Friday, October 31

The Finale. {hello, Alaska}

Here we are, friends, at the end of 31 Days!

I'm giving myself lots of grace here as I've had to slow my pace way back these last couple of weeks. Nevertheless, it's been fun to share my great state with you.

I love talking about Alaska. It's spectacular.

I'd planned to talk about so many more of my favorite things, and take you so many more places. But since that didn't happen, here's a list of favorites with links, so you can go explore them for yourselves. Lame? Maybe. Or maybe it'll give you something to talk about around the dinner table for weeks to come. That's my hope.

Anchorage - Alaska's largest city
Alaska Native Culture
Polar Bears
Grizzly Bear Viewing - Live Webcams at Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park, Alaska  (You really need to visit this link again next summer. SO amazing.)
Ice Sculptures
Footwear (I must say, I own a few pairs of Dansko clogs and my favorite pair of boots ever: Bogs. This article was spot on. But in summer, we're all about the flip flops and ballet flats!)
Alaska Railroad

Thanks for taking a virtual trip to Alaska with me this month! It's been fun to have you along.

Find each post in the hello, Alaska series HERE.

Tuesday, October 28

One of the Many Cool Things About Alaska {hello, Alaska}

As promised, I'm back with more hello, Alaska! Life has been on hold these last couple of months while I worked on a big project that was presented at an event this last weekend. Well, it's done (whew, I survived!) and I'm back with a couple more posts to close out the series this week.

I've lived in Alaska nearly thirty years, and I just learned that if you skip a rock across a newly frozen pond or lake, it will make the most amazing sound! (I got the idea from THIS viral video.) Have a listen for yourself, and tell me what you think!


This post is part of a series called hello, Alaska. Find the complete series right HERE.

Wednesday, October 22

Iditarod- The Last Great Race {hello, Alaska}

There's this race. It's amazing. Maybe you've heard of it?


Imagine one person on a wooden dogsled being pulled by a team of sled dogs racing 1,000 miles through ice, snow, storms, fog, frozen rivers, mountain ranges, vast tundra, and we can't forget the cold. Ooh, boy is it ever cold! Iditarod is one tough and amazing race.

As a kid, Iditarod went right by our house. We'd walk down the driveway and hang a right to watch musher after musher begin the week and a half long trek across Alaska. I have a crazy amount of respect for these men and women.

Iditarod is so fun to follow. We enjoy it each year in the month of March. You simply must scroll through last year's photo gallery. Whoa, right?

I couldn't possibly tell you all there is to know or see. So I'll let the experts do that for me:

This is a great informational article right HERE. Along with Iditarod's Official Website! A must read.

**You many have noticed that hello, Alaska posts are no longer being produced every day. Whew! Life's too full for that right now. But I will be popping in throughout these next 10 days to finish out our series! What more would you like to learn about Alaska??**

You can find all posts in this series right HERE.

Monday, October 20

moms who think outside the box {hello, Alaska}

Alaska is a wonderful place to be a kid. The opportunities for fun outdoor activities are endless and there are plenty of wide-open spaces with clean air to breathe. It's a kids' paradise.

It's also a great place to be a mom. But moms here have to think outside the box. We have to be prepared in ways moms in other parts of the country might not have to be. For instance:

1. You can't just go on a hike or walk with your family like normal people without thinking of the large and dangerous animals you may encounter. (See the above large and protective mama in the above picture.) Some of which have large teeth and claws or a stomping ability that can do great harm. Many moms I know (myself included) are skilled at using firearms to protect their family in the great outdoors. It just comes with the territory.

2. We have to be prepared with cold weather gear in the form of hats, gloves, boots, coats, and snowpants in case our vehicles break down or we're in an accident. The temperatures here reach dangerously frigid temperatures for most of the winter and we're used to driving long distances to get somewhere. Being unprepared in the cold is not something a mom wants to deal with. It's the worst feeling when your children are cold and there's nothing you can do about it.

3. As you learned on day 4, it gets dark early in the winter. Moms here have to get creative since we tend to spend crazy amounts of time indoors during those months. It can be a trying time. But it doesn't always have to feel that way. Our kids actually love to play outside in the snow when it's dark. We turn on all the outside lights and they build snowforts until it's time for dinner or bedtime. It does get long and arduous in the darker months, but having Christmas right in the middle of it all breaks things up and gives us something to celebrate!

4. This is one I know all Alaskan moms without a heated garage can attest to. Let's chant together, "Bring the diaper bag in the house tonight or the wipes will freeze." I don't need to spell this one all the way out for you. But I bet you can imagine the horror of trying to change a baby or toddler's stinky diaper when you're out and about (and you have no other choice) once you realize the entire container of baby wipes is frozen. I've been there more times than I can count. Picture a mom defrosting wipes in front of a car heater one at a time while said baby or toddler screams and all the other kids are waiting for you all crammed into a small space together. Fun times. Fun times.

