of this view.

just beautiful.

Let's play "Where's Waldo?"---can you find the rebel child? Good luck. At this point, I think I started some wild bird calls to beckon him back to safety.
Hey, it was Alaskan wilderness. Who knows what might have been lurking around the corner waiting for a RED-haired-DINNER!?!
I know. It's a good thing he has me to keep him safe.

We like to make little travel logs of our adventures. Here's one page. And, yes, I love McDonald's breakfast. It's definitely NOTE worthy in my book. So sue me.

Against my better judgment, I decided to go ahead with the idea of taking a small plane into the depths of Denali National Park. Can I tell you how nervous I was about this idea?

Aaron, with the help of my sister, Emily, convinced me that this was a "once-in-a-lifetime" experience and that I should definitely do it. Well, I cave to peer pressure---it's a weakness of mine. But this time, I was glad I did. Definitely a highlight of the trip.

But, before I agreed, I made sure Aaron did a thorough investigation of every flight that had FAILED and CRASHED in the area, and what type of plane, what company was responsible for it---etc. After learning that K2 was a reputable company (and extremely safe), I opted in.

Here I am awaiting our flight. I was pretty freaked out, but I managed to LOOK cool, calm,
and collected while flashing a PEACE sign.

the mini runway with a plane.

Here we are. In the plane. Here are some views from the window.

This was where Aaron and I were sure the wings of our plane were going to get scraped off by the mountains. I think this is where Aaron joined me in the nervous boat (*edit-this is aaron, i don't know if i would call it "nervous"... maybe scared.). Sheesh! It was NUTS!

had to get one of the crazy man. he was LOVIN' it. Me? I think I was still in shock.

get a load of the CRAZY BLUE!! Is that amazing or what?

Everyone told us, if you do the flight, you MUST do the "glacier landing". So, us, not wanting to miss out and deciding that "if we're gonna do it, we're gonna DO it!"--- coughed up the extra bucks to make sure we got the landing. And, I have to admit, again, it was pretty rad. We loved it. Here we are, posin' it up. Yet again.


We were alive. We'd survived. My nerves were gone. All was well. Can you tell how happy I was?

Now for a more serious pose.

Back in the plane. All was good. Safe landing. Safe adventure. Safe fun. Pretty cool.

Saw this on the side of the road and made Aaron stop and get a photo. Unfortunately, his tummy was feeling rumbly, and he didn't want to get out of the car. So, I did a solo job. That's okay. No one wants to stand next to a giant ice cream cone when their tummy hurts. :) Can you imagine eating something that LARGE? Neither can I.

Okay, now, if you thought the other pictures were good---you ain't seen nothin' yet. Seriously. We were on our way back from Denali National Park, I spotted this beaut outside of my window. I was in shock at first--made Aaron speed up---and then realized that this wasn't some kind of movie--this was REAL LIFE!

getting closer.

getting closer. Yes, I do believe that dog DOES have sunglasses on!

it's confirmed! CRAZY dog and owner on Motor-bike! AGHh hAA!! I about died of laughter!
Who knew of such a trick?!

ok, more pictures of non-crazy dogs and owners. Just aaron and me.

Aaron keeps commenting on how weird his mouth is in this one. He keeps saying, "what am I doing with my face?"---and b/c it has been such a topic, I decided to post it. What exactly IS he doing with his face?
I don't know, but I like it.

Because I am not a HUGE fan of driving for hours at at time, and Aaron's dream job is to be a REAL TRUE TRUCKER---I have found that my best talent has come in handy on such road trips. If you click to enlarge this above image, you'll see me in my "sleep position". I think we have a picture like this of me on every trip we have gone on together. Nice.

This is the glacier we hiked up to. Remember the theme of this vacay? hiking. Good, class. This particular one is called Exit Glacier. Again, my kind of hike. Not too strenuous (I think the first part is actually PAVED!) and lovely. Not to mention, windy. Nice hair, melis.

I could see this picture in black and white taken years ago by the first explorers in the area.
Can't you? Lookin' good, Aaron.

One of the FEW shots taken by some poor passer-by that felt like we should have a PROPER picture taken, instead of us reaching Aaron's long arm out in front of our faces. And, this also shows the big glacier too. I guess that a few years ago, the glacier was MUCH bigger, but b/c of global warming it keeps shrinking and shrinking---thus making the hike up LONGER and LONGER. Interesting tidbit.