What else, Alaskan moms? Please share! What makes Alaska a unique place to be a mom?

This is day 20 in a 31 day series about Alaska! Find the entire series archived HERE.

Sunday, October 19

Seward {hello, Alaska}

This weekend, I want to make special mention of our family's favorite town on the road system in Southcentral Alaska:

SEWARD.  (Learn even more about Seward HERE.)

We love, love, love this place. Isn't it gorgeous? Actually, I've never met a person who didn't have a special place in their heart for this little town.

Seward is situated on the Kenai Peninsula on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, in Resurrection Bay. Sea life and cascading mountains abound, and it's just a fun little town complete with fun hikes, camping, glaciers, a gorgeous harbor, deep sea fishing, tourist-y shops, and the Alaska SeaLife Center which is a blast to visit.

There's so much more to say. So much more to do. So many fun events. But I'll whet your appetite for this area of Alaska by leaving it at this.

Seward = My Favorite

Friday, October 17

The Ferry and Jefferson Starship {hello, Alaska}

Because Alaska is disconnected from the continental United States, sometimes we have to get creative with our travel needs.

Obviously, most people fly to and from Alaska, but the Alaska Marine Highway is great alternative. And amazingly beautiful! The ferry system is in place to carrying passengers, vehicles, and goods to and from 33 Alaskan communities, Canada, and Washington state. There are currently 11 ferries in operation. Don't I sound like a smarty-pants? I cheated. Of course. Hooray for Google.

Our family moved to Alaska on the ferry. It was quite the adventure. We boarded in Bellingham, Washington with me crying my eyes out as I waved goodbye to my best friend since birth with the 80's hit "Sara" by Starship playing in the background. (You simply have to watch the video. I died. While you're at it, you need to watch this one too.)

And wouldn't you know it, her name was Sarah. I'm not kidding. I vividly remember crying so hard I could hardly breathe. It was the cruelest of circumstances. With our great big motorhome on board in the belly of the ship, we made the gradual trip north. Though it was a slow way to go, it was still jolting. But not as bad as jumping on a plane and being in a new state and climate in just 3.5 hours.

We exited the ferry in Haines, Alaska, located just north of Seattle, and drove the rest of the way to our new home. It was a LONG trip through Canada, icy mountain roads, and then back into Alaska. This road is known as the ALCAN, Alaska-Canadian Highway, or the Alaska Highway. This journey was not without excitement and a little danger, but it was also a really fun thing to do as a family.

Back to the Marine Highway. So fun. Sightseeing. Whales. Wildlife. Wow.

For the most amazing sights and more information, click the links above!!

This is day 17 in a 31 day series called hello, Alaska. Find all posts in this series in one place HERE.

Thursday, October 16

it's the strangest thing {hello, Alaska}

I'm thinking that if you're interested in Alaska, you already know that it's cold. You already know there are polar bears way up north, right? And I'm thinking you already know lots of cool, obvious stuff about Alaska.

But here's something you may not know:

Even in the coldest of cold days in winter, some people wear shorts and dare I say it? Flip flops.

I've seen it with my own eyes. And I've (ahem) maybe, probably done it myself as a teen. I'm perpetually cold as an adult, so this is a no-go these days. Says the girl wearing socks and fur-lined slippers as I sit next to my twelve and thirteen year-old sons who are both wearing shorts. And it's 36 degrees outside.

I thought you should know that while it's bone-cold up here, it just doesn't phase some of us. That's why we laugh when folks in Florida or California wear down jackets when it hits 50 degrees. That's the start of (or the continuation of?) flip-flop weather in these parts.

This is day 16 of a 31 day series called hello, Alaska. Find the complete archives HERE


Wednesday, October 15

ain't no mountain high enough {hello, Alaska}

I couldn't help myself. I'm crazy about that song.

We really are going to talk about mountains today though. Ohhhhh, the mountains.

But before we do, I want to say something about what I posted on Monday. Many of you shared that post (I'd love to know why), and a couple of you commented to say you thought it was great I was taking time off to be with my family. Thank you. Honestly, life is difficult right now. Jeremy and I are great, but we're dealing with some pretty major issues that are affecting every area if life. We covet your prayers as a family.

So if I ever need to take another break, you'll know why.

Back to mountains.

I've lived in Alaska since 1986, and back then I wanted nothing to do with mountains. I wasn't old enough to be hormonal, but I was a bit stubborn. My family used to taunt me, "Amanda, aren't the mountains beeeyoootiful?"

I would say, "NO. I hate the mountains. They're ugly." I was such a stinker. They'd rub in the beauty of Alaska because they enjoyed my Mr. Scrooge-esque answers. And I enjoyed indulging them.

It didn't take long for me to fall head over heels in love with the rugged terrain surround me on nearly all sides. Other than my kids, it's by far the subject I take the most pictures of.

Here are some fun facts about Alaska's mountains:

**  17 of the 20 highest peaks in the United States are in Alaska.
**  Mt. McKinley is the highest peak in all of North America standing tall at 20,320 ft.
**  There are potentially more than 70 active volcanoes in Alaska. Several have erupted in recent years.

Mt. McKinley from the air this last Spring as we flew over. This does it no justice.
It honestly looked so small from up in the air. It has such a different look from the ground. But it's stunning, no?
Mountains add so much to life in Alaska. We climb them, we gaze at them, and we even play favorites. My favorite mountain is Pioneer Peak. Pioneer Peak means home. It stands as the tallest mountain in our area. It's a true landmark. Here it is from a few different angles.

Though I can't write from the experience of all Alaskans, I can write from mine. And mountains are a big part of the magic of the Last Frontier for me.

Find the archives of the hello, Alaska 31 day series right HERE.

Monday, October 13

I'm human {hello, Alaska}

Today and tomorrow we are taking a break from all things Alaska.

I am human. Life and family isn't affording me the time to work on this series.

Come back on Wednesday for the continuation of hello, Alaska!



Sunday, October 12

facebook news feeds look different here {hello, Alaska}

I just thought you should know that facebook news feeds look really different in Alaska.
Dead moose, bear, birds, sheep, caribou, and fish fill our news feeds year-round depending on what's in season. In the fall especially, when moose and caribou are in season, be prepared for lots of hunting pictures.
Alaskans love to celebrate a successful hunt! Wild fish and game in the freezer is a huge WIN.
I mean.... whoa. Hello, Kodiak grizzly!  


A huge thanks to my friends Andrea, Mindy, Kristi, Kate, Courtney, Ivy, and Paula for the great pictures!

To see all posts in this 31 day series called hello, Alaska click HERE.

Saturday, October 11

the lower 48 {hello, Alaska}

Today brings a simple vocabulary lesson:
Alaskans call the continental United States "the lower 48" or "the States."
As in: "We're headed down to the lower 48 next month." or "Have you spent much time in the States?"
Hawaii is just called Hawaii and is a crazy popular vacation destination for Alaskans since it's just a five and a half hour direct flight to Honolulu. We love Hawaii.

CLICK HERE to catch up on all the posts in the hello, Alaska series!

Friday, October 10

plugging our cars in {hello, Alaska}


In Alaska, many vehicles have block heaters installed on the engine so they can be plugged in when the temperature drops low enough that engines revolt and decide not to start. It's real, people. Every winter our cars won't start at some point, even when plugged in. Around January/February, it's so stinkin' cold that I don't blame them.
Our family plugs our vehicles in all winter because we don't have a garage to keep them from the elements. But we do have autostart in the form of our 12 and 13 year old sons who love every chance they get to have the car keys in their hands. Even in this fall weather, we have to warm our van up for a bit before loading everyone up. It's cold out there already!
Many residents have an actual autostart installed (if it didn't come factory included) so they can start their cars from inside their home, workplace, or wherever they've stopped. Here we use autostart to warm the insides of our car, but you may use it to make your car cool. It's a real luxury we had one time for about a year. But then we outgrew that vehicle. I'm convinced that's what the rich and famous feel like every day.
Engine block heaters leave a cord hanging out the front of the vehicle like you see in the picture below. Until recent years, I honestly thought cars everywhere came this way. I've lived in Alaska since I was eight years old, so this is really all I know.
Some cities/towns have outlets in parking lots so residents can plug their cars in when out running errands. We don't have many of those in southcentral Alaska, they're more common further north. But there were outlets in the parking lot of my college dorm in Anchorage. They sure helped my beater Nissan Pulsar survive the winter. Bless that piece of junk.
I dated Jeremy through the years he drove "the brown bomb" as we called it (among other names). It was an old Ford Fairmont with a broken-out window covered in plastic, a blue door, and no power steering. Did I mention it had NO heater? Even in -20 degrees? On date nights I often suggested we take my junker instead of his. At least it was warm. Some of the time.
Yeah. Jeremy says it was the car that won me over to him. I don't know about that, but I do know that there was no amount of plugging in or autostarting that would make that bad boy warm to ride around in. Welcome to life in Alaska!  

Catch all the hello, Alaska posts in one spot by clicking HERE.