Aaron wanted to, again (in his rebel-like-manner) go OFF the beaten trail (not melissa's idea of FUN), and decided we should go hang out by the river. So, we did. It was cool. I was okay that we had left the marked trail. I was even enjoying myself and practicing the hula (maybe we weren't on THAT island called Hawaii, but I kept acting like I was).

Yes, all was good. I was happy and decided that I should enter the Miss Alaska contest with this pose.
Good times by the river.

...Aaron kept skipping rocks (a favorite past time that I found out about on this trip)...

...He was happy about how I'd win the Miss Alaska contest---life was good...

Oh, until Aaron realized that we were going to have to FORD the river to get back to the trail. This wasn't so cool. Wait, it was COLD but not the "cool" cool. But, because I imagined that Miss Alaska would be graceful and poised, I took it all in stride and just started taking off my shoes and socks.

Aaron was shocked. He couldn't believe that I was being so adventurous. We were, in fact, going to have to walk across a glacier run off.

It was freezing. I won't lie. And, this picture shows my lack of grace.
Dang. The secret is out. Oh well, there you have it.

Okay, on to the next big thang.

I was all for the idea of the "dinner cruise". This was the big event that I was looking forward to. I mean, you get to see Alaskan Wildlife, go on a boat AND have an all-you-can-eat-buffet of salmon and prime rib. Hello?? Sure, I'll sign on the dotted line. :) Well, in reality the buffet wasn't all that awesome. The cruise boat wasn't very "cruise-esque", but all in all, it was fun. We had a random group that traveled along with us that made for interesting conversation. Here are some of the things we saw.

a tiny little otter in the harbor. he was so cute! i kept thinking he was waving to me!

the dinner, thankfully, wasn't ON the "cruise ship"---it was actually in this nice little lodge located on Fox Island.
Here we are getting ready to chow down.

Aaron, again, showing me his love for skipping rocks. Look at the beauty everywhere!?
And, not to mention, Aaron's form!

Let's zoom out for a better look at the surroundings.


While on the boat we got to see PORPOISES! It was crazy. They were black and white, just like MINI Shamu's (or if you want to get technical, ORCA whales). It was awesome!



the puffins! i kept waiting and waiting to see puffins and I finally did! If you click on this one you'll see how BRIGHT their orange beaks are! I love these birds. I want one for my very own.




The seals doing my favorite talent--napping. Good work, team seals! Or were they walruses? I don't know. Whatev. Here they are soaking up the rays.

More pretty Alaksa.

we got to hang out with Moose! I loved this t-shirt I saw, "Moose America"---you know, instead of Miss America? Too funny. I am so going to copy that. It will be awesome.

And then here is a bear! I named her BECKY the Bear. She was cute.

oh, did I mention that these animals above were actually all behind a gate? Yeah, it wasn't actually IN the wild, but kind of. But, we made the pictures look like it was legit.

Also, we got to see REINDEER---which are ACTUALLY the same thing as Caribou. You see, same animal, but a domesticated Caribou is actually called a Reindeer! I was so happy to see them!! We only took video of them, sorry. But, it was rad. Matilda loves watching the video we took for her.

We found my favorite kind of whale, a Beluga whale, waiting for me to hug him in a little park.
I dream of doing this every time we go to Sea World, and so I finally got my chance. What a sweet beluga...

And, then here is Aaron. Posing it up. Just like a good husband should. I kept laughing and saying he should totally go among the darling flowers for a good photo op and he kept saying "no." But, then he decided that "When in Alaska, do as the Alaskans MIGHT do"---and posed for me. I like this one with his arms behind his back. HA! So awkward. I think this should be his new Facebook profile picture.

And, then, he obliged and squatted for me. This was the ultimate gift of love. What a darling!

Good times in Alaska.

Will we ever live there? Who knows. Our fate will be decided Jan. 23rd, 2010 when the Match process goes down. We shall see. But, I will say this, I'm a bigger fan of Alaska than I thought I would be. Do I want to live there forever? Yeah, not so sure about that one. Do I want to live there in the winter? Again... don't quite know. But, we'll soon find out!


emily snyder said...

love, love, love the post!! i felt like i was with you!! so many favorites in this, but probably loved that while you were being miss alaska, i was getting to take care of your babe. okay, just one night was she all mine, but still, greatly appreciate you being there so she was here with me!! :)

sister dennis asked when is my turn to go visit you. i said it was a very very good question - october? good. :)

alpineavery said...

Great Post!!! So many fun activities that I hadn't seen or heard about. Miss you two.

Heather said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said...

I am still laughing about that dog! ... and drooling over those fish and chips.

Kristen said...

Ahh, how could you not love that place? Winter is harsh, but so pretty too. The snow doesn't melt, it is like in the movies all fluffy and powdery, not like in Utah when it's pretty for half a day then dirty and muddy until it melts. Alaska is seriously the prettiest place ever. And who knows, maybe we could be neighbors again.

I love nature walks too ie Thunderbird/Stewart Falls. Much better than real hiking. Too bad you didn't hit that Russian Orthodox graveyard right by Thunderbird Falls (NOT). Little itty bitty Alaska Temple. :) Love your pics, brings back memories.

Becker said...

Wow-zuzzz...:) Looks like an amazing trip! The bike riding dog is my fave, but close second is all the fun you can tell you were having in all your goof-ball pics! Love you guys!

Shannon said...

Melissa - I'm so glad I saw this post because Alasks is awesome. Did you know my family lives there? I have been to/done every single thing you documented in your pictures and agree with most all of it. But there are still some hidden treasures up there that you just have to see. (And I have much better dining suggestions for you guys too...). If you do end up matching there, let me know - my family can help you out! Love ya!
-Shannon Watson

The Starr's said...

I have seen, in fact I have made that face...It is not calm cool and collected, it is I am so hating this and my stomach is in my throat, but if I can just pretend to be ok with this maybe I can even trick myself it is ok. It fact it probably is just fine but I am still freaked out about - I hate that I am freaking out about it, why can I not break my leg so I don’t have to do this face! I am proud of you for going though you made the right choice. Oh and by the way I have a friend who one Miss Congeniality in the Alaska competition and was runner up.

The Starr's said...

haha...won not one - you'd think I was German or something

The girl said...

Alaska looks beautiful! You two look like you had a blast. Thanks for sharing the pictures! I don't like the thought of you guys moving though! I hope the rest of your walk went well last night...ha!

Brandon and Lindsey B said...

It looks like you had an awesome time on your trip! I usually just read your blog more and comment less, but I have to saw that after seeing that dog picture, I couldn't refrain. That was probably one of the cooler things I've seen in my life! Hilarious! :)

Kajsa said...

Wow!! So many fun things yall did up there! That plane ride looks awesome! so many beautiful pictures-it looks so amazing. if yall end up moving there we might have to come and visit you!

and i cant wait to show kip the pic of the dog on the motorcycle--too funny!!

Anonymous said...

OK, no. 1 - love that you're having a boy (you know I'm partial!)
no. 2 Fantastic pictures from the Alaska trip!!!
no. 3 I am totally for the idea of an Alaska move. Are we voting?
No. 4 It all makes me so very very homesick for Alaska and yes, I do highly recommend Eagle River
no. 5, What is he doing with his mouth? I think Aaron is wondering what the railroad tracks taste like.

no. 6 where can I get a dog like that? Did he come with the sunglasses?

Jill said...

Thanks for posting all these pictures. Alaska looks like such an amazing place. I'm glad you had such a good time up there. Good luck with the applications!

Kristen & Brooks said...

that was a serious blog!! so much time!! ...and I want to go there too!! if you do move there...i will be sad, but maybe we too can visit! brooks would definitely be up for that!!! the dog is too funny!!!!

Kali said...

Melissa! Aaron! Oh my gosh! You guys went to Alaska! Half the time you were in my backyard...ok not exactly but I think I saw the same dog on motorcycle... weird. It looks like you guys had so much fun. Me? Just had to move from AK to KS like this past week. Heartbroken. Homesick.So yes, found your blog and have been following it. Blog stalker yes. This post helped me to come out of the closet and not be so shy:) Will you send me an email so I can invite you to our blog? That way I don't have to be a weirdo. BTW congrats on your little boy!email me at kaliponder@gmail.com love the alaska pics...

Mark & Bek said...

unbelieveably beautiful. i really cannot believe it. great trip!

a pair of pettijohns said...

alaska looks good on y'all :) how fun to see where the next step of the adventure will take you! no matter where, it will be FANTASTICAL because YOU are fantastic!

what do you have for sale on etsy these days...

Becky said...

Becky the Bear? Love it! Rasty calls me that in the morning...love him! Looks like an amazing time, Rasty wants to know where were the fishing poles? I wouldn't mind a trip away from the kiddies right about now!


